Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Under normal circumstances, this order would be an (extremely insulting, but legal) order from McClellan's HQ to Pope. Under the circumstances which actually obtain, Pope would be quite within his rights to request confirmation of the order...
A real life example would be during the period McClellan was incommunicado on 1st July 1862. McClellan gave Sumner a written order stating he was in command for the few hours McClellan would be away. Sumner then ordered Malvern Hill abandoned and for Porter to assault Lee. Porter immediately queried Sumner's authority for such an unusual order, and refused to carry it out without confirmation from McClellan.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Again, this is not true in 1863. The Secretary of War is not in the line-of-command. The job of SECWAR and the War Department is to administer the army, not command it.
And, as per stated law, absolutely not true. See the determination of Wirt in 1820 and the later determination of both Cushing and the SC.

There was no General-in-Chief in 1789, and there would not be one until 1821.
Also, but merely technically, not true. There was, to some degree, always a 'ranking' officer in the army acting as overall commander. The name of that position was not technically codified until 1821 and George Washington was the acknowledged holder of the office.

The 1853-5 argument is interesting. In 1853 Jefferson Davis (the new SECWAR) issued a new organisation for the field departments. There was a long argument, and Scott summarised what the Law said:

1. The War Department had custody of the records, stores etc. of the army, (1789 Act)
2. control over the purchase of stores, (1813 Act)
3. was entrusted with the muster rolls of the army, (13th, 18th and 19th Articles of War)
4. was the intermediary between the POTUS and army in the case of courts-martial, (65th AOW)
5. was entrusted with the accounts of dead officers, (95th AOW)
6. had oversight of the QMG's issuance of clothing etc., (1826 Act)
7. was empowered to purchase land for arsenals, (1826 Act)
8. had oversight over the Ordnance department and the purchase of weapons etc., (1815 Act)
9. and finally had the power to insist that the state militia had uniformity of clothing, weapons and equipment with the Regular Army (1803 Militia Act)

He then noted that the SECWAR had the power to issue an order "in the name of the President", but not in his own right.

The Attorney-General gave a long opinion that, as a general rule, it should be assumed all instructions from SECWAR (and all other cabinet officers) were endorsed by the President without the need for the formal "by order of the President" beginning each order. Pierce accepted this for his administration. Later administrations, including Lincoln's, did not. Hence all the "by order of the President" at the beginning of General Orders etc.

Note there was a consensus that the SECWAR could not give orders to the army in his own name, and was not in the line-of authority.

The outcome here was to have a new Article VIII inserted into the regulations, which gave the power to create geographic departments to the SECWAR, and, in peacetime, to assign troops to them. In the event of war all control over the stationing of troops reverted to the GinC.

This may be well and good to "assume" if POTUS and SECWAR have daily meetings, but now there is no communication between these two, and SECWAR cannot give an order in his own right. He still can only pass on the orders of the President (outside of the 9 examples above, plus assigning wagons to the army; Congress granted this control to SECWAR in January 1862). If there is no communication between POTUS and SECWAR, then it certainly can't be assumed that SECWAR is simply relaying POTUS' orders.
This is, well, again not correct. Cushings legal opinion was the backbone of later decisions (and used the original documentation of the powers of the War Department which was later codified into law), and rightly piggybacked off of Wirt's original outline that since the President delegates authority, the Secretary of War indeed is in the chain of command, not separate of it.

This seems to be your mistake. You are assuming that the Secretary of War is a functionary, and the War Department is thus not in the military chain of command. That is quite frankly baffling. The War Department is the direct civilian department for the administration of the military as two Attorney Generals already stated, and to assume they are somehow separate from the military chain of command is extremely odd. The Supreme Court had acknowledged this in 1842 in The United States v. Eliason saying:

"The power of the executive to establish rules and regulations for the government of the army is undoubted. The power to establish necessarily implies the power to modify or to repeal or to create anew. The Secretary at War is the regular constitutional organ of the President for the administration of the military establishment of the nation, and rules and orders publicly promulgated through him must be received as the acts of the executive, and as such are binding upon all within the sphere of his legal and constitutional authority."

That was Cushing's understanding of the law. That would be the applicable reading Lincoln could refer Stanton to and empower him under.

I can understand the confusion, Lincoln holds the final say, but it must be assumed that the Secretary of War is speaking with the authority of the President, and quite frankly, he is in this scenario.

Again, there is no mechanism for Lincoln to transfer his power to Stanton. Stanton can only act as a functionary of Lincoln, relaying Lincoln's orders. Lincoln's can't give a "blank cheque" to Stanton.

Again, the Supreme Court has already ruled otherwise. You're supposing there is no intermediary between the President and the Military with the Civilian Government. That is just untrue.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
This seems to be your mistake. You are assuming that the Secretary of War is a functionary, and the War Department is thus not in the military chain of command. That is quite frankly baffling. The War Department is the direct civilian department for the administration of the military as two Attorney Generals already stated, and to assume they are somehow separate from the military chain of command is extremely odd. The Supreme Court had acknowledged this in 1842 in The United States v. Eliason saying:

"The power of the executive to establish rules and regulations for the government of the army is undoubted. The power to establish necessarily implies the power to modify or to repeal or to create anew. The Secretary at War is the regular constitutional organ of the President for the administration of the military establishment of the nation, and rules and orders publicly promulgated through him must be received as the acts of the executive, and as such are binding upon all within the sphere of his legal and constitutional authority."

That was Cushing's understanding of the law. That would be the applicable reading Lincoln could refer Stanton to and empower him under.

I can understand the confusion, Lincoln holds the final say, but it must be assumed that the Secretary of War is speaking with the authority of the President, and quite frankly, he is in this scenario.



Again, the Supreme Court has already ruled otherwise. You're supposing there is no intermediary between the President and the Military with the Civilian Government. That is just untrue.
The SCOTUS ruling backs up my argument the SECWAR is an "organ of the President". That is a conduit by which the decisions of POTUS are communicated. They have no authority in their own right.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Again, the Supreme Court has already ruled otherwise. You're supposing there is no intermediary between the President and the Military with the Civilian Government. That is just untrue.
I was under the impression that the President was The Commander-in-Chief and could (and occasionally did) issue orders directly, without going through any intermediaries at all; indeed, at least two previous Presidents took direct command of military formations under their Presidential authority (Washington and Madison).
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Which means that McClellan has all the more reason to think that Stanton is acting against the preferences of the President here, surely?
What I was originally getting at is that if Stanton had had that authority historically then he wouldn't need to do the petition in the first place, as I thought you were arguing that he was exercising the same powers he had historically; as it turns out you're having him exercise powers he didn't have historically (i.e. removal of a general) but it's at that point where the concern comes up.
Again, no. McClellan may not assume the intent of the president. The separation of military and civilian power simply does not allow for it. McClellan would, simply, be committing treason to do so.

As stated, Lincoln has empowered Stanton to do specific things to protect the capital, and has said so and given orders to that effect. Attempting to override the Secretary of War is mutiny. The absolute most it is in McClellan's power to do is to request it be the ranking officer on the scene and ask to play a role in transferring his own staff, that is the only form of authority he may attempt to invoke unless he threatens to 'go over his head' and appeal to the President. He can do that, and he even might expect Lincoln to retroactively reinstate him. Absent that however, he has no choice but to step down.

 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
The SCOTUS ruling backs up my argument the SECWAR is an "organ of the President". That is a conduit by which the decisions of POTUS are communicated. They have no authority in their own right.

Nope. The Constitution lays out the delegation of powers, and to simply ride over this odd objection here's what the establishment of the Secretary of War entails:

"The Secretary of War shall perform such duties as shall, from time to time be enjoined on or entrusted to him by the Presldent relative to military commissions, the military forces, the warlike stores of the United States, or to other matters respecting military affairs, and he shall conduct the business of the department in such a manner as the President shall direct"

This puts him as a part of the executive, and legally, in the chain of command per the courts ruling and later interpretation by the various attorney generals. The only limitation is that he serves as the pleasure of the president, much like a general. Should the president choose to delegate his authority to the Secretary of War, the commanding general is powerless to refuse him.

I was under the impression that the President was The Commander-in-Chief and could (and occasionally did) issue orders directly, without going through any intermediaries at all; indeed, at least two previous Presidents took direct command of military formations under their Presidential authority (Washington and Madison).

He is and can. The various cabinets and secretaries are the bowing to reality that a president cannot do all the work alone. The secretaries advise and issue orders in his name with whatever authority he chooses to delegate. Lincoln could have, if he so chose, delegated all decisions to his Cabinet and merely acted as a rubber stamp for their decisions. Commander in Chief gives him veto power over decisions, but he can delegate authority to whom he chooses.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
As stated, Lincoln has empowered Stanton to do specific things to protect the capital, and has said so and given orders to that effect. Attempting to override the Secretary of War is mutiny. The absolute most it is in McClellan's power to do is to request it be the ranking officer on the scene and ask to play a role in transferring his own staff, that is the only form of authority he may attempt to invoke unless he threatens to 'go over his head' and appeal to the President. He can do that, and he even might expect Lincoln to retroactively reinstate him. Absent that however, he has no choice but to step down.
So that specifically includes the ability to dismiss generals at-will, over any other considerations in that respect?

Because if so then - given Stanton's enmity for McClellan has been a thing for months - that is de facto Lincoln deciding to get rid of McClellan (as Stanton will exercise that power to do just that as soon as possible). As such I don't see why Lincoln providing a sealed order (instead or as well) would be objected to on the grounds Lincoln doesn't want to get rid of McClellan, because by conferring unto Stanton the ability to dismiss generals at-will Lincoln has decided McClellan is disposable.



It seems like EITHER Lincoln doesn't want to get rid of McClellan, in which case he'd never have given Stanton the authority to dismiss generals to begin with.
OR Lincoln does want to get rid of McClellan, in which case a direct Lincoln order to get rid of McClellan would be easy to provide.
OR Lincoln wants Stanton to have the authority to get rid of generals not including McClellan, in which case McClellan would have a specific protection on that front.


"Stanton tries to get rid of McClellan" is an obvious consequence of granting Stanton the ability to dismiss generals (an authority Stanton did not have historically, as evidenced by McClellan having a job past roughly the month of April 1862). So Lincoln will almost certainly have thought of it, and either approved of it or not; it seems like what you're aiming for is this odd situation where Lincoln granted the authority to do this to Stanton without realizing it?
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Again, no. McClellan may not assume the intent of the president. The separation of military and civilian power simply does not allow for it. McClellan would, simply, be committing treason to do so.
Nor can Stanton. Until it is demonstrated otherwise the status quo continues.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
So that specifically includes the ability to dismiss generals at-will, over any other considerations in that respect?

Because if so then - given Stanton's enmity for McClellan has been a thing for months - that is de facto Lincoln deciding to get rid of McClellan (as Stanton will exercise that power to do just that as soon as possible). As such I don't see why Lincoln providing a sealed order (instead or as well) would be objected to on the grounds Lincoln doesn't want to get rid of McClellan, because by conferring unto Stanton the ability to dismiss generals at-will Lincoln has decided McClellan is disposable.

Yes.

Your narrative on this question is extremely McClellan centric, which is seeming to cloud your judgement. The simple fact is that in this expanded war Lincoln has made decisions that certain strategic areas and the generals be ****ed. McClellan is just another general, who serves as the president's pleasure. Stanton has been making far sighted decisions for saving the capital, providing for a continuation of government, and the overall defence of the nation. McClellan is only defending the Virginia front, and there are many others to be concerned with. Lincoln has decided any general in the army is disposable for the defence of Washington, Stanton used that power to detain both Porter and Franklin.

But again, McClellan may not presume to know Lincoln's mind better than Stanton. He may demand an appeal to the President after the fact, but that's it.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Nor can Stanton. Until it is demonstrated otherwise the status quo continues.

Again, you're just wrong on this based on Lincoln's authority to delegate. There is no way this gridlock could be allowed to exist, it would be a flagrant violation of the separation of powers.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Nope. The Constitution lays out the delegation of powers, and to simply ride over this odd objection here's what the establishment of the Secretary of War entails:

"The Secretary of War shall perform such duties as shall, from time to time be enjoined on or entrusted to him by the Presldent relative to military commissions, the military forces, the warlike stores of the United States, or to other matters respecting military affairs, and he shall conduct the business of the department in such a manner as the President shall direct"

This puts him as a part of the executive, and legally, in the chain of command per the courts ruling and later interpretation by the various attorney generals. The only limitation is that he serves as the pleasure of the president, much like a general. Should the president choose to delegate his authority to the Secretary of War, the commanding general is powerless to refuse him.
Again, no.

SECWAR is indeed an advisor within the executive and has a number of very specific tasks legally delegated to them, all relating to the administration of the army and none relating to the command of the army.

SECWAR is not in the line-of-command any more so than a courier or signaller. They are an organ of POTUS and may communicate the orders of POTUS to the army. They however may not give any orders themselves to the army.

Your entire argument is that POTUS is allowed to invest their power in someone else. There is no mechanism for this, and indeed it would be unconstitutional. It is not delegation, which is quite different. If POTUS delegates to SECWAR, then POTUS still has to approve all actions, since such is done "in the name of the President". In such a case, anyone would be free to query whether the President really has approved such actions.

Oh, and yes the status quo continues until a legal order from the President changes matters. Stanton cannot countermand a Presidential order without formal Presidential approval. If he tries then nothing happens until Lincoln is contacted to approve or disapprove of said action. If he approves then it becomes a Presidential order and the matter is settled. If the President disapproves then SECWAR has committed mutiny against the US.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes.

Your narrative on this question is extremely McClellan centric, which is seeming to cloud your judgement. The simple fact is that in this expanded war Lincoln has made decisions that certain strategic areas and the generals be ****ed. McClellan is just another general, who serves as the president's pleasure. Stanton has been making far sighted decisions for saving the capital, providing for a continuation of government, and the overall defence of the nation. McClellan is only defending the Virginia front, and there are many others to be concerned with. Lincoln has decided any general in the army is disposable for the defence of Washington, Stanton used that power to detain both Porter and Franklin.

But again, McClellan may not presume to know Lincoln's mind better than Stanton. He may demand an appeal to the President after the fact, but that's it.
Okay, so, to be clear, Lincoln has decided that it's okay for Stanton to get rid of McClellan (who is the General in Chief), but he isn't providing a signed order to that effect because
It's just that McClellan historically had the confidence of Lincoln until November 1862. Here, despite what some call a lackluster performance, he's driven the rebels away from Washington, followed up with an attack into Virginia, and deterred any major invasions of the North by Johnston or Lee at First and Second Manassas Junction, then with the stalemate at Culpeper. Lincoln has no reason to assume he's incompetent or unwilling to follow orders.

So Lincoln has enough confidence in McClellan to not want to get rid of him, but he also has insufficient confidence in McClellan to give a major political foe of his the ability to remove him unilaterally.
I think this is a bit of a contradiction going on. It's not as if there are unlimited numbers of high ranking generals, and if I understand correctly McClellan is one of only a few at most who was appointed to his position by the President personally (as opposed to by the authority of the commanding general etc.), so it's not as if McClellan is "just" another general - he's the highest ranking uniformed officer in the country, and it is absolutely a matter for the President's consideration whether that man has his confidence or not.


Either (A) Lincoln delegated authority to Stanton on the understanding that it meant McClellan (specifically) was going to get zapped by his enemy Stanton as soon as Stanton felt like it,
Or (B) Lincoln does not think it's appropriate to get rid of McClellan (and thus would either not delegate that authority to Stanton or would delegate the authority but exempt McClellan from it)
Or (C) Lincoln didn't even think of it as a possibility and it didn't enter his consideration at all.

If (A) obtains then there is no reason for Lincoln to not provide a signed order providing for the relief of the General Commanding.
If (B) obtains then Stanton has no authority to do this.
If (C) obtains then Lincoln didn't even think about whether his highest ranking uniformed officer should keep his job or not, which means Lincoln is terrible at politics.


I think that if what you want is for McClellan to be relieved of command then (A) is the option you should go with*, but you have indicated that Lincoln is actually supporting McClellan on the whole and thinks he's doing a good job. Which means the only possibility for this situation to come about in the first place is (C).

* such as, for example, having Lincoln provide Stanton with a signed order which Stanton then uses, which cuts through any of the ambiguity and is a reasonable course of action for Lincoln to take - it'd be ten minutes of contingency planning at the outside.



The cause of this "legal deadlock" is that you've assigned Stanton powers Stanton did not possess at this point historically, because if he had them he'd have got rid of McClellan off his own bat. Instead when Stanton wants to do things like "assign troops away from McClellan's army" he goes to Lincoln with an argument for why those troops should be assigned away - rather than just doing it himself. So it seems clear that Stanton at the very least historically needed buy-in from Lincoln even to order corps and divisions around between departments...
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Again, no.

SECWAR is indeed an advisor within the executive and has a number of very specific tasks legally delegated to them, all relating to the administration of the army and none relating to the command of the army.

SECWAR is not in the line-of-command any more so than a courier or signaller. They are an organ of POTUS and may communicate the orders of POTUS to the army. They however may not give any orders themselves to the army.

Your entire argument is that POTUS is allowed to invest their power in someone else. There is no mechanism for this, and indeed it would be unconstitutional. It is not delegation, which is quite different. If POTUS delegates to SECWAR, then POTUS still has to approve all actions, since such is done "in the name of the President". In such a case, anyone would be free to query whether the President really has approved such actions.

Oh, and yes the status quo continues until a legal order from the President changes matters. Stanton cannot countermand a Presidential order without formal Presidential approval. If he tries then nothing happens until Lincoln is contacted to approve or disapprove of said action. If he approves then it becomes a Presidential order and the matter is settled. If the President disapproves then SECWAR has committed mutiny against the US.

Again, you're positing that there can be a situation where Lincoln cannot delegate authority to a cabinet Secretary to be empowered to act in his name with the only recourse to be to appeal to the President. Furthermore, you posit that a mere major general may then attempt to ignore an order which has been passed down by a Cabinet Secretary which, legally speaking, must be assumed to come with the authority of the President.

That's simply farcical. The legal precedent has been laid out to you, which shows the president may delegate power to his secretary of war in military matters as he chooses. Then you say the Secretary of War is "not in the chain of command" despite this backed up not only by the original orders of that office's creation, but the interpretation of multiple attorney generals and the supreme court that a military officer must obey the orders of the Secretary of War but when issued must assume that they come with the force of the president.

Your whole premise rests on Lincoln having the final say, I have said Lincoln has the final say, and then provided you the legal justifications for which these decisions rest. In circular logic you then declare that Lincoln has to have the final say on his own say. It doesn't make sense.

Though as I said, McClellan may later demand an assurance from Lincoln, but he cannot legally ignore Stanton's order without being guilty of treason. That's the very cut and dry sum of the facts.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Okay, so, to be clear, Lincoln has decided that it's okay for Stanton to get rid of McClellan (who is the General in Chief), but he isn't providing a signed order to that effect because


So Lincoln has enough confidence in McClellan to not want to get rid of him, but he also has insufficient confidence in McClellan to give a major political foe of his the ability to remove him unilaterally.
I think this is a bit of a contradiction going on. It's not as if there are unlimited numbers of high ranking generals, and if I understand correctly McClellan is one of only a few at most who was appointed to his position by the President personally (as opposed to by the authority of the commanding general etc.), so it's not as if McClellan is "just" another general - he's the highest ranking uniformed officer in the country, and it is absolutely a matter for the President's consideration whether that man has his confidence or not.


Either (A) Lincoln delegated authority to Stanton on the understanding that it meant McClellan (specifically) was going to get zapped by his enemy Stanton as soon as Stanton felt like it,
Or (B) Lincoln does not think it's appropriate to get rid of McClellan (and thus would either not delegate that authority to Stanton or would delegate the authority but exempt McClellan from it)
Or (C) Lincoln didn't even think of it as a possibility and it didn't enter his consideration at all.

If (A) obtains then there is no reason for Lincoln to not provide a signed order providing for the relief of the General Commanding.
If (B) obtains then Stanton has no authority to do this.
If (C) obtains then Lincoln didn't even think about whether his highest ranking uniformed officer should keep his job or not, which means Lincoln is terrible at politics.


I think that if what you want is for McClellan to be relieved of command then (A) is the option you should go with*, but you have indicated that Lincoln is actually supporting McClellan on the whole and thinks he's doing a good job. Which means the only possibility for this situation to come about in the first place is (C).

* such as, for example, having Lincoln provide Stanton with a signed order which Stanton then uses, which cuts through any of the ambiguity and is a reasonable course of action for Lincoln to take - it'd be ten minutes of contingency planning at the outside.



The cause of this "legal deadlock" is that you've assigned Stanton powers Stanton did not possess at this point historically, because if he had them he'd have got rid of McClellan off his own bat. Instead when Stanton wants to do things like "assign troops away from McClellan's army" he goes to Lincoln with an argument for why those troops should be assigned away - rather than just doing it himself. So it seems clear that Stanton at the very least historically needed buy-in from Lincoln even to order corps and divisions around between departments...

This really weird McClellan-centric narrative is...well just that, really weird. You're presuming the whole issue revolves around McClellan and it really doesn't since none of the scenarios you suggest is that Lincoln is far more concerned about the defence of Washington and Maryland, every single one is some manner of "dismissing McClellan" which I really don't understand the relevance of.

Like I said, Stanton has the powers currently delegated to him by the President to act in the defense of Washington, that includes dismissing the general in command. The defence of Washington is more important than a single general, which is what you don't seem to understand.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This really weird McClellan-centric narrative is...well just that, really weird. You're presuming the whole issue revolves around McClellan and it really doesn't since none of the scenarios you suggest is that Lincoln is far more concerned about the defence of Washington and Maryland, every single one is some manner of "dismissing McClellan" which I really don't understand the relevance of.

Like I said, Stanton has the powers currently delegated to him by the President to act in the defense of Washington, that includes dismissing the general in command. The defence of Washington is more important than a single general, which is what you don't seem to understand.
Is McClellan currently holding the authority of the General-in-Chief of the Union Army?
Whether he is or not, he is the senior Union general serving*; if he is (and his removal from that position in March 1862 was post-PoD) then he is not merely the senior Union general serving but in active command of the entire Union army.
He's a single general, but that's by the same logic that Stanton is a single secretary - McClellan is the single most important general in the Union Army by seniority and quite possibly by position as well.


The reason why I'm looking at this through the lens of those scenarios is that there are basically three possibilities for whether Lincoln has decided McClellan (his senior general and possibly the general in charge of the whole Union army) is expendable at Stanton's decision - either he HAS decided that that's okay, or he HAS NOT decided that that's okay, or he HAS NOT thought about it enough to have an opinion on the matter.

It's a trinary situation - one of these has to apply - and you've indicated in a previous post that Lincoln wouldn't sign a contingency dismissal for McClellan because he thinks it's not appropriate (unless I misunderstood that, of course). Which suggests the first option doesn't apply.


To be clear, any of those three possibilities is reasonable. Lincoln could have gone through any of those. But you have to pick one, and any of those picks has likely consequences.


* he is a Major-General in the regular army and first in seniority among serving officers, and nobody can be promoted over him except to Lieutenant-General - which requires an Act of Congress - because that's how seniority works.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Is McClellan currently holding the authority of the General-in-Chief of the Union Army?
Whether he is or not, he is the senior Union general serving; if he is (and his removal from that position in March 1862 was post-PoD) then he is not merely the senior Union general serving but in active command of the entire Union army.
He's a single general, but that's by the same logic that Stanton is a single secretary - McClellan is the single most important general in the Union Army by seniority and quite possibly by position as well.


The reason why I'm looking at this through the lens of those scenarios is that there are basically three possibilities for whether Lincoln has decided McClellan (his senior general and possibly the general in charge of the whole Union army) is expendable at Stanton's decision - either he HAS decided that that's okay, or he HAS NOT decided that that's okay, or he HAS NOT thought about it enough to have an opinion on the matter.

It's a trinary situation - one of these has to apply - and you've indicated in a previous post that Lincoln wouldn't sign a contingency dismissal for McClellan because he thinks it's not appropriate (unless I misunderstood that, of course). Which suggests the first option doesn't apply.


To be clear, any of those three possibilities is reasonable. Lincoln could have gone through any of those. But you have to pick one, and any of those picks has likely consequences.

Like I said, McClellan was relieved of his duties as General in Chief way back in Chapter 7.

However, this still doesn't make much sense. Is the General in Chief more important than Washington? Lincoln certainly didn't think so.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
However, this still doesn't make much sense. Is the General in Chief more important than Washington? Lincoln certainly didn't think so.
So which of those three options is the case? It's a fairly simple choice; if you can't give an answer to it then that might be the problem.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I think this is a bit of a contradiction going on. It's not as if there are unlimited numbers of high ranking generals, and if I understand correctly McClellan is one of only a few at most who was appointed to his position by the President personally (as opposed to by the authority of the commanding general etc.), so it's not as if McClellan is "just" another general - he's the highest ranking uniformed officer in the country, and it is absolutely a matter for the President's consideration whether that man has his confidence or not.
All regular officers are nominally appointed by the President and approved by the Senate down to the lowest brevet 2nd Lt. The same is true of all volunteer generals (see the act), but colonels etc. are appointed by their respective states. There was a time limit for Senatorial approval. The President appointed and the officer immediately had acting rank until the Senate confirmed it (becomes substantive), disapproves of it (rank lapses immediately) or they haven't voted in the required period (again, rank lapses).

Now, for appointment to positions, the army regulations allowed for the Commanding General in Chief to appoint these generals to command brigades and divisions, but not corps, departments or armies. These positions are reserved for the President alone to appoint.

Lincoln has a free choice between the regular Major-Generals who is to be General-in-Chief. That person remains GinC until they are replaced by another regular Major-General. This is exactly what happened to McClellan; he remained GinC until July 1862 with three stars on his shoulder, despite his powers being temporarily suspended whilst he was in the field, and all departments reporting to the President directly via SECWAR.

Lincoln also has free choice to assign generals to armies, departments and corps. It is done in his name.

Division and brigade commands are assigned by either the President or by the General-in-Chief. If assigned by the President then the GinC has no power to relieve them. Take the example of Hamilton; McClellan appointed him to command a division, and McClellan removed him. Lincoln thought this was a political problem and asked whether McClellan would reconsider. McClellan replied that he would not, but Lincoln was free to appoint Hamilton back to said division. Lincoln demurred and sent Hamilton west where Grant would also relieve him.
 

CanadianCanuck

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
So which of those three options is the case? It's a fairly simple choice; if you can't give an answer to it then that might be the problem.

So, your three examples are still very, unreasonably, McClellan centric which don't really provide anything resembling the big picture Lincoln has to consider, and nowhere is the option that Lincoln considers the strategic goal of defending Washington/Maryland rather than the reputation of a specific general.

Since none of your options acknowledges the basic strategic Lincoln is operating under, I can't really say any of them is accurate, especially as you refer to McClellan the General in Chief.

If you can read up on the scenario in question, and maybe rethink these weird scenarios, then perhaps your questions will make sense to me. But until then, their McClellan centric narrative just doesn't have any reflection of the piece I've written.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Like I said, McClellan was relieved of his duties as General in Chief way back in Chapter 7.
The duties and the office are separate things. McClellan might have been relieved of the duties of the office (due to being in the field as historical), but he retains the office of General-in-Chief. If he returns to Washington then due to his presence he resumes the duties, as Grant did in April 1865.
 
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