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Partners in Command: The Relationships Between Leaders in the Civil War Hardcover – November 8, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Glatthaar follows his seminal Forged in Battle with this provocative study of high-level command structures in the Civil War. By 1861, warfare was too complex to be directed by a single individual in the style of Napoleon; political and military leaders needed to learn how to collaborate. Glatthaar's six case studies show that the process depended heavily on professional attitudes, especially the leaders' ability to understand one another's strengths and weaknesses. It was often a difficult task when dealing with statesmen and generals: witness the lack of cooperation between Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan, and on the Confederate side between Jefferson Davis and Joseph E. Johnston. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson for the Confederacy; Ulysses Grant, William Sherman and Admiral David Porter for the Union illustrate effective combinations, but they were all military men. Glatthaar calls the Lincoln-Grant team "the Ultimate Success" in a process still in the trial-and-error stage--and which, more than a century later, he notes, still involves large amounts of serendipity.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

No serious analysis of the Civil War would be complete without an in-depth look at the personalities that formed its outcome. This work is written as a series of minibiographies; each chapter explores the relationships behind the most successful generals and leaders of the war. Lee and Jackson, Lincoln and McClellan, and Grant and Sherman are typical of the character studies. Not all relationships were favorable, as with Lincoln and McClellan or Davis and Johnston, but through an understanding of these personality conflicts, the overall strategy of the war is brought into context. Glatthaar ( Forged in Battle , LJ 10/1/89) writes with understanding and depth while giving insight into the individuals. He also stresses that it was their professionalism and call to duty that "lay at the interactive bedrock of these successful military partnerships." Highly recommended for most libraries.
- Barbara Zaborowski, Cambria Cty. Lib., Johnstown, Pa.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (November 8, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029118174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029118177
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As the author explains in the first section of this book, it is based on a course that he taught at the Army War College about command relationships in the Civil War. Overall, it is an interesting view into the lives, relationships, and correspondance between certain key leaders of the Civil War (Lee and Jackson, Lincoln and McClellan, Grant and Sherman to name a few). Mr. Glatthaar's research and analysis of these relationships is excellent and detailed. For instance, he explains why the relationship between Lincoln and McClellan was so strained (to include an appendix looking at McClellan's personality quirks in modern terms). Or why Jackson and Lee worked so well together, despite a very limited personal friendship.
Simply put, I learned things from this book that I have not found in other places. One warning: I agree with another reviewer that this book is not for people who are not very familiar with the Civil War. The original course was taught to Senior Army leaders (Colonels) and civilians, so it was geared towards students who understand strategy and tactics. Having said that, I highly recommend this book to any Civil War student, of "Buff" who is interested in learning more about the key leaders who shaped the events of the war, and helped determine its outcome. If you do read it, take a look at the notes and bibliography section. In it, the author gives his recommendations for other books to use for additional info.
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Glatthaar's title describing the quality of working relationships between Civil War leaders. Some of the relationships include:

1. Lee and Jackson

2. Jefferson Davis and Joseph Johnston

3. McClellan and Lincoln

4. Lincoln and Grant

5. Grant, Sherman, and Porter

Glatthaar makes a strong case for the Confederacy's ultimate defeat being due to the lack of strong command relationships, particular after Stonewall Jackson's death after Chancellorsville. Granted, the Confederacy could very well have been doomed from the beginning to to a much lower population and manufacturing base. However, the war could have been protracted if certain Confederate generals and politicians would have had better working relationships.

I particularly liked the section on the cooperation between U.S. Grant and William Sherman of the Union army and Admiral David Porter of the U.S. Navy. Glatthaar argues convincingly that the cooperation between the U.S. Army and Navy played an integral part of the most complete victory of the war at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Whatever your opinion, the book is an entertaining read that will challenge you to think about how command relationships can positively or negatively affect the conduct of a war.

In my humble opinion, leaders from all backgrounds (business, government, ministry, family, etc.) will benefit from the book as they learn more about how important it is to submerge one's ego and pride be able to work well with people to realize ultimate success in any endeavor.

Highly recommended. Enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
The thesis of this book is one that takes the reader beyond an elementary understanding of the Civil War. Glatthaar's main point throughout the book is that the types of relationships that the commanders in the upper echelons of the military structure had made a tangible difference in the progress and outcome of the war. I think Glatthaar proves his point very well; the chapters on the Lincoln-McClellan, Grant-Sherman, and Lincoln-Grant relationships were particularly convincing. Nevertheless, I think Glatthaar fails to look at other command relationships that don't necessarily fit so neatly into his thesis.

The most significant example, in my mind, would be the Lee-Longstreet relationship. At the end of this book Glatthaar writes, "It was imperative for leaders to assemble personnel who complemented rather than supplemented their own capabilities, so that they could draw from a wide range of talents to tap into and employ resources most effectively to meet the increasingly complex demands of the war." (p. 236) Certainly I think this is generally true, and hold true throughout the Civil War. However, I think the Lee-Longstreet relationship was more of a complementary nature than the Lee-Jackson relationship was, and yet much success is attributed to the latter. Glatthaar does not explore this issue. Nor Does he link the success/failures of relationships to those on the other side. For example, certainly the Lincoln-McClellan relationship lead to failure due to its own problems; however, that relationship existed while the Lee-Jackson relationship was at its height. The same dynamic can be said to some degree of the Grant-Sherman and Davis-Johnston relationships.
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Format: Paperback
Joseph Glatthaars's book is a useful addition to the body of work on Civil War leadership. His thesis is straightforward (Page vii): "Political and military leaders had to collaborate, to establish effective partnerships that could translate strategic vision into battlefield execution. . . . This book is about those command relationships. It focuses on how commanders in chief interact with top field generals and how those officers work with critical subordinates."

In a sense, this book is about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some very positive relationships (the good): Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; Ulysses Grant and William Sherman; Grant, Sherman, and David Porter; Grant and Abraham Lincoln. Some bad and ugly relationships: Lincoln and George McClellan; Jefferson Davis and Joseph Johnston.

The partnerships that worked appear to have facilitated success. Jackson's bizarre behaviors worked well under Lee's leadership. Grant and Sherman worked well together, as they had gown together under adversity. Sherman and Grant were able to collaborate with Porter's navy, to good effect, such as at Vicksburg. Lincoln gave Grant slack when Grant came east that he often did not provide other generals--because of Grant's proven winning record in the west.

On the other hand, the dreadful relationship of Davis and Johnston created serious problems in the west and McClellan's's war of attrition against Lincoln certainly did not help the Union cause in the East.

This represents a useful volume on the subject of command relationships. Not a great deal is new here, but the volume addresses an important issue.
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