Introduction - General McClellanIn July of 1861 the American Civil War had just begun and the people of the Northern states were looking for a military leader capable of crushing the rebellion of the southern states. The Union Army had just experienced a surprising and disheartening loss at the First battle of Bull Run. They turned their hopes to George B. McClellan who had won a few minor victories against the Confederate Army. Lincoln summoned him to Washington D.C. where he was greeted as a hero by the civilians and was appointed by President Lincoln as the general to lead the Union Army.
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The information below, presented as a list of facts, will explain how Lincoln quickly lost confidence in McClellan and why Lincoln would eventually remove him as commander of the Union forces. Additional facts will provide a synopsis and a short biography of McClellan's life and military career; some of the information will be familiar to every kid whoever picked up a history book where as some facts are not as well known.
Interesting Facts about General McClellan
- George Brinton McClellan was born on December 3rd 1826.
- He married Mary Ellen on May 22, 1860.
- McClellan died on October 29th 1885 at the age of 58 from a heart attack.
- Most historians agree that General McClellan was a failure as a battlefield commander. Time after time he lost battles where he commanded a much larger force than the enemy. He often failed to engage reserves in the battles instead holding them back.
- In 1862 McClellan launched a large-scale offensive called the Peninsula Campaign the goal of which was to capture Richmond Virginia; the Confederate capital. The smaller Confederate Army, under the leadership of the legendary Robert E. Lee, defeated the Union Army.
- Plaguing General McClellan's strategy during the Civil War was his miscalculations of the size of the Confederate forces he faced in battle. These incorrect estimates made him more cautious than necessary; often losing an advantage in battle that might have otherwise been won.
- McClellan had a great disdain for President Lincoln. McClellan is quoted as saying that Lincoln was "nothing more than a well-meaning baboon" and made it publicly known that he thought Lincoln was unworthy of the presidency. He even once snubbed the president by making Lincoln wait for half an hour to see him and then having someone inform the president that he had gone to bed.
- McClellan ran for president, as the Democratic Party nominee, against President Lincoln in 1864. Lincoln defeated him fairly easily largely due to the success of the Union Army in the fall of 1864.
- George McClellan graduated the U.S. military academy at West Point in 1846. He was second in his class.
- He designed a saddle, named the McClellan saddle, which was light but yet sturdy enough to support a rider and the rider's equipment. The U.S. Calvary used this saddle as standard issue from 1859 until the Calvary was disbanded during WW2.
Facts about General McClellan at the Battle of Antietam
- On September 17th of 1862 General McClellan again faced off against Confederate General Lee at the Battle of Antietam. This battle would end up being the bloodiest day in the history of the U.S. military. McClellan again had vastly superior numbers which he failed to use to his full advantage.
- The Union eventually forced Lee to retreat from the town of Sharpsburg but at great cost of life.
- McClellan deployed only segments of his army at different times during the battle against different defensive positions. This allowed General Lee to shift his soldiers where needed. Most historians agree if the Union had attacked the Confederate positions all at the same time, Lee would have been forced to spread his lines to thinly allowing for a quick and decisive Union victory.
- McClellan also held many soldiers in reserve that could have been used to crush Lee's army.
- Although the Union succeeded in ending Lee's invasion of Maryland McClellan was criticized for allowing what was left of the Confederate army to escape from the battlefield instead of pursuing them and perhaps ending the war.
- Due to his poor performance at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln removed General McClellan from command of the Union Army on November 5, 1862.