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RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc

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  • Harry Smeltzer
    I ve participated in these scenarios before. They break down very quickly. For instance, everybody s favorite is Grant in Mac s place in September 1862.
    Message 1 of 117 , Feb 27, 2006
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      I've participated in these scenarios before. They break down very quickly.
      For instance, everybody's favorite is Grant in Mac's place in September
      1862. Start asking obvious questions like where and when did Grant receive
      notification of his reassignment? How long did it take him to come east if
      he was still out west?



      Then you get answers like "Grant would still have been in Washington on the
      17th trying to cobble together an army" and people fly off the handle.



      It's pretty pointless. Nobody else was ever in this situation in this war.
      Mac's attackers (in my opinion, pretty obviously) try to overemphasize any
      situational similarities and ignore the differences to such a degree they
      make it appear there is no rational explanation for what McClellan did, and
      just about anybody with a pulse would have known better. One way to break
      that straitjacket is to not put it on.



      Harry



      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf Of Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine)
      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 12:37 PM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc



      I don't know that I necessarily mean it as a straight what-if, although
      that would be interesting enough by itself. I'm thinking more along the
      lines of OK, Mac did this, making these decisions, etc.....now, can I
      see X doing it this way? What other ways were there of looking at this
      situation?

      See, with McClellan especially, his supporters (in my opinion,
      obviously) attempt to narrow the focus to such an incredible degree that
      they make it appear there was nothing else to do except for whatever
      McClellan actually did....and one way to break that straitjacket is to
      try and imagine Gen. X in Mac's shoes, and try to determine how he'd
      have seen matters. That still has some of the problems you describe, but
      I think it's a bit different from a straight what-if (although I don't
      think I've explained it very well).

      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Harry Smeltzer
      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 10:38 AM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc

      The problem with that practice is putting who into Mac's place when?
      Putting Sherman of Sept 1862 in Mac's place in 1862? Or Grant of 1862?
      Or Grant of 1864? Or Lee of 1862? And then, how would these commanders
      interact with their superiors? Or will we switch Lincoln for Davis when
      we switch Lee with Mac? And what about objectives?



      Too many variables. These exercises are typically used as a form of
      hero worship for the part interchanged. And if someone tried it in this
      case to the detriment of the replacement part (say Sherman or Grant), he
      would be accused of being an apologist with an agenda, trying to build
      someone up by tearing down others.



      I've seen that happen.



      Not a fan of what-ifs like this.



      Harry



      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine)
      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 11:29 AM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc



      I think if you restrict yourself to looking at Mac and only Mac, you can
      probably convince yourself of anything -- which is usually the technique
      when one is trying to shine up a you-know-what. (And not just with the
      CW; with probably any type of undertaking.) If you take other commanders
      and put them in Mac's place and try and determine what they'd likely
      have done, then you gain a degree of perspective that can be quite
      enlightening.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Harry Smeltzer
      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 9:54 AM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc

      So you think that it's better to look at what others did under other
      circumstances? Better than looking at the particular circumstances and
      the particular indiuviduals at hand?



      Sounds like a waste of time.



      But maybe that's just me.



      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Jeff Beckner (PWC Magazine)
      Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 10:50 AM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc



      I think what's best to focus on is comparing Mac to his counterparts on
      both sides.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Harry Smeltzer
      Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 6:15 PM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc

      Richard,



      The author you mention (I can't type his name due to a New Year's
      resolution) is famously enamored with his analysis of McClellan. The
      gyrations he puts himself through in other areas to make this picture
      seem to fit are wonderful to behold, and I have to imagine he has at
      least two dislocated hips by now as a result. There are some big, big
      problems with his psychoanalysis however, not the least of which being
      the fact that the author is neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist.
      And you should be aware of these fundamental problems if you decide to
      place any emphasis on this particular journalist's propositions.



      All this psycho-babble about McClellan and his fear to fight begins with
      the assumption that he was indeed afraid to fight. There is no proof of
      that, and ample proof to the contrary - such as attacking his foe three
      times in six days when as you correctly state he believed he was
      outnumbered. If you accept the notion of fear of personal failure ruling
      Mac, it's easy to work backwards and come up with some psychological
      analysis that seems to explain all. But that's called a parlor trick,
      not psychology. And it's worthless.
      And it's dead wrong.

      It's much better to focus on what the primary objectives were, what was
      known and when, what prevailing military theory taught, what the
      alternatives were, and what the consequences of those alternatives were
      expected to be. This explains McClellan's actions much better than a
      bizarre coexistence of huge ego and low self-esteem, an explanation
      concocted to prove the validity of the original assumption.



      Harry



      -----Original Message-----
      From: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of richard@...
      Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 3:54 PM
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Sears on Mc



      Tom --

      After I naively opened the can of worms on McClellan's psychology (and
      got roundly spanked for it), I picked up a copy of Sears's
      "Controversies & Commanders". Very interesting. Regarding his letters
      to Ellen, he believes they are perfectly honest but differ not a whit
      from anything he wrote or said to anybody else. He devotes about eight
      pages to "psycho-history" and examines four different McClellans. In
      conclusion he quotes Russell F.
      Weigley.
      "He (Mc) was never a warrior. He was a cautious, timorous man --
      probably not so different from the rest of us...Reading between the
      lines we see in the (McClellan) Papers a McClellan who was simply and
      continually frightened by war, which is not so mysterious a condition."

      Sears's conclusion? Antietam "ended as it did because (once again) of
      General McClellan's incapacity on the battlefield." Parentheses in the
      original.

      After all is said and done -- once again -- you are right. I'm going
      back to my metaphorical Pry House now where I will continue to watch and
      learn from afar.

      Richard

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:52 PM
      Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Mac Not Present at Dedication


      > Phil,
      > You beat me to it! I was going to look at Sears bio when I got home.
      > It seems clear he was invited, but perhaps did not receive it. God
      job.
      >
      >
      > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
      > Professor of History
      > Hagerstown Community College
      >
      >
      > >>> philipkesaris@... 02/23/06 8:29 PM >>>
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
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    • NJ Rebel
      Tom, Thanks! Yr. Obt. Svt. G E Gerry Mayers ....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be
      Message 117 of 117 , Mar 2, 2006
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        Tom,

        Thanks!

        Yr. Obt. Svt.
        G E "Gerry" Mayers

        "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
        people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
        shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
        Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
        1788

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
        To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2006 12:24 PM
        Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: Coddington of Antietam


        > No Gerry, strother was no help in that direction, and his account is
        > pretty well known. Strother does verify a Carman sotry about
        > McClellan's headquarters being located in the German Reformed Church
        > in
        > Keedysville from Sept. 15 to the afternoon of the 16. This is the
        > church that is pictured in B&L, and although remodeled i nthe
        > 1890's,
        > still stands today. (I went to Ash Wednesday service there last
        > night)
        > One of their antebellum pastors was Rev. Robert Douglas, father of
        > henry
        > Kyd Douglas.
        > Actually Ethan and I discussed Strother's assertion that McClellan
        > moved his headquarters from the Pry house on the afternoon of the
        > 17th.
        > Hhe concluded, and I agree, that MCClellan and his staff left the
        > house,
        > but hte army HQ was still there until later that night.
        >
        >
        > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
        > Professor of History
        > Hagerstown Community College
        >
        >
        >
        >>>> gerry1952@... 3/1/2006 9:29:19 PM >>>
        >
        > Thanks Phil.
        >
        > What does "Porte Crayon" actually say in the article? That might be
        > good for Tom to see, especially if it backs up Carman's quote re Lee
        > and then Mac.
        >
        > Yr. Obt. Svt.
        > G E "Gerry" Mayers
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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