He offered (gratuitous) analysis of why McClellan declined to resign his AoP command in a display of satisficing. Longacre deems "McClellan as selfish" as a hardy and reliable fact that can be made to explain many things. It's the handy, best, most fitting explanation. There is no weighing of alternatives; in fact, in his narrative, such a weighing would sidetrack his readers. Like so much Civil War nonfiction, the author tosses out satisfycing judgements gratis: they are not needed, they are not earned, but they reinforce underlying literary themes and types to become self-fulfilling.
That is a fairly "normal" satisficing example. I want to share two extreme examples, however, to give a taste of what this tendency looks like when given full rein. They come from Robert Collins' book General James G. Blunt. Emphases added; parenthetical comments are mine.
Previously, the assumption about this period in Blunt's life was that he had enlisted as a private before rising in rank to an officer. But the major role he played at the [political] convention may turn that assumption on its head. The active part he played in those debates could have made him the most important man in Anderson County. Certainly it would have made him the most famous. Anderson County was a frontier County when Kansas became a state. This would make it hard for any well-known county figure to expect a commission to the rank of captain or higher. Certainly, the county would not be expected to provide a full company this early in the war. But it does seem likely that a man with Blunt's high local profile might have expected to be commissioned a lieutenant... [But] If [Gov.] Robinson thought Blunt was a "Lane man," he wouldn't have given him a commission. In this light it's logical to see Blunt, not getting what he thought he deserved from Robinson, going to Lane's camp in search of that commission to an officer's rank.Whew. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, though given the state of ACW history, many may have noticed nothing amiss. This stuff is like fine scotch. Let's do away with italics for the next round.
In 1917 the Ellsworth newspaper ran an article about early schools in the area. One of these was a military school, which the article claimed was attended by ... James G. Blunt. The Ellsworth Military Academy appears to have been something of a high school for boys. The superintendent of the school from 1839 to 1845 was Charles Jarvis Whiting ... a West Point graduate ... So why are there so few references to Blunt's education? Blunt must have kept this part of his past a secret. The reason for this secrecy could be that Whiting was a West Pointer. Early in the Civil War, Union graduates of the United States Military Academy were not successful in the field. Blunt might have feared that such an association would hurt his chances for promotion and prime assignments. Blunt also had a running feud with another West Pointer, John Schofield, and this too might have figured into Blunt's silence. Another reason, although it's questionable, is that Whiting or his family might have had political views that could have disgraced Blunt.Mmmm.
Whether you've got a craving to satisfice or be satisficed, Civil War history is the thing for you.