McClellan's War

McClellan's War

The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union
Ethan S. Rafuse
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/23/2011
Format: Paperback 17 b&w illus., 11 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-00611-0
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Bold, brash, and full of ambition, George Brinton McClellan seemed destined for greatness when he assumed command of all the Union armies before he was 35. It was not to be. Ultimately deemed a failure on the battlefield by Abraham Lincoln, he was finally dismissed from command following the bloody battle of Antietam. To better understand this fascinating, however flawed, character, Ethan S. Rafuse considers the broad and complicated political climate of the earlier 19th century. Rather than blaming McClellan for the Union’s military losses, Rafuse attempts to understand his political thinking as it affected his wartime strategy. As a result, Rafuse sheds light not only on McClellan’s conduct on the battlefields of 1861-62 but also on United States politics and culture in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Author Bio

Ethan S. Rafuse is Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the author, editor, or co-editor of eight books on Civil War history, including Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.


“Shedding light on McClellan’s prewar life and his conduct on the battlefields, this comprehensive history follows United States politics and culture in the years leading up to the Civil War.”

“Rafuse's thoughtful study of Little Mac shows just how enthralling this complex and flawed individual continues to be.”
 — Blue & Gray magazine

“An important book that rescues George B. McClellan's military reputation and demonstrates that he was removed from command because he stood for policies--moderation, conciliation, statesmanship--that were anathema to the Lincoln administration.”
 — Chronicles

“Rafuse's book . . . offers the most comprehensive account of McClellan's prewar life and military career available, buttressed with a convincing analysis, and is sure to alter current perceptions and future assessments of the general's role in Civil War history.”
 — Providence Sunday Journal

“Rafuse is balanced and careful in his judgments, and the book is firmly rooted in deep and thorough research. . . . Any historian seriously interested in the period will come away from the book with useful material and a better understanding of George B. McClellan.”
 — Journal of Southern History

“In Ethan Rafuse's refreshing new book, we have the story of a man who . . . was thrust into a war that helped transform American society from an agrarian into an industrial empire. Thus, to really understand the commander, according to Rafuse, one needs to understand the forces that shaped his political and social thought. . . . Exhaustively researched and lucidly written, Rafuse has done an excellent job in giving us a different perspective on 'Little Mac.'”
 — Civil War History

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
1. "Traditions and Associations... Were All on the Side of the Old Whig Party"
2. "I Can Do As Well As Anyone in Both My Studies and My Military Duties"
3. Political Realignment
4. "A Strong Democrat of the Stephen A. Douglas School"
5. To Kill Secession
6. "A New and Strange Position"
7. Supreme Command
8. "You Have No Idea of the Pressure Brought to Bear Here"
9. "What Do You Think of the Science of Generalship?"
10. The Peninsula Campaign
11. "I Do Not Like the... Turn That Affairs Are Taking"
12. "He Has Acted Badly"
13. "To Meet the Necessities of the Moment"
14. "The Most Terrible Battle"
15. "It Is My Duty to Submit to the Presdt's Proclamation & Quietly Continue Doing My Duty"
16. The Last Campaign

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