Vintage Civil War Library

Lincoln and His Generals

Publisher: Vintage

Since it was first published in 1952, Lincoln and His Generals has remained one of the definitive accounts of Lincoln’s wartime leadership. In it T. Harry Williams dramatizes Lincoln’s long and frustrating search for an effective leader of the Union Army and traces his transformation from a politician with little military knowledge into a master strategist of the Civil War. Explored in depth are Lincoln’s often fraught relationships with generals such as McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Fremont, and of course, Ulysses S. Grant. In this superbly written narrative, Williams demonstrates how Lincoln’s persistent “meddling” into military affairs was crucial to the Northern war effort and utterly transformed the president’s role as commander-in-chief.


Chapter 1  
The Pattern of Command  

The Civil War was the first of the modern total wars, and the American democracy was almost totally unready to fight it. The United States had in 1861 almost no army, few good weapons, no officers trained in the higher art of war, and an inadequate and archaic...
Read More


“Authoritative. . . . A seminal work. . . . Williams’s assessment of Lincoln’s military prowess has never been seriously challenged.”
The Washington Post

“Fascinating. . . . A full-bodied, swift-paced narrative. . . . The reader will gain as clear and shrewd an overall comprehension of the Northern effort from this volume as from any other in print.”
—Allan Nevins, Saturday Review

“Convincing. . . . As a story-teller [Williams] displays a craftsmanship that holds the reader in suspense even when he knows exactly how the incident ends.”
The New York Times

“An admirably planned and executed work which well fulfills the author’s expressed hope that it will contribute both to the history and to the understanding of the American system.”
American Historical Review