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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:10 PM   #131

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Originally Posted by Lawrence Helm View Post
I'm not sure you know what an ad hominem attack is. Virtually all that you have written above meets that definition. Are you really that ignorant.
I know precisely what it is and am quoting this bloc by bloc and highlighting examples for you to learn from at your leisure. I apologize if at any point in calling the nonsense you propagate nonsense I crossed the line into insulting you as a person. I'm sure you are a bright, intelligent individual. It's just what you're saying is a humbug not worth dignifying with the term history. BTW, that first sentence should end with a question mark. You made an interrogative statement. Do not criticize other people for ignorance and poor grammar and fail to get punctuation marks correctly. It's too easy a counter.

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As I said elsewhere I have my Vichy materials in the garage. I haven't read the books you reference but I have heard of Marc Bloch, a Communist if I recall correctly. But look at what the publishers of the book you have referenced say about it: "Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. In the midst of his anguish, he nevertheless "brought to his study of the crisis all the critical faculty and all the penetrating analysis of a first-rate historian" (Christian Science Monitor). Bloch takes a close look at the military failures he witnessed, examining why France was unable to respond to attack quickly and effectively. He gives a personal account of the battle of France, followed by a biting analysis of the generation between the wars. His harsh conclusion is that the immediate cause of the disaster was the utter incompetence of the High Command, but his analysis ranges broadly, appraising all the factors, social as well as military, which since 1870 had undermined French national solidarity. "Much has been, and will be, written in explanation of the defeat of France in 1940, but it seems unlikely that the truth of the matter will ever be more accurately and more vividly presented than in this statement of evidence." — P. J. Philip, New York Times Book Review "The most wisdom-packed commentary on the problem set [before] all intelligent and patriotic Frenchmen by the events of 1940." — D. W. Brogan, Spectator"

It sounds as though Bloch covered some of the same material you are dispariging; which suggests you don't read your reference. Here is the part I'm referring to: "He gives a personal account of the battle of France, followed by a biting analysis of the generation between the wars. His harsh conclusion is that the immediate cause of the disaster was the utter incompetence of the High Command, but his analysis ranges broadly, appraising all the factors, social as well as military, which since 1870 had undermined French national solidarity." This is from your reference but I would wager it supports what I was saying about the period prior to WWI and then the interwar period.
He was a Communist, of course he argues that social and economic factors would matter! That doesn't mean that his primary argument, that the defeat was predominantly a military one, wasn't in fact rooted in military matters. A defeat of that magnitude does not happen overnight, and there were very deep roots in that misunderstanding of modern warfare, roots that were institutional and cultural. So congratulations, this illustrates that a Communist emphasizes social and economic factors. In other news, water has been confirmed to be wet and to rely on covalent bonding to create surface tension.

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I looked Bloch up on Wikipedia and found, "Bloch was highly interdisciplinary, influenced by the geography of Paul Vidal de la Blache (1845–1918)[1] and the sociology of Émile Durkheim (1858–1917). In Méthodologie Historique (written in 1906 but not published until 1988), Bloch rejected the histoire événementielle (event history) of his mentors Charles-Victor Langlois and Charles Seignobos to argue for greater analysis of the role of structural and social phenomena in determining the outcome of historical events."

This is the very thing I was writing and concerned about. We can't just rely upon military events in attempting to understand a war. We must grapple with the subjects Bloch is quoted as being concerned with.

So applying logic here, what are the possible solutions to this conundrum? These occur to me:

(1) You misunderstood what Marc Bloch was saying about the social events influencing World Wars one and two.

(2) You didn't read the book you quote as your reference.
On the contrary, you misunderstand what he was doing and why he was doing it. He was emphasizing the clear (in hindsight) set of mistakes dating back to 1918 that exploded into the disaster of 1940, not anything more or anything less.

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I can see now why you don't like my quoting from books before advancing my speculations and arguments. You actually need to read books if you intend to invoke their texts in arguments.
I have read Sears and I think the one critique you have of him that has merit is that his dislike of George McClellan the man overshadows an appraisal of McClellan the general. I think he laid that dislike on with a trowel, and would disagree with his assertion that McClellan had some complex predisposing him to failure. Primarily because I see psychohistory as junk history.

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You write, "I remember full well your insult to me by indicating I must disagree with you because I am Sears." I actually find your verbal abuse so extraordinarily silly that I couldn't help guessing about what was behind it. You won't say. You won't admit your biases or presuppositions. Your attacks are so over-the-top as to defy reason; so I was left to guess. The only "reasonable" explanation I could think of was that Underlankers was a pseudonym for Sears. Of course I didn't really believe that. Sears is a much better writer.

Lawrence
My biases in a discussion of McClellan are rooted in a distaste for uppity generals who refuse to accept civilian rule of what they do. If that's a bad thing, the Founding Fathers shared it. Most of the time I think they were a bunch of silly old men who aren't up to the 21st Century but this is one time I think they were quite right on the money. I used to dislike him as a man but more in-depth study of his performance leads me to think instead that Grant was right, he was 'one of the real mysteries of the war.'

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I can tell in advance that you won't really want my attention on these matters.
On the contrary, I absolutely do. I'm interested in a defense of McClellan that doesn't amount to 'my opponent is an idiot and I refuse to prove what I believe and I cite books that I don't even read.' I am familiar with that, not with a more reasoned defense of the man. So far I'm just seeing this as a more genteel version of that methodology and nothing really disproves that assertion.

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Here is what you wrote: "My argument against McClellan is that he was a MacArthur prototype, the same inability to read a battle, the same hubris, the same tendency to meddle in politics where he should not, the same overweening desire to blame everyone but himself for his mistakes. If Harsh, Reed, and the like (and your interpretation of them) can show this viewpoint is mistaken, I'd welcome a discussion on that basis."

You write "my argument" but you haven't presented an argument. An argument must begin with evidence. Where is the evidence? You haven't presented any. What you have presented is a series of unsupported "assertions."
My assertions are supported, as I have mentioned time and time again by the most basic elements of common knowledge on the war. In the Seven Days and the Peninsula Campaign McClellan lost only one real battle, Glendale. Every other time he won. Yet he was writing 'If I save this army, it is no thanks to you. You have done your best to sacrifice this army' in the middle of his shattering defeats of horribly co-ordinated offensives. If that's ability to read a battle I'm an alien invader from another dimension.

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You write "My argument against McClellan is that he was a MacArthur prototype, the same inability to read a battle, etc." What you have presented however isn't an argument. You don't quote or reference McClellan's "inability to read a battle" and then quote a reference showing MacArthur's inability to read a battle. You merely "assert" that these inabilities exist. Instead of the word "argument" you should have substituted something like "belief." You can believe anything you like, but if you argue you must have evidence.
My evidence, as I have stated, is incidents such as his screaming defeat after Malvern Hill. Only a McClellan would see a crushing repulse of major frontal attacks on a strong defensive position as a defeat and refuse to follow up on it. If Malvern Hill is part of some genius plan he kept up his sleeve, Harsh, Reed, and the like need a very strong case to prove that.

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But if we substitute the more accurate term "belief" for "argument" then it makes little sense to demand that Rowland, Harsh, Rafuse & Reed should defend themselves against your "belief." And as far as I've read, none of them has anything whatsoever to say about MacArthur.
Nor would they, because my argument is not based on their statements or on those of Sears. He sees McClellan as an over-promoted spoiled brat who like all menchildren never had a mistake that wasn't someone else's fault. I see him as a prototype of MacArthur because what I've read on his campaigns (including Sears's works) indicates that he was, to use a phrase applicable in the original to Lord Auchinleck "possessed of every virtue of war but the killer instinct."

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You write, "James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, Jeffrey Wert's biography of Longstreet, Allan Millet's For the Common Defense, Bevin Alexander's Robert E. Lee's Civil War, all present a view of McClellan as excessively dawdling and incapable of recognizing the most basic conduct of a modern battlefield. No defense of him, other than one that invents entirely unknown except to the author labels such as 'Neo-Radical Republicans' can erase these most basic facts."

Most of this was discussed or alluded to in previous notes. Sears represented a view common twenty years ago. His To the Gates of Richmond was written in 1992. His The Young Napoleon was written in 1988. Two of your quoted references are of that era: Battle Cry of Freedom (1988); Wert's book on Longstreet (1993). Of the other two, I like Bevin Alexander and have read several of his books but not that particular one. Millett wrote a lot about other wars. Neither Alexander nor Millett sound like Civil War scholars. I would be very surprised if they did original research. McPherson and Wert have done original research but at the time they wrote it isn't surprising that they came out in the same place that Sears did. Rowland and Rafuse represent more recent scholarship, and a trend away from being excessively critical against McClellan.
That's great that they represent a new trend in scholarship. I'm all for a new look at old failures. Nonetheless what you present is a lot of personal insults, arguments from counterfactual history, and statements that indicate an appalling ignorance of a wide variety of topics brought up by both you and the scholars you quote of minimal relevance to the evaluations of McClellan. The very thread title itself is anti-historical as it presumes there is any such thing as a 'fair' or 'unfair' approach. There are historical works written purely to attack people. That's been done since Seutonius. That doesn't mean that the concept of 'fair' has real utility to history. By the way, I might also add that Bevin Alexander's critiques of Lee and McClellan rely on the notion of Stonewall Jackson as the genius who would cure all ills. He's a pure partisan of Jackson, which is where I vehemently disagree with his works after reading no less than four straight biographies on Jackson, as well as comparing his works to those of Douglas Southall Freeman and finding it interesting to see just where Freeman actually bashed Jackson to favor Lee.

While these books do make assertions that agree with me, I do not agree with all the points raised in them. Nobody ever should with any history book, nor should people accept assertions in them at face value. This is extremely elementary to history as it actually works. Failure to appreciate this, and the attempt to replace one bias with another are anti-historical, in my view. Of course there are historians like David Irving, Anatoly Fomenko, and the like who do indeed try to retcon reality to suit their own point of view. They're welcome to that approach, they have the freedom to spread lies. They'll still be lies at the end of the day.

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Originally Posted by Lawrence Helm View Post
You write, "No defense of him, other than one that invents entirely unknown except to the author labels such as 'Neo-Radical Republicans' can erase these most basic facts." Part of the reason I haven't respond to your assertions is that your grammar is so abysmal. What on earth does your sentence mean? I have no idea." Anyone can miss a few typos, but this is an entire sentence, at least I suppose it is. Why should I address a sentence like that? Or to put it another way, how could I begin to address a sentence like that?
It's an allusion to 67th Tigers and his Modus Operandi. On his blog and on AH.com he referred to 'Neo-Radicals', a term he invented and nobody else uses. He would make statements, be caught red-handed spreading falsehoods, and then never recanted. I saw this far too often to credit any other defense of McClellan. And again, when you write a question, use question marks. Don't call me ignorant or accuse me of poor grammar and misspell my user name when you quote it and presumably could at least copy-paste it from there and don't bother to put the proper punctuation at the end of a sentence.

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As I've written elsewhere and believe, there is nothing wrong with not receiving a formal education. Lincoln never had one and yet he educated himself and did a pretty good job of it. Education needn't be formal, but it needs to come from somewhere if one intends to engage in logical debate.

Lawrence
Indeed. And so far from you I've seen nothing of it. At least 67th is good enough to link to the entire books he claims to have read. You haven't bothered to do that once with any of the block-quotes you present your commentaries on and presume to lecture others about how to cite. First rule of doing so, that requires an ability of others to check on what you argue. For example using that biography of Joe Johnston to argue in favor of McClellan from an author who dislikes Joe Johnston as an egotistical manchild who never accepted certain basic military-civilian realities any more than McClellan did. Those assertions were made precisely to show that Joe Johnston was a poor field commander and had a great willingness not to fight at all. That he thought this about McClellan was held to represent his poor judgment of the field.

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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:18 PM   #132

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I did everything possible to avoid Underlankers, but he kept coming. He insulted me but I didn't insult him. I described his reality.
No you didn't, actually. You have yet to do a single citation that can be verified, and quote-mining books that I've read that argue something entirely different is right out of a playbook I'm very familiar with. You are finally spelling my username right, so thank you for that.

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And I described yours to. You presented a series of assertions that was supposed to educate me about McClellan because you had studied him. I replied to what you had written. If you expected some sugar coating, you hit me on the wrong day, and this is another.

I'm sorry that you're offended, but when a few people avoid good manners, and the rules of logical debate, or offer a less than sterling argument for comment, then yeah, if too many arrive with that sort of thing I quickly run out of sugar coating.

Also, I'm amazed that you didn't see Underlankers coming after me with insult after insult, not too amazed though since you obviously identify strongly with him. At first I ignored him, but he kept clamoring for attention. At last I gave him attention. And then you cry "foul! Insults!" Not true, much of what I wrote to him can apply to you as well. If you are going to debate on a forum such as this, maybe some people will overlook or ignore your inadequacies, but eventually you will push them on someone like me who has already been pushed by someone else and the truth will out. Taking it personally isn't going to help you.

Lawrence

Lawrence
Insult after insult? I have said your ideas are nonsense, but I have not insulted you personally. If I have insulted your person when I call that nonsense nonsense, then I apologize. The argument does not reflect on the person, and you give every indication of being well-read.

For that matter when I first responded to you, you said that my assertions were fair and you agreed with most of them. Now you say I'm an ignoramus. Which is it, is it the comment at #65 or is it what you say now? In fact, my very first assertion of his military competence was to note that the military machine he built was massive and lacked vital parts of a balanced military machine, specifically a cavalry arm.

I have nowhere in any of this provided any basis of other arguments against McClellan. I have indeed noted his excessive demand for all Union reserves to be in his department and his cry of betrayal when such demands were given the responses they deserved. I likewise noted that he was grand in concept, pathetic in execution, and made the MacArthur analogy precisely to avoid going after the man because that's actually too simple and too logically fallacious.

So far I have not seen you reciprocate this with arguments beyond 'he was the smartest man in the room' and statements that his distrust of Lincoln was somehow justified. That's Ludendorffism. Generals obey civilian masters in modern warfare, that's how it is. If they don't like it, they get fired, and that too is how it is.
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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:26 PM   #133

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He was a paranoid man of middling competence in organizing an army. Joe Hooker, after all, was the man who properly organized the Army of the Potomac's cavalry. The McClellan structure, with the kind of cavalry structure he built, had huge heft and firepower but limited mobility and strategic flexibility. That made him a very good precursor of First World War-style armies, or he would have been if he had been more willing to strike more rapidly with greater power. All the arguments about numerical parity or what have you are belied by the reality that he did get to the James and the position to besiege Richmond with his primary enemy in the form of his own imagination only managing to delay him. Wars are not won by flawless tactical maneuvers that show no appreciation of strategic reality.

It's also telling that almost all of his defenses for his failures could have been written by Erich Ludendorff circa 1919. The idea of a political stab in the back of the legend in his own mind does not hold water in either case, and is a cowardly refusal of responsibility. It especially does not hold water when we look at the pattern of his own letters illustrating his utter contempt for the President and his refusal to delegate responsibility to others. If a man like that takes on such responsibility and lacks the will or the power to wield it properly, that is not the fault of anyone else but himself.
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It depends on how we rate good organization. The structure he built was heavy on firepower and mass but lacked mobility. In a sense he created a precursor of a WWI army when he really didn't have any requirement to do that. Grant and Rosecrans and even Sturgis all showed that Union armies were capable of rapid, flexible maneuvers of the overland and amphibious variety.
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That was the Siege of Yorktown and the commander in question was Joe Johnston. His drilling his infantry was fine and all, but he won tactically all but one of the Seven Days' battles. Anyone who calls the Battle of Malvern Hill a defeat has no business commanding an army on the battlefield.
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The problem with that is that winning that kind of war necessitated both the willingness to spend lives on the battlefield and the ability to know a victory when he saw one. Obviously if McClellan as eating on ships in the middle of battles he could not do this. Even when directly on the field, he made no effort whatsoever to accomplish basic tactics or to read the nature of the battlefields around him. Strategy as a concept must be left to the human agencies that execute it, and McClellan was never the man who had the skills required to make the limited war feasible. He was too willing to pre-emptively create Dolchstosslegenden to go fight the enemy and actually do his job. The statement that we should judge a man who had a chance to win the war and to retain command of the entire US military machine and blew both of them from his ego by any standard but those which actually won the war strikes me as special pleading.

McClellan's strategies really bring to mind the worst elements of the 20th Century. All the unrealistic inability to appreciate that war always has a political element, the politicized monkeying with numbers, and the overweening egoes of Douglas MacArthur were present in McClellan. If Grant represents one face of the 20th Century, it's arguable that McClellan was the precursor of the Westmorelands and the MacArthurs of later eras. Legends in their own minds incapable of delivering a fraction of otherwise-promising ideas.
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Actually he had some similarities with Halleck in his obsession with a glacially slow level of advance and a complete inability to read a battlefield situation. He again reminds me most of MacArthur in his overwhelming ego, his delusions of political grandeur, and his having actually good ideas in concept that his execution of them rendered worthless in practice. An idea is only as good as the people required to execute it, and McClellan's strategic ideas were only good insofar as not-McClellan executed them. His deepest flaws again were a massive army that lacked basic mobility and an exploitation arm, and his tendencies to believe in unrealistically oversized manpower on the part of his enemy, the better to justify concentration of essentially every single bit of manpower the Union had at its disposal, after which he still would have found reasons to refuse to move.

Fortunately for him he faced Joe Johnston, who was as unwilling to fight as he was, at the start and not someone like Lee or even A.S. Johnston.
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I think the problem is that he claimed he was drastically outnumbered at Yorktown, which he was not. What he was was bamboozled by an actor's finest performance. By the time he really was ready to fight, the enemy slipped right out underneath his nose. That is not exactly a sign of reading the battlefield properly. Likewise he was tactically the victor of all but one of the Seven Days' battles, and he failed to note any of the times he was the tactical victor or to even try to exploit his victories. The only time he was fast was when he was retreating.
^Here are all my critiques of McClellan at the start of the thread stated for your convenience. Any claim that I have somehow altered my argument or departed from the purpose of the thread can be rated against this, where my argument all along is consistent: he was not a good organizer in the sense that he's usually made out to be. The military system he built was poorly structured, lacking a balanced cavalry arm suited for independent action. Joe Hooker in the Chancellorsville Campaign built the actual cavalry arm. Burnside did not change this aspect of McClellan's army and his system was worse than McClellan's in some ways, as his Grand Divisions were not really that suited to 19th Century combat.

McClellan, as I noted here, won more battles than he lost, but he never once tried to follow up on his victories. How someone wins as crushing a victory as Malvern Hill or Fair Oaks and Seven Pines and does not follow up on them is a mystery, but what it does reveal is that McClellan did not have aptitude to read a battle or to recognize when he'd won some of the greatest victories of the entire war, relatively speaking. This is where the comparison to MacArthur and Westmoreland came in: both of them won 'victories' that proved utterly useless, and decided that their failings were the fault of their civilian overlords. It's my analogy, not one used in published histories. It's an analogy derived from reading about both MacArthur and Westmoreland and recognizing the similarities.

Again, I welcome proof from Harsh, Reed, and Rafuse that these assertions are incorrect. If he was in fact stabbed in the back, if he did in fact recognize his victories and genuinely, instead of Fomenko-style, followed up on them, I'd concede error. You are correct that Sears has an unprofessional air to his critiques, and I will not deny that. That, however, does not equal that his critiques are invalid or that you have shown he really is all that brilliant. That so many of your arguments turn to conciliation and so few of them to his actual battlefield career to me simply validates my analogies. McClellan was a mediocre politician and worse than worthless as a general.
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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #134
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Newton Knight wrote, "As you either need to prove something to yourself or simply show of to this forum of how big a user you are i do not know or really care, as you have clearly shown . . . "

That has to be a projection of your own. I am at the farthest pole from that. My problem in the interest of self-disclosure and identifying personal bias, is misanthropy. I have a lot of difficulty not being unhappy with my fellow man. I know I shouldn't be and if I am only subjected to a little of him I can usually manage, but too much of him, especially if he feels a need to subject me to irrational assertions and I begin to become unglued.

During my last several years at Boeing I sat on the C-17 change board. Engineers would come to this board and request approval for the changes they wanted to make. I was from Engineering but on that board I represented the Air Force and insisted that the Air Forces interests in having the best possible weapon system were honored. Unprepared engineers were sent off to get their "arguments" properly developed. I had one senior manager say he'd be glad when I retired since I slowed him down. I'm sure he wasn't alone. Well, now I'm retired. Back to McClellan (if possible).

Lawrence
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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:47 PM   #135

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Newton Knight wrote, "As you either need to prove something to yourself or simply show of to this forum of how big a user you are i do not know or really care, as you have clearly shown . . . "

That has to be a projection of your own. I am at the farthest pole from that. My problem in the interest of self-disclosure and identifying personal bias, is misanthropy. I have a lot of difficulty not being unhappy with my fellow man. I know I shouldn't be and if I am only subjected to a little of him I can usually manage, but too much of him, especially if he feels a need to subject me to irrational assertions and I begin to become unglued.

During my last several years at Boeing I sat on the C-17 change board. Engineers would come to this board and request approval for the changes they wanted to make. I was from Engineering but on that board I represented the Air Force and insisted that the Air Forces interests in having the best possible weapon system were honored. Unprepared engineers were sent off to get their "arguments" properly developed. I had one senior manager say he'd be glad when I retired since I slowed him down. I'm sure he wasn't alone. Well, now I'm retired. Back to McClellan (if possible).

Lawrence
Honestly, I actually sympathize with this. I don't like a lot of people either, and I am still at that point in my 20s where I'm arrogant enough to believe I know a great deal of everything and that everyone who disagrees with me will see how right I am even though I know that reality always has other plans and that my plans don't even necessarily come close to being right all the time. If I had a job like that I'd be sorely tempted when retiring to use a cluster F bomb and then say 'who's laughing now' and walk out with a big ol' shark grin on my face.

So yeah, I understand hating other people. A job like yours just makes it easier as you see people at their most entitled and selfish. So I don't take it personally if someone with that experience finds me a bit abrasive on the Internet. Real-world experience always shapes how we post here. We just disagree on McClellan, nothing more and nothing less. And on certain fundamental matters of how to view source material and how historiography works and how much bias does or does not influence things, but all that's just methodology as per one Civil War general.
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Old July 6th, 2013, 05:55 PM   #136
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Underlankers writes,

"McClellan, as I noted here, won more battles than he lost, but he never once tried to follow up on his victories. How someone wins as crushing a victory as Malvern Hill or Fair Oaks and Seven Pines and does not follow up on them is a mystery, but what it does reveal is that McClellan did not have aptitude to read a battle or to recognize when he'd won some of the greatest victories of the entire war . . . ."

This is closer to an argument. There is ample evidence to support what McClellan actually did. But when you write "what it does reveal is that McClellan did not have aptitude to read battle or to recognize when he'd won some of the greatest victories of the entire war" you go too far. One of the main themes of Ethan Rafuse's McClellan's War , the Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union has to do with this subject "moderation." McClellan doesn't have the killer instinct that Lincoln wanted and part of that may be due to his being able to look forward to the aftermath of the war and realize that we had to go back to getting along with one another. He gave up formal conciliation but he didn't want to utterly destroy his defeated enemy either.

Someone in a book I read recently said that the idea that an army in the Civil War (an idea held by both Lincoln and Davis) was a myth. No army had been or could be utterly destroyed. A list of reasons was provided. The classic not-following-up to destroy an army occurred after Gettysburg. Meade was condemned by Lincoln and his war department for that, but his men were exhausted and there were other reasons it was unwise for him to attempt pursuit.

I'll grant what you say about McClellan not following up after his victories, but I don't think you have proved that his reason for that was inability to read a battle.

Lawrence
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Old July 6th, 2013, 06:03 PM   #137

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Underlankers writes,

"McClellan, as I noted here, won more battles than he lost, but he never once tried to follow up on his victories. How someone wins as crushing a victory as Malvern Hill or Fair Oaks and Seven Pines and does not follow up on them is a mystery, but what it does reveal is that McClellan did not have aptitude to read a battle or to recognize when he'd won some of the greatest victories of the entire war . . . ."

This is closer to an argument. There is ample evidence to support what McClellan actually did. But when you write "what it does reveal is that McClellan did not have aptitude to read battle or to recognize when he'd won some of the greatest victories of the entire war" you go too far. One of the main themes of Ethan Rafuse's McClellan's War , the Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union has to do with this subject "moderation." McClellan doesn't have the killer instinct that Lincoln wanted and part of that may be due to his being able to look forward to the aftermath of the war and realize that we had to go back to getting along with one another. He gave up formal conciliation but he didn't want to utterly destroy his defeated enemy either.

Someone in a book I read recently said that the idea that an army in the Civil War (an idea held by both Lincoln and Davis) was a myth. No army had been or could be utterly destroyed. A list of reasons was provided. The classic not-following-up to destroy an army occurred after Gettysburg. Meade was condemned by Lincoln and his war department for that, but his men were exhausted and there were other reasons it was unwise for him to attempt pursuit.

I'll grant what you say about McClellan not following up after his victories, but I don't think you have proved that his reason for that was inability to read a battle.

Lawrence
I think that it's quite clear.

The Battle of Malvern Hill Summary & Facts | Civilwar.org

I use Malvern Hill as the classic example because it's the most explicitly clear-cut victory of his entire career. McClellan's entire army faces Lee's army in a sequence of blundering attacks worthy of the finest performance of Zapp Brannigan and Leeroy Jenkins. Repeated frontal infantry attacks into a powerful artillery position that had already with great ease suppressed attempts to take it down via artillery. Vastly disproportionate casualties in favor of McClellan, with much the larger army and having completed his change of base that he did following Stuart's ride around his army. What does he do after this? Calls it a defeat and retreats to Harrison's Landing. Why? Because again, he commands a battle where Lee's army wages war like the Keystone Kops, and doesn't know a victory when he won one and is in a good position to throw Lee's army back by launching even smaller-scale assaults with strong forces not at all committed to the fight.

'The Roar and Rattle': McClellan's Missed Opportunities at Antietam

At Antietam, when given the chance to annihilate Lee's army, he completely fails to co-ordinate or to direct his offensive, leading to disjointed battles, plural, when he didn't need to have them. As I see it, even Rosecrans and Meade would have cut off Lee's line of retreat when he had just that: one easily interdictable line of retreat. Even with his clumsy performance, it was the fluke circumstance of A.P. Hill arriving late due to the Harper's Ferry battle that saved Lee, not Lee. As I see it, tactically McClellan won Antietam and had he decided to call Lee's bluff on the 18th what survives of the ANV would have collectively lynched Marse Robert for his idiocy. But he did not call it, and Lee retreated and spin doctored that debacle into something of a victory.

So yeah, he really did not have what it took to read a battle, and he lacked the killer instinct. He was a general, and as Nathan Bedford Forrest put it, war means fighting and fighting means killing. Refusal to accept this will not win one a campaign or a war.
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Old July 6th, 2013, 06:21 PM   #138

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Next I acquired Rowena Reed's Combined Operations in the Civil War. She also wrote before Sears and takes up primarily McClellan's "combined operations." She was very impressed by what she discovered and argues to that effect. The very fact that she was impressed by McClellan comes athwart Sears anti-McClellan prejudice.
Interesting that you miss Reed's strong pro-McClellan bias.

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Next I referred to Craig L. Symonds Joseph E. Johnston, A Civil War Biography, 1992, for a look at a Confederate general fighting against McClellan
How about looking at Craig L. Symonds assessment of McClellan? In the introduction to the essay collection Union Combined Operations in the Civil War, Symonds notes:

"Whatever the merits of McClellan's vision of combined operations, he lacked both the steadiness necessary to manage them effectively and the drive to see them through."

Last edited by Fiver; July 6th, 2013 at 06:42 PM.
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Old July 6th, 2013, 06:40 PM   #139
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Interesting that you miss Reed's strong pro-McClellan bias.

How about looking at Craig L. Symonds assessment of McClellan? In the introduction to the essay collection Union Combined Operations in the Civil War, Symonds notes:

"Whatever the merits of McClellan's vision of combined operations, he lacked both the steadiness necessary to manage hem effectively and the drive to see them through."
In writing "Interesting that you miss Reed's strong pro-McClellan bias," you don't address the very important question, did she become biased in McClellan's favor before or after she studied him?

As to Symonds book I don't have that one, but he comes across in Sears camp in his 1992 bio of Joe Johnston. Why should that surprise me or stop believing in a trend away from the anti-McClellan bias they share. Symonds bio of Joe Johnston was written the same year as Sears To the Gates of Richmond. Did Symonds review the latest scholarship on McClellan before publishing his 2010 Union Combined operations in the Civil War (The North's Civil War) or just build on that part of his understanding of McClellan that he already had? I don't know. If he had arguments countering the Rafuse McClellan camp (to coin a term) I would be interested.

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Old July 6th, 2013, 06:45 PM   #140
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I did everything possible to avoid Underlankers, but he kept coming. He insulted me but I didn't insult him. I described his reality. And I described yours to. You presented a series of assertions that was supposed to educate me about McClellan because you had studied him. I replied to what you had written. If you expected some sugar coating, you hit me on the wrong day, and this is another.

I'm sorry that you're offended, but when a few people avoid good manners, and the rules of logical debate, or offer a less than sterling argument for comment, then yeah, if too many arrive with that sort of thing I quickly run out of sugar coating.

Also, I'm amazed that you didn't see Underlankers coming after me with insult after insult, not too amazed though since you obviously identify strongly with him. At first I ignored him, but he kept clamoring for attention. At last I gave him attention. And then you cry "foul! Insults!" Not true, much of what I wrote to him can apply to you as well. If you are going to debate on a forum such as this, maybe some people will overlook or ignore your inadequacies, but eventually you will push them on someone like me who has already been pushed by someone else and the truth will out. Taking it personally isn't going to help you.

Lawrence

Lawrence
Lawrence in your reply my first post to you at the end was in insult to my mental capacity, that i was an uneducated fool who you did not have time for, is the theme i got from your words at the end.

How you expected me to respond with insults and vulgar language like i was some street punk who's parents never properly disciplined and installed a proper respect for the law.

For example of your first post in response to my own you wrote.

Quote ( This is one of the disadvantages of a not having a formal education) unquote.

Quote ( Do I seem curt in this note? I apologize for that, but I made the mistake of trying to be gentle with a confusing uneducated person yesterday and I don't have the time to do that again.) unquote.

This was beyond rude, this was nothing but an example of being childish in response to a post that had no ill meaning or intent, as i have posted in my response if a offense or insult was present in my post you should have endeavored in asking if it was intended or not, not responding like a child, who has a apparent and severe need of manners.

As you so pointed out when you wrote in this post of overlooking or ignoring my or someones inadequacies, only furthers my conviction of you being a child.

And as far as i am aware of Underlankers has never questioned my mental capacity in response to one of my posts.

Last edited by Newton Knight; July 6th, 2013 at 06:49 PM.
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