Scalable risk and culmination

We see so little military science in our Civil War battle books, I want to share with you a mil sci paper, The Civil War Experiences of General Quincy Adams Gillmore: The Challenges of Transitioning from the Tactical to the Operational Level of Command. Link here.

This paper is going to be a slog for the general ACW reader but hopefully not the reader of this blog.

An interesting idea: "He [Gillmore] did not grasp how risk varies in scale between the tactical and operational levels of command." This has been stated differently elsewhere but I like this formulation best.

McClellan understood this very well and that is why we hate his guts. Risk aversion! The captain who wouldn't dare! Hood understood it less well. And we get to mock him for losing an army. The armchair critic can't lose.

An entire book has been written on a subject very close to this: Newell's Lee vs. McClellan: The First Campiagn in which he argues that Lee, the tactician, was out of his depth trying to cope with McClellan the stateside inventor of the operational art. This is less about risk scaling than military management scaling to a level where Lee could no longer cope.

(Again, a book not at all suited for story lovers.)

Back to Gillmore: author Adam Lewis, in his paper, credits Gillmore's non-scalable risk with a decision that squandered just enough force such that his Charleston mission "culminated."

Current United States Military Doctrine defines [the] culminating point as “the point at which a force no longer has the capability to continue its form of operations, offense or defense.” It is the responsibility of the operational level commander to identify points in the campaign where his force could culminate.
What do you think about culmination? Is it a useful analytic in Civil War history? Where else would it apply?

Does any Grant campaign culminate? Any Lee campaign? Any McClellan campaign? Worth a thought.

And on a lighter note, how about Gillmore's eyes? Reminds me of a bad song.