In an idealized world, for good or ill, and probably mainly for the latter, the (typically) civilian policymaker says "go get them" ... and the top soldier salutes, says "yes sir!" and proceeds, unimpeded subsequently by political harassment, to exercise his professional skill as a soldier.He's distilling a lot of military pop history here, but isn't he here also distilling the Grant legend promulageted by Catton, TH Williams, and the whole rotten Centennial crew? This passage strikes at the heart of the Civil War readership, I think, because we readers demand this approach. Catton and others serve their market well, but their market is profoundly naive. Gray continues:
The army is mobilized, and military strategy is determined according to the ways best suited to achieve the military goals that would translate as the military victory that policy demands.This is a deficiency the garden variety ACW historian struggles with. This is why you see so many books on the strategy of Lincoln, his military genius, his amazing plans. Vaporware, all of it, but the narrative-driven writer, constrained by his framework and story archtypes is compelled to fill the vacuum with what archtype demands.
Of course, this simple narrative is a nonsense, and it always has been.Dr. Gray, come to Civil War history, where nonsense earns success and esteem.