Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. Free Essay for Students

Published: 2022-06-03
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. Free Essay for Students
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Leadership analysis Abraham Lincoln
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1103 words
10 min read

Great leaders establish their skills and character by deliberately enhancing three major areas: they judiciously manage the emerging events by determining their value and purpose, they selectively overlook the bygone events by disregarding the philosophies and beliefs that no longer aid in their leadership, and finally, they resolutely fashion a future by espousing the aspirations, morals, and philosophies that facilitate a step change in their governance. The skills mentioned above aided one of the greatest American president, Abraham Lincoln, to reap enormous success both as the people's president and the commander in chief of the armed forces. Lincoln rallied the citizens around his visions of a great nation, a concept so strong that it promoted cohesion in a war-torn country. Nevertheless, it is vital to note that it took him more than willpower, sacrifice, and critical actions to cut-off what was no longer working.

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At the outbreak of the American civil war, Abraham Lincoln was less primed for a military engagement than his Confederate rival Jefferson Davis. Unlike Lincoln, Davis was a graduate of West Point Military academy. Moreover, he had assumed command of an army battalion that fought in Buena Vista during the Mexican war. He also worked as a secretary of war in the Franklin Pierce administration from 1853 to 1857. On the other hand, the only military experience that Lincoln possessed was when he acted as the captain of the army unit that engaged in the Black Hawk War which fought the Fox and Sac Indians who tried to return to Iowa, their ancestral land in Illinois thus, allegedly breaching a treaty they had signed. However, after the bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Confederate military, Abraham Lincoln called into action the Federal army and began a steep learning curve as the commander in chief. Throughout this period, Lincoln proved to be a quick study majorly because he was a self-taught lawyer who had a keen analytical mind, and also his mastering of the Euclidean geometry facilitated his quick learning of military strategies and tactics. Despite being a militia amateur when he assumed the presidency, the leadership challenges and the eminent wars that Lincoln faced from his Southern rival, compelled him to read and absorb military history and strategies, and observe the success and failures of both his enemies and military generals from which he drew apt conclusions. Noticeably, during his leadership as the commander in chief, Lincoln made and learned from his mistakes and applied common sense to eliminate the mystifications and pretexts that were given by his subordinates. By 1862, Abraham Lincoln had learned a great deal of military intelligence and strategies that are firm enough to justify the fact that he is one of the greatest war presidents and an intelligent natural strategist.

To victorious in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was compelled to change his leadership styles in various ways. By 1863, Lincoln had acted as the president of the United States for two years and was reviled by a significant majority of the citizens. However, the civil war threatened to divide the nation into two parts, and the Northern army had already lost two major battles. As a result, Lincoln faced attacks and criticism from his party members for his indecisiveness and attitude towards the war. However, three months later, the public opinion shifted. Following a public poll, the New York Times conveyed that the citizens were grateful that the country was being governed by a president who was uniquely aware of the prerequisites that faced the nation, a leader who was clear-headed, discreet, dispassionate and steadfast.

At the dawn of the early summer of 1863, Abraham Lincoln realized that he faced two major challenges; restoring control over the armed forces and recapturing the American public opinion. As a result, Lincoln was forced to make bold choices that eventually lead him to success. To start with, he eradicated strategies that were ineffective and reshuffled the senior generals in the army. Owing to this strategic move, Abraham Lincoln rose to become one of the greatest American presidents and commander in chief that the world has ever known. To start with, Lincoln got rid of the manner in which he communicated with his generals. At his inception into the office of the presidency, Lincoln held that a civic leader should leave the command of his army to the generals who he had the experience and expertise in the battlefield. Rather than giving his generals firm orders, he offered reticent recommendations which they mostly snubbed. However, after strings of exchanges with his unsuccessful generals, Lincoln dropped his submissive style and adopted a more assertive tone. Owing to this, he issued a series of direct orders to his generals during the summer of 1863. Rather than nudging them, he expressly defined who was in charge of operations and the manner in which the commandants should operate. For instance, he wrote a letter to General Joseph Hooker who had overlooked his counsels on several occasions, he said; " ...To remove all misunderstanding, I now place you in the strict military relation to Gen. Halleck, of a commander of one of the armies, to the General-in-Chief of all the armies. I have not intended differently; but as it seems to be differently understood, I shall direct him to give you orders, and you to obey them." It is due to changes in his leadership style that the Union army recorded a series of victories during the civil war. Remarkably, his success in the battled field shifted after his army won two major victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, this marked a significant turning point during the war. The Union army moved proactively as dictated by President Lincoln.

Since his ascension into the office of the president until his death, Lincoln held a stanch vision about America: ensuring the union between the North and South. However, despite his clarity of vision, goals, and purpose, he faced a significant challenge; the public was becoming incensed and exasperated with the ongoing civil war and the Lincoln administration. As a result, he was forced to change the manner in which he related to the general public. During his era, presidents rarely interacted directly with the public. They were only required to govern the citizens and share their ideas with the Congress. They would hardly leave the capital unless during holidays. However, in 1863, Lincoln ignored this tradition and started touring the various parts of the country. Moreover, he launched a public letter-writing campaign where one of his letters is reported to have been read by at least 10 million people. This public outreach played a vital role in turning the public opinion to his favor.

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