Who was George McClellan?

civilwartalk

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#1
It’s been said that the North didn’t win the Civil War as much as the South lost it. And for the first years of the conflict, it indeed seemed as if the smaller and less well equipped southern army was more than holding its own against the north. A big reason for that was the skill of General Robert E. Lee.

By comparison, northern military leadership seemed sluggish at times. In the case of General George McClellan, some historians assert he suffered from some sort of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, which would have significantly affected his troop leadership and could be the reason for his documented mood swings.

georgemclellan.png

George Brinton McClellan was born in Philadelphia on December 3, 1826. His father was a successful physician and one of the founders of the Jefferson Medical College. McClellan entered West Point when he was sixteen and graduated in 1846, ranked second in his class. After seeing action in the Mexican War, McClellan traveled overseas to study European cavalry forces and field equipment. When he returned McClellan designed the “McClellan saddle,” which remained in use for over 50 years.

McClellan resigned his commission in 1857 and worked primarily out of Cincinnati as an engineer for the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad and the Illinois Central Railroad. But after the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861McClellan reenlisted in the Army. Initially, he concentrated on Ohio’s defense and militia.

In autumn of 1861, McClellan led Union soldiers into what is now West Virginia and defeated two Confederate forces, securing the region. The victories earned McClellan respect as a skilled leader. So after General Irvin McDowell’s defeat at the first battle of Bull Run, Lincoln replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac with McClellan.

After spending a few months recruiting and training volunteers, he led an operation against Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in early 1862. The campaign was not a success, in part because McClellan greatly overestimated the size of the Confederate force, in part because of General Lee’s defensive strategy. Even though the Army of the Potomac was on the outskirts of Richmond, McClellan retreated and sent his troops back to Washington, DC.

In late summer of 1862, Lee’s Army advanced on Washington, D.C. McClellan’s directive was to drive the Confederates back into the South. Union soldiers discovered Confederate documents detailing Lee’s location and the number of men he had.

On September 17, the Battle of Antietam started outside Sharpsburg. It was the first major battle of the Civil War fought on Northern soil. It was also the most deadly one day battle in American history, with 23,000 casualties. Although Lee’s army was repelled, many – including Lincoln – believed that McClellan had missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army and bring the war to an end.

Feeling McClellan was not being aggressive enough, Lincoln relieved him of command for the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, replacing him with General Ambrose Burnside.

McClellan would never receive another military command and in 1864, was the Democratic Party nominee for President. The Democrats wanted an immediate end to the conflict. But riding a wave of public support after a string of victories in Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, Lincoln easily won re-election, with a 212 to 21 Electoral edge.

McClellan resigned his Army commission and went to Europe for almost four years. He came back and eventually settled in Orange, New Jersey. He was elected governor and served from 1878-81. He declined running for another term and spent his last years traveling and writing for assorted magazines. He died October 29, 1885 at his home in Orange.
 

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civilken

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#3
from what I have read I wonder if little Mac. was slow on purpose I believe he did not think the planter class was all that bad and being a democrat maybe in time the south mite come around so why not go slow.
 
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#5
I did quite a lengthy paper/thesis on McClellan for a Civil War tactics class I had a few years ago. When you start to really research the man you can't help but realize that he was an arrogant p**** that thought he was more intelligent than anybody above or below him in rank. He constantly degrades Lincoln. He honestly believed there were boogey men behind every corner. He thought there were 100 k confederates AT YORKTOWN! Quite stunning how wrong he was on multiple occasions.....and don't get me started on the Antietam campaign.
 
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#8
I did quite a lengthy paper/thesis on McClellan for a Civil War tactics class I had a few years ago. When you start to really research the man you can't help but realize that he was an arrogant p**** that thought he was more intelligent than anybody above or below him in rank. He constantly degrades Lincoln. He honestly believed there were boogey men behind every corner. He thought there were 100 k confederates AT YORKTOWN! Quite stunning how wrong he was on multiple occasions.....and don't get me started on the Antietam campaign.
To be fair, I've seen newspapers that claimed that Lee's army at Gettysburg numbered 200, 000 men! They all seemed to be getting their "facts" from Pinkerton.
 

civilken

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#11
Hooo boy do not get me started on Pinkerton he was quit the self promoter my family in Pen. work on the rail rode and his boys put a lot of them in the Hospital for the boss
 
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#12
"By comparison, northern military leadership seemed sluggish at times. In the case of General George McClellan, some historians assert he suffered from some sort of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, which would have significantly affected his troop leadership and could be the reason for his documented mood swings."

"After spending a few months recruiting and training volunteers, he led an operation against Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in early 1862. The campaign was not a success, in part because McClellan greatly overestimated the size of the Confederate force, in part because of General Lee’s defensive strategy. Even though the Army of the Potomac was on the outskirts of Richmond, McClellan retreated and sent his troops back to Washington, DC."

In late summer of 1862, Lee’s Army advanced on Washington, D.C. McClellan’s directive was to drive the Confederates back into the South. Union soldiers discovered Confederate documents detailing Lee’s location and the number of men he had.

On September 17, the Battle of Antietam started outside Sharpsburg. It was the first major battle of the Civil War fought on Northern soil. It was also the most deadly one day battle in American history, with 23,000 casualties. Although Lee’s army was repelled, many – including Lincoln – believed that McClellan had missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army and bring the war to an end.

Feeling McClellan was not being aggressive enough, Lincoln relieved him of command for the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, replacing him with General Ambrose Burnside.

McClellan would never receive another military command and in 1864, was the Democratic Party nominee for President. The Democrats wanted an immediate end to the conflict. But riding a wave of public support after a string of victories in Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, Lincoln easily won re-election, with a 212 to 21 Electoral edge.

McClellan resigned his Army commission and went to Europe for almost four years. He came back and eventually settled in Orange, New Jersey. He was elected governor and served from 1878-81. He declined running for another term and spent his last years traveling and writing for assorted magazines. He died October 29, 1885 at his home in Orange.[/quote]
It’s been said that the North didn’t win the Civil War as much as the South lost it. And for the first years of the conflict, it indeed seemed as if the smaller and less well equipped southern army was more than holding its own against the north. A big reason for that was the skill of General Robert E. Lee.

By comparison, northern military leadership seemed sluggish at times. In the case of General George McClellan, some historians assert he suffered from some sort of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, which would have significantly affected his troop leadership and could be the reason for his documented mood swings.


George Brinton McClellan was born in Philadelphia on December 3, 1826. His father was a successful physician and one of the founders of the Jefferson Medical College. McClellan entered West Point when he was sixteen and graduated in 1846, ranked second in his class. After seeing action in the Mexican War, McClellan traveled overseas to study European cavalry forces and field equipment. When he returned McClellan designed the “McClellan saddle,” which remained in use for over 50 years.

McClellan resigned his commission in 1857 and worked primarily out of Cincinnati as an engineer for the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad and the Illinois Central Railroad. But after the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861McClellan reenlisted in the Army. Initially, he concentrated on Ohio’s defense and militia.

In autumn of 1861, McClellan led Union soldiers into what is now West Virginia and defeated two Confederate forces, securing the region. The victories earned McClellan respect as a skilled leader. So after General Irvin McDowell’s defeat at the first battle of Bull Run, Lincoln replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac with McClellan.

After spending a few months recruiting and training volunteers, he led an operation against Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in early 1862. The campaign was not a success, in part because McClellan greatly overestimated the size of the Confederate force, in part because of General Lee’s defensive strategy. Even though the Army of the Potomac was on the outskirts of Richmond, McClellan retreated and sent his troops back to Washington, DC.

In late summer of 1862, Lee’s Army advanced on Washington, D.C. McClellan’s directive was to drive the Confederates back into the South. Union soldiers discovered Confederate documents detailing Lee’s location and the number of men he had.

On September 17, the Battle of Antietam started outside Sharpsburg. It was the first major battle of the Civil War fought on Northern soil. It was also the most deadly one day battle in American history, with 23,000 casualties. Although Lee’s army was repelled, many – including Lincoln – believed that McClellan had missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army and bring the war to an end.

Feeling McClellan was not being aggressive enough, Lincoln relieved him of command for the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, replacing him with General Ambrose Burnside.

McClellan would never receive another military command and in 1864, was the Democratic Party nominee for President. The Democrats wanted an immediate end to the conflict. But riding a wave of public support after a string of victories in Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, Lincoln easily won re-election, with a 212 to 21 Electoral edge.

McClellan resigned his Army commission and went to Europe for almost four years. He came back and eventually settled in Orange, New Jersey. He was elected governor and served from 1878-81. He declined running for another term and spent his last years traveling and writing for assorted magazines. He died October 29, 1885 at his home in Orange.
McClellan was a great Union General that was vilified by the Radical Republicans for opposition to them and their cause. His military leadership and skills were underminded by political interference which doomed him and several other Union generals, to failure.
 
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#13
"By comparison, northern military leadership seemed sluggish at times. In the case of General George McClellan, some historians assert he suffered from some sort of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, which would have significantly affected his troop leadership and could be the reason for his documented mood swings."

"After spending a few months recruiting and training volunteers, he led an operation against Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in early 1862. The campaign was not a success, in part because McClellan greatly overestimated the size of the Confederate force, in part because of General Lee’s defensive strategy. Even though the Army of the Potomac was on the outskirts of Richmond, McClellan retreated and sent his troops back to Washington, DC."

In late summer of 1862, Lee’s Army advanced on Washington, D.C. McClellan’s directive was to drive the Confederates back into the South. Union soldiers discovered Confederate documents detailing Lee’s location and the number of men he had.

On September 17, the Battle of Antietam started outside Sharpsburg. It was the first major battle of the Civil War fought on Northern soil. It was also the most deadly one day battle in American history, with 23,000 casualties. Although Lee’s army was repelled, many – including Lincoln – believed that McClellan had missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army and bring the war to an end.

Feeling McClellan was not being aggressive enough, Lincoln relieved him of command for the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, replacing him with General Ambrose Burnside.

McClellan would never receive another military command and in 1864, was the Democratic Party nominee for President. The Democrats wanted an immediate end to the conflict. But riding a wave of public support after a string of victories in Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, Lincoln easily won re-election, with a 212 to 21 Electoral edge.

McClellan resigned his Army commission and went to Europe for almost four years. He came back and eventually settled in Orange, New Jersey. He was elected governor and served from 1878-81. He declined running for another term and spent his last years traveling and writing for assorted magazines. He died October 29, 1885 at his home in Orange.

McClellan was a great Union General that was vilified by the Radical Republicans for opposition to them and their cause. His military leadership and skills were underminded by political interference which doomed him and several other Union generals, to failure.[/quote]

McClellan was more than capable of undermining himself and didn't need Washington for that.

R
 

James N.

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#15
Another look at Little Mac from my collection of CDV's, this one sold commercially by Brady:

G.B.McClellan.jpg
McClellan back.jpg
 

David Knight

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#16
McClellan was a great general, but should never have had senior field command. He was an organiser, trainer everything an army needs to be effective but then he just didn't have the guts to use it aggresively.
 
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