Conflict of Command: George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Politics of War (George C. Rable - UA)

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by George C. Rable (Author), T. Michael Parrish (Series Editor)

The fraught relationship between Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan is well known, so much so that many scholars rarely question the standard narrative casting the two as foils, with the Great Emancipator inevitably coming out on top over his supposedly feckless commander. In Conflict of Command, acclaimed Civil War historian George C. Rable rethinks that stance, providing a new understanding of the interaction between the president and his leading wartime general by reinterpreting the political aspects of their partnership.

Rable pays considerable attention to Lincoln’s cabinet, Congress, and newspaper editorials, revealing the role each played in shaping the dealings between the two men. While he surveys McClellan’s military campaigns as commander of the Army of the Potomac, Rable focuses on the political fallout of the fighting rather than the tactical details. This broadly conceived approach highlights the army officers and enlisted men who emerged as citizen-soldiers and political actors.

Most accounts of the Lincoln-McClellan feud solely examine one of the two individuals, and the vast majority adopt a steadfast pro-Lincoln position. Taking a more neutral view, Rable deftly shows how the relationship between the two developed in a political context and ultimately failed spectacularly, profoundly altering the course of the Civil War itself.

  • Release date: August 30, 2023
  • Hardcover
  • 496 pages