General McClellan, You're Fired
NATIONAL WAR COLL WASHINGTON DC
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This essay presents a simulated letter from President Abraham Lincoln to General George McClellan relieving McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac during the U.S. Civil War. The President explains to McClellan why he is being relieved of his duties based on writings by Carl von Clausewitz. What particularly interests the President is von Clausewitzs writings on Military Genius, that is, the traits that describe the character of genius in war. Lincoln is particularly appalled at McClellans inability to achieve victories on the battlefield, even when they are presented to him. Lincoln focuses on the traits of coup doeil inner vision and determination as traits that McClellan lacked, and that General Robert E. Lee possessed, during the time before and during the battle of Antietam. Lincoln states that General Lee exhibited the majority of the traits associated with Military Genius, but most specifically coup doeil. Lee was extraordinarily successful in his recovery from the disastrous lost dispatch, and although his campaign into Maryland was not a triumph, McClellans failure to capitalize on several of the chances of war were particularly disastrous. Should Lincoln have the option, he would appoint General Lee as the commander of all the Union armies.
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