Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Reardon on Lee and leadership

Carol Reardon, author of General Robert E. Lee and the Three Obligations of Command, follows Krick with an assessment of Lee’s leadership qualities.


So often, Lee has been cast as a traditionalist, perhaps even an antique compared to Ulysses S. Grant, says Reardon, a Penn State University professor of history now serving as the General Harold K. Johnson Professor at the U.S. Army War College.

That notion should be reconsidered, she says.

He was innovative in many ways, though slow to adapt to new technologies — except for the railroad.

Lee quickly came to understand that the political, social, economic and military aspects of war were all intertwined with one another, Reardon says.

He figured out to advise the Confederacy’s civilian leaders, in practical ways, on how to achieve their new nation’s primary objective: independence.

Lee was thinking across a broad spectrum, with “strategic acumen far beyond” what the era’s prevailing current military thinking.

“That’s not traditional,” she says. “That’s very much of today.”

And unlike many theorists of his time, who saw armies as machines, Lee never forgot the humanity of his troops, Reardon says. He didn’t treat them as machines; he tried to take care of them as individuals.

As a military leader, Lee exceeded standards of his day in many ways.

“He more forward-looking than we have credited him,” Reardon say. “There is a great deal we can learn from him, if we only put him back in his proper historical context.”




  • jsmithcsa

    Another excellent article!  Thank you.