George B. McClellan

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George B. McClellan
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American Civil War
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Rank Major General
Born December 3, 1826
Place of birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died October 29, 1885
Place of death Orange, New Jersey
Battles engaged in Peninsula Campaign Battle of Antietam


George Brinton McClellan (December 3, 1826 – October 29, 1885) was an American soldier, civil engineer, railroad executive, and politician who served as the 24th Governor of New Jersey. A graduate of West Point, McClellan served with distinction during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), and later left the Army to work on railroads until the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–1865). Early in the conflict, McClellan was appointed to the rank of major general and played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army, which would become the Army of the Potomac in the Eastern Theater; he served a brief period (November 1861 to March 1862) as Commanding General of the United States Army of the Union Army.

"Little Mac", as he was known by his men, was ineffective on the battlefield because he was cautious and slow. This was perhaps best illustrated by his Peninsular Campaign where he failed to take Richmond in July 1862. Lincoln had held a reserve to defend D.C. which McClellan asked for. On his retreat he telegraphed to D.C. that he was not given enough men and that his leaders had conspired to deliberately cause him to fail. A colonel at the telegraph office removed the latter words. He was fired twice by President Abraham Lincoln, the second time Lincoln saying "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time."[1] In September 1862, three cigars wrapped in a copy of the orders for the South were gotten to him. He had the insight to recognize that they were authentic and this eventually led to Antietam.[2]

Later, while the war was still occurring, McClellan ran on the Democratic platform against Lincoln in the 1864 Presidential election. He lost to Lincoln under a huge majority.

Notes[edit]

  1. McPherson, James M. Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59420-191-2., p.66
  2. https://leadershipdynamics.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/3-cigars-that-could-have-changed-the-civil-war/