Recall a topic as trivial as the length and duration of a military march. Short marches infuriate Civil War authors, yet,
The Austrian Army operated like a machine, observing tested routines such as only marching for six hours in twenty-four.Six hours in 24? In their marching, the armies of North and South outdid Bonaparte's professional nemesis time and again.
Cultivating the troops
Historians' accounts of soldiers' love for their Civil War generals feature McClellan and Joe Johnston. More ink is spilled on McClellan's techniques than Johnston's but both resonate here:
His treatment of the troops under his command had been designed from the start not only to make them more effective as fighting men, but also to turn them into *his* men.Political relations
He had developed a gift for talking to the men as equals.
While he tightened discipline, he took care to flatter the soldiers' self-esteem, making throwaway statements such as "With 20,000 men like that one could conquer Europe!" He described their feats of arms in superlative terms in his proclamations.
A mixture of growing self-confidence and the urge to earn praise fed their eagerness to live up to their expectations of them.
One Zamoyski's threads concerns Napoleon's flattery of the Directorate. In our sphere, McClellan is best known for his private disdain for his political masters. But note that
He [Napoleon] had experienced a great deal over the past year, and had learned much about himself and others, about war, politics and human affairs in general. Most of it ... had lowered his opinion of human nature.Historians give McClellan pride of place for antagonism towards an entire government and Joe Johnston gets a runner up spot for his antagonism towards a president. Yet historians tend to overlook McClellan's efforts to cultivate his political masters just as they cast a veil over Robert E. Lee's relations with Jefferson, whitewashing these as "close" or "ideal" instead of sycophantic. (Seek out all the flattery in Lee's communications to take your own measure.)
Meanwhile, if Grant seems apolitical, read Simpson's Let Us Have Peace. See also Meade's letter to his wife gloating that neither he nor Grant voted in the 1864 presidential election. That looks apolitical but shows disdain for both Lincoln and the Democratic ticket.
Complaints about supplies and support
The ACW historian often credits Southern supply shortages while disputing Northern claims of such from McClellan, Buell, Rosecrans, etc.
Bonaparte's despatches to the directory were no less hyperbolic. [...] At the same time he stressed his lack of equipment ... To Carnot he expressed his "despair, I could almost say my rage" at not having the tools with which to do the job...Throne or scaffold
Zamoyski gives us a thought that sums up the fate of outsize military figures.
... one of the army victuallers ... wrote to a friend that he could see "no end for him [Napoleon] other than the throne of the scaffold."In Civil War history, only three men made it to this crossroads: McClellan (scaffold), Grant (throne) and Lee (scaffold).