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Too Useful to Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan's Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam

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The importance of Robert E. Lee s first movement north of the Potomac River in September 1862 is difficult to overstate. After his string of successes in Virginia, a decisive Confederate victory in Maryland or Pennsylvania may well have spun the war in an entirely different direction. Why he and his Virginia army did not find success across the Potomac was due in large mea The importance of Robert E. Lee s first movement north of the Potomac River in September 1862 is difficult to overstate. After his string of successes in Virginia, a decisive Confederate victory in Maryland or Pennsylvania may well have spun the war in an entirely different direction. Why he and his Virginia army did not find success across the Potomac was due in large measure to the generalship of George B. McClellan, as Steven Stotelmyer ably demonstrates in Too Useful to Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam.Although typecast as the slow and overly cautious general who allowed Lee s battered army to escape, in fact, argues Stotelmyer, General McClellan deserves significant credit for defeating and turning back the South s most able general. He does so through five comprehensive chapters, each dedicated to a specific major issue of the campaign: Fallacies Regarding the Lost OrdersAll the Injury Possible: The Day between South Mountain and AntietamAntietam: The Sequel to South MountainGeneral John Pope at Antietam and the Politics behind the Myth of the Unused ReservesSupplies and Demands: The Demise of General George B. McClellanWas McClellan s response to the discovery of Lee s Lost Orders really as slow and inept as we have been led to believe? Although routinely dismissed as a small prelude to the main event at Antietam, was the fighting on South Mountain the real Confederate high tide in Maryland? Is the criticism leveled against McClellan for not rapidly pursuing Lee s army after the victory on South Mountain warranted? Did McClellan fail to make good use of his reserves in the bloody fighting on September 17? Finally, what is the real story behind McClellan s apparent failure to pursue the defeated Confederate army after Antietam, which triggered President Lincoln s frustration with him and resulted in his removal?Utilizing extensive primary documents and with a keen appreciation for the infrastructure of the nineteenth century Maryland terrain, Stotelmyer deeply explores these long-held beliefs, revealing that often the influence of political considerations dictated military decision-making, and the deliberate actions of the Lincoln Administration behind McClellan s back resulted in bringing about many of the general s supposed shortcomings. As readers will soon discover, Lincoln did not need to continue searching for a capable commander; he already had one."


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The importance of Robert E. Lee s first movement north of the Potomac River in September 1862 is difficult to overstate. After his string of successes in Virginia, a decisive Confederate victory in Maryland or Pennsylvania may well have spun the war in an entirely different direction. Why he and his Virginia army did not find success across the Potomac was due in large mea The importance of Robert E. Lee s first movement north of the Potomac River in September 1862 is difficult to overstate. After his string of successes in Virginia, a decisive Confederate victory in Maryland or Pennsylvania may well have spun the war in an entirely different direction. Why he and his Virginia army did not find success across the Potomac was due in large measure to the generalship of George B. McClellan, as Steven Stotelmyer ably demonstrates in Too Useful to Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam.Although typecast as the slow and overly cautious general who allowed Lee s battered army to escape, in fact, argues Stotelmyer, General McClellan deserves significant credit for defeating and turning back the South s most able general. He does so through five comprehensive chapters, each dedicated to a specific major issue of the campaign: Fallacies Regarding the Lost OrdersAll the Injury Possible: The Day between South Mountain and AntietamAntietam: The Sequel to South MountainGeneral John Pope at Antietam and the Politics behind the Myth of the Unused ReservesSupplies and Demands: The Demise of General George B. McClellanWas McClellan s response to the discovery of Lee s Lost Orders really as slow and inept as we have been led to believe? Although routinely dismissed as a small prelude to the main event at Antietam, was the fighting on South Mountain the real Confederate high tide in Maryland? Is the criticism leveled against McClellan for not rapidly pursuing Lee s army after the victory on South Mountain warranted? Did McClellan fail to make good use of his reserves in the bloody fighting on September 17? Finally, what is the real story behind McClellan s apparent failure to pursue the defeated Confederate army after Antietam, which triggered President Lincoln s frustration with him and resulted in his removal?Utilizing extensive primary documents and with a keen appreciation for the infrastructure of the nineteenth century Maryland terrain, Stotelmyer deeply explores these long-held beliefs, revealing that often the influence of political considerations dictated military decision-making, and the deliberate actions of the Lincoln Administration behind McClellan s back resulted in bringing about many of the general s supposed shortcomings. As readers will soon discover, Lincoln did not need to continue searching for a capable commander; he already had one."

22 review for Too Useful to Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan's Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam

  1. 4 out of 5

    GW Rohrer

    FINALLY! A thoroughly documented book based on the facts! Forget the typos, choc that up to the editor. Stephen Stotelmyer has done a SUPERB job in his work with “Too Useful to Sacrifice ...”. Not since Thomas Rowland’s “George B McClellan and Civil War History” has a more accurate account of McClellan’s performance in the 1862 MD Campaign been more accurately depicted. Stotelmyer’s first chapter, “Fallacies Regarding the Lost Orders and the MD Campaign of 1862,” was SO refreshing, di FINALLY! A thoroughly documented book based on the facts! Forget the typos, choc that up to the editor. Stephen Stotelmyer has done a SUPERB job in his work with “Too Useful to Sacrifice ...”. Not since Thomas Rowland’s “George B McClellan and Civil War History” has a more accurate account of McClellan’s performance in the 1862 MD Campaign been more accurately depicted. Stotelmyer’s first chapter, “Fallacies Regarding the Lost Orders and the MD Campaign of 1862,” was SO refreshing, direct, and thoroughly documented from sources on both “sides” of the conflict. And as a veteran, I see nothing offensive about the author's use of the term "armed mob" which in NO WAY dishonors those who gave their last full measure on this battlefield. It's a simple known fact that the AOP was NOT a thoroughly organized army until well after Antietam. What Little Mac accomplished at Antietam saved our Country - THINK about it. Had Lee accomplished his objective, he would have moved on Washington and forced Lincoln to capitulate. The war would have been over and there would be two countries rather than one and Lord only knows where Civil rights would be, today; at least in one of those countries. Chapter 5, “Supplies and Demands: The Demise of MG Geo B McClellan,” should wake-up some die-hards that just refuse to accept the fact that Little Mac was a scape goat for those in the Lincoln administration that had an axe to grind with him and despised his politics. Particularly the “dishrag” named Henry Halleck who road to Washington on the success of a little known (1862) brigadier by the name of Grant. Halleck so distorted the official report on Harpers Ferry with his whimsical testimony that it paved the way for many others to pile-on. If a Quartermaster performed as such in today's military, they'd be Court martialed. Do I like McClellan the person? Do I think he has faults? Do I think he could be disrespectful regarding the President? “No” to the first question; “yes” to the others. I’ve been a student of the Battle of Antietam since the 1962 Centennial as well as a Certified guide and volunteer for nearly a decade in retirement and have LONGED for a book on this campaign so thoroughly documented and presented. Say what you want but Stotelmyer is right on the mark and he nailed it with this book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bobsie67

    Loses a star because of all the typos. A seat of five essays explaining why McLellan was a better general than history would have us believe. He was the victim of political maneuvering and his negative image was created in order to tarnish any possible achievements. Cogent arguments that have been extended by some other Antietam scholars and battlefield guides, but still in the minority. In the end, McClellan’s own political views and poor relationship with Lincoln doomed him to be remembered as Loses a star because of all the typos. A seat of five essays explaining why McLellan was a better general than history would have us believe. He was the victim of political maneuvering and his negative image was created in order to tarnish any possible achievements. Cogent arguments that have been extended by some other Antietam scholars and battlefield guides, but still in the minority. In the end, McClellan’s own political views and poor relationship with Lincoln doomed him to be remembered as all that was wrong with the union army before it was saved by Grant.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fred

  7. 4 out of 5

    Avis Black

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tsnellprof

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Liller

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cgirardmd

  11. 5 out of 5

    Syed Abuzar

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Cordelia Chesterfield

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Allen

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Wiederhoft

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vince

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe Jacobs

  18. 4 out of 5

    Terrance Yount

  19. 4 out of 5

    David L. Keller

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew J.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Frank Wasserboehr

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris Collins

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