This account of McClellan’s 1862 campaign is “a wonderful book” (Ken Burns) and “military history at its best” (The New York Times Book Review).
From “the finest and most provocative Civil War historian writing today,” To the Gates of Richmond is the story of the one of the conflict’s bloodiest campaigns (Chicago Tribune). Of the 250,000 men who fought in it, only a fraction had ever been in battle before—and one in four was killed, wounded, or missing in action by the time the fighting ended.
The operation was Gen. George McClellan’s grand scheme to march up the Virginia Peninsula and take the Confederate capital. For three months McClellan battled his way toward Richmond, but then Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate forces. In seven days, Lee drove the cautious McClellan out, thereby changing the course, if not the outcome, of the war.
“Deserves to be a classic.” —The Washington Post
Sears complements his 1988 biography of George McClellan with this definitive analysis of the general's principal campaign. McClellan's grand plan was to land an army at Yorktown, move up the Virginia peninsula toward Richmond, and fight a decisive battle somewhere near the Confederate capital, thereby ending the Civil War while it was still a rebellion instead of a revolution. The strategy failed in part because of McClellan's persistent exaggerations of Confederate strength, but also because under his command the Federals fought piecemeal. The Confederates were only marginally more successful at concentrating their forces, but Sears credits their leaders, especially Lee, as better able to learn from experience. Confederate victory on the Peninsula meant the Civil War would continue. The campaign's heavy casualties indicated the kind of war it would be. Illustrations not seen by PW.