Army Of The Potomac
McClellan's First Campaign, the third volume of Russel Beatie's masterful series, covers the pivotal early months of General George McClellan's Peninsular Campaign through the siege of Yorktown, the pursuit toward Richmond, and the fighting at Williamsburg. Beatie tells the story largely through the perspective of high ranking officers, staff officers and politicians. This study is based upon extensive first-hand research (including many previously unused and unpublished sources) that rewrites the history of Little Mac's inaugural effort to push his way up the peninsula and capture Richmond in one bold campaign. Every aspect of these critically important weeks is examined, from how McClellan's Urbanna plan unraveled and led to the birth of the expedition that debarked at Fort Monroe in Mach 1862, to the aftermath of Williamsburg. There were many reasons why the march to Richmond did not move as expeditiously as many hoped it would, though until now, few of these reasons have been satisfactorily (or even fairly) explored. Beatie is the first author to deeply investigate and expose the role of the Navy in the Yorktown episode. His sweeping and convincing conclusion is that if the Navy had done what it promised it would do-what it could have done, but refused to do-Yorktown would have fallen weeks sooner than it did. McClellan's First Campaign is a story about the men in command, their knowledge, intentions, successes, and failures. To capture the full flavour of their experiences, Beatie employs the 'fog of war' technique, which puts the reader in the position of the men who led the Union army. Well written, judiciously reasoned, and extensively footnoted, McClellan's First Campaign will be heralded as the seminal work on this topic. Civil War readers may not always agree with Beatie's conclusions, but they will concur that his account offers an original examination of the Army of the Potomac's role on the Virginia peninsula. Russel H. Beatie is the author of several articles and books. A Kansas native and former lieutenant in the field artillery and infantry, the author has lived in the New York City area most of his life.
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