Monday, January 14, 2008

Lincoln: The General

In late 1861 Lincoln spoke to Quartermaster General M.C. Meigs. "General what shall I do?" he groaned. "the people are impatient; Chase has no money, and tells me he can raise no more; the General of the Army has typhoid fever. The bottom is out of the tub. What shall I do?"

Despite the many military setbacks that would haunt Lincoln throughout 1861 he knew what to do. President Lincoln saw how the war should be fought and how the Confederacy would lose. As his Generals rested on their laurels, Lincoln educated himself by reading military books, asking officers for advice and preparing strategy. In a late 1861 letter to General Don Carlos Buell, Lincoln wrote "I state my general idea of this war to be that we have greater numbers, and the enemy has the great facility of concentrating forces upon points of collision; that we must fail, unless we can find some way of making our advantage an over-match of his; and that this can be done by menacing him with superior forces at different points, at the same time; so that we can safely attack, one, or both, if he makes no change; and if he weakens one to strengthen the other, forebear to attack the strengthened one, but seize, and hold the weakened one, gaining so much."

This strategy would be adopted and adapted by Generals Grant, Sherman and Thomas. It would eventually doom the Confederacy. It is interesting to note that Lincoln foresaw the end of the Confederacy in this way. Use the military might of the Union so the rebellion would be squashed. In 1861-1862 he had the men but he needed the generals with the will to use them. I never read this Lincoln quote on strategy before and I thought that I would share it with my readers.

The next blog will be #100.

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