The author gives bare sketches of the major battles of the Civil War but describes in detail the principle generals with a very sympathetic approach to Lincoln and Grant. Lincoln is the giant emancipator and redeemer - all true! Grant is the dogged commander. The sheer numbers of losses, however, boggle the mind and make one wonder about what it really means to be a general: to be willing to sacrifice great numbers of soldiers at the risk of losing a battle. McClellan stands out from the rest because of his hesitation to do battle. His confrontations are almost inadvertent. He was dismissed by Lincoln because of that hesitation. Perhaps, he deserves a second look. Maybe McClellan was not interested in so much sacrifice of men? The Confederate Generals understood McClellan's hesitation to their advantage being very aggressive against him. Some histories characterize him as a coward, yet, Sandburg does not agree saying that McClellan proved his bravery in the Mexican/Indian Wars.
Phil Sheridan reminds me of George Patton: energetic, passionate, brazen and fearless. Although Robert E. Lee comes off fatherly and sage like through his circumspection about his men and the war, he prosecutes his battles with brilliance and genius.
The book gives the impression that the South did not have a chance to win because the North outnumbered the South in men and resources. The North basically choked off the resources of the South. Defeat of the South was then a matter of time.
Lincoln is described as a very sympathetic human being wanting to be lenient with the South at the war's conclusion, allowing for the Confederate leadership's escape to England and not desiring trials for treason.
There was something incongruous about the author's magisterial, almost romantic style about the Civil War, a most bloody affair in American History.