16 July 2010

Lincoln and McClellan

I've been reading a book by John C. Waugh, Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and his General.

Here's Waugh's website with the neat holograph of Waugh himself.

His story in Lincoln and McClellan is a somewhat familiar one to civil war buffs, but good stories always bear re-telling. Here is one sample paragraph:

"The new general-in-chief would not fight; he would continue to prepare. So all would continue to be quiet along the Potomac, and that was no longer generally considered a desirable condition but a curse. If there was quiet on the Potomac, there was very little silence from the people in the North. The public outcry was 'On to Richmond!' which the influential New York Tribune was running daily as its masthead."

About sixty pages later, we get to the climactic showdown between Generals McClellan and Lee.

"Displaying a quality of audacity that McClellan believed he lacked, Lee attacked on June 26, on a very clear, still, midafternoon....Lee's army slammed into McClellan's right flank north of the Chickahominy at Mechanicsville, opening a bloody week of fighting that would become known as the Seven Days battles. Porter fought the Confederates at Mechanicsville on this first day, and the battle was at best a draw -- in effect, therefore a Confederate failure. McClelland pulled back to Gaine's Mill, where an implacable Lee assailed him again the next day, June 27, in a fierce battle beginning at noon and lasting nine hours. McClellan got the worst of the encounter and the next day withdrew his army farther down the James to Savage's Station. Lee followed."

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.