George B. McClellan

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Major General George B. McClellan, United States Army.

George B. McClellan was a Union commander during the American Civil War and commanded the armies in 1862 especially. He was instrumental in organizing the Army of the Potomac into a coherent fighting force.

"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.


  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