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George B McClellan the Most Underrated General of the Civil war

Discussion in 'Military' started by Tolkien R.R.J, May 26, 2019.

  1. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    No other general in the war commanded more respect and admiration from his men than George McClellan”
    -John Cannan The Antietam Campaign

    It is my opinion that General George B McClellan was the most underrated army commander of the civil war. Not because I think he was a great general or military genius, but because he is portrayed as so awful a general. No one carries today the example of a in-complainant, timid northern general like Mcclellan has been given. I think unjustified. George B McClellan nicknamed “Young Napoleon” or “Little Mac” graduated second in his class of 59 at the U.S Military Academy in 1846. A class that included 20 future full rank generals. He would return to West Point as an instructor.

    Your only foes are the armed traitors and show mercy even to them when they are in your power, for many of them are misguided” and later “bear in mind that you are in the country of friends, not of enemies- that you are here to protect not to destroy.”
    -George B McClellan May 26 1861 and June 25 1861

    To the northern democrat mac did not view the south as the spawn of Satan but fellow Americans who in fact had produced most of the unions leaders up till that time. His understanding and tolerant views of the south and the desire to spare needless bloodshed is out of step with modern historians and the republicans of the day who wrote the history in attempt to justify the massacres that would come and the total warfare of 64 and 65.

    West Virginia and Promotion

    Harley six weeks had elapsed... and in that time he had actually created an army and began the first campaign.”
    -George b McClellan Commanding general U.S army May 26 1861

    Mac did a great job organizing militia from three states into a fighting force and saw the first action of the war as a commander of union forces in what is know West Virginia at odds with his reputation as a slow moving timid general. During the rich mountain campaign he waged an aggressive attacking operation and dislodged, captured, and forced the retreat of confederate forces fortified in mountain terrain while taking minimal loses and capturing large supply bases and prisoners. This helped secure west Virginia for the union and prevented the destruction of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. Lincoln was very impressed and this propelled him to commander of all union forces. Mac would take over for McDowell after his defeat in the battle of Bull Run.

    Organization of the Army of the Potomac and Demotion by Lincoln

    In a very real sense, McClellan rescued the union in these early days from dependency and fear. Someone had to rebuild the army and show the country that there was great hope for the future”
    -S.C Gwynne Rebel Yell The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Simon and Schuster 2014

    What the non military press and Lincoln, who was pressured for political reasons, wanted was quick action and a fast end to the war. Part of what fueled this was the north's inability to see how determined the south was even after the loss at Bull Run. They thought this would be an easy quick war. They underestimated the south resolve to fight and their ability to wage war. So while the press and Lincoln called on mac for fast action. The military man mac, understood that what the demoralized, undisciplined, citizen army needed was discipline, training and organization. He disciplined and trained the soldiers while reorganizing the army. He got rid of poor performing generals and instilled in the soldiers a spirit and pride while increasing their morale. He was loved and revered by his men. One area those even critical of him admit is that he was a first rate organizer of the army. Mac took a militia army and turned it into a professional army.

    Mcclellan started with little more than a collection of undisciplined, ill-officered, and un-instructed men, who were, as a rule, much demoralized by defeat and ready to run at the first shot. He ended with the finest army ever seen on the North American continent”
    -James V Murfin Battlefields of the civil war

    Had the north attacked soon after bull run or before they were ready like Lincoln and the press called for, likely the same result would have happened further dropping national morale. As General Sherman stated Napoleon took three years to build an army “Here its expected in ninety days and bull run is the consequence.” Macs offensive plan, as many in the north called for, was to mass a large army some said up to 200,000 to than march on Richmond and end the war. They wanted no mistakes after Bull Run. This was mac's general plan, this plan would take time and preparations. Mac also constructed large fortifications around D. C including 48 forts and 480 guns as the capital had been left almost completely unguarded or prepared for by McDowell. Given mac had to train, organize, recruit, supply and discipline a massive citizen army and transform it into a professional world class army the time he was able to do so is reasonable. Further Mac was commander of all armies and planned for a simultaneous synchronized attack across the confederacy witch would take further time to plan and put in motion. On August 4th 1861 in a letter to Lincoln he laid out his plan that included the main attack to be against Richmond but also simultaneously push into Missouri, capture the Mississippi, after Kentucky joined the union to push to eastern Tennessee into union friendly territory seizing railroad from Memphis to Nashville and begin capturing coastal cities such as new Orleans, Savannah, Mobile and move on to Montgomery and Pensacola. Mac wanted one massive assault to wipe out the south and not a prolonged war, this would take time.

    I have ever regarded our true policy as being that of a fully preparing ourselves, and then seeking for the most decisive results. I do not wish to waste life in useless battles. But prefer to strike at the heart.”
    -George B McClellan 1861

    When I was placed in command... I turned my attention to the whole field of operations regarding the army of the Potomac as only one, while the most important, of the masses under my command.”
    -George B McClellan 1861

    Just when mac felt his army was ready winter had started in and Mac was bed ridden for three weeks around Christmas. Lincoln and the non military press wanted action know despite the impassable roads [they would not demand grant move this early in 64]. This offensive action was attempted in the winter of 62 by Burnside, the results were Fredricksburg and the “mud march” ending in the removal of Burnside. Grant in 64 would start his spring offensive in April later than mac would his peninsula campaign. As Grant said because the roads in Virginia would not allow large movements of troops before than. Mac started at the normal time for spring offensives. No other union army was campaigning during this winter. Yet Because of Lincolns urgency and what he saw as a too cautious McClellan. He demoted mac to simply commander of the army of the Potomac. Lincoln also chose and forced corps commanders on the army of the Potomac. Mac wanted to wait to promote generals after seeing them in battle. This is not the last time Lincoln interfered with macs plans.

    It was inevitable that the first leaders should be sacrificed to the nations ignorance of war”
    -William Swinton Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac

    Peninsula Campaign Begins

    "Let me tell you that if your government had supported General McClellan in the field as it should have done, your war would have been ended two years sooner than it was."
    -- General Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army and one of the leading military experts of the 19th Century

    Reduced my force by 1/3, after [bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse] task had been assigned, its operations planned... it frustrated all my plans... it left me incapable of continuing operations which had been begun. It made rapid and brilliant operations impossible.”
    -George B McClellan

    The peninsula campaign started with a well thought out plan designed by mac an amphibious movement utilizing the north navel superiority to transport and supply his army, the ultimate goal was Richmond. Mac thought he would have over 150,000 men for the campaign as he left for the peninsula. However once landed Lincoln would greatly reduce his army with the other troops spread around the valley, D.C, and mananas. Mac had wanted more men but Lincoln wanted him to hold men back to guard D.C. Lincoln forced mac to leave Blenkess division of 10,000 men in D.C along with the garrison already available. Lincoln now had a garrison of around 20,000 in D.C and up to 74,000 as far as NY that could be shipped/railed/marched to the D.C if attacked. Plus world class fortifications set up by McClellan. McClellan, McDowell, Winfeild Scott, and every corp commander believed this was more than enough men to guard D.C and supported McClellan plan to bring more men, but Lincoln would not allow for fear of D.C being attacked.

    The moment the army of the Potomac landed upon the peninsula an uneasy sense of insecurity took possession of the minds of the president, the cabinet, and the members of congress.”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    So Mac landed the army that was slow moving because it was so massive and carried heavy siege equipment. He faced the single largest army the south would have during the war of 88,000 [Grant faced 65,000 in 64 with a larger force under him]. Once his army landed he was notified that Stanton had closed all the recruiting depots in the union. His army would now have to do without any replacements or reinforcements during a major campaign. This was a huge shock to mac and the generals in the army. He than was told that McDowell's 40,000 men near mananas could not be used but must help defend any possible action towards D.C. Despite the fact confederates showed no sighs of attacking and burned the bridges south of manasas as they retreated to defend Richmond. McDowell told McClellan this decision [McDowell protested it] was “Intended a blow to you.” Than McClellan was told the garrison of 10,000 men at Fort Monroe would as well be withheld. Even critics of McClellan like general Heintzelman said it was a “Great outrage” to withhold his army from his command. General Wells said it was the radicals trying to get mac to resign. Harpers weekly stated “To exaggerate the mischief which has been done by division of councils and civilians interference with military movements”

    In General McClellan opinion, the way to defend Washington was to attack Richmond and the greater force thrown against the rebel capitol, the greater the security of our own”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Mac was now forced to revise his plans because of the over cautions Lincoln. In the revised plan McDowell would advance on Richmond from the north with his 40,000 men and would better protect an attack by confederate general Joe Johnson if he were to go north to Washington due to Lincolns concern with protecting Washington. However as mac argued the attack on Richmond would force the confederate army to defend their capital rather than a desperate attack on D.C. This disagreement and argument delayed the attack further with Lincoln getting his way.

    "Notwithstanding all that has been said and written upon this subject, I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion, that had not the President and his advisors stood in such ungrounded fear for the safety of Washington, and had not withheld McDowell's forces at a time when their absence was a most serious blow to the plans of General McClellan, the close of the year would have seen the Rebellion crushed, and the war ended."
    -- Allan Pinkerton, chief of the Union Intelligence Service, 1861-1862


    Mac now moved up the peninsula towards Richmond and was promised McDowell men if D.C was clear. His army first encountered confederate general John Magruder small confederate force at Yorktown. Magruder did a fantastic job deceiving mac into thinking his force was larger than it really was by moving the same troops around in multiple places, acting aggressive, small units moving constantly, using ammo freely, setting up dummy defensive positions etc this convinced mac the force was larger than it really was so mac set in for a siege also wanting his siege artillery to come up not wanting to assault with green troops sure to take heavy losses and lose morale. Mac eventually captured Yorktown and 80 heavy guns without losses but it gave confederate general Joe Johnson time to organize troops to defend Richmond.

    Advance on Richmond

    Mac than started to push towards Richmond with Johnson falling back. The union army captured both supply and cannons during this advance. Mac is criticized for slow movement with a smaller confederate force in front of him, yet he relied upon his friend and “expert” spy Alan Pinkerton of the Pinkerton detective agency. Pinkerton gave relabel info on many matters and was considered dependable. Yet the one area he failed was in enemy troop numbers. He gave confederate force numbers from various agents as 160,000 123,000 180,000 and even 200,000 in the Richmond area. General Hallack on August 6 gave estimates of 200,000 around Richmond when he wanted mac to join Pope. Because of this Mac actually believed he was outnumbered. This was common during the war generals thinking the force opposed him was larger than reality. Since this was the information he had and believed he was not being cautious but aggressive and daring to continue the campaign even if at a slow/ cautious pace. Some northern newspapers working independent gave even higher estimates than mac did. At the time the enemy numbers were not certain. Mac also waited for his heavy siege artillery to come up from the back as it was needed for an attack on Richmond's large forts.

    But without doubt the advance was working. Richmond was preparing to evacuate. It forced the confederates to scuttle the ironclad Virginia witch caused a loss of morale throughout the confederacy. Johnson called general Euell from Jackson to help in Richmond. McDowell was advancing unopposed north of Richmond. Mac had achieved better success than McDowell, Burnside, Hooker or Meade advancing on Richmond.

    Not until 1864 that another union army, led by Grant, would get as close to Richmond as McClellan did in the spring of 1862.”
    --John Cannon Great Campaigns The Peninsula Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1992

    The next time the federals would get this close was under their top general, Grant. Fighting agonist a very weakened southern army in 64 with a much larger federal army. But this time three things saved Richmond and stopped mac from capturing the confederate capital and being hailed as a hero. All three had to happen to stop mac, and two were very unlikely and could not be foreseen.

    1] Jackson in the Valley

    The most significant contrast between the Virginia campaigns of Grant and McClellan is that Early's offensive did not accomplish its ultimate objective- to relive pressure on Lee's army at Petersburg Jacksonson's campaign in the Shenandoah valley did.“Unlike McClellan before him,Grant would not be forced to alter his designs on the James river one iota.
    -Thomas j Rowland George B McClellan and Civil war History

    Mac unlike Lincoln saw Jackson's valley campaign as a diversion by Lee to pull men away to help protect Richmond. Richmond was saved because of Jackson brilliance in the valley. Jackson outmaneuvering and outfought a force three times his own [17,000- 60,000] defeating them in multiple battles while also threatening D.C. Jackson knew Lincoln concern with protecting D.C so he knew aggressive maneuvers would pull men from the peninsula and help save Richmond. In all Jackson kept 71,000 additional men away from the Richmond attack with his victories and maneuvering. Lincoln was constantly scarred of what Jackson might do and this caused McDowell and other troops from helping Mac, the withholding of McDowell would prove decisive.

    2] Lincoln Recalling Troops to Valley

    Jackson's campaign, and the insane terror it inspired in Washington, was the true cause of the failure on the peninsula.”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Because of Jackson Lincoln recalled troops to support Washington and the valley, he also held back McDowell's 40,000 from the attack on Richmond. This “Changed the whole nature of the confrontation near Richmond” and “The confederacy was truly handed a amazing gift.” Mac would have rather left Jackson to clear out the valley and even attack D.C if he wished. Mac had built massive forts with a large garrison to protect the capital.

    Here is the true defense of Washington, it is here on the banks of the James”
    -McClellan to Hallack August 4th quoted in George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    With Pinkerton reporting large numbers of enemy to mac he paused his attack without McDowell who was suppose to attack Richmond from the north and pin the confederates from any attack. McDowell called his recall to the valley “a crushing blow to us” Even Lincoln told mac “If you think you are not strong enough to take Richmond just know, I do not ask you to try just know”

    3] Lee Replaces Joe Johnson

    The commanding confederate general Joe Johnson was injured and replaced by Robert E Lee. This would change the entire campaign. Mac had been slowly pushing back Johnson towards Richmond but Lee would take the inventive and attack mac.
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  2. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    Lee vs Mac

    Lincoln had micro manged a trap for Jackson in the valley and greatly reduced mac force near Richmond. Heavy rains swelled the Chickahominy river and created a split in the army of the Potomac and Lee saw his opportunity. Lee who many consider not only the premier general of the south but of the war, recalled Jackson from the valley to help in the offensive vs mac, nnow with a force near equal of mac's, would battle on the peninsula. Lee would strike the smaller portion of macs army and threaten is supply line under general Porter. Porter was suppose to be supported by McDowell from the north to meet up with his flank coming south from mananas. Had Macs plan been allowed, the attack would not have been possible, repulsed, or Richmond captured. However when Lincoln sent McDowell to the valley to trap Jackson, this left porter vulnerable and Lee pounced.

    General McClellan wished and had advised that reinforcements should be sent him by water now that the James was open.... had the army been massed in one body instead of being divided by that stream... the capture of Richmond could be carried out because of the presidents dis tempered fancy Washington was not safe... McClellan was commanded to extend his right wing to the north of Richmond, in order to establish the communication between himself and general McDowell....should McDowell not come it exposed our right in a way no prudent officer would have done, and, as general McDowell did not come, the enemy did not fail to take advantage.”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Lee attacked in multiple bloody battles that resulted in high loses on both sides. Mac would cause high causalities on Lee during the campaign inflicting more loses than he received. However Mac going off “expert” information know believed not only was he outnumbered but in danger of being cut off with no help from the north with Lincoln recalling so many of his troops, ordered a retreat off the peninsula. Mac telegraphed D.C stating “If I save this army now, I tell you plainly I owe no thanks to you or to any other persons in Washington...you have done your best to sacrifice this army.” The retreat off the peninsula was dangerous yet well conducted by McClellan and tactically by Porter to save his force from disaster. Mac would withdraw by night and defend a favorable position by day. It was a major strategic victory for the south yet tactical victory for the union. Lincoln called it a “half defeat.” Given the force size and causalities suffered, mac performed better than the future union commanders of the army of the Potomac.

    -Peninsula campaign total troops involved
    -Union 105,000 causalities 15,849
    -Confederate [with Jackson] 88,500 causalities 20,133

    Antietam/Mac Takes Command

    I must have McClellan to reorganize this army and bring it out of chaos...there is no man in this army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops into shape half as well as he can”
    -Abraham Lincoln

    General McClellan has again assumed the supreme command of the army... his reception by the officers and soldiers was marked by the most unbounded enthusiasm... in every camp his arrival was greeted by hearty and prolonged cheering...already... a remarkable change in the solders. His presence seemed to act magically upon them. Despondency is replaced by confidence, and all are glad that McClellan will, hereafter direct them.”
    -Elis leaves from the Diary of an army Surgeon p 214 quoted in George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Lincoln selection of aggressive republican general John Pope's army of Virginia was defeated and he was embarrassed by Jackson and Lee at Second Mananas. Pope was than exiled to Minnesota to fight Indians. Lee turned his attention to an invasion of the north. Meanwhile mac had to reorganize the defeated demoralized army of popes and integrate it into his command and try and restore morale. Mac was given command of popes army and the army of the Potomac on September 2nd .

    The effect of the news was instantaneous. All of a sudden the federals forgot their defeat, weariness, and hunger and exploded into triumphant hurrahs, multitudes of caps were thrown in the air”
    -John Cannan The Antietam Campaign

    As the news passed down the columns, men jumped to their feet and sent out such a hurrah as the army had never heard before”
    -Union solider upon hearing McClellan had taken command

    Slow to Meet Lee?

    A modern criticism of mac in the Antietam campaign is that he was slow to move the army out to meet Lee's invasion allowing Lee to enter Maryland. Lee entered Maryland around Sep 4-7. Mac had just taken control on the 2nd of a disorganized defeated army. McClellan “worked a minor miracle in the next few days as he restored the army's morale and organization, and equally significant, its pride and sense of purpose.” No other man in the army could have as fast restored morale and cohesion as mac did before the battle of Antietam. Mac had already reorganized his army and marched to meet Lee by September the 9th. Lee expected a longer time for mac to prepare and his fast reaction spoiled Lee's plan to capture Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

    Pennsylvania was Robert E Lees target in September 1862 but may land and George McClellan got in the way”
    -Dennis Frye Showdown on South Mountain Americas Civil war Magazine

    Also Hallack had ordered Mac to be cautious of D.C and wait until Lee's intentions were fully known believing Lee was trying to draw mac out to than attack D.C. Mac was receiving consistent reports from his Calvary of an enemy strength between 60,000-120,000. Porter put Lees army at 100,00 and Sumner at 130,000 This was accepted by union high command believing Lee must have been reinforced before an invasion attempt.

    Mac moved west forcing Lee to fall back to link with Jackson from Harper's Ferry. Mac helped lead the attack at the battle of turners gap, south mountain and Fox Turners Gap. All victories. At Turners Gap CSA losses were 2,300 USA loses 1,800 despite the fact that the attack was up a mountain and rough terrain and the confederates used multiple stone walls. The union still took the ground. On sep 16th Mac trapped Lee by a flank maneuver on Lee's left and captured the road to Hagerstown forcing an end to Lee's northern invasion. Lee had wanted to link with Jackson and than move north once more.

    Lee saw his invasion crumbling. The most important matter now was not pennslvania, but preservation of the army”
    -Dennis Frye Showdown on South Mountain Americas Civil war Magazine

    I thought I knew McClellan, but this movement puzzles me”
    -Stonewall Jackson

    The Battle

    The two armies met near Sharpsburg Maryland on Sep 17th The “cautious” mac would assault the confederate lines leading to the bloodiest day of the war. Mac plan was for an attack simultaneously on both the confederate left and right, to be followed up with a massive and reserves attack in the center. The attack met with small success, but failed to destroy Lee in part due to Burnside's late hour to come into the battle. Burnsides delayed attack on the confederate right “throw off the whole plan” and allowed lee to shift reinforcements along his line to meet the attack in the center and left. McClellan sent a half dozen couriers to Burnside to push him to attack and threatened to relive him of command. Yet still Lees army was near to breaking in all three sectors. Mac did not show tactical genius and made some mistakes but in the end it was a strategic victory for the north and a tactical draw. He rested on the 18th to resupply [artillery near out of ammo] and gave orders to attack daylight on on the 19th but the confederates had left. It sent Lee's army wounded back to Virginia and more importantly ended any hopes the confederacy had for European involvement in the war.

    George McClellan saved the union”
    -Dennis Frye Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park


    Union Forces 87,000 Causalities 12,401
    Confederate Forces 47,000 Causalities 10,316

    "A man who could take a demoralized army, as McClellan took the combined forces that had been defeated under Pope in front of Washington at the second Bull Run, restore its discipline by the magic of his name and his swift reconstruction of its shattered organizations, and then lead it to victory within fourteen days, after an almost unexampled celerity of movement against the enemy who had crushed it two weeks before--such a man is not to be spoken of or thought of as wanting in the force and vigor of a great general."
    -- George T. Curtis, U.S. Commissioner, historian

    McClellan Allowed Lee to Escape?

    The federals found that the rebels still had a formidable bite”
    --John Cannan The Antietam Campaign

    Myths created by politicians that Lee should have been destroyed.”
    -Dennis Frye Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

    Mac was heavily criticized by Lincoln for not destroying lee's army and not following him back into Virginia. However mac had sent Porter to harass the enemy retreat that had initial success capturing 40 confederate artillery pieces. However A.P Hill counter attacked pushing the union men back across the Potomac. Hill said it was “The most terrible slaughter...a lesson to the enemy, and taught to them to know it may sometimes be dangerous to press a retreating army.” Often retreating armies fought great rear guard actions to prevent the destruction of the army. Civil war battles rarely ended in the destruction of the army and I think points more to the expectations of the early war north had, rather than realistic goals. When the army was criticized after for not destroying Lee's army a solider in the army of the Potomac replied.

    Think the rebbel army can be bagged? let them come and bagg them. Easy to talk about”
    -Pennsylvanian solider after Antietam

    Mac's army was also low on supply and had just fought two large scale engagements. Lee knew where mac would not be able to supply his army [size of a moving city] and planned his withdrawal accordingly. Mac was also working off his Calvary and Pinkerton's estimate of the confederate strength. Thinking the confederates still had equal force, he chose not to push the attack or risk a loss on Maryland soil that would endanger D.C and the outcome of the war. After Lee fell back to Virginia his plan was to continue the invasion once more. He sent Stuarts Calvary to create a bridgehead at Williamsport Maryland to renew the invasion. However mac had anticipated this move and sent Calvary along with the 6th corps to prevent such a move. As argued by Dennis Frye who has studied the Antietam campaign for 50 years, Mac out thought Lee in Maryland. Later in October mac moved into Virginia to the Warrenton area so fast he split and surprised Lee. Both Lee and Longstreet were concerned, however the order was given 2 days before by Lincoln, and mac was removed from command.


    Strong grounds for believing he was the best commander the army of the Potomac ever had”
    -Francis Pafrey Antietam, Fredircksburg

    While I would not go as far as the above quote does, I would say mac was the most underrated general of the war. He does not get credit where he should and gets the blame where he should not. I do not see mac as cautious to a fault as claimed. It was often Lincoln, Stanton and Halleck being over cautious about protecting D.C. That interfered with macs plans. His intelligence let him down not his over cautious nature.

    Look at his campaign in western Virginia in 1861- a part of his military career convenient ignored by his enemies. Here he had a separate command, a defined field of action and was not hampered and trammeled by interference from Washington, and do we see any signs of indecision and want of promptness here? On the contrary.”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Lincoln and the papers wanted aggression and the results were Bull run, Burnside at Fredricksburg and Pope at Second mananas. No general of the early war was able to handle the tandem of Jackson and Lee. Extreme events withheld mac from a capture of Richmond in 62. A fair critical comparison between mac and Sherman/Grant up until mac dismissal, is if anything very favorable to mac. Later when Grant/Sherman gained victories, it was more because of the capabilities of the confederate armies to offer Resistance than their ability being grater than macs.

    I believe the real reason for Lincolns disappointment with mac was in the high expectations from the north. The north thought one battle, one victory in Virginia would win the war for them. They underestimated the resolve of the southern people to fight the war. They also underestimated the ability of Lee and Jackson.

    I fear we shall at last find out that the difficulty is in our cause rather than in particular generals”
    -Abraham Lincoln to his friend Carl Schurz 1862

    The reason maybe historians have rated and viewed mac in a negative light is he was opposed and disagreed with Lincoln. He committed the unpardonable sin of running against Lincoln in the 64 election on a peace platform to end the bloodshed. Lincoln committed many errors that robbed mac of success as Lincoln would even admit. After McClellan Lincoln would not anymore get directly involved with his generals. Lincolns military faults it seems have simply been passed on to mac by his fan club of historians.

    The real reason for witch general McClellan was removed were political, and not military”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    The republicans could not allow McClellan to be a victory. They could not allow that to happen. They needed to do everything they could to smear McClellan”
    --Dennis Frye Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

    McClellan's relationship with Lincoln is central to any understanding of why historians judge him as a flawed personality...Lincoln has attained a stature that sets him apart from other mortals”
    -Thomas J Rowland George B Mcclellan and Civil war History in the Shadow of grant and Sherman Kent State University Press

    However patriotic the abolitionist radicals in the north may have been, the very last thing they wanted was for little Mac to win in the battle for Richmond....the abolitionist would lose their influence”
    -S.C Gwynne Rebel Yell The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Simon and Schuster 2014

    Their is a political element connected with this war witch must not be overlooked”
    -Congressional committee on the conduct of war dec 26 1861 quoted in George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    At this moment a considerable portion of his countrymen have their minds barred against all arguments and considerations in defense of general McClellan, by political prejudice. To deny him all military capacity is part of the creed of a great political party. Most supporters of the present administration hold it to be a point of duty to disparage and decry him.”
    -George Stillman Hillard Life and Campaigns of George B McClellan 1864

    Major Battles and Causalities of Union Generals vs Lee

    Union commander/ Battle Union Losses Lee loses Union causality per confederate causality

    Pope- Second Manasas 13,879 Lee 8,353 1.65 per
    Hooker- Chancellorsville 17,100 Lee 12,151 1.43 per
    Burnside- Fredricksburg 13,353 Lee 4,576 2.95 per
    Grant- Wilderness 18,400 Lee 11,400 1.61 per
    Grant- Spotsylvania 18,000 Lee 12,000 1.5 per
    Grant- Cold Harbor 12,737 Lee 4,594 2.8 per
    Grant- Total 49,100 Lee 27,900 1.75 per

    Meade- Gettysburg 23,049 Lee 28,063 .82
    Meade- Total [Above] 72,049 Lee 55,963 1.29

    McClellan- Peninsula 15,849 Lee 20,133 .78 per
    McClellan - Antietam 12,401 Lee 10,316 1.2 per
    McClellan - Total 28,250 Lee 30,449 .92 per

    McClellan was the only union general to give out more causalities than taken when faced with lee. His average over two battles is only bested once by a union commander, that was by Meade [who performed worse overall] at Gettysburg. He fought against Lee with, if anything, less of a manpower advantage than Grant would have later on. He also faced the Army of Northern Virginia while it had Jackson, was well supplied, and the south had high national morale, unlike what Grant faced. How many other union commanders can claim over two battles with Lee to have won a tactical victory on the first, and a strategic victory and tactical draw on the second while inflicting heavy losses? It is no wonder Lee said mac was the best he faced. Famed confederate John Mosby the “gray ghost of the confederacy” said that McClellan was the best union commander “by all odds.”
  3. GreekOrthodox

    GreekOrthodox Psalti Chrysostom

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Makes me want to break out my old Avalon Hill board games out. I have Chancellorsville and I think somewhere I had Chickamauga. Never did have Gettysburg.
  4. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    Ever play PC civil war games? Try these if you do

    AGEod - Civil War II
    Scourge of War
  5. Sif

    Sif .

    United States
    Other Religion
    George McClellan is a very interesting commander to study. I remember a quote, supposedly said my President Lincoln of McClellan: "He has a case of the 'slows'." I think it was in reference to events after Antietam.

    My initial impression of McClellan, after ready Shelby Foote's Civil War history, was he was a good general but lacked the "killer" instinct of some of the Confederate Generals such as Lee and Jackson.

    Speaking of strategic Civil War board games. I have a copy the old Victory Games edition and I also have the U.S. Civil War printed by GMT Games and designed by Mark Simonitch. It is very clearly based on the older Victory Games version. Both are very good simulations of the war at a strategic level. The GMT version is a bit more streamlines but the older one does allow for the addition of the Far West theater and allows the play of Sibley's attempted invasion of the Union's Western territories and Canby's counter at the Battle of La Glorieta Pass (Near modern day Santa Fe and the background setting for the Western Classic, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)
  6. GreekOrthodox

    GreekOrthodox Psalti Chrysostom

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Those look very interesting! Love games like Total War
  7. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States

    I use to play total war, I like the older ones. If they did a civil war one [or lord of the rings] i would get it.