Interview with John C. Waugh, author of Lincoln and McClellan

I recently finished reading John C. “Jack” Waugh’s newest book, “Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General.”  As a long time student of Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War, I was excited to start reading “Lincoln and McClellan.”  Published by the respected publisher Palgrave Macmillan, Waugh’s book is best described as a historical narrative written by an experienced storyteller.  The author has previously written about Lincoln and the Civil War with such titles as One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln’s Road to the Civil War, The Class of 1846 – From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers, Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency and many others.  For a complete listing of Mr. Waugh’s books, check out his website: John C. Waugh.

“Lincoln and McClellan” is a fresh look at their tumultuous relationship.  As the author points out, both men have been written about extensively but there have been few books that have dealt specifically with their unique relationship as Commander-in-Chief and general.  The book is well written and the author’s many years of research, on both men, is quickly apparent to the reader.  Written in a prose that will make the book enjoyable to the casual Civil War enthusiast, it has enough detail to provide the serious student with plenty of great information.  Like all well written historical narratives, the book was a quick read and left me wanting more chapters at its conclusion.  Waugh’s book starts with Lincoln’s early relationship with McClellan, while the two were in Illinois, and concludes with Lincoln’s reelection in November 1864.  A great amount of space is devoted to Lincoln and McClellan’s rise to national prominence from November 1860 through the summer of 1862, McClellan’s organization of the Army of the Potomac, the Peninsula Campaign, the controversy related to Second Bull Run, the Maryland Campaign and McClellan’s final fall from command.  Waugh wraps the book up with a wonderful epilogue that gives the reader much to think about.  “Lincoln and McClellan” is a book that I would highly recommend to my readers.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack on June 23.  It was a very enjoyable chat and one I’m sure you will appreciate for its candidness and insights.  As with all of my interviews, I have edited the audio into short segments that can be listened to at your leisure.  Enjoy!

Details about “Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General
Written by: John C. Waugh
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Date of First Edition: May 11, 2010
ISBN-10: 0230613497

John C. “Jack” Waugh Interview – 15 Parts
“Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General”
Interview Date: June 23, 2010
Total Time: 1 hour 36 minutes 21 seconds

Part 1: John Waugh Interview Part 1
Time: 7:04
Contents: Welcome and introductions | About Jack Waugh | Jack’s interest in history and the Civil War | Historical narratives by writers vs. historical scholars | Studies vs. Stories

Part 2: John Waugh Interview Part 2
Time: 8:10
Contents: Why Jack chose to write about Lincoln and McClellan | Writing a fair and balanced narrative on Lincoln and McClellan | Lincoln’s relationship with McClellan prior to becoming president | Lincoln and McClellan launched into the national spotlight | McClellan’s appointment to command of the Army of the Potomac

Part 3: John Waugh Interview Part 3
Time: 6:07
Contents: McClellan’s strengths and weaknesses | McClellan’s relationship with Allan Pinkerton | McClellan’s enemies: in the front and the rear | Lincoln’s support of McClellan

Part 4: John Waugh Interview Part 4
Time: 7:12
Contents: Edwin M. Stanton becomes Secretary of War | “To the Gates of Richmond” – McClellan’s defense of his Urbanna Plan | McClellan ditches the Urbanna Plan for the Peninsula route | Lincoln restructures the Army of the Potomac into four army corps

Part 5: John Waugh Interview Part 5
Time: 4:24
Contents: Lincoln’s relationship with McClellan sours after the restructuring of the Army of the Potomac | Lincoln shows his leadership in restructuring the Army of the Potomac | McClellan ignores good advice from Lincoln

Part 6: John Waugh Interview Part 6
Time: 5:01
Contents: The start of the Peninsula Campaign | McClellan’s conservative strategy vs. Lincoln’s early war strategy | Concerns about McClellan’s loyalty | Lincoln’s sustains and remains loyal to McClellan

Part 7: John Waugh Interview Part 7
Time: 7:00
Contents: McClellan arrives on the peninsula with less troops than expected | McClellan changes his tactical plan from infantry assault to siege at Yorktown | Joseph E. Johnston’s wounding at Fair Oaks and the elevation of Robert E. Lee to command of the Army of Northern Virginia | McClellan’s incorrect assessment of Robert E. Lee

Part 8: John Waugh Interview Part 8
Time: 7:54
Contents: Lee moves first to attack McClellan at Mechanicsville launching the Seven Days | Lincoln creates a new army – The Army of Virginia | McClellan’s reaction to Lincoln’s wholesale changes in the Eastern Theater | McClellan’s “change of base” | McClellan’s Harrison Landing letter to Lincoln

Part 9: John Waugh Interview Part 9
Time: 5:06
Contents: Lincoln as Commander and Chief | Major General Henry W. Halleck is appointed General-and-Chief | Henry Halleck and George McClellan | McClellan’s correspondence with his wife, Mary Ellen | McClellan: “…let Pope get of his own scrape.”

Part 10: John Waugh Interview Part 10
Time: 3:42
Contents: Pope is beaten at Second Bull Run and retreats to Washington | McClellan is placed in command of all the forces defending Washington | Lincoln sustains McClellan against protest of his cabinet | The vagueness of Lincoln’s orders to McClellan would have long reaching effects

Part 11: John Waugh Interview Part 11
Time: 6:13
Contents: McClellan reorganizes the Army of Potomac again | Lee invades McClellan | The famous “lost orders” | McClellan becomes cautious again and misses opportunities in Maryland | What the “lost orders” did not contain explains McClellan’s caution

Part 12: John Waugh Interview Part 12
Time: 7:52
Contents: The Battle of Antietam | McClellan holds the field at Antietam – Federal victory or not? | Lincoln’s definition of victory vs. McClellan’s | The viral effect of McClellan’s conservative war making policies | Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation further separating his strategy from McClellan’s

Part 13: John Waugh Interview Part 13
Time: 6:29
Contents: Lincoln’s Sharpsburg meeting with McClellan | McClellan again has the “slows” after receiving orders from Lincoln to push after Lee into Virginia | McClellan is removed from command after the 1862 mid-term elections | The fall of McClellan | The political climate in the northern states during late 1862 | McClellan is courted by the Peace Democrats | McClellan accepts the democratic nomination on his own terms

Part 14: John Waugh Interview Part 14
Time: 7:03
Contents: Three events that would insure Lincoln’s 1864 reelection | Jack’s assessment of the 1864 general election | Jack’s theory that the silent majority insured Lincoln’s reelection | The soldier vote and the impact of the Democratic plank on their voting preference

Part 15: John Waugh Interview Part 15
Time: 7:04
Contents: Pulling it all together – the epilogue | Ulysses S. Grant on McClellan | Jack’s future plans | Wrap up and closing

About Michael Noirot

I grew up in the Central Illinois farming community, of Dunlap. Growing up, I played sports, tinkered with cars and enjoyed photography. While I did well in school, I did not become passionate about history until my early 30's. I have built a large library, of books on early America, politics and the Civil War. I am an avid reader. Fortunately, I have had plenty of opportunities to travel, over the years, and have been to most of the Civil War battlefields. I work while I travel, so more often than not, I am up, in the middle of the night, to get sunrise pictures, or I will be out until well after dark, exploring Civil War battlefields. I have other hobbies, and passions, that I really enjoy. Number one on the list would be guitar. I play my guitars on a regular basis, and enjoy the Bluegrass, and Contemporary Christian (CCM) genres. I play a style of guitar, called FLATPICKING, where using a flat pick, you play lead solos, similar to the way a fiddle would have been played during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Laura, my wife, and I also enjoy scuba diving, travel and spending time at our property, in the country. Lastly, we spend as much time with our families, as possible. Thanks for stopping by.
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One Response to Interview with John C. Waugh, author of Lincoln and McClellan

  1. Little Mac says:

    John, I have read your book through three times and I am committing whole sections to memory. I am a member of the Confederation of Unon Generals, and your book has helped me tremendously in my Living History portrayal of George B McClellan!

    YOS

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