The largest offensive of the Civil War, involving army, navy, and marine forces, the Peninsula Campaign has inspired many history books. No previous work, however, analyzes Union general George B. McClellan's massive assault toward Richmond in the context of current and enduring military doctrine.The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysisfills this void. Background history is provided for continuity, but the heart of this book is military analysis and the astonishing extent to which the personality traits of generals often overwhelm even the best efforts of their armies.
The Peninsula Campaign lends itself to such a study. Lessons for those studying the art of war are many. On water, the first ironclads forever changed naval warfare. At the strategic level, McClellan's inability to grasp Lincoln's grand objective becomes evident. At the operational level, Robert E. Lee's difficulty in synchronizing his attacks deepens the mystique of how he achieved so much with so little. At the tactical level, the Confederate use of terrain to trade space for time allows for a classic study in tactics.
Moreover, the campaign is full of lessons about the personal dimension of war. McClellan's overcaution, Lee's audacity, and Jackson's personal exhaustion all provide valuable insights for today's commanders and for Civil War enthusiasts still debating this tremendous struggle. Historic photos and detailed battle maps make this study an invaluable resource for those touring the many battlegrounds from Young's Mill and Yorktown through Fair Oaks to the final throes of the Seven Days' Battles.
Kevin Dougherty, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is professor of military science at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author ofThe Coastal War in North and South Carolina. J. Michael Moore, Yorktown, Virginia, is the registrar of Lee Hall Mansion.
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