Lincoln as president and commander in chief.
Dec 5, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 12 • By EDWIN M. YODER JR.
As for the South’s most famous general, had Robert E. Lee “decided to remain true to his oath . . . the Civil War would doubtless have been much shorter and far less bloody.” The point is unarguable, given the gross bloodshed of 1864-65. But the same might be said of Lincoln and Grant, both of whom were accused of butchery because they also aimed to win a costly war.
Burlingame is entitled to his contempt; it’s his book. But crisp dismissals of men of substance and virtue, however mistaken they now are deemed, do small justice to the anguish felt in all civil wars by good men tormented by divided fidelities.
Who then will, or should, read this little book? Any and all students of our great national tragedy who want a compendious, informed, and readable brushup. But a warning: It comes seasoned, at times, with drops of the purest bile.
Edwin M. Yoder Jr. is the author, most recently, of Vacancy: A Judicial Misadventure.