George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon

George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon

by Stephen W. Sears
     
 

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By age 35, General George B. McClellan (1826–1885), designated the "Young Napoleon," was the commander of all the Northern armies. He forged the Army of the Potomac into a formidable battlefield foe, and fought the longest and largest campaign of the time as well as the single bloodiest battle in the nation's history. Yet, he also wasted two supreme

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Overview

By age 35, General George B. McClellan (1826–1885), designated the "Young Napoleon," was the commander of all the Northern armies. He forged the Army of the Potomac into a formidable battlefield foe, and fought the longest and largest campaign of the time as well as the single bloodiest battle in the nation's history. Yet, he also wasted two supreme opportunities to bring the Civil War to a decisive conclusion. In 1864 he challenged Abraham Lincoln as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. Neither an indictment nor an apologia, this biography draws entirely on primary sources to create a splendidly incisive portrait of this charismatic, controversial general who, for the first eighteen months of the conflict, held the fate of the union in his unsteady hands.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Controversial commander of the Northern army in the Civil War, Gen. George McClellan saw himself as God's chosen instrument for saving the Union. Self-aggrandizing, with a streak of arrogant stubbornness, he set himself above President Lincoln, whom he privately called ``the Gorilla.'' To ``the young Napoleon,'' as McClellan's troops dubbed him, abolition was an ``accursed doctrine.'' Fond of conspiracy plots, he insisted that the Lincoln administration had traitorously conspired to set him up for military defeat. Although he constantly anticipated one big, decisive battle that would crush the South, he squandered one military opportunity after another, and, if Sears ( Landscape Turned Red ) is correct, he was the worst strategist the Army of the Potomac ever had. Based on primary sourcesletters, dispatch books, diaries, newspapersthis masterly biography is an astonishing portrait of an egotistical crank who could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Sears is editor of McClellan's Selected Letters. (August)
Library Journal
Sears finds serious faults with McClellan's generalship in each of the Civil War campaigns, especially in 1862 in Virginia and at Antietam, Maryland, perhaps the turning point battle of the war. He concludes that the general's personality problems, poor leadership, and failure to realistically evaluate Confederate forces should have precluded him from holding the Union's top commands. Sears's views sharply contrast with Warren Hassler's more favorable evaluations in General George B. McClellan: Shield of the Union (1957; Greenwood, 1974. reprint). Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, Sears's persuasive critique is the best and most complete biography of this controversial general. Joseph G. Dawson III, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306809132
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Edition description:
1 DA CAPO
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
547,704
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen W. Sears is the author of The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan, Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, and Chancellorsville. He lives in Connecticut.

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