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Army of the Potomac, Volume II: McClellan Takes Command, September 1861-February 1862 Hardcover – November 9, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"Impressive beyond words...[A] superb Civil War literature." -- Civil War News 2/24/05

"Offers the most accurate and unbiased account to date of McClellan...[The] definitive history." -- Midwest Book Review 12/6/04

About the Author

Russel H. Beatie, a former army lieutenant, is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School. He has been a trial lawyer in New York City for almost four decades. He is the author of many articles about the Civil War and the book Road to Manassas.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (November 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306812525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306812521
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #940,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Russell H. Beatie is writing what should become the classic series on The Army of the Potomac. This is the second volume in the series dealing with the time from the defeat at Bull Run to the preparations for the Peninsula Campaign, September 1861 to February 1862. Readers of Civil War history will find few books on this six-month period and for good reason. This is NOT a battle book. This is NOT a campaign history. This is a history of preparation, problems, misconceptions and politics.

Central to the story is George B. McClellan, fresh from victories in Western Virginia and given command of a defeated army. He determines not allow the army to be pushed into another battle. The priority is training, organization and more training. McClellan's severest critics admit that he excelled in this job and built a very professional army from the raw volunteers. His struggle to do this is the heart of this story.

To enjoy this book, you must rethink the American Civil War returning to a time before the total war when many still felt that peace without victory was possible. The newspaper's lists of the dead and limbless men on city streets are not yet common. The war is still a great adventure to many. Acceptance of the theory that the history of North America could depend on one great battle that would establish the Confederacy or save the Union is common. Many Newspapers preach this idea, Politicians endorse it and Generals accept it. Preparation for this battle is McClellan's goal and he works at it with a single-minded purpose day and night.

The book deals with the small upsets, the friendly fire incidents, poor leadership, failed logistics and miscommunications that kept McClellan from achieving his goal.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac, General George B. McClellan is one of the most disputable and often denigrated figures of the Civil War. His personal character and his military performance were constantly under scrutiny during his lifetime, and down to the present day continues to be a subject of controversy among Civil War historians. In The Army Of The Potomac: McClellan Takes Command, September 1861-February 1862, civil war historian Russel H. Beatie offers the most accurate and unbiased account to date of McClellan and his fellow commanding officers in the Union Army. Beaties spent years of research piecing together the details of McClellan's command from original documents spread all over the world (many of which had never been dealt with previously) to humanize the leaders of the Union Army and illustrate how their personalities influenced their command decisions. The second volume in Beaties' superbly written "The Army Of The Potomac" series, The Army Of The Potomac: McClellan Takes Command, September 1861-February 1862 cogently addresses such issues as why McClellan deserves a great deal more credit than his is traditionally accorded for building the Union army; how McClellan tried to improve his communication difficulties and accede to the wishes of President Lincoln; why the inter of 1861-1862 (the worst in forty years) and his nearly lethal case of typhoid fever had such a profound impact on McClellan's actions. This definitive history is a core addition for any Civil War History reference collection or Civil War Studies reading list. Also very highly recommended is the first volume in this outstanding series from Da Capo Press, The Army Of The Potomac: McClellan Takes Command.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. M Mills on August 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lawyer-historian Russel H. Beatie's second volume on the history of the Army of the Potomac is a welcome addition to my

vast Civil War Library. Like most Civil War buffs my shelves

teem with big volumes on the Army of Northern Virginia but lack

good histories of the Army of the Potomac!

Beatie's series is sure to be come the sine qua non for anyone wanting an in depth study of this much maligned but eventually magnificent sword of Lincoln.

Beatie's is a writer more interested in the political and

strategical thinking of war leaders in Washington than he is in

blow by blow descriptions of battle. In this second volumen in the series he does discuss in depth the battle of Ball's Bluff

fought on on Oct. 21, 1861 in which Lincoln's old law partner

the inept Edward Baker died. Beatie explores the impact of this

small battle on the competency of Union leaders; how it helpedfoment the call for a Committee on the Conduct of the War led

by Radical Republicans such as Benjamin Franklin Wade to control the strategy of the War.

Beatie explores how the pool of military commanders was drawn from professional soldiers who graduated from West Point; political generals and those who came from the ranks of volunteer

companies mustered in by individaul state governors. He also

explores how foreign born leaders came to leadership roles in the


Beatie's pen is adept at drawing incisive portraits of Northern leaders such as Winfield Scott; Fitzjohn Porter; Joe

Hooker and the star of this book William McClellan.
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