Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind

Gregory J. W. Urwin

in Lincoln and Leadership

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243440
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243488 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind

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This chapter by Gregory J. W. Urwin challenges popular ideas of Lincoln as a natural and brilliant military strategist and war president, instead showing that Lincoln developed slowly and erratically as a strategist and war leader. It argues that Lincoln’s innate intelligence and his focus on saving the Union by any means led him to bold assertions of power, including a curtailment of civil liberties, but also to stumble by interfering in military matters he did not fully understand. It shows how military men such as Henry Halleck helped Lincoln become an effective Commander in Chief by translating strategic concepts into military terms. And it argues that Lincoln’s use of black soldiers, organized as U.S. Colored Troops, strengthened the Union war effort while also galvanizing southern opposition, including Confederates committing atrocities against black soldiers, such as the Fort Pillow Massacre. It adds that the need to protect the integrity of black Union soldiers led to complications in prisoner exchange, but once Lincoln committed to emancipation as policy and using black troops he did not temporize.

Keywords: United States Colored Troops; Commander in Chief; Military strategy; Atrocities; Prisoner exchanges; Civil War

Chapter.  7840 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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