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 Posted: Fri Jul 24th, 2009 12:38 pm
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Mark
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I think in general you are right.  McDowell was put in a near impossible position.  He had not led soldiers in any capacity in more than ten years and had never led anything larger than a regiment if I remember correctly.  Everything he did as an Army commander was on the job training.  Plus he had the unenviable position of having to attack with generally untrained troops whereas the Confederates simply had to parry uncoordinated Federal attacks with their own untrained troops.  With that being said, McDowell expected too much of untrained volunteers.  His plan was not bad, but, he should have known that a night march to an attack position coordinating between two separate wings of an army was far beyond his and his subordinates capabilities.  Part of being a good commander is understanding what your Soldiers are capable of and using them within those constraints.  Cheers!

Mark

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