Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 338 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
been reprehensibly slow in moving upon Yorktown, and had blundered by besieging instead of trying an assault, certainly the snail-like approach upon Corinth had been equally deliberate and wasteful of time and opportunity; and if McClellan had marched into deserted intrenchments, so also had Halleck.  If McClellan had captured “Quaker guns” at Manassas, Halleck had found the like peaceful weapons frowning from the ramparts of Corinth.  If McClellan had held inactive a powerful force when it ought to have been marching to Manassas, Halleck had also held inactive another powerful force, a part of which might have helped to take Vicksburg.  If the records of these two men were stated in parallel columns, it would be difficult to see why one should have been taken and the other left.  But the explanation exists and is instructive, and it is wholly for the sake of the explanation that the comparison has been made.  McClellan was “in politics,” and Halleck was not; McClellan, therefore, had a host of active, unsparing enemies in Washington, which Halleck had not; the Virginia field of operations was ceaselessly and microscopically inspected; the Western field attracted occasional glances not conducive to a full knowledge.  Halleck, as commander in a department where victories were won, seemed to have won the victories, and no politicians cared to deny his right to the glory; whereas the politicians, whose hatred of McClellan had, by the admission of one of themselves, become a mania,[167] were entirely happy to have any one set over his head, and would not imperil their pleasure by too close an inspection of the new aspirant’s merits.  These remarks are not designed to have any significance upon the merits or demerits of McClellan, which have been elsewhere discussed, nor upon the merits or demerits of Halleck, which are not worth discussing; but they are made simply because they afford so forcible an illustration of certain important conditions at Washington at this time.  The truth is that the ensnarlment of the Eastern military affairs with politics made success in that field impossible for the North.  The condition made it practically inevitable that a Union commander in Virginia should have his thoughts at least as much occupied with the members of Congress in the capital behind him as with the Confederate soldiers in camp before him.  Such division of his attention was ruinous.  At and before the outbreak of the rebellion the South had expected to be aided efficiently by a great body of sympathizers at the North.  As yet they had been disappointed in this; but almost simultaneously with this disappointment they were surprised by a valuable and unexpected assistance, growing out of the open feuds, the covert malice, the bad blood, the partisanship, and the wire-pulling introduced by the loyal political fraternity into campaigning business.  The quarreling politicians were doing, very efficiently, the work which Southern sympathizers had been expected to do.

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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