The McDowell-Franklin partnership is a major piece of Civil War history in which Civil War historians, rather predictably, have no interest. It is really too much to expect historians to analyze McDowell-Franklin when the field cannot produce even a single McDowell biography after 150 years.
As simple as it is to understand on the surface, the dynamic behind McDowell-Franklin poses a threat to Centennial history on many levels, as we shall see.
The team was assembled by Salmon Chase ostensibly to help him with duties he assumed from War Secretary Simon Cameron in 1861. (If you didn't know that Chase assumed War Department duties, please fire your favorite authors immediately, flag whatever they told you for further study, and stigmatize them as indignation may dictate).
We'll look at Franklin's and McDowell's respective roles in the team tomorrow; then, how they served Chase and Lincoln to the detriment of Scott and Seward; then, how they prototyped the McClellan-Lincoln relationship; finally, how and why Stanton's attempt to revive McDowell-Franklin on a new pattern in 1862 failed.
I would propose the natural point at which to divide the early war from the middle war is the point of death of the McDowell-Franklin system in high command.
More to come.
Please read about the Cameron-Seward-Chase nexus here as background.
Sketches of the McDowell-Franklin collaboration appear here.