Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Robert E. Lee's Most Capable Opponent?
Per General Lee himself, the Union commander who proved to be his most skilled nemesis was George Brinton McClellan.
"By all odds!" Marse Robert stated, quite emphatically.
Okay, I will gladly concede that McClellan built the Army of the Potomac into an impressive fighting force, providing for it and rallying it after two dismaying defeats (First and Second Manassas).
The rally following the second battle was especially impressive, since the Union army had not only been defeated decisively at Second Manassas, it was deeply demoralized by the loss.
But...as a battlefield commander, McClellan was tentative and always convinced he was heavily outnumbered. After every battle of the Seven Days, he retreated despite holding the ground at the end of each one with the exception of Gaines's Mill. He threw just over half of his army into battle at Antietam, having a massive reserve that would have ended the War in 1862 had he but used it.
So...what was Lee thinking? I can't puzzle that one out, for the life of me.