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Mr. Lincoln's Army (Army of the Potomac #1)

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,061 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Volume I of The Army Of The Potomac trilogy, this is Bruce Catton's superb evocation of the early years of the Civil War when the army was under the command of the dashing General George B. McClellan.
Hardcover, First Edition, 372 pages
Published 1951 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. (first published December 1st 1931)
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Community Reviews

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Cyril Connolly noted the depressive effect of numerous and exhaustive biographies of hard-luck poets—reading yet another life of Baudelaire “we know, with each move into a cheap hotel, exactly how many cheap hotels lie ahead of him.” Mr. Lincoln’s Army makes me feel that way. Catton’s masterly narration envelopes you—

the skirmish lines went down the slope, each man in the line separated from his fellows by half a dozen paces, holding his musket as if he were a quail hunter with a shotgun, moving
This is the first of about thirteen books which Bruce Catton wrote about the Civil War, during the 1950's and 1960's. Don't let their original publishing dates bias your opinion of the worth of Catton's books. Surely, much more scholarship has been conducted on the subject since then, and a tsunami of Civil War books continues to be published each year. However, no one has ever written with more economy of prose or clearness of thought on the subject than Catton. His writing is that good. "Mr. L ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Lani marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
I am, admittedly, a Civil War nerd. But I also have little patience for the lists of regiments and commanders with confusing battle maps that I can never understand. Thank you Bruce Catton for educating me without frustrating me...

Most of the interesting Civil War books that I have read - most of them reasonably accurate historical fiction - have been focussed more on the Southern generals. Much of this is because the Southern Cause was just generally more romantic with more personality from the
Bill Rogers
Many years ago my mother belonged to a monthly book club of some kind. Among the other cheap, pulp-paper editions she got were a complete Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac , consisting of Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. I think she got them because she thought they would interest me. These books have almost obsessed me ever since.

As its name suggests, this trilogy follows the fortunes and (mostly) misfortunes of the Union's Army of the Potomac
Bruce Catton's writing succeeds not only in describing the mechanics of history, but most importantly by allowing readers to relate emotionally, whether it's excitement, fear, respect, or sadness. Writing in the preface about an old one-armed Civil War veteran he had known growing up in Michigan, "This aged berry-peddler, for instance, who lost his arm in the Wilderness: he had never told me about the wounded men who were burned to death in the forest fire which swept that infernal stretch of wo ...more
One of the all-time great Civil War historians, and the first book of a trilogy that was his best work. Anyone who is interested in the Civil War should read this trilogy
I'd held off on reading Bruce Catton's books for a while, because they're kind of old. I was worried that they'd be dated, compared to newer materials that are available. Now I wonder why I waited so long! Catton won a Pulitzer for a reason, he's a great writer! He conveys the problems of the day really well, and does an excellent job of putting the reader in the mindset of the people who were making the important decisions back in the 1860s.

Catton's writing style is compelling and dramatic, wi
The rating for this book really doesn't reflect the degree to which I enjoyed reading it. I've read a lot of American Civil War related books and this definitely has something to offer interested readers, but it is also the most unevenly written book I have encountered. The author is particularly skilled -- outstanding even -- at presenting narrative vignettes surrounding historical events, such as battles. Unlike, Stephen Ambrose, for instance, whose work I have read, seemed like a middle schoo ...more
Tommy /|\
Let me be open, clear and honest here at the start - I am not a Civil War buff whatsoever. My knowledge of the Civil War comes from the old, musty lectures of History teachers in my Junior High School and High School classes - along with a single US History class early in my collegiate career. My knowledge of the Civil War is essentially truncated neatly into an relatively small understanding of why, names of primary individuals of interest, and the dates/locations of major military engagements. ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War fans, especially northern view
I am a big Bruce Cattonfan. This was perhaps the first Catton Civil War book I read, having acquired the book randomly. I later read all of Catton's major Civil War works, and extended my reading to Shelby Foote (Author), Henry Steele Commager andJames M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. The Civil War as told by Catton has for me a haunting, mixed quality of incredible bravery (both sides), with horrible self-destruction of a great nation. I would commend this book ...more
Well i just loved this book, not because it seems to be the definitive work on the civil war, a great bibliography, superb footnotes and fantastic anecdotes, but this kind of stuff is just really fascinating to me. I think for its time (1950's), it is very well researched and just really compacted with relevant data and story lines. Caton follows the Army of the potomac from the end of the first battle at Manasses to the end of Antietem and McClellans end.

"Antietem was just a disparaging success
Thomas Sandu
This was my first book about the American civil war. It is entertaining, you learn a part of the history not so well known in Europe, you learn what maneuvers were used in those days and you learn about how it must have felt to be part of the army in those days.

I will continue reading the next books on this subject by Catton and I hope that they will be easier to follow, now that I have a solid base. But this is not a book for a casual reader, there are no real protagonists except the whole army
Scott Murphy
Well worth your time. Excellent history writing and it's briskly paced.
I have read this before, perhaps more than once. I acquired a discarded high school library copy of Mr Cattons trilogy and was again enchanted by the lovely prose. The paper has yellowed, so the contrast makes poor reading , and the type is set in rather lengthy line format. To make progress I needed to move my finger down the middle of the page. But nothing diminished Cattons achievement. I probably will not re-read the following books in the trilogy, but I certainly enjoyed the harrowing saga ...more
Superbly educational.
I started reading this series out of order (read the last one first because I didn't know it was a trilogy); I absolutely loved A Stillness at Appomattox, so I checked this one out of the library as soon as it was available, and it didn't disappoint my high expectations.

I really enjoyed Catton's economy of writing. Every sentence is relevant and interesting. He writes about the Civil War in great detail, but at a brisk pace that holds the reader's attention (at least it held mine!). Everyone sh
This is the first book in “The Army of the Potomac” trilogy. The series came out around the centennial of the American Civil War and was one of the better books on the topic at that time. Catton has a lyrical way of telling the story of the army from the start of the war through Antietam, following the rise and fall of General George McClellan. An interesting read. ...more
This book tells of the early days of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan’s organization of it his leading of it thru the 7 days battles, Pope’s loss at Second Bull Run and McClellan’s snatching a draw from a victory at Antietam by not sending in his reserves. Ok read
Mike Edwards
If you think that history has to be dry or boring, then you only need to read Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomoc Trilogy to see how it should be done. Catton's characters come to life as well as any fictional novel, even though he's writing about real people and the things they actually did. The trilogy is older, and modern scholarship has revealed some small inaccuracies in Catton's work, but the series is so well-written that it remains a useful introduction to the main front in the Civil War.
Brilliant Mr. Catton on the North's War up through Antietam, the EP in the fall of '62. Must read or at least required on every FARB bookshelf. I admire BC's searching, unpretentious sharpshooter style. Occasional lapses into romance & reverie and lala land are quickly slapped to a consciousness of gore filth and corruption. BC had no PC delusions about America- he held the mirror up to Inglorious America faithfully, writing the truth about America in 1952.
Recounts the early years of the Civil War, focusing on the Army of the Potomac. Covers the second battle of Bull Run, the peninsular campaign, and Antietam, but also gives an excellent feel for the personalities of the commanding generals involved and for what life was really like among the average soldiers themselves. For non-fiction, historical writing, Catton’s style is without peer--it’s moving and poetic.
Elwood D Pennypacker
A 3 volume history of the Union soldiers that had to chase and fight Lee, as written by a chummy whimsical professor who writes in such a conversational and self-interested tone, it actually works as a narrative story.

Part 1: McClellan Stinks. But so do most of the leaders in this outfit. I'd wax on with some more gum except I think of the scores of folks who face the slaughter of war so...yeah.
Ah hell! I had a great review and Goodreads and/or the internet in general ate it.


Just read the book, it's good.
Jason Stone
Somehow I read this fairly fast although is was pretty much a chronological history of the first part of the war. It was surprisingly interesting but hard to follow all the battle movements.
Interesting read from the first of Bruce Catton's trilogy, The Army of the Potomac. This book tells of the development and training of soldiers in the Union army that was led by its first commander, General George B. McClellan. It tells of the weaponry and artillery that was used in the battles that were fought during the Civil War.
Mark Regensburger
Excellent book. Reads more like a novel than a history book.

Traces the history of the Army of the Potomac from McClellan's taking over through his relief after Sharpsburg. Great book, highly recommended. Tells the story in flashback and current. Very readable although having a map handy would be helpful.
Though I strained my eyes reading the very small print, this was an interesting book. While I felt Catton had a tendency to ramble a bit, I did the story gripping. At this time, I can't see how the Union gets themselves out of the hole they are currently digging, so I'm curious to see how things turn around.
Frances Harris
Mr. Lincoln's army is a fascinating book, written in 1951, very formal language, but very well written. Anyone interested in a detailed account of the first years of this war should like this book. It gave me insight on the politics of this time, and a good view on why on how the Civil War was fought.
Kathy Brown
Interesting book; told mostly from the point of view of the men in uniform. I was disappointed in the starting point, however and would have liked it better if he had started at earlier, before McClellan took control of the army.
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Catton was known as a narrative historian who specialized in popular histories that emphasized the colorful characters and vignettes of history, in addition to the simple dates, facts, and analysis. His works, although well-researched, were generally not presented in a rigorous academic style, supported by footnotes. In the long line of Civil War historians, Catton is arguably the most prolific an ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Army of the Potomac (3 books)
  • Glory Road
  • A Stillness at Appomattox
A Stillness at Appomattox The Coming Fury Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History of the Civil War Series, Volume 2 Never Call Retreat Glory Road

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