McClellan


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Rebforever

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No, he was probably one of the best commanders the US produced. He was however the victim of, as Grant described it, "earliness". The government and public simply didn't understand the nature of war, and expected a grand Waterloo style victory culminating in a march into Richmond. This was of course never achieved by anyone.

Essentially, the bar was set so high that no-one could reach it. He didn't reach that bar, and then nobody that followed him, Pope, Burnside, Meade or Grant, reached it either. If you read some of the diaries of Lincoln's cabinet members then even in 1864 they are expecting a Waterloo style victory, and are appalled with what Grant delivered.
McClellan set the bar so high he couldn't reach it.
 

Specster

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Yet no commander of the AoP killed more Confederate troops and lost less Union troops doing so.
Leftyhunter

OK I will accept that as true but does Mac ever take an offensive posture? Even when he has the advantage.....in numbers or postion or elsewise... Grant knew he was paying a very expensive "Butchers Bill" but he wanted this thing to end and Lincoln was 100% on board with that. If Mac continued to control the AOP or all armys, when would it have ended?
 
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Yet no commander of the AoP killed more Confederate troops
C'mon, Lefty. Grant's armies throughout the war caused over 100,000 Confederate casualties - capturing three whole armies. In his seven major campaigns (McClellan led two) you think maybe more Confederates were killed than in the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns?
 
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I believe McClellan was indispensable. He was absolutely the leader the AoP needed in the summer of 1861. He instilled an esprit de corps in the men that I don't think anyone else could have. He made them into an army that would ultimately defeat the rebels. Everything the AoP did that was good in 1863 - 1865 was a direct consequence of McClellan's tenure as army commander. He was not, however, a battle tactician on the same level he was an organizer and he had absolute contempt for the civilian leadership of his country. He openly insulted the president and cabinet officers and Winfield Scott. That contempt, IMO, is what disqualified him from command and ultimately led to his downfall.
 

trice

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That's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about the focus that an excellent battlefield commander has on the destruction of the opposing force. If Grant had been in command at Antietam, Lee's army would have been obliterated.
We can't ever know that. I forgot the author's name who I believe @67th Tigers had a link to his lectures but McCellen led many green troops and getting them organized was difficult.
The author pointed out that has a so called bad general McCellen captured many Confederate soldiers and battle flags.
Leftyhunter
The Battle of Antietam is fought on September 17, 1862. On September 19, 1862 the Battle of Iuka is fought. In both cases, the Rebel armies escape. Grant doesn't look much better at Iuka than McClellan looks at Antietam.
 

67th Tigers

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Deaths are irrelevant. How did that campaign end up?
With McClellan still holding a knife to Lee's throat, and it only being a question of time before the rebellion was destroyed... Then Halleck saved Lee.

Either Peninsula or Maryland/Northern Va. Take your pick because both are correct.
 

1SGDan

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With McClellan still holding a knife to Lee's throat, and it only being a question of time before the rebellion was destroyed... Then Halleck saved Lee.

Either Peninsula or Maryland/Northern Va. Take your pick because both are correct.
Nah- He retreated away from his primary objective and eventually found himself back where he started from.
When he became stagnant, refused to obey orders, and languished on the James Halleck finally had the good sense to realize he had to be recalled.
 
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pfcjking

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I think we often forget that McClellan had been successful in West Virginia in 1861, and Lee had been unsuccessful. This may have tinted Lee's opinion of Little Mac a bit.

Also, McClellan's decision to land his army at Fort Monroe and then move up the peninsula and attack Richmond was a daring move. It showed boldness and cunning. It was exactly the type of move Lee himself might have made if he had the resources. But Lee would not have allowed himself to get the slows once he got there.

McClellan was not really a tactician. I don't think he was a coward, but I think he feared wasting the lives of his men. He was a great strategist. Not so great as Grant, but great nonetheless. If McClellan had sat in DC like Halleck did, and he let someone like Kearny, Reynolds, or Hooker command the field armies in Virginia, I think the war may have ended in 1862.
 

67th Tigers

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Nah- He retreated away from his primary objective and eventually found himself back where he started from.
Because Halleck ordered him too.

You might want to check your geography, because Berkeley Plantation is 64 miles WNW of Fort Monroe, and central Richmond was 82 miles from Fort Monroe. McClellan's army moved 20 miles south to a new supply base and were 24 miles SE of it, astride of a navigable river. As they were previously 10 miles from the centre of Richmond, but had moved across the front, they had been pushed back roughly 10 miles, but were better positioned.

Pffft, back where he start from indeed...
 

1SGDan

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As has been noted on several recent threads failure is the direct responsibility of the commander. Mac "changed his base" (AKA retreat) and then did nothing. Halleck did call him back after trying to get him to do something in the way of moving the campaign forward to no avail. His recall was a result of his own failure.
 

leftyhunter

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Deaths are irrelevant. How did that campaign end up?
The Campaign failed but McCellen was waging an offensive while fighting a strong enemy equal in numbers. Lincoln withheld men that McCellen requested unnecessarily to defend Washington DC. Had McCellen outnumbered the AnV had did Grant two years latter it is highly probable McCellen could have seized Richmond.
CEVs arguably are the only objective way of measuring the relative performance level of an army or army commander.
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

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Mac "changed his base" (AKA retreat) and then did nothing.
To be precise McClellan shifted his base south to avoid the destruction of his army, since the base he had been ordered to stay on by Stanton had become untenable. He then asked for reinforcements sufficient to resume the advance.

Halleck did call him back after trying to get him to do something in the way of moving the campaign forward to no avail.
What exactly did Halleck do to try to get McClellan to move the campaign forwards? He certainly didn't send McClellan any reinforcements at all, and he didn't send any bridging materials either; this means either Halleck was insufficiently supportive OR McClellan had enough men to simply advance on Richmond sans any extra support and take it easily.
Since Lee had been reinforced since the Seven Days the idea that McClellan had enough men to simply advance and take Richmond is obviously false (as Lee had more men than McClellan in the seven days and you normally want at least parity when advancing against a strong enemy fortified position); thus Halleck was insufficiently supportive.

His recall was a result of his own failure.
Well, he didn't make any positive progress towards beating the enemy for a few weeks, but I'm sure he's not unique in terms of Union commanders on that front...


Bottom line. If you think McClellan's recall was due to his own failings as a commander, please suggest an alternative course of action McClellan should have taken at any point after the 20th of June 1862 which would have avoided his recall.
 

leftyhunter

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C'mon, Lefty. Grant's armies throughout the war caused over 100,000 Confederate casualties - capturing three whole armies. In his seven major campaigns (McClellan led two) you think maybe more Confederates were killed than in the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns?
McCellen on a proportional basis achieved a higher number of Confederate casualties for the loss of fewer men then did any commander of the AoP. Grant inflicted more casualties but suffered much more casualties then did McCellen and Grant had more manpower then McCellen.
If we use CEVs as a metric McCellen is the superior commander to Grant of the AoP.
Yes I know technically Meade is the commander of the AoP but is directed by Grant.
That does not make me a Grant basher. Grant did capture three Confederate field armies but we can't discount McCellen's achievements in terms of CEVs.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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OK I will accept that as true but does Mac ever take an offensive posture? Even when he has the advantage.....in numbers or postion or elsewise... Grant knew he was paying a very expensive "Butchers Bill" but he wanted this thing to end and Lincoln was 100% on board with that. If Mac continued to control the AOP or all armys, when would it have ended?
To be fair the AoP under Grant outnumbered the AnV. McCellen desperately asked for reinforcements but Lincoln denied the request and kept needed troops twiddling their thumbs at Washington DC.
Lincoln also ordered General Burnside from New Berne,North Carolina to the Peninsula Campaign instead of allowing Burnside to capture the strategic railway junction at Goldsboro, North Carolina which would of cut of supplies to Richmond.
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

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During McClellan's campaign in 1862 and Grant's campaign in 1864 there was about 200,000 men's worth of manpower (PFD) in the eastern theatre.
The differences between the two are that Grant's campaign had access to 170,000 of those men at one time or another (vice 120,000 for McClellan), and that Grant's enemy had a smaller force passing through his army.
Neither of them took Richmond by the end of July. But of the two I think it is fair to say that there's a stronger argument that "McClellan could have succeeded with 150,000 total" (i.e. give him 30,000 reinforcements) than that "Grant could have succeeded with 150,000 total" (i.e. take 20,000 of his men away)
 

Andy Cardinal

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During McClellan's campaign in 1862 and Grant's campaign in 1864 there was about 200,000 men's worth of manpower (PFD) in the eastern theatre.
The differences between the two are that Grant's campaign had access to 170,000 of those men at one time or another (vice 120,000 for McClellan), and that Grant's enemy had a smaller force passing through his army.
Neither of them took Richmond by the end of July. But of the two I think it is fair to say that there's a stronger argument that "McClellan could have succeeded with 150,000 total" (i.e. give him 30,000 reinforcements) than that "Grant could have succeeded with 150,000 total" (i.e. take 20,000 of his men away)
Possibly the same statement said differently.... What I see different about Grant as opposed to his predecessors was he had complete control over how the troops were deployed. I'm not sure if Halleck really did; if he did he did not exercise it. Certainly no commander of the Army of the Potomac could call for the reinforcements Grant did over the course of the campaign.
 


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