Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

James M. McPherson

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0143116142

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Pulitzer Prize?winning author reveals how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander in chief as we know it

As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln?s birth, this study by preeminent, bestselling Civil War historian James M. McPherson provides a rare, fresh take on one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. Tried by War offers a revelatory (and timely) portrait of leadership during the greatest crisis our nation has ever endured. Suspenseful and inspiring, this is the story of how Lincoln, with almost no previous military experience before entering the White House, assumed the powers associated with the role of commander in chief, and through his strategic insight and will to fight changed the course of the war and saved the Union.

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have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.”77 Porter was dubious about taking the president to the still-burning enemy capital two days after it fell. But Lincoln insisted, so they went. With an escort of just ten sailors, he walked the streets while thousands of freed slaves crowded to see the Moses they believed had led them to freedom. “I know that I am free,” shouted one woman, “for I have seen father Abraham and felt him.” To one

538–39, 549, 554–55. 16. Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to Charles Francis Adams, Aug. 27, 1862, in Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed., A Cycle of Adams Letters 1861–1865, 2 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 1:177–78. 17. Porter to Manton Marble, Aug. 10, 1862, Marble Papers, Library of Congress, quoted in T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and His Generals (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), 148. 18. This remarkable series of telegrams and events is conveniently reprinted and chronicled in Sears, Civil

that were observed in McClellan after the battle of Antietam—a want of alacrity to obey, and a greedy call for more troops which could not, and ought not to be taken from other points.”44 Lincoln appointed Meade to succeed Hooker. He was the obvious choice, having been supported for the position by most of the corps commanders since Chancellorsville. When the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac clashed at Gettysburg on July 1, Meade was in his fourth day of command. He directed

be wished,” declared the Times, but not peace at the price of the Union. “War alone can save the Republic…. If the Southern people will not give us peace as their fellow-countrymen, we shall secure it as their conquerors. We know this is not gracious language. But it is native fact.” Greeley deplored such language, he told Lincoln, because “to the general eye, it now seems the rebels are anxious to negotiate and that we repulse their advances…. If this impression be not removed we shall be beaten

legitimacy of the Confederacy. He authorized Blair to return to Richmond with an offer to receive any commissioner whom Davis “may informally send to me with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.”66 Davis overlooked the discrepancy between “two countries” and “one common country.” He appointed a commission composed of Vice President Stephens, President Pro Tem of the Senate Robert M. T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell, a former U.S. Supreme

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