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Mr. Lincoln's Army ❮Ebook❯ ➩ Mr. Lincoln's Army Author Bruce Catton – Liversite.co.uk Volume I of The Army Of The Potomac trilogy, this is Bruce Catton s superb evocation of the early years of the Civil War when the army was under the command of the dashing General George B McClellan Volume I of The Army Of The Potomac trilogy, this is Bruce Catton s superb evocation of the early years of the Civil War when the army was under the command of the dashing General George B McClellan.


10 thoughts on “Mr. Lincoln's Army

  1. Eric Eric says:

    Cyril Connolly noted the depressive effect of numerous and exhaustive biographies of hard luck poets reading yet another life of Baudelaire we know, with each move into a cheap hotel, exactly how many cheap hotels lie ahead of him Mr Lincoln s Army makes me feel that way Catton s masterly narration envelopes you the skirmish lines went down the slope, each man in the line separated from his fellows by half a dozen paces, holding his musket as if he were a quail hunter with a shotgun, moving Cyril Connolly noted the depressive effect of numerous and exhaustive biographies of hard luck poets reading yet another life of Baudelaire we know, with each move into a cheap hotel, exactly how many cheap hotels lie ahead of him Mr Lincoln s Army makes me feel that way Catton s masterly narration envelopes you the skirmish lines went down the slope, each man in the line separated from his fellows by half a dozen paces, holding his musket as if he were a quail hunter with a shotgun, moving ahead step by step, dropping to one knee to shoot when he found a target, pausing to reload, and then moving on again, feeling the army s way into the danger zone while never allowing you to forget that Malvern Hill and Second Bull Run and Antietam perfect apocalypses while you re reading are but the first clashes of a very long war There is stilldying This battle will decide nothing that general will blunder these men will die in vain Mr Lincoln s Army ends in November 1862 A year and a half later, in spring 1864, Sherman correctly prophesied that the worst of the war is not yet begun Petomek, Algonquian, means trading place Patawomeke on Capt John Smith s 1612 map Patowmack in the correspondence of the Founding Fathers, as they discuss the location of the Federal seat Potomac by 1861, when in camps along its banks the tens of thousands of volunteers who had flocked to defend the nation s capital and smite the rebellion were drilled into a real army, blue and brass The manhood of the eastern states, a southern officer called this army, though there were Hoosiers and Badgers and Minnesotans among its Boston Brahmins and Maine lumberjacks, its Pennsylvania Germans and Connecticut farmhands, its colorful New York levee of Brooklyn firemen, well heeled Whartonians in tailored tunics, and French immigrants who sang the Marseillaise on parade and relished the giant bullfrogs found in the Virginia swamps The Army of the Potomac an army of legend, Catton calls it with a great name that still clangs when you touch it Rummaging in the attics of national memory you come across tokens of George B McClellan, the Army s first and beloved commander McClellan was yet another Man of Destiny who popped and fizzled out Walt Whitman called him the idol of an alternate universe In 1861, when he took command aged thirty four , the northern press proclaimed him Savior of the Republic and, in the same breath, Young Napoleon completely antithetical titles The power brokers who whispered in his ear that the times called for a military dictator at least understood what Napoleon had been about McClellan didn t simply train the Army he made its men feel like soldiers a muchmysterious, and ultimately histrionic, process The men were rewarded for long weeks on the parade ground under the drillmaster s abuse with elaborate brigade and division reviews, at the end of which their young commander, astride a massive black charger, and followed by an entourage as splendidly mounted and uniformed as himself, went galloping down the lines of hurrahing troops, turning to acknowledge their cheers with a gesture one witness described as going beyond a formal salute a courtly twirl of his cap which with his bow and smile seemed to carry a little of good personal fellowship even to the humblest private soldier From McClellan s performance of the Dashing Young General I step back and note the innocence of the audience that applauds him, tears in their eyes and cheers on their lips I usually cringe and snarl when any generation of Americans gets called innocent this has been a hard souled country from the very start, we started out as Indiankillers and slaverapers but innocent must be my word for the ecstatic faith, shared by both sides, that the war would be a brief, flashing, grandly decisive affair of esprit de corps and hero worship and the lan of highhearted volunteer fighters McClellan s superb martial airs and stagy proclamations Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac I have fulfilled at least part of my promise to you You are now face to face with the Rebels, who are held at bay in front of their capital The final and decisive battle is at hand Unless you belie your past history, the result cannot for a moment be doubtful are mementos of a society that paraded gaily, pleased with its fine uniform, toward an abyss Think of McClellan as a dealer in Napoleonic goods, at the time a sort of luxury brand promoted by Bonaparte s nephew and emulator, France s emperor Napoleon III French Army fashions were the must haves of martial ardor Numerous regiments, especially those made up of New York and Philadelphia firemen, joined the Army of the Potomac costumed in the fezzes and baggy red pantaloons made famous by the Zouaves, France s North African light infantry McClellan made his redesign of the French Army s kepi the standard headgear He s wearing one in the studio portrait below, which looks like the carte de viste of a matinee idol The cruel irony is that McClellan was, as a battlefield general, a failure Too good to be true Bella figura, beau ideal, bust The final and decisive battle just big talk Lee swatted McClellan back from the doorstep of Richmond not by winning victories or inflicting massive casualties or menacing the supply lines, but simply by showing a ballsy daring, a relentless passion for the attack, which left McClellan completely cowed, psyched out, mindfucked Lee assumed that McClellan s men were as hollow as their commander a mistake he didn t really have to pay for until Gettysburg When the order to retreat from the Rebel capital came through, the fiery one armed general Phil Kearny went to McClellan s tent and cussed him to his face, said withdrawal in the face of a numerically inferior, winded and barefoot enemy was evidence of cowardice or treason Plenty of people at the time thought treason Whitman, for one, always maintained McClellan straddled but the panicky pants wetting cables to Lincoln scream cowardice As do McClellan s letters to his wife, in which Catton finds too much lingering on the adoration other man feel for him, on the wild enthusiasm he arouses, on the limitless power and responsibility that are his What buried sense of personal inadequacy, Catton asks, was gnawing at this man that he had to see himself so constantly through the eyes of men and women who looked upon him as a hero out of legend and myth Whatever the precise nature of his demons, McClellan s first campaign set the pattern of clumsiness and deadly ineffectuality that would haunt the Army of the Potomac until Grant came along and started swinging it like a sledgehammer It was a hard luck army, an immensely powerful industrial juggernaut steered, in its early years, by bumblers and sleepwalkers and lightweight braggarts baffled on the road to victory, constantly running off into the ditch I m deep into Glory Road, the second volume of the trilogy, and there arefumbled battles,cheap hotels les po tes maudits, les soldats maudits Catton quotes countless letters home that describe the army s malaise, but none of their writers, eloquent as they so often are, captures the mood of helpless nightmare quite like the German soldier turned anarchist playwright Ernst Toller, who recalled World War One thus We were all of us cogs in a great machine which sometimes rolled forward, nobody knew where, sometimes backwards, nobody knew why


  2. Richard Richard says:

    This is the first of about thirteen books which Bruce Catton wrote about the Civil War, during the 1950 s and 1960 s Don t let their original publishing dates bias your opinion of the worth of Catton s books Surely, muchscholarship has been conducted on the subject since then, and a tsunami of Civil War books continues to be published each year However, no one has ever written witheconomy of prose or clearness of thought on the subject than Catton His writing is that good Mr L This is the first of about thirteen books which Bruce Catton wrote about the Civil War, during the 1950 s and 1960 s Don t let their original publishing dates bias your opinion of the worth of Catton s books Surely, muchscholarship has been conducted on the subject since then, and a tsunami of Civil War books continues to be published each year However, no one has ever written witheconomy of prose or clearness of thought on the subject than Catton His writing is that good Mr Lincoln s Army is the first title of Catton s The Army of the Potomac Trilogy It was followed by Glory Road and A Stillness at Appomattox The latter volume was awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, placing Catton among the elite Civil War historical writers.Catton 1899 to 1978 was not a professional historian He quit college before graduation in order to join the Navy in World War I Between the World Wars, he worked as a newspaper journalist and editor in Ohio, where he no doubt put the polish on his writing skills He worked for the U.S government in World War II His experiences provided the material for him to write of wartime Washington D.C in his first book, in 1949 He had the book writing bug and decided to write about the subject that fascinated him since his boyhood.The preface of Mr Lincoln s Army explains why he chose its subject He talks about his boyhood in rural Michigan, when he knew a number of old, dignified men with long white beards and the appearance of being pillars of the community They had been born in the pre automobile age their world experiences would not have normally extendedthan fifty miles from where they were raised Yet, as Catton explains, they had been everywhere and had seen everything ages ago, and nothing that happened since meant as much Catton s adolescent mind couldn t comprehend what these old gentlemen had seen in their youth, but he grew to realize this group of people had been lifted by an experience shared by only a small, dwindling number of survivors By their very presence, they embodied meaning to the term patriotism , but they never discussed their most terrible wartime feelings of war weariness and soul numbing disillusionment p xii felt in places like the Wilderness and Petersburg, to young listeners Catton s objective was to shed light on the war which was the biggest experience of our nation s life, as it was of the lives of the veterans he knew way back then, and to honor them by writing about what they did The resulting series of books contain outstanding narrative history, being based on diaries, letters and field reports from contemporaneous sources Mr Lincoln s Army aptly describes the focus of Catton s research The beginning of the Civil War found the new President desperately trying to find leaders to build an army from scratch to fight to preserve the Union What started as a call for states to supply a finite number of volunteer regiments for limited enlistment periods grew very rapidly to the need to field a huge military Readers of Civil War history are aware of Lincoln s trials and tribulations, which lasted for several years as he placed a succession of commanding generals in charge, only to be fired for timidness or catastrophically poor judgement This book focuses on the events from the beginning of the war until the late fall of 1862, a period of time marked for its long series of Union reverses and missed opportunities General George McClellan is the dominant figure on either side of the war at this time, except for Abraham Lincoln This book is a superb recounting of the elevation of this promising officer by Lincoln how he fulfilled his promise by using his unmatched organizational skills to build the Army of the Potomac, the armed force intended to carry the burden of defending the nation s capitol and defeat the main Virginia based Southern army and how he lost the confidence of the President and the government twice, through his arrogance, belly aching over support for his army when it was much better equipped than its foe, inability to pursue and destroy his enemy, and bring the war to an early conclusion, even though he always hadforces at his disposal than his enemy.A succession of commanding generals would audition for President Lincoln in the course of the war They would usually fail miserably, then be replaced Thus, Burnside had his Fredericksburg, Hooker had his Chancellorsville, Meade had his Gettysburg, etc At least Gettysburg was considered to be a Union victory, but Meade showed himself to be a very good defensive general, if not an offensive general All of the above were preceded by McClellan, who had two shots to become the Union s savior Catton combines his storytelling skill with a solid grasp of the historical facts to present two of the best descriptions you will ever read of the Peninsula Campaign and Antietam He shows how McClennan s excellent planning allowed the Union forces to acquit themselves against the Confederate forces, led in the latter case by the formidable Robert E Lee, without the usual resort to detailed regimental dispositions and maps with arrows moving every which way Catton paints a historical picture and lets the reader appreciate the gravity of the events portrayed.This is the first of the works made in the Catton style, which provides both satisfying reading and a thirst forof the same


  3. Nick Borrelli Nick Borrelli says:

    Didn t like this one as much as Shelby Foote s epic trilogy but still very good.


  4. Lani Lani says:

    I am, admittedly, a Civil War nerd But I also have little patience for the lists of regiments and commanders with confusing battle maps that I can never understand Thank you Bruce Catton for educating me without frustrating meMost of the interesting Civil War books that I have read most of them reasonably accurate historical fiction have been focussedon the Southern generals Much of this is because the Southern Cause was just generallyromantic withpersonality from the I am, admittedly, a Civil War nerd But I also have little patience for the lists of regiments and commanders with confusing battle maps that I can never understand Thank you Bruce Catton for educating me without frustrating meMost of the interesting Civil War books that I have read most of them reasonably accurate historical fiction have been focussedon the Southern generals Much of this is because the Southern Cause was just generallyromantic withpersonality from their gentlemen generals, and living in Virginia tends to put a definitively Lee Jackson focus on history Considering my previous knowledge, reading a book about the Army of the Potomac was pretty eye opening In school I always had the impression that McClellan was a bit of a bumbling idiot, and I assumed he wasof a political appointment than anything else I had no idea that he was a beloved figure for the troops, and had no sense of any romance and glory associated with him I also had never heard just how close to winning the Union came early on in the war it s a little distressing to read some of the obvious mistakes made by the Federal generals Hindsight is surely 20 20, but it s upsetting to recognize how a decisive victory could have caused the entire war to crumble.Generally the book wasabout the people than the troop movements, and I appreciate Catton s heavy use of journals and regimental histories The analysis of Antietam got a little too detail oriented for me, but I recognize that many people want the history of a battle like that Catton didn t fail to make the battle a human one however, and the first hand descriptions of Bloody Lane and the battlefield were chilling.Many of the bibliographical notes were informative and interesting I definitely want to learnabout the Federal intelligence department that so grossly misinformed McClellan despite their modern infiltration tactics I also love hearing about Lincoln, and am always thrilled when Sandburg s books are mentioned.If you re looking to learn about the Civil War, I m not sure that you can getenjoyable than Catton s writing It s informative without being overly dry, and covers the broader scope examining not just tactics, but also the political atmosphere and the personal impact of the events


  5. Bill Rogers Bill Rogers says:

    Many years ago my mother belonged to a monthly book club of some kind Among the other cheap, pulp paper editions she got were a complete Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Catton s Army of the Potomac , consisting ofMr Lincoln s Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. I think she got them because she thought they would interest me These books have almost obsessed me ever since.As its name suggests, this trilogy follows the fortunes and mostly misfortunes of the Union s Army of the Potomac Many years ago my mother belonged to a monthly book club of some kind Among the other cheap, pulp paper editions she got were a complete Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Catton s Army of the Potomac , consisting ofMr Lincoln s Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. I think she got them because she thought they would interest me These books have almost obsessed me ever since.As its name suggests, this trilogy follows the fortunes and mostly misfortunes of the Union s Army of the Potomac, the main Union army that slogged it out with the South s Army of Northern Virginia in most of the famous battles of the Civil War Mr Lincoln s Army covers the early months of the war, when the Army was under the command of the heartbreaking General George McClellan, a brilliant soldier, trainer, and tactician McClellan came so close, but in the end he lacked that killer instinct that would let him push just a little harder and go forward to victory Because he didn t have that killer streak, the war went on for years .He made the raw recruits under his command into a great and professional army His soldiers loved him for it, but in the end they outgrew him This is the story of how they did it


  6. Peter Schmeltzer Peter Schmeltzer says:

    Excellent


  7. Nathan Albright Nathan Albright says:

    While I am familiar with novels and even biographies beginning in media res in order to keep interest up on the part of the reader, I must admit I was thrown a bit for a loop when Catton did so at the beginning of this book After all, this volume is the first of a trilogy that the author wrote on the Union Army of the Potomac from its beginnings in late 1861 with the efforts of McClellan to train an army in the aftermath of First Bull Run Yet for some time the book spends a great deal of tim While I am familiar with novels and even biographies beginning in media res in order to keep interest up on the part of the reader, I must admit I was thrown a bit for a loop when Catton did so at the beginning of this book After all, this volume is the first of a trilogy that the author wrote on the Union Army of the Potomac from its beginnings in late 1861 with the efforts of McClellan to train an army in the aftermath of First Bull Run Yet for some time the book spends a great deal of time in those dramatic days in late August and early September 1862 with Second Bull Run and its aftermath, leading to a sort of strange time shift that the reader should probably be prepared for Given the general familiarity of the course of the Civil War to many readers, perhaps it is a good thing that Catton throws the reader for a loop here, because it provides at least something that is out of the ordinary, something that does not follow the relentless chronological sweep of a war where the course of battle is generally known and followed to a slavish degree.This volume ofthan 300 pages is divided into six different parts and focuses on the Virginia front of the Civil War between late 1861 and fall 1862 We begin with the picture book war of the Second Bull Run Campaign, where Pope found himself in trouble and where it was whispered that there was treason, and where generals encouraged soldiers never to be frightened I After that we return to 1861 when, in the aftermath of a brief and successful campaign in West Virginia, McClellan is promoted to be in charge of the Union armies and seeks to raise an army while simultaneously failing to understand the political demands of his office and finds himself unable to graciously deal with Lincoln and civilian oversight II After that comes a discussion of Balls Bluff and the irrational but persistent suspicion that was to fall on the Army of the Potomac during its entire time, something that destroyed most of the men who were called upon to lead it in battle over the course of the Civil War, including the Peninsula Campaign III After this comes a look at Lee s march and the trial of various generals after campaign failures IV McClellan s massive opportunity to defeat in detail the fragments of Lee s army then follows, a story of futility because of McClellan s inability to move with alacrity V before the book ends with a discussion of the bloody day at Antietam and its aftermath with McClellan s dismissal in the face of his slow pursuit of Lee s mangled army VI.Catton certainly manages to show his strengths as a historian here If he is not a scholarly historian of the kind that would be most regarded now, he is a narrative historian of the first order, well acquainted with regimental histories and casualty lists and the stories of those men who survived war, often not fully intact Moreover, the author manages to demonstrate the strain that the Union was under and the way in which the relationship between the civil and military aspects of the Union were often greatly in tension, and where there were simply far too many leaders in the Union army at the beginning of the war that were not committed to fighting with everything that they had, something that would only happen as the war progressed and as the logistical advantages the North faced becameanddecisive Sadly, a great many men died because their leaders were too timid and too lacking in judgment


  8. Darcy Darcy says:

    This was my treadmill book for the last few weeks Catton did a good job describing the battles and the generals and the opportunities missed and bungled for the northern army He seems to have great insight or should we say hindsight into what could have been Its narrative style high points came when he offered his own insights to the war and the hearts of the men who fought it.


  9. Rob Rob says:

    I understand the high regard that Bruce Catton commands A nearly perfect history the prose and voice were polished and interesting, high toned while still being colloquial and folksy the panoramic view represented at the same time as the anecdotes of at the level of individual soldiers to give a sense of the nature of the action and a light hand on the analysis, but willing to give opinions and unifying conclusions from hindsight.Told almost entirely from the perspective of the Union, and th I understand the high regard that Bruce Catton commands A nearly perfect history the prose and voice were polished and interesting, high toned while still being colloquial and folksy the panoramic view represented at the same time as the anecdotes of at the level of individual soldiers to give a sense of the nature of the action and a light hand on the analysis, but willing to give opinions and unifying conclusions from hindsight.Told almost entirely from the perspective of the Union, and the Army of the Potomac specifically, Catton takes us from shortly after First Manassas to the immediate aftermath of the battle of Antietam I d read McPherson s book whose only subject was Antietam, and I was left with a muddled impression of the battle, as apparently the Federal high command had on that day By contrast, Bruce Catton s recitation of the battle was a model of clarity with both light hearted anecdotes the civilian delivering baskets of biscuits and ham in the middle of the action , and also with moments of pathos and gravity.If you are interested in the eastern theater of war, you owe it to yourself to read this masterpiece of historiography I m looking forward to the next two volumes later this year


  10. Dan Dan says:

    Well i just loved this book, not because it seems to be the definitive work on the civil war, a great bibliography, superb footnotes and fantastic anecdotes, but this kind of stuff is just really fascinating to me I think for its time 1950 s , it is very well researched and just really compacted with relevant data and story lines Caton follows the Army of the potomac from the end of the first battle at Manasses to the end of Antietem and McClellans end Antietem was just a disparaging success Well i just loved this book, not because it seems to be the definitive work on the civil war, a great bibliography, superb footnotes and fantastic anecdotes, but this kind of stuff is just really fascinating to me I think for its time 1950 s , it is very well researched and just really compacted with relevant data and story lines Caton follows the Army of the potomac from the end of the first battle at Manasses to the end of Antietem and McClellans end Antietem was just a disparaging succession of missed opportunities Catton has a flair for understatement I did have to read this book with an Atlas, but that s the way it is.I can t wait for Volumes II and III to find out who wins


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