How Did Lincoln Succeed As Commander In Chief and How Did Davis Fail?

Lincoln succeeded as commander in chief because, he was able to focus on what needed to be done to take down the Confederacy. Due to the fact that Lincoln had a very limited military background; he was always reading up on military tactics. Lincolns new found military knowledge became evident in a letter to Joseph Hooker, when Hooker wanted to follow Lee. Lincoln realized that it was not a smart move, and told Hooker not to shadow Lee. [1] Another way Lincoln successful, was by using African Americans to his advantage. Lincoln knew using them would be a way to build up his army. [2] Lincoln also went against what congress said sometimes. For example, when congress wanted to negotiate peace Lincoln knew it would fail.[3]   Lincoln had a clear plan for winning the war, which made him a successful president.

Davis on the other hand, was not as successful has Lincoln at being commander in chief. For example, Davis did not really seem like he wanted to be president. This was apparent in a letter to General J.E. Johnston; rather than praising him for his work Davis seemed to tell him how he should fight.[4]  Davis seemed like he would rather be fighting in the war. Another reason why Davis did not succeed was because he did not have enough manpower and material. For example, in a letter to Lee, Davis was very frazzled about finding him manpower.  [5] Davis was very unorganized with both congress and his troops. At one point he even would consider having blacks fight for him, going against his word. [6] Both Davis and Lincoln would have there strengths and weakness but Lincoln was able to get more support from the people. Which would in turn make him a very successful president.


Lincoln v. Davis 
  1. Gienapp, The Fiery Trial, 157.
  2. Gienapp, The Fiery Trial, 169.
  3. Gienapp, The Fiery Trial, 201.
  4. Cooper, The Essential Writings, 310.
  5. Cooper, The Essential Writings, 314.
  6. Cooper, The Essential Writings, 362.

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