June 2021 Meeting Recap
At our dinner meeting on May 25th, Dr. Ethan S. Rafuse gave an excellent program titled: “We always understood each other so well”: McClellan, Lee, and the War in the East. It was Dr. Rafuse's first public speaking engagement since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Civil War in the Eastern Theater in 1862 was the stage for a grand confrontation between two distinctly different armies and commanders. When the year began, Robert E. Lee languished in relative obscurity, while George McClellan strode the Union war effort like a colossus.
By June, McClellan had led his Army of the Potomac to the proverbial gates of Richmond and ultimate victory for the Union seemed within sight. Then, however, Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia struck back and by the middle of September had carried the war to the outskirts of Washington and then across the Potomac River into Maryland, before McClellan managed to turn back the Confederate tide.
Dr. Rafuse's talk focused on both of these commanders and how the dialogue between their respective approaches to the war—and their mutual understanding of the strategic and operational dynamics in the East—colored its conduct in 1862 and cast a long shadow over the entire war.
Both McClellan and Lee fought the war based on how they were trained to wage war. How they understood their opponent was also based on how they were trained.
The dinner meeting on May 25th was well attended and we received several favorable comments from Round Table members regarding the Milbum Country Club, the delicious dinner, and Dr. Rafuse's program.