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George Brinton McClellan

McCLELLAN, George Brinton, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 3 December, 1826 ; died in Orange, New Jersey, 29 October. 1885. His father was Dr. George McClellan (q. v.), who married Miss Elizabeth Brinton, and George was their second son. The three noble elms to be seen at Woodstock, Connecticut, were planted by Mrs. McClellan, the general's great-grandmother, in honor and remembrance of her husband, Captain McClellan, on hearing he had passed safely through the battle of Bunker Hill. The general saw them for the first time in the summer of 1884. He was educated by private tutors, and spent two years, 1840-'2, in the University of Pennsylvania, where he acquired a love of polite literature, which was never lost in his later life. He was always an industrious student, and shared the first honors of his class in the university. At the age of fifteen years and six months (the minimum age being sixteen, and the exceptions rare) he entered the United States military academy 1 July, 1842. In his class were " Stonewall " Jackson, Jesse L. Reno, and others who subsequently became distinguished. He led his class in mathematics. He was graduated 1 July, 1846, appointed brevet 2d lieutenant in the corps of engineers, and assigned to a company of engineer troops (the only one then in service) raised for the Mexican war. With it he was at Malan, Camargo, Tampico, and Vera Cruz. After the fall of Vera Cruz they took an active part in the battle of Cerro Gordo, 17 and 18 April, 1847, and McClellan led the unsuccessful attack on the left against the triple batteries that swept the road. A second attack was rendered unnecessary by the fall of the Cerro de Telegrafe. He was promoted to a 2d lieutenancy on 24 April, and afterward took part in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, 18 and 19 August, in the former of which his horse was shot. After the rupture of the armistice by the Mexicans in September, he was engaged with his company in constructing batteries against Chapultepec, and shared in the assault and capture of the city of Mexico, 13 and 14 September, 1847. He received the brevet of 1st lieutenant "for gallant and meritorious conduct at Contreras and Churubusco," and that of captain for his part in the assault of Chapultepec. In 1848, after the war was ended, he served at West Point as assistant instructor of practical engineering. In 1852 he was with Captain Marcy (later his father-in-law) on an exploration of the upper Red river, between Texas and the Indian territory; and afterward he was engineer-in-charge of explorations and surveys in Texas. In 1853 he was on engineer duty in Oregon and Washington territories, and later was employed as engineer on the western division of the Northern Pacific railroad. On 3 March, 1855, he was appointed a captain in the 1st cavalry, and in the same year was sent to Europe, as a member of a military commission, to report on the condition of the armies of Europe, and to observe the operations of both sides in the Crimean war. His colleagues were Colonel Richard Delafield, of the engineers, and Major Alfred Mordecai, of the ordnance. The commission received facilities from the British government, but not from the French and Russian. The separate reports of these officers were published by congress. Captain McClellan's was a model of fullness, accuracy, and system, and was republished in 1861, with the title "The Armies of Europe." The details of the organization and equipment of European armies he put to good use in organizing the Army of the Potomac, soon after the beginning of the civil war.

On 16 January, 1857, Captain McClellan resigned his commission to accept the place of chief engineer of the Illinois Central railroad. He became its vice-president in 1858, and in 1859 was elected president of the eastern division of the Ohio and Mississippi railroad, residing in Cincinnati. In 1860 he was made president of the St. Louis, Missouri, and Cincinnati railroad, which office he held until the beginning of the civil war in 1861. While engaged in railroad work, he was able to help his classmate, Ambrose E. Burnside, who, having resigned from the service, was in need of assistante. On 23 April, 1861, McClellan was appointed major-general of Ohio volunteers, and placed in command of the Department of the Ohio, including the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, with portions of Virginia and Pennsylvania. In a month he was in the field, and on 26 May he crossed the Ohio into Virginia, and occupied Parkersburg. This advance into West Virginia, he says, was made "without orders, and entirely of his own volition." The plain bordering the Ohio was occupied by McClellan's forces; the mountains by the Confederates under General Garnett, who looked down upon the plain and the Great Kana-wha river from two spurs separating the Monongahela from Tygart Valley river and Cheat river. The southern portion was called Rich mountain, and the northern Laurel hill: and behind them both runs the great Virginia turnpike through Beverly and Leedsville. To cover this turnpike, Garnett had posted Pegram at Rich mountain with 2,000 men, while he held Laurel hill with 3.000 McClellan, who had five brigades, posted Gen Jacob ***D. Cox's command on the Lower Kanawha,

General Hill's to guard the communications between reestern Virginia and the upper Potomac, and went in person with the remainder, divided into two columns. The first was to make a demonstration against Garnett at Philippi; the second to capture Pegram at Rich mountain, and cut off the enemy's retreat. Advancing with Gens. Schleich and Rosecrans, who commanded these columns, to Buckhannon, on 10 July he was in front of Pcgram, and sent Rosecrans to the right to gain his rear. By some miscalculation there was a delay, and Pegram evacuated Rich mountain, but many of his scattered force were captured by McClellan near Beverly. Garnett abandoned Laurel hill to join Pegram, but found himself intercepted. He then tried by devious paths to escape to the Cheat river, tte was overtaken at Carrick's ford, but succeeded in crossing with the loss of all his material, and was killed on the farther bank, and his force was scattered. In this eight days' campaign McClellan had driven the enemy from the great Kanawha, and captured 1,000 prisoners, and he wrote to Washington that "he had completely annihilated the enemy in western Virginia." Lee fared no better when he succeeded Garnett and attempted to dislodge the force of Rosecrans, under Reynolds, at Cheat mountain. In a convention held at Wheeling, 11 June, 1861, at which 40 counties were represented, this portion of the state had disapproved secession and adhered to the Union, which it was now free to enter as a separate state, as it did, by act of congress, 31 December, 1862.

On 14 May McClellan had been appointed a major-general in the United States army. Meantime preparations had been pushed forward at Washington for a direct movement toward Richmond, the command of the force being given to General Irwin McDowell (q. v.). Immediately after the battle of Bull Run, McClellan was called to Washington, and on 27 July he was assigned to the command of the Department of Washington and Northeastern Virginia. While reorganizing the Army of the Potomac he was, on 20 August, invested with its command, and, on the retirement of General Scott, 1 November, he was made commander of all the armies of the United States, to the great satisfaction of the whole country, who hoped more from him than it was in the power of man to accomplish. What he had done so sagaciously, intelligently, and promptly in West Virginia placed him before his countrymen as the incarnation of perfect military genius. In his report he declared that, on his arrival at Washington, he had "found no army to command --a mere collection of regiments cowering on the banks of the Potomac, some perfectly raw, others dispirited by recent defeat, some going home. There were no defensive works on the southern approaches to the capital. Washington was crowded with straggling officers and men absent from their stations without authority." He had to bring order out of this chaos, to create an army, and to defend the city. If he was slow in doing this, he did it well. He declared that the true place to defend Washington was on the James river. After the discussion of his plan, a compromise was made in favor of a movement by the York and Pamunkey rivers. Growing out of his reputed tardiness and the conflicting opinions as to the best plan of campaign, McClellan was now looked upon by the government with suspicion. Mr. Stanton, who had succeeded Simon Cameron as secretary of war, and who was at first McClellan's friend, soon took issue with him on vital points, and embarrassed the general and the army greatly. In spite of McClellan's remonstrances the secretary was constantly urging a forward movement, and prevailed on Mr. Lincoln to issue an order--impossible to be carried out--that a combined movement by land and water should be made on 22 February, 1862. The serious illness of McClellan in December retarded the organization, and it was not until 10 March, 1862, that he put the army in motion for a demonstration upon Manassas; an unnecessary and unfortunate movement, because, in expectation of it, the Confederates had evacuated the position the (lay before. One good was accomplished, however, the gigantic machine had been put in successful motion, and active operations were fairly begun. Various plans of campaign were considered. The general purpose was to embark at Annapolis, pro-teed to either the Rappahannock, the York, or the James, and thence move upon Richmond. One proposition was to land at Fort Monroe, which would be a base of operations, and proceed by James river to Richmond. Another was to proceed by York river with the co-operation of the navy. This last plan of campaign having been reluctantly accepted by the president, McClellan moved the Army of the Potomac via Alexandria from 17 March to 6 April by water to Hampton Roads, and, landing at Old Point Comfort, entered upon the peninsular campaign. As soon as he was gone from Washington his opponents declared he had left the capital undefended. The course of the government was shaped in a great degree by the views of the opposition, and his plan of campaign was altered. He had been assured of the co-operation of MeDowell's corps, 40,000 men, marching southward to join him and to form his right before Richmond; but such were the fears as to the security of Washington that Blenker's division of Sumner's corps, twelve regiments and eighteen guns, was detached on 31 March, and McDowell's corps was diverted from him on 4 April. On 3 April an order was issued to discontinue all recruiting for volunteers, upon which McClellan depended to supply his losses, and the recruiting-oftices were closed. As soon as he left Washington he was relieved from the command-in-chief by a published order that had not been communicated to him before, and became simply commander of the Army of the Potomac.

Thus thwarted, whether right or wrong, he made it clear on what conditions he was fighting, and then went on. His first objective point was Yorktown, which he besieged from 5 April until 4 May. Without venturing an opinion whether Yorktown could have been taken earlier by a vigorous assault, it is known that the enemy held it until the National batteries were ready to open, and their general, Magruder, expressed his surprise that they were not stormed without all this engineering work. He said that with 5,000 men he held 100, -000 in check, refusing to obey orders to leave the place until the batteries were ready to open. On 10 April Norfolk was occupied by General Wool. On the other hand, it may be said that McClellan's caution was not without its peculiar logic. It was the first engagement since the battle of Bull Run. McClellan could afford to wait rather than to risk much; but criticism, in the light of later events, warrants the opinion that his habits as an engineer and his lack of experience, combined with a systematic character of mind, in which deliberation was a strong factor, caused him to be unnecessarily slow in this early portion of the campaign, he was deceived by the enemy as to the numbers in his front, and was misled by false maps of the terrain, in which the directions of streams and the localities of roads were wrong. According to the returns on 1 April, 1862, the army was divided into four corps, those of McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes, with a division of regular infantry and cavalry and a reserve artillery, numbering in grand aggregate on the rolls of 1 April, 1862, 119,965 men. This does not include McDowell's corps, which was soon detached and did not participate in the peninsular campaign. Richmond was the objective point. The southern portion of the peninsula is flat and marshy, with a salt tide on York river as far as West Point and on the James beyond City Point. Northeast of Richmond flows the Pamunkey, joining the Mattapony to form York river. Between the Pamunkey and the upper James, flowing north of Richmond, is the Chickahominy, which, passing through wooded swamps and flowing south into the James, proved during the rainy periods a much more difficult obstacle than had been anticipated. There are thickets of white oak interspersed with pool-like extensions. Thus, while in dry seasons it was a brook, in wet ones it was a broad river with swampy banks. After the evacuation of Yorktown, the occupation of Williamsburg was contested on 5 and 6 May. The apportionment of troops to the attack was not wisely calculated. Hooker complained that for nine hours his division of thirteen regiments bore the brunt of the enemy's attacks without support, although there were 30,000 men in sight unengaged. Williamsburg was abandoned by the enemy and the forward movement was resumed. The distance to Richmond is about fifty miles. As the Confederates fell back to cover their capital, fighting in retreat, the National army advanced, meeting with no strong resistance until it was established on the Chickahominy. Had McClellan then made his change of base, the James river being opened, he would doubtless have been successful. The Confederate iron-clads ran up as ***faY' as Drewry's Bluff on 15 May, and on the 16th McClellan had reached the Chickahominy. The nearest part of this river is only five miles from Richmond; but there are large swamps intervening, which in rainy seasons form a decided military obstacle. McClellan's advance was well in position by 23 May. Franklin's division had now ascended York river, and the base of operations for the army was the White House on the York River railroad where it crosses the Pamunkey, twenty-four miles east of Richmond. In expectation of the junction with McDowell, General Fitz-John Porter had advanced to Hanover Court-House, north of Richmond, where on 24 Ma, y he defeated a Confederate force. As McDowell did not come, and it became known that he would not, Porter was returned to his original camp. The river now divided the Army of the Potomac, and the communications were precarious. The army advanced upon Richmond along the Chickahominy, now greatly swollen--the left winE in four divisions along the York River railroad, south of the Chickahominy, and the right wing, consisting of five divisions, by the opposite bank, the swollen stream rushing between, and no bridge being a sure communication except Bottom's bridge, below the railroad crossing. On the night of 30 May the Confederates, taking advantage of a deluge of rain, moved out under General Joseph E. Johnston to attack the National left, which it would be difficult to support from the north. Early the next day Longstreet and Hill attacked, and there was fought the battle of Fair Oaks, called by the Confederates Seven Pines. Casey's division was driven back, and Couch and tIeintzelman coming to his support were about to succumb. The enemy audaciously attempted to pass between the left wing and the river and to seize Bottom's bridge, when McClellan, sick in bed, ordered Sumner to attempt the crossing of the tottering bridge in his front. Sumner already had his corps prepared to move at a word, and Sedgwick's division rushed across, planted a battery of twenty-four Napoleon guns so as to flank the Confederate advance, and hurled the attacking force back upon Fair Oaks station. Had the entire army crossed, the capture of Richmond might soon have followed. When the Confederates renewed their attack on 1 June, it was without proper concert, and they were repelled with a loss of 4,233 men. The Federal loss was 5,739. Soon afterward the National army recovered its posts at Fair Oaks, but made no further attempts to capture Richmond. General J. E. Johnston had been severely wounded, and his place was taken by General G. W. Smith, while General Robert E. Lee was in chief command in the city.

Two events now occurred to embarrass McClellan's further movement" the first was a demonstration that had been made by "Stonewall" Jackson upon Washington, and the other a raid of General J. E. B. Stuart, on 12 and 13 June, with 1,500 cavalry, around the right flank of the National army, destroying stores and capturing provisions. The course taken by McClellan, whatever may be the opinion whether a retreat was necessary, was bold, and skilfullv carried out. McDowell withheld, and Jackson again in line before Richmond, he determined to fall back to reorganize and plan anew, and, preparatory to this, he would make a change of base. White House could no longer be safely held" the James river was open" transports had already reached City Point. Thus the new base was correct for a new movement upon Richmond. He determined upon a flank movement to the James by substantially a single road, open on his flank to many roads, of which he would have to contest every foot of the way. The divisions north of the Chickahominy were to be carefully and secretly withdrawn, the bridges utilized for trains. Large detachments thrown out toward Richmond were to resist the enemy's assaults and cover the movement. To divert the attention of the enemy, McClellan sent General Stoneman with cavalry to make a raid in their rear on 23 June, but they were not entirely deceived. Ignorant at first of McClellan's purpose, they swarmed upon hint, and then occurred that contest called the Seven days' bat-ties, from 25 June to 1 July.

On 25 June Hooker had been advanced beyond Fair Oaks toward Richmond, and after an action at Oak Grove had held his ground, and it seemed that there might yet be a rapid march upon Richmond; but the news of "Stonewall" Jackson's return had caused McClellan to decide at once, and Hooker was recalled. On 26 June General D. H. Hill attacked Fitz-John Porter at Mechanicsville. Porter fought valiantly as he fell back, and, from want of concert on the part of the enemy, he repelled every attack with enormous loss to them. On the 27th was fought the severe battle of Gaines's Mills, to cover the National right, in which Porter was confronted by Jackson and D. H. Hill, while the bridges were threatened by A. P. Hill and Longstreet. Trains and parts of heavy guns had been taken across the rivet', and the troops clustered around the bridges on the north side, waiting to cross. This passage in presence of the enemy was a delicate and dangerous task. Falling back ***h'o, n Mechanicsvilie, they had reached Gaines's Mills opposite the New bridge. The troops were to defend the approaches during the day and to cross in the evening, destroying the bridges behind them. Porter's force formed an arc of an extended circle on an elevated plateau. He was first attacked about noon by A. P. Hill, whom he repelled ; but the enemy returned with such vigor to the attack that Porter used all his reserves and asked urgently for re-enforcements. Slocum's division came and made a diversion in his favor, but was soon overpowered and outflanked by Jackson and Ewell. The defeat would have been a fatal rout but for the timely appearance of new re-enforcements under French and Meagher, and the Confederates were arrested while on the verge of a great victory. Porter crossed that night and destroyed the bridges behind him. The National loss was about 9,000 men. At the close of this battle McClellan, in an assembly of his generals, proposed, even at that moment, to make a rush upon Richmond; but this was opposed by his lieutenants and abandoned. The Confederates, now sure that McClellan was cut off from his base, expected to destroy and capture his whole army. It was only at this juncture that their eyes were fully opened; but they soon found that White House had been evacuated and a new base secured, which was already defended by the National flotilla. In announcing the results thus far, on 28 June, to the secretary of war, McClellan asserted that, if the government had sustained him, he could, with 10,000 additional troops, have captured Richmond the next day, and he closed the despatch to Secretary Stanton with the bold assertion: "If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you, or to any other persons in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this army." On the third day, Saturday, 28 June, the movement was conducted rapidly but in good order. Immediately after the battle of Gaines's Mills, McClellan had been inclined to cross the Chickahominy and persevere in his efforts to hold his position; but, after a consultation with his corps commanders, he decided upon the change of base, and proceeded promptly to its execution. The grand retrograde movement was now to be made through the swamp formed by the White Oak creek, a branch of the Chiekahominy, and then by the Quaker road principally to Malvern IIill, the point beyond which they would be secure from attack, both by the strength of the position and the flank fire of the fleet. Diverging from Richmond and running to intersect at different intervals, the route of McClellan were, counting from the north, the Williamsburg turnpike, the Charles City road, the Derby or Central road, and the New Market road, from which the Varina road diverges to the south. Along these roads, upon the flank of the National army, the columns of Lee were launched--Magruder on the Williamsburg road, Huger on the Charles City, A. P. Hill on the Central, while Jackson, crossing the Grapevine bridge, moved upon their rear. The situation was grave in the extreme ; but a bold rear-guard checked Jackson from time to time, while strong detachments protected the right flank, fought the battles, and proved the mettle of the excellent but exhausted troops.

On the morning of 29 June was fought the battle of Savage's Station, in which the fighting was severe. Magruder, marching upon Fair Oaks and finding it abandoned, had hurried on to the station, which was held by Sumner and Heintzehnan, who were to hold it till nightfall. Unfortunately Heintzelman, through a misunderstanding, retired too soon, and the brunt of Magruder's attack by the Williamsburg road fell upon Sumner, who held his post so well that he was able to retire at nightfall, though leaving his wounded behind him. The fifth day of battle was 30 June, and the fighting was at Frazier's farm, where the Central road joins the Quaker road. Longstreet and A. P. Hill, who had crossed the Chickahominv at New bridge, marched to and then followed the Central road. McClellan's line was now eight miles long--Jackson upon its rear, Magruder, who had made a detour, moving parallel by the New Market road, and Longstreet and Hill advancing upon Frazier's farm. The destruction of the National army seemed sure. The Confederate attack was vigorous, but Magruder and Huger did not come up as expected; the troops from Fort Darling were driven back by shells from the National gun-boats ; Jackson, who had been delayed by the destruction of the White Oak bridge, found himself obliged to reconstruct it, and was further checked by Franklin. McClellan's army fell back after dark to Malvern Hill, where the last of the trains and all the reserve artillery had arrived in the afternoon, and where the last great battle of the peninsula was to be fought. Malvern is an elevated plain, in some degree fortified by ravines radiating toward the front and on the northwest. It is about a mile and a half long by three fourths of .a mile deep, and not far behind it, defended by the gunboats from Turkey Point to Haxall's and Harrison's Landing, is James river. In front it is enveloped by a small stream and thick underwood. Both flanks of the ***}, rational army touched the river here during the night. Sykes, with the regulars, guarded the road from Richmond to Haxall's, then came the rest of Porter's corps, Heintzelman in the center, then Sumner, Franklin, and Keyes. The approaches were defended by heavy guns, while the lighter batteries were disposed for use according to circumstances. The only roads by which the Confederates could approach were that from Richmond to Haxall's and the Quaker road. Their first movement was upon the National left. The position seemed impregnable; the outer line bristled with guns, and, could that be taken, there remained the inner and still more difficult defences, but General Lee ordered an attack along the whole line. Under the best circumstances, success seemed impossible. The movement was dependent upon a signal, which was mistaken, and this gave rise to some confusion. The Confederates attacked furiously, and, being hurled back, returned again and again. At a signal the final attack was made by Magruder and D. H. Hill, whose troops melted away before the National fire, and the defeat of the Confederates was assured. As soon as the conflict was ended, the Army of the Potomac resumed its retreat upon Harrison's Landing, which it reached by noon oil 2 July, and was then secure from any further attack. The boldest and most impulsive spirits in the army were of opinion that, had a vigorous advance been ordered as a riposte after the attack on Malvern, such were the confusion and disorder in the Confederate ranks, that Richmond could have been captured without further delay. But the condition of the men rendered this almost impossible.

When, on 7 July, President Lincoln visited the army, he found more than 80,000 men there, although General McClellan had reported a smaller number by reason of confused returns, he asked for more troops and another trial; but he had lost the confidence of the President and his advisers, and neither his request nor his advice was listened to. On 8 July General Burnside brought up re-enforcements from Roanoke island, and some days later Lee's army begum to withdraw for a northern campaign. On the 11th General Halleck was made general-in-chief, and on 3 August McClellan was ordered to evacuate the peninsula. He was directed also to repair in person first to Fort Monroe and then to Alexandria, and was relieved of his command, and ordered to send every available soldier to the new army of Virginia under General John Pope, an army that had been formed by consolidation of the forces under Generals Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. These three organizations were now known as the 1st, 2d, and 3d corps respectively. (See POPE, JOHN.) The second battle of Bull Run, 30 August, 1862, was even more disastrous than the first, and on 2 September Pope resigned the command. In this emergency the government looked to McClellan as the only man who could inspire confidence and bring order out of chaos. He himself says that, pending the time when a general could be selected, he had only a verbal order or request to assume control; that in point of fact he never was fully in command, and that thus, without a warrant to show, not only his reputation, but his life depended upon some measure of success in a situation that seemed almost hopeless. Before setting out to meet the Confederate army in Maryland, he left his card with a P. P. C. for the President, and departed without an official word from the secretary of war or the general-in-chief. He had been in virtual command, from 2 to 7 September, in charge of the defences of the city. Flushed with his recent victories, Lee was marching into Maryland, and must be met and checked by the remnants of Pope's army and the Army of the Potomac. It is touching to read of the men's joy and renewed confidence when they knew that "Little Mac" was again in command. The magnetism was like that ascribed to Napoleon. Organizing as he proceeded, he marched into Maryland parallel with Lee, who had advanced as far as Frederick. Lee was disappointed by the coolness of his reception, and on the approach of McClellan fell back to Turner's and Crampton's gaps in the South mountain, where he was defeated and driven from the former by Reno's corps, and from the latter by Franklin on 13 and 14 September McClellan was now to encounter the full force of the enemy on Antietam creek, a small tributary of the Potomac, which it joins about seven miles north of Harper's Ferry. By the failure of General Miles to fortify Maryland heights, and in spite of the entreaties of McClellan that Harper's Ferry should be abandoned and its garrison added to his army. Jackson captured the post on 13 September and took 11,500 prisoners. He was thus enabled to join forces with Lee at Antietam. On the 16th Lee had only two divisions across the Potomac, but the National army did not come into position till the 17th. McClellan placed Hooker and Mansfield on the right, next came Sumner, with Franklin as a support, Burnside was on the left, and Porter in the centre. Lee had placed his army in the acute angle inclosed by the Potomac and the Antietamon the heights between the two streams, to the right and left of the Boonsboro road, he had posted Long-street and Hill, with Hood on the left. In the centre of the position was the Dunker church, which seemed an objective point for both armies. Three stone bridges cross the Antietam, and there are also several fords. The bridge on the left was in front of Burnside, the central one in front of Porter, and the right opposite Hooker and Mansfield. McClellan's plan was for Hooker to cross and attack the enemy's left, supported if necessary by Sumner and Franklin, and upon the apparent success of that attack Burnside was to cross the bridge in his front, press the enemy's right, passing if possible to the south and rear of Sharpsburg. At daylight on the morning of the 17th Hooker, followed by Mansfield, having crossed the stream, made so furious an attack upon Hood and Jackson that they were driven back beyond the Dunker church. Re-enforced by D. It. Hill, the Confederates returned the attack, and drove Hooker back in turn. Then Sunmer came up, moved forward, was driven back, and again, with Franklin's aid, forced them beyond the Dunker church. Sumner even attempted to move, with a pertion of his corps, to the left upon Sharpsburg, but he could only hold his ground. But the movements on the left were less fortunate. Burnside had been or-deved at 8 A. M. to take the stone bridge, and aid the general movements by occupying the heights beyond. The approach to the bridge being swept by the guns of the enemy, the order to take it was not obeyed until 1 o'clock, when the Confederates had so strengthened their position beyond it that it was impossible to dislodge them. Thus it happened that the principal fighting was on the right, where Mansfield was killed, and Hooker wounded. The desperate attempts of the enemy to pierce the National line on the right and centre were foiled. In spite of repeated orders, the failure of Burnside's corps to take the lower stone bridge invalidated McClellan's combinations, and to some extent neutralized his success. Had it been carried early in the day, Lee might have been driven pell-mell into the Potomac. As it was, when we consider all the circumstances, the forcing back of the Confederate line, and their inability to make any effect upon the National line, the engagement at Antietam, so often regarded as only a drawn battle, must be looked upon as a decided success. About 13,000 men fell on each side, but McClellan retained the field when the enemy, his plans entirely foiled, sullenly withdrew. As an offset to the disaster of Ilarper's Ferry, McClellan had, in this brief campaign, taken 13 guns, 39 colors, upward of 15,000 stand of arms, and more than 6,000 prisoners, while he had not lost a gun or a color. No swift pursuit was attempted, and Lee crossed the Potomac at his leisure on the 19th. McClellan then followed, advancing his army between Longstreet's corps and the main body under Lee, and halted at Warrenton to recruit, while the powers at Washington, withholding all praise for what he and his army had achieved, were scolding him for his delay. He needed supplies of all kinds, and with regard to the arrival of these there has since been a long controversy. He believed that what time was lost in immediate pursuit of the enemy would be more than colnpensated by the concentration, freshness, equipments, good spirits, and recovered morale of his army. Urgent orders were sent him to move on, and irritating insinuations were hurled upon him. At last an order from the President came on 7 November, relieving McClellan of the coin-mand, and conferring it upon General Burnside, who then (as he had before) declared his unfitness for it and his indisposition to accept it. McClellan was directed to await orders at Trenton, New Jersey, and afterward at New York.

Though he was set aside by the government, his hold upon the people of the country was never relaxed. The army idolized him, and his popularity followed him, in 1863 he visited Boston, where he was received enthusiastically, and in 1864 he was chosen to deliver the oration at West Point on the occasion of the unveiling of the monument erected to the memory of the officers and soldiers of the regular army. He took no further part in the war, but in his enforced inactivity prepared his "Report on the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac," which was published by the government. He also published an edition himself, with a preliminary account of the campaign in western Virginia. The most substantial proof of his popularity was his nomination at Chicago by the Democratic party as their candidate for the presidency of the United States in August, 1864. But the time was ill chosen. Mr. Lincoln's popularity had been continually growing, and the conviction of many, among whom were warm friends of McClellan, was that a change of administration would at best, in that emergency, be but a doubtful policy. McClellan's defeat was a foregone conclusion. He received but 21 electoral votes against 212, but the popular vote made a better record--he had 1,800,000 against 2,200,000. As he had not sought the nomination, he was not disappointed in the result. He had resigned his commission in the army on 8 September, 1864, and immediately after the election he went to Europe, where he remained until 1868.

On his return he took up his residence in New York city. In 1868-'9 he was employed to complete the Stevens iron-clad floating battery for harbor defence. This was a visionary caprice of the inventor and owner, for which McClellan was in no wise responsible" it had been long in process of construction, and unforeseen difficulties presented themselves, which led to its abandonment. He declined the presidency of the University of California in 1868, and that of Union college in 1869. In 1870 he was made engineer-in-chief of the department of docks of the city of New York, which post he left in 1872, having, in 1871, declined an appointment as city comptroller. He was also invited to become superintendent, of construction of the railroad bridge across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie. In 1881 he was appointed by congress a member of the board of managers of the National home for disabled soldiers, which office he held until his death. During these latter years his principal residence was in Orange, New Jersey, but in the winters he resided in New York or Washington. He was elected governor of New Jersey in 1877, served for one term with credit, and declined a renomination. He made several tours in Europe, visiting the East, and published his observations in magazine articles. In the series of military papers, appearing in the current issues, he wrote several monographs illustrating his campaigns, and vindicating his reputation, while he was in the enjoyment of good health, with a long life apparently before him, heart disease was developed, and he died suddenly at his country residence. In 1886 appeared a volume entitled "McClellan's Own Story," with a short biographical introduction by the editor, William C. Prime. It contains his own views, in his own words, with extracts from his private correspondence with his wife McClellan was about 5 feet 8 inches in height, firmly built, with broad shoulders. He was very solid and muscular, and an excellent horseman. Modest and retiring, he had withal a great self-respect, a gracious dignity. His personal magnetism has no parallel in military history, except in that of the first Napoleon; he was literally the idol of his officers and men. They would obey him when all other control had failed. In" the opinion of many, he was unduly careful of his troops, so that his power to organize wax neutralized by his caution in the field. He was a clear writer and an effective speaker. As a student of military history, he had no superior in his systematic knowledge of wars, battles, and tactics. He was also an accomplished engineer. His plans of campaign were just, clear, and timely" but any interference with them threw him back upon his natural caution, and caused him to take more time to reorganize and recast than the exigencies of the war and the rapid movements of the enemy would permit. He believed himself the personal butt of the administration, and that it did not wish him to succeed. He was constantly engaged in controversies, and his despatches, reports, and later papers are always in the tone of one vindicating himself from real or fancied injustice. He was a man of irreproachable character, a model Christian gentleman in every situation of life. He devised the McClellan saddle, which has proved useful and popular, in 1856. His writings include "A Manual of Bayonet Exercise," adapted from the French (1852); "Government Reports of Pacific Railroad Surveys" (1854)" "Report on the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac" (1864)" papers in "Harper's Magazine," 1874-'7, and in "Scribner's" on Egypt and the Nile.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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