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276CIVIL WAR HISTORY While Davis on the whole does an admirable job of describing the Union soldiers' filial reverence for Lincoln, he fails to note that well before the war he had inspired such a reaction among friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Lincoln's remarkable ability to command from adults the respect and affection that a child gives to a wise and benevolent father was one of his greatest assets in sustaining the morale of Northern civilians and troops alike. Davis attempts no explanation of how Lincoln was able to win such devotion. The answer seems to lie in what Carl Jung called the archetype of the Wise Old Man. (See Michael Burlingame, The Inner World ofAbraham Lincoln, 73-91.) Michael Burlingame Connecticut College George B. McClellan & Civil WarHistory: In the Shadow ofGrant andSherman. By Thomas J. Rowland. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1998. Pp. xi, 248. $28.00.) On its surface, the premise of this work is intriguing. Civil War historians have long lambasted George B. McClellan. Looked upon early in the war as the savior ofthe North, McClellan is almost universally depicted as skillful at training troops but abysmal at committing them to battle. McClellan's demise, however, came relatively early in the war, Thomas J. Rowland argues, when Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman made even worse errors. Yet they survived, and McClellan did not. Why should Grant and Sherman be depicted as good guys and McClellan, given no chance to redeem himself, as a bad guy? Despite its interesting beginning, the book is hardly convincing. In telling his story, Professor Rowland has virtually ignored the papers ofSherman and Grant. The book contains exactly nine references to manuscripts, all at the Library of Congress and some of them so vague that it is impossible to tell what is being cited and where exactly it is located. Instead, the author has relied on accounts in books, many of them of dubious value. Several of many examples might be cited. Basing his comment on published works, Rowland calls McClellan's career at West Point "exemplary." A quick check of the Register of Demerits at the academy reveals that McClellan accumulated fifty-one demerits one year and sixty another, hardly exemplary. He continually repeated the same offenses, as ifto say that no one was going to tell him what to do. Questionable also is the statement that Sherman's wife preferred living with her parents to living with him. The magnificent Sherman Family Papers collection at Notre Dame contains letters from Ellen pleading that she could not live without her husband and vowing to go anywhere as long as she could be with him. On page forty-two Rowland inadvertently summarizes what is wrong with this book. When he writes of his "examination of Sherman's correspondence," BOOK REVIEWS277 he refers not to a reading, for example, of the reel of correspondence between Sherman and his wife in the collection at Notre Dame but to a reading of several pages in the most hostile Sherman biography in existence. Citing this work, he repeats the cruel observation that the death of Sherman's young son Willy "cast Sherman into an exaggerated period of grief that "became a subject of obsession with him." Without delving into the sources, Rowland, moreover, equates Sherman's failure at Chickasaw with Burnside's charges at Fredericksburg. The episodes were entirely different; Sherman's assault failed not because he was incompetent but because incompetent subordinates diverted eight of the thirteen regiments that were to make the attack. Under Rowland's pen, Grant fares just as poorly. He drank, messed up at Shiloh, and was lucky to be in the West, where newspaper scrutiny was not as severe as in the East. Southern defeat coincided more with "the deteriorating condition of the Confederacy and its armies than with the talents of the two generals." In effect, the noted military analyst J. F. C. Fuller was wrong when he called Grant's movement onto high, dry ground below Vicksburg "an amazing success . . . and from a purely strategical point of view one of the greatest in military history." All the while, Professor Rowland presents a McClellan of questionablejudgment. Even...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 276-277
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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