John Swansburg reviews Richard Slotkin's new book, The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution. The book focuses rather singularly on George B. McClellan, chronicling his many misdeeds. Flirting with treason, for instance:
To show us McClellan at his self-serving worst, Slotkin takes us back to the Second Battle of Bull Run, in August 1862, in which Robert E. Lee badly outmaneuvered a Union force commanded by John Pope. The North had forces that could have come to Pope's rescue, but unfortunately for the soldiers being cut down by the Confederates, those forces were commanded by McClellan, who saw Pope as a threat to his ambitions.
Despite repeated orders to reinforce Pope, McClellan dragged his feet, asking for clarification on who would be in command when he arrived on the scene. By the time he got his troops to the field, it was too late. Slotkin quotes Attorney General Edward Bates' assessment of McClellan's performance: "a criminal tardiness, a fatuous apathy, a captious, bickering rivalry, among our commanders who seem so taken up with their quick-made dignity that they overlook the lives of their people & the necessities of their country."
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.