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General George B. McClellan

Moot

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From what I have read about General McClellan, he was pompous ass who wouldn't follow orders and damn near lost the war for the north because he wouldn't go into battle or he'd retreat when he was winning. Abraham Lincoln replaced him with Ulysses S. Grant. But he gave him some credit "If he can't fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight." Most historians say he was bad general, but a few say he was a good general and made a scapegoat. To this day, he still remains somewhat of an enigma because "his legacy defies easy categorization."

So what are your impressions of Gen. McClellan? Was he a good general or an inept general or a scapegoat?
 

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Standard interpretation: Charismatic, great with his men, extremely calculating. Didn't want to sacrifice the great army he helped build, when he needed most to risk it.
 

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President Lincoln's first choice for the Army of the Potomac and General of the Union Army was Robert E. Lee.
When offered the command Lee went home and walked back and forth in his bedroom all night long. He had to make the biggest decision in his life. The next morning he crossed the river and resigned his commission in the U.S. Army.

General McClellan like most Democrats are good garrison officers but they don't have the will to take the fight to the enemy. FDR had the same problems during 1942.

Should be noted, McClellan like Robert E. Lee both chose to serve in the Army's Corps of Engineers. They weren't infantry, dragoons/cavalry or artillery. But back during the day, army engineers weren't considered to be POG's as were those serving in the Quartermasters Corps.
The brightest always served with the Corps of Engineers.

Should also be remembered that McClellan's Potomac of the Army original orders and mission was to retrieve U.S. property in the hands of the newly formed Confederate States of America. It wouldn't be later on when Lincoln was playing around and adding up the numbers that he discovered that the U.S. Government couldn't pay it's bills without the revenue that poured in to from the southern states. This is when the mission changed to saving the Union.
 

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General McClellan like most Democrats are good garrison officers but they don't have the will to take the fight to the enemy. FDR had the same problems during 1942.
The correlation does not add up. You know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that political parties in general have very little to do with the job he was tasked with. Second of all, you should know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that political parties change in thought processes and platforms. Third, you should know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that there are frequently hawkish elements in both parties during numerous times throughout American history.
 

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McClellan, nicknamed "Little Napoleon" was a great motivator of men and a superb organizer. When he was reinstated as the commander of the Army of the Potomac (after Pope's debacle at Bull Run II as commander of the Army of Virginia) soldiers cheered. McClellan's well conceived battles rarely turned out the way that he intended for several reasons. Firstly, he allowed his subordinates far too much autonomy and had too little a hand in directing the battle that he had planned (Lee was FAR better at this). Secondly, many of his subordinates were also incompetant. And lastly and most importantly, he VASTLY overestimated the strength of his opponent, seeming to want to fight to a "draw". He was a procrastinator and not assertive in battle. With Lee's battle plans in his hands, there is no excuse for him not winning at Antietam.
 

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The correlation does not add up. You know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that political parties in general have very little to do with the job he was tasked with. Second of all, you should know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that political parties change in thought processes and platforms. Third, you should know as well as I do (or at least I hope you do), that there are frequently hawkish elements in both parties during numerous times throughout American history.
The vast majority of officer post Civil war were and are pretty much a-political. But from reading their personal mail, journals and diaries you could get a pretty good idea where they were politically. They all voted.

Pre Civil War, most officer did identify which party they belonged to, Democrat, Whig and later on Republican. You can pick up almost any personal journal of any officer who served in the Mexican-America War and they mention if they were a Whig or Democrat.

After their retirement from the service it's alot easier to discover which political party they registered with because it's public information. MacArthur, Halsey, Nimitz, Howland Smith, Eisenhower etc. were all Republicans.

FDR's Secretary of War during WW ll, Stimson was a Republican. So was FDR's Secretary of the Navy Knox.

You can read the "Patton Paper", raised a Democrat but once Woodward Wilson became President, no more Democrats for Patton.

Since post Civil War, most members of the Officers Corps were conservative. After the Vietnam War the percentages grew by bounds. The last study not a poll or survey but a study, by 2000 only 3% of the officers in the U.S. military identified themselves as being liberals.

This is why Obama lowered the academic standers for minority officer candidates hoping that more liberals would join the military and become officers.
 

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From what I have read about General McClellan, he was pompous ass who wouldn't follow orders and damn near lost the war for the north because he wouldn't go into battle or he'd retreat when he was winning. Abraham Lincoln replaced him with Ulysses S. Grant. But he gave him some credit "If he can't fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight." Most historians say he was bad general, but a few say he was a good general and made a scapegoat. To this day, he still remains somewhat of an enigma because "his legacy defies easy categorization."

So what are your impressions of Gen. McClellan? Was he a good general or an inept general or a scapegoat?
Tough question. He had little to work with when the war started and for about three years afterwards, so in one sense a case could be made that he was smart not to engage Lee and other Southern generals in all or nothing battles, and just wait for the inevitable winding down of the southern armies.

The political situation in the North was pretty murky as well for at least a couple of years into the war; the war was not all that popular in the North, and there were signs the South was not all that unified politically and also constantly on the verge of bankruptcy, so merely maintaining the status quo and waiting for the South to make some serious mistakes was not a bad option; Lee in fact did just that, at Gettysburg, and the North could now take the initiative with relative security and could operate offensively from there on out instead of holding on for dear life.

A case could be made either way, but time was not on the South's side and early victory was a critical need for them; the North could win by merely not losing any critical battles. The North was still awash in surpluses and exporting grain even.
 
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From what I have read about General McClellan, he was pompous ass who wouldn't follow orders and damn near lost the war for the north because he wouldn't go into battle or he'd retreat when he was winning. Abraham Lincoln replaced him with Ulysses S. Grant. But he gave him some credit "If he can't fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight." Most historians say he was bad general, but a few say he was a good general and made a scapegoat. To this day, he still remains somewhat of an enigma because "his legacy defies easy categorization."

So what are your impressions of Gen. McClellan? Was he a good general or an inept general or a scapegoat?
First a correction McClellan wasn't replaced by Grant. Grant only took over McClellan's command much later. Several other generals had it in between.

McClellan clearly was very pompous and vain, but also very popular. He was by all accounts a very competent planner and organizer, but a very poor battlefield commander.
 

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McClellan, nicknamed "Little Napoleon" was a great motivator of men and a superb organizer. When he was reinstated as the commander of the Army of the Potomac (after Pope's debacle at Bull Run II as commander of the Army of Virginia) soldiers cheered. McClellan's well conceived battles rarely turned out the way that he intended for several reasons. Firstly, he allowed his subordinates far too much autonomy and had too little a hand in directing the battle that he had planned (Lee was FAR better at this). Secondly, many of his subordinates were also incompetant. And lastly and most importantly, he VASTLY overestimated the strength of his opponent, seeming to want to fight to a "draw". He was a procrastinator and not assertive in battle. With Lee's battle plans in his hands, there is no excuse for him not winning at Antietam.

McClellan kept asking for more troops and supplies that at one point he didn't even know how many troops he really had. In his letter, Lincoln asks him, how does one lose 23 thousand men? I must say, Lincoln seemed to be a much better stratigist than most of his Generals. That must have been very frustrating for him.

Looks like McClellan may have fancied himself as "Little Napolean." He poses like him in almost every photo. He's not a bad looking man for his day, though...



When McClellan ran against Lincoln for president he split the Democrat ticket which basically helped Lincoln get re-elected. The man was loser sideways and backwards.
 
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First a correction McClellan wasn't replaced by Grant. Grant only took over McClellan's command much later. Several other generals had it in between.
Were they any better than McClellan?

McClellan clearly was very pompous and vain, but also very popular. He was by all accounts a very competent planner and organizer, but a very poor battlefield commander.
McClellan was good at gaining loyalty of subordinates, but failed at gaining the loyalty of his superiors.
 

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Tough question. He had little to work with when the war started and for about three years afterwards, so in one sense a case could be made that he was smart not to engage Lee and other Southern generals in all or nothing battles, and just wait for the inevitable winding down of the southern armies.
From what I gather McClellan was only in command for a couple of months before he was replaced.

The political situation in the North was pretty murky as well for at least a couple of years into the war; the war was not all that popular in the North, and there were signs the South was not all that unified politically and also constantly on the verge of bankruptcy, so merely maintaining the status quo and waiting for the South to make some serious mistakes was not a bad option; Lee in fact did just that, at Gettysburg, and the North could now take the initiative with relative security and could operate offensively from there on out instead of holding on for dear life.
You say a "couple years" but the war only lasted four years.

A case could be made either way, but time was not on the South's side and early victory was a critical need for them; the North could win by merely not losing any critical battles. The North was still awash in surpluses and exporting grain even.
The South might have held out if wasn't for Gen. Grants slash and burn all the way down to Atlanta. I think that alone embittered the South more than anything. McClellan on the hand seemed very concerned not to hurt the civilian population or their property. He had a like uh 'gentlemans' notion of war.
 

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McClellan kept asking for more troops and supplies that at one point he didn't even know how many troops he really had. In his letter, Lincoln asks him, how does one lose 23 thousand men? I must say, Lincoln seemed to be a much better stratigist than most of his Generals. That must have been very frustrating for him.

Looks like McClellan may have fancied himself as "Little Napolean." He poses like him in almost every photo. He's not a bad looking man for his day, though...



When McClellan ran against Lincoln for president he split the Democrat ticket which basically helped Lincoln get re-elected. The man was loser sideways and backwards.
One serious disadvantage that McClellan had that was not his fault, was the intelligence arm of the army. It was run by the Pinkerton Agency, and they constantly gave McClellan incorrect information, completely overestimating the Confederate Army strength. However, even when the were correct, McClellan refused to act.
 

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President Lincoln's first choice for the Army of the Potomac and General of the Union Army was Robert E. Lee.
When offered the command Lee went home and walked back and forth in his bedroom all night long. He had to make the biggest decision in his life. The next morning he crossed the river and resigned his commission in the U.S. Army.

General McClellan like most Democrats are good garrison officers but they don't have the will to take the fight to the enemy. FDR had the same problems during 1942.

Should be noted, McClellan like Robert E. Lee both chose to serve in the Army's Corps of Engineers. They weren't infantry, dragoons/cavalry or artillery. But back during the day, army engineers weren't considered to be POG's as were those serving in the Quartermasters Corps.
The brightest always served with the Corps of Engineers.

Should also be remembered that McClellan's Potomac of the Army original orders and mission was to retrieve U.S. property in the hands of the newly formed Confederate States of America. It wouldn't be later on when Lincoln was playing around and adding up the numbers that he discovered that the U.S. Government couldn't pay it's bills without the revenue that poured in to from the southern states. This is when the mission changed to saving the Union.
Wasn't General Lee a democrat? There were two kinds of democrats during the civil war, the anti-war democrats were called "copperheads" and the two sides despised each other and fought their battles in the newspapers. They even lived in the same towns. If you think your partisanship is bad, you should read some of those old newspapers sometime. You can find them online. Just don't get any ideas...you're bad enough. lol

I'm not sure, but I think McClellan may have lied to the General that recommended him for the job as Commander of the Union army and said he fought in the Prussian Crimean war...or something like that. Do you know anything about that? McClellan had never been near a battle in his life until he became a commander and well, he still never got near a battle afterward either. He was a closet pacifist.
 

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One serious disadvantage that McClellan had that was not his fault, was the intelligence arm of the army. It was run by the Pinkerton Agency, and they constantly gave McClellan incorrect information, completely overestimating the Confederate Army strength. However, even when the were correct, McClellan refused to act.
But he had Lee's battle plans. He must have thought he had an advantage and maybe thats why he took his time. But Lee found out that McClellan had his plans and just went for it and aggressively attacked....scaring McClellan into a retreat.

Lincoln seemed to know a lot more about Lee's manuvers than McClellan did. Weren't they getting the same intelligence?
 

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But he had Lee's battle plans. He must have thought he had an advantage and maybe thats why he took his time. But Lee found out that McClellan had his plans and just went for it and aggressively attacked....scaring McClellan into a retreat.
McClellan did have Lee's battle plans before Antietam. But because he had them, he became overconfident and delayed operations long enough for Lee to adjust, somewhat to this.

Lincoln seemed to know a lot more about Lee's manuvers than McClellan did. Weren't they getting the same intelligence?
I don't think Lee know more about Lee's maneuvers. I think he interpreted both them and appropriate responses to them differently.
 

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McClellan did have Lee's battle plans before Antietam. But because he had them, he became overconfident and delayed operations long enough for Lee to adjust, somewhat to this.



I don't think Lee know more about Lee's maneuvers. I think he interpreted both them and appropriate responses to them differently.
Yes, thats sounds about right. Kinda like chess, Lincoln could see five or six moves ahead. Lincoln's main priority was to protect Washington. Lee actually got within 20 miles of it. That was close.

Whats sad is if McClellan had won that first battle it probably would have ended the war. Because it doesn't appear the South was behind Lee until he started winning.
 

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First a correction McClellan wasn't replaced by Grant. Grant only took over McClellan's command much later. Several other generals had it in between.

McClellan clearly was very pompous and vain, but also very popular. He was by all accounts a very competent planner and organizer, but a very poor battlefield commander.
McClellan was replaced by Burnside. Which had to have to have been a gigantic slap in the face, since it was Burnside's doddling that cause the Federals to not win at Antietam.
 

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But he had Lee's battle plans. He must have thought he had an advantage and maybe thats why he took his time. But Lee found out that McClellan had his plans and just went for it and aggressively attacked....scaring McClellan into a retreat.

Lincoln seemed to know a lot more about Lee's manuvers than McClellan did. Weren't they getting the same intelligence?
No one outside the Army of Northern Virginia knew what Lee was going to do next. In 1863 the Federals actually lost the ANV and didn't find it again until it attacked the AoT at Chancellorsville, sending yet another Federal general into retirement.
 

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Yes, thats sounds about right. Kinda like chess, Lincoln could see five or six moves ahead. Lincoln's main priority was to protect Washington. Lee actually got within 20 miles of it. That was close.

Whats sad is if McClellan had won that first battle it probably would have ended the war. Because it doesn't appear the South was behind Lee until he started winning.
One battle wasn't going to decide the war and Lee didn't take command in the field until well after 1st Manassas.
 

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Wasn't General Lee a democrat? There were two kinds of democrats during the civil war, the anti-war democrats were called "copperheads" and the two sides despised each other and fought their battles in the newspapers. They even lived in the same towns. If you think your partisanship is bad, you should read some of those old newspapers sometime. You can find them online. Just don't get any ideas...you're bad enough. lol

I'm not sure, but I think McClellan may have lied to the General that recommended him for the job as Commander of the Union army and said he fought in the Prussian Crimean war...or something like that. Do you know anything about that? McClellan had never been near a battle in his life until he became a commander and well, he still never got near a battle afterward either. He was a closet pacifist.
Surprise, Robert E. Lee was a Whig and opposed the Democrats.

I'm not a Civil War buff on the tactics and how all of the battles were fought. I've gone beyond the history books and read the personal journals, diaries and letters of Americans who lived during the 1800's. It's what published historians write history from. Most Books published on historical events are ones persons view of history. It's always interesting looking at the back of the book to see what their sources was and doing more research. The Patton Papers which is two volumes is nothing more than all the letters that G. Patton wrote during his life time.


There's a book I would recommend to any one interested in the Civil War or Robert E. Lee. "Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters" authored by Elizabeth Pryor.

In one letter he wrote to his wife just before the southern states seceded from the Union when Robert E. Lee was stationed in western Texas in command of dragoons (Calvary) dealing with Comanches. He knew that Texas would secede from the Union and he said that he took an oath as an officer in the U.S. Army and if Texas militia troops were to try to take his fort to capture the arms, powder and other government property who would fight to the end protecting U.S. government property.
 

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Interesting about Robert E. Lee since Abraham Lincoln was a Northern Whig when elected to the state legislature in the late 1830's. You might like the history behind the Veteran's Home in Quincy, IL, 4th oldest in our history. Known as "the city within the city" it is a 205-acre facility for mostly Veterans, with some spouses and some women Veterans. It opened in 1884 when Civil War Veterans came of need.
Surprise, Robert E. Lee was a Whig and opposed the Democrats.

I'm not a Civil War buff on the tactics and how all of the battles were fought. I've gone beyond the history books and read the personal journals, diaries and letters of Americans who lived during the 1800's. It's what published historians write history from. Most Books published on historical events are ones persons view of history. It's always interesting looking at the back of the book to see what their sources was and doing more research. The Patton Papers which is two volumes is nothing more than all the letters that G. Patton wrote during his life time.


There's a book I would recommend to any one interested in the Civil War or Robert E. Lee. "Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters" authored by Elizabeth Pryor.

In one letter he wrote to his wife just before the southern states seceded from the Union when Robert E. Lee was stationed in western Texas in command of dragoons (Calvary) dealing with Comanches. He knew that Texas would secede from the Union and he said that he took an oath as an officer in the U.S. Army and if Texas militia troops were to try to take his fort to capture the arms, powder and other government property who would fight to the end protecting U.S. government property.
 

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Interesting about Robert E. Lee since Abraham Lincoln was a Northern Whig when elected to the state legislature in the late 1830's. You might like the history behind the Veteran's Home in Quincy, IL, 4th oldest in our history. Known as "the city within the city" it is a 205-acre facility for mostly Veterans, with some spouses and some women Veterans. It opened in 1884 when Civil War Veterans came of need.
The "Old Soldiers Homes."

I looked up the Quincy Veterans' Home on the internet. Out here on the Left Coast we have an "Old Soldiers Home" that today is part of the VA just west of UCLA. It's the biggest VA facility in Southern California.

I see the Quincy Veterans Home is run by the state of Illinois so it must be a nice place and run better than any VA facility.

Before the Civil War they always had soldier and navy homes for retired and disabled professional soldiers, sailors and Marines but not for veterans who volunteered (citizens soldiers) during war time.

>"In 1865, Congress passed legislation to incorporate the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War. Volunteers were not eligible for care in the existing regular army and navy home facilities. This legislation, one of the last Acts signed by President Lincoln, marked the entrance of the United States into the direct provision of care for the temporary versus career military."<
 

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Nice info on Lincoln. We have a VA in my LaSalle County and one over in Will County where my Dad ended up after Quincy. Taking Mom down there for over a year was a good experience. I learned that the Quincy National Guard was the only one to go to Vietnam and I saw POW-MIA flags at the rest areas near Springfield with names engraved.

Blessing Hospital in Quincy was a blessing. Manteno was closer to Wilmington for Mom but he was already gone by then. Before Quincy, he waited for a couple months at Hines VA in 2008/9 which was extremely crowded at the time with with Wounded Veterans. I will mention that the VA Homes for my Dad saved my Mother in all ways, as she is now in an assisted living home. His 30 years paid off.
The "Old Soldiers Homes."

I looked up the Quincy Veterans' Home on the internet. Out here on the Left Coast we have an "Old Soldiers Home" that today is part of the VA just west of UCLA. It's the biggest VA facility in Southern California.

I see the Quincy Veterans Home is run by the state of Illinois so it must be a nice place and run better than any VA facility.

Before the Civil War they always had soldier and navy homes for retired and disabled professional soldiers, sailors and Marines but not for veterans who volunteered (citizens soldiers) during war time.

>"In 1865, Congress passed legislation to incorporate the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War. Volunteers were not eligible for care in the existing regular army and navy home facilities. This legislation, one of the last Acts signed by President Lincoln, marked the entrance of the United States into the direct provision of care for the temporary versus career military."<
 

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Nice info on Lincoln. We have a VA in my LaSalle County and one over in Will County where my Dad ended up after Quincy. Taking Mom down there for over a year was a good experience. I learned that the Quincy National Guard was the only one to go to Vietnam and I saw POW-MIA flags at the rest areas near Springfield with names engraved.

Blessing Hospital in Quincy was a blessing. Manteno was closer to Wilmington for Mom but he was already gone by then. Before Quincy, he waited for a couple months at Hines VA in 2008/9 which was extremely crowded at the time with with Wounded Veterans. I will mention that the VA Homes for my Dad saved my Mother in all ways, as she is now in an assisted living home. His 30 years paid off.
My condolences and I thank your father for his service.

I kind of go out of the way avoiding VA homes and hospitals.

Visiting a VA cemetery can be emotional. Visiting Arlington has a greater impact. Visiting the "Wall" (Vietnam War Memorial), no one likes seeing a grown man cry. 26 names on that "Wall" attended the same high school I did and I personally knew 12 of them. Another 8 names on the "Wall" were Marines I served with.

But going inside a VA hospital has even a bigger impact on me.
 

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McClellan, nicknamed "Little Napoleon" was a great motivator of men and a superb organizer. When he was reinstated as the commander of the Army of the Potomac (after Pope's debacle at Bull Run II as commander of the Army of Virginia) soldiers cheered. McClellan's well conceived battles rarely turned out the way that he intended for several reasons. Firstly, he allowed his subordinates far too much autonomy and had too little a hand in directing the battle that he had planned (Lee was FAR better at this). Secondly, many of his subordinates were also incompetant. And lastly and most importantly, he VASTLY overestimated the strength of his opponent, seeming to want to fight to a "draw". He was a procrastinator and not assertive in battle. With Lee's battle plans in his hands, there is no excuse for him not winning at Antietam.
He came into posession of those orders just before South Mountain.
 
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