America's Civil War


Dennis E. Frye (“No Small Deed”; September 2018) attempts to persuade readers that Robert E. Lee was outgeneraled by George McClellan at Antietam. If this were true, the severely handicapped Army of Northern Virginia would have been demolished. McClellan badly managed this bloody battle and was lucky to break even. It was an astute President Lincoln who turned a tactical military draw into a strategic political and moral victory by issuing his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation—which McClellan opposed—thus reshaping the struggle. Lee took an audacious gamble that, despite all odds, might have worked because he could “read” McClellan. So could Lincoln. He clearly saw Antietam for what it was—a botched affair that could have crippled his presidency and the Union cause. At the first opportune moment, Lincoln fired McClellan. Frye’s attempt to puff up McClellan—thereby slighting Lee—is, well, McClellanesque. I don’t see how

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