Army of the Potomac – George B. McClellan

George B. McClellan Quotes (272 quotes)

Last Updated April 28, 2011

With quotations by McClellan first followed by others in alphabetical order of the person making the quote

Quotes made by George McClellan

 

“all my associates, indeed all of them – are Southerners…[T]he manners, feelings & opinions of the Southerners are far, far more preferable to those of the majority of the Northerners.” George B. McClellan Jan 21 1843

McClellan reflecting on the fact that most of his West Point friends are from the South

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 35

“and must confess that I have malice enough to want to show them that if I did not graduate head of my class, I can nevertheless do something.”

George B. McClellan Aug 16 1846

McClellan to Frederica M. English

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 20

“I was perfectly disgusted coming down the river.  I found that every confounded Voluntario in the “Continental Army” ranked me-to be ranked and put aside for a soldier of yesterday, a miserable thing with buttons on it, that knows nothing whatsoever, is indeed too hard a case.”

George B. McClellan Dec 5 1846

McClellan in a diary entry on his disgust with volunteers.

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 48

“I came down here with high hopes, with pleasing anticipations of distinction…and acquiring a name and reputation as a stepping stone to a still greater eminence in some future and greater war.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan describing his aspirations for the Mexican War.  Diary of George B. McClellan, pp16-18

From Reading the Man – A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor. New York:  Penguin Group, 2007. Page 170

“During dinner it began to rain like bricks.  We adjourned to Winship’s tent, and the sight we presented would have amused a hermit.  The water [was] about an inch deep in the tent, and we four sitting on the bed passing around a tumbler continually replenished from that old keg of commisary whiskey-oh lord! how it did fly ’round! and we were as happy a set of soldiers as ever lived in spite of wind and weather.”

George B. McClellan Jan 2 1847

McClellan in a diary entry reports on dinner with some regular army friends

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 56

“I have seen enough on this march to convince me that Volunteers and Volunteer Generals wont do.  I have repeatedly seen a Secnd Lieutenant of the regular army exercise more authority over the Volunteers-officers and privates-than a Mustang General.”

George B. McClellan Jan 4 1847

McClellan in a diary entry on his disgust with volunteers.

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 59

“There is a great deal of hardship, but we have our own fun.  If we have to get up and start long before daybreak, we make up for it when we gather around the campfires at night.  You never saw such a merry set as we are.  No care, no trouble, we criticize the Generals, laugh ansd swear at the mustangs and volunteers, smoke our cigars and drink our brandy-when we have any- go without when we have none. A Regular officer has no habits-it is immaterial to him whether he gets up at 2A.M. or 9-or whether he don’t go to bed at all.  When on a march we get up at 2 or 3, when we halt, we snooze it till 8 or 9.  When we have cigars, we smoke them, when we have none, we go without.  When we have brandy, we drink it, when we have none; we make it up by laughing at our predicament.  That is the way we have.” George B. McClellan  Feb 4 1847

McClellan in a letter to his mother reports on the life of a Regular Officer.

From The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 68

“Everyone believes, or what is practically the same thing, pretends to believe, that although a long course of study is necessary to fit a man for the pursuit of any civil profession, yet any one can become a good officer by putting on a military coat-that the change of dress can produce as wonderful an alteration in the character of the man more wonderful than that of the colors of the chameleon.  The climate of Spitzbergen and Arabia are not more different than the characteristics of a Civil and  Military man, and as well might we expect that climates to change in an hour as to see a citizen become a good officer without years of training.”

George B. McClellan Feb 14 1847

McClellan to his father complaining about Volunteer Officers

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 72

“Mason, Foster, and I think Stevens, relieved Captain Lee, Beauregard, Smith and myself at three A.M.”

George B. McClellan Mar 19 1847

Diary Entry McClellan working with future Confederate Army leaders on the artillery batteries for the siege of Vera Cruz

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 92

“As I went to our camp I stopped at Colonel Totten’s tent to inform him of the state of affairs-he directed me to step in and report to General Scott.  I found him writing a despatch.  He seemed to be very delighted and showed me the last words he had written which were “indefatigable Engineers.”

George B. McClellan Mar 25 1847

Diary entry where McClellan recounts reporting to General Scott in person

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 97

“the beach is covered with wagons, boats, tents, jackasses, Irishmen, Dutchmen, and every thing you can think of.” George B. McClellan

Apr 2 1847

McClellan to Arthur and Mary McClellan near Vera Cruz reporting on the contents of the beach near Anton Lizardo

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 99

“Hurrah! Aint I glad I’m alive.  I tell you what, one cant tell what fine fun it is to live until he has been through about six battle!” George B. McClellan Oct 24 1847

McClellan in a letter to his mother about his happiness that he served honorably

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 133

“I think it should be wise to follow Capt. Lee’s advice, that is, to write to my sweetheart to take somebody else as I shall not return for at least ten years.”

George B. McClellan Oct 24 1847

McClellan decrying his long stay in Mexico in a letter to his mother

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 131

“I feel so glad and proud that I have got safely through the battles in the war that it will take a heavy, heavy shock to make me despond.  Thank God our name has not suffered so far in my hands.” George B. McClellan Oct 24 1847

In a letter to John H.B. McClellan describes his happiness that he served honorably

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 129

“Such men as Duncan and Lee are kept down-they are sufficiently rewarded by an empty brevet, meaning nothing and doing them no good.  But Patterson, a rich old broker, Pillow, a twenty-fifth rate country lawyer, and such men are our generals!” George B. McClellan Oct 30 1847

McClellan to Sen Daniel Sturgeon complaining about the promotion system.

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 135

“But I never expect to have such fine times again as we used to have on the march in Mexico-constant change, constant excitement-if we had no battle, we at least had bull fights-if we could not go to a Protestant Church on Sunday morning, we could go to the theatre on Sunday night-so it went, and alas, it is gone sure enough, probably never to return.”

George B. McClellan Jan 1849

McClellan fondly recalling the days in Mexico in a letter to Maria Eldridge McClellan

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 158

“I don’t care much for anybody’s opinion as long as I am in the right”

George B. McClellan Mar 1851

GBM in letter to brother John

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 30

“I don’t think that I am of a quarrelsome disposition…but I do have the luck of getting into more trouble than any dozen other officers”

George B. McClellan Apr 1851

GBM in letter to sister Maria

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 29

“expressed himself as being very much pleased with the results of my summer’s work, & the manner in which it had been conducted.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in a letter describing Secy of War Jefferson Davis’s pleasure in McCLellan’s recon of Santo Domingo

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 8

 

“queer sort of town.  Well enough for Texas, but would not be thought much of in the States.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan while stationed in Texas in 1852 describing Galveston

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 60

“With my usual impudence, I feel quite equal to the task.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan describing his new duties as Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 68

“some quiet young woman of moral turn of mind, who can sew on buttons, look happy when I come home, drive off my neuralgia, & make herself generally useful.” George B. McClellan Dec 5 1859

McClellan describing in a letter what he expected out of a dull content life as a railroad executive

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 80

“I throw to one side, all the questions as to the past-political parties etc.-the Govt is in danger, our flag insulted & we must stand by it.”

George B. McClellan Apr 18 1861

McClellan to a Porter shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 91

“There is only one safe rule in war i.e. to decide what is the very worst thing that can happen to you and prepare to meet it.”

George B. McClellan April 18 1861

McClellan to Gov Wm Dennison concerning the need to prepare for every contingency

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 93

“that no prospect of a brilliant victory shall induce me to depart from my intention of gaining success by maneuvering rather than by fighting; I will not throw these men of mine into the teeth of artillery and entrenchments, if it is possible to avoid it.” George B. McClellan Jul 5 1861

In a letter to E.D. Townsend, McClellan recalling Scott’s strategy at Cerro Gordo when he himself commands troops at Rich Mountain early in the civil war and wishes to avoid Gideon Pillows senseless headlong assaults

From The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 102

“if possible repeat the maneuver of Cerro Gordo…no prospect of a brilliant victory shall induce me to depart from my intention of gaining success by maneuvering rather than by fighting….I am trying to follow a lesson long ago learned from him, ie. Not to move until I know that everything is ready, and then move with utmost rapidity and energy….It would be exceedingly foolish to give way to impatience and advance before everything was prepared” George B. McClellan Jul 5 1861

McClellan to his General Scott concerning his strategy in Ohio and Western Virginia

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 114

“I find myself in a new and strange position here-Presdt, Cabinet, Genl Scott and all deferring to me-by some strange operation of magic I seem to become the power of the land.”

George B. McClellan July 27, 1861

McClellan to his wife describing the first days in Washington

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 119

“display of such an overwhelming strength as will convince all…of the utter impossibility of resistance.” George B. McClellan Aug 2 1861

“Memorandum for the Consideration of His Excellency the Presicent, submitted at his own request, McClellan lays out his views on the nature of the war in a memorandum to Lincoln.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 120

“pursuing a rigidly protective policy as to private property and unarmed persons, and a lenient course as to private soldiers, we may well hope for a permanent restoration of a peace-full Union.”

George B. McClellan Aug 2 1861

McClellan describing to Lincoln his plan for subjugating the South

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 11

“I shall carry this thing on ‘En grand’ and crush the rebels in one campaign…I will leave nothing to undone to gain it.”

George B. McClellan Aug 2 1861

McClellan in a letter to his wife concerning his strategy

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 11

“it has become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent, and warlike to constitute a nation. We have not only to defeat their armed and organized forces in the field but to display such an overwhelming strength, as will convince all our antagonists, especially those of the governing aristocratic class of the utter impossiblity of resistance.” George B. McClellan Aug 2 1861

McClellan describing to Lincoln his plan for subjugating the South

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 11

“I am induced to believe that the enemy has at least 100,000 men in our front.” George B. McClellan Aug 8 1861

McClellan in a letter to Scott estimating the strength of the Confederates in his front

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 12

“the enemy have from 3 to 4 times my force-the Presdt is an idiot, the old general in his dotage-they cannot will not see the true state of affairs.” George B. McClellan  Aug 16 1861

McClellan to his wife

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 12

“As he threw down the glove and I took it up, I presume war is declared-so be it.  I do not fear him.” George B. McClellan Sep 27 1861

McClellan to his wife on the rupture of relations with Genl. Scott

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 135

“preparations are slow and I have an infinite deal to do before my army is really ready to fight a great battle….[N]one will be fought until I advance, and that I will not do until I am fully ready-so soon as I feel that my army is well organized and well disciplined and strong enough, I will advance.”

George B. McClellan Oct 6 1861

McClellan to his wife on preparations to move the Army

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 136

 

“There is many a good fellow that wears the shoulder straps going under the sod before this thing is over….If I should get knocked on the head, Mr. President, you will put another man immediately into my shoes.”

George B. McClellan Oct 22 1861

McClellan comforting Abraham Lincoln on the loss of his friend Edward Baker at Ball’s Bluff

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 140

“I can do it all”

George B. McClellan Nov 1 1861

McClellan responding to Lincoln’s offer to support him as Commander in Chief of the Army

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 144

“Until my own sphere of command and responsibility was extended from the Army of the Potomac to all the armies, I supposed that some general plan of operations existed, but now learned that there was none such, and that utter disorganization and want of preparation pervaded the Western Armies. Even if the Army of the Potomac had been in condition to undertake a campaign in the autumn of 1861, the backward state of affairs in the West would have made it unwise to do so; for on no sound military principle could it be regarded as proper to operation on one line alone while all was quiescent on the others, as such a course would have enabled the enemy to concentrate everything on the one active army.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in his memoirs on the state of affairs when he became General in Chief of the Army

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 15

“One of our chief difficulties consists in the scarcity of instructed staff officers, it is simply impossible to improvise staff officers-mere intelligence & courage will not answer-a good military education is absolutely necessary.” George B. McClellan Nov 1861

McClellan to Cameron on the need for trained staff officers

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 46

“I find the whole ‘Army’ just about as disorganized as was the Army of the Potomac when I assumed command-everything at sixes & sevens know  system, no order-perfect chaos. I can & will reduce it to order-I will soon have it working smoothly.”

George B. McClellan Nov 2 1861

McClellan to his wife after assuming command of the entire US Amry

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 14

“My intention is simply this-I will pay no attention to popular clamor-quietly, & quickly as possible, make this Army strong enough & efficient enough to give me a reasonable certainty that, if I am able to handle the form, I will win the first battle.” George B. McClellan Nov 7 1861

McClellan in a letter to friend

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 15

“I know full well the capacity of the Generals opposed to me, for by singular chance they were once my most intimate friends.”

George B. McClellan Nov 8 1861

McClellan to Samuel L.M. Barlow

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 179

“that if the President had confidence in me it was not right or necessary to entrust my designs to the judgment of others,…that no general commanding an army would willingly submit his plans to the judgment of such an assembly in which some were incompetent to for a valuable opinion, and others incapable of keeping a secret.”

George B. McClellan

At a Cabinet Meeting, McClellan in response to a request by Lincoln to describe his plan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 18

“I cant tell you how disgusted I am becoming with these wretched politicians.” George B. McClellan

McClellan in a letter to his wife

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 80

“I have now in my mind actively turned towards another plan of campaign that I do not think at all anticipated by the enemy nor many of our people.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan confiding to Lincoln about a new plan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 16

“I am to watch over you as a parent over his children; and you know that your General loves you from the depths of his heart”

George B. McClellan Mar 13 1862

An address by McClellan to the Army of the Potomac

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 166

“I will soon leave here on the wing for Richmond-which you may be sure I will take.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in a letter to friend Samuel L. M. Barlow

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 20

“If I am not reinforced…it is probable that I will be obliged to fight nearly double my numbers, strongly entrenched” George B. McClellan

May 1862

McClellan asking for reinforcements from Stanton

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 186

“Every poor fellow that is killed or wounded almost haunts me”

George B. McClellan

Jun 1862

McClellan describing the battlefield

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 196

“I am tired of the sickening sight of the battlefield with its mangled corpses & poor suffering wounded… Victory has no charms for me when purchsed at such cost” George B. McClellan Jun 1862

McClellan describing the battlefield

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 196

“I will succeed but for the sake of the cause I must make a sure thing of it.”

George B. McClellan Jun 23 1862

McClellan to Samuel Barlow on the eve of Lee’s Seven Days battle

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 220

“the Government has not sustained this army….If I save this army now…I own no thanks to you or any other persons in Washington.  You have done your best to sacrifice this army.” George B. McClellan Jun 27 1862

McClellan in a telegram to Stanton in the midst of the Seven Days battle

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 223

“We are hard pressed by superior numbers….My army has behaved superbly and have done all that men could do.  If none of us escape we shall at least have done honor to the country.  I shall do my best to save the Army.” George B. McClellan Jun 30 1862

McClellan to Stanton in the midst of the Seven Days Battles

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 227

“I am well but worn out-no sleep for many days.  We have been fighting for many days & are still at it.  I still hope to save the army.”

George B. McClellan Jun 30 1862

McClellan in a letter to his wife expressing his fatigue in the midst of the Seven Days

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 227

“If we were defeated the Army and the country would be lost”

George B. McClellan

McClellan describing his rationale for retreating after Gaines Mill

From Cavalryman of the Lost Cause by Jeffry D. Wert.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2008. Page 110

“The duties of my position are such as often to make it necessary for me to remain in the rear-an awful thing” George B. McClellan Jul 1862

GBM ltr to wife Ellen describing Seven Days Battles

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 215

“the people of the South should understand that we are not making war upon the institution of slavery, but that if they submit to the Constitution and laws of the Union they will be protected in their constitutional rights of every nature.” George B. McClellan Aug 1 1862

McClellan in a letter to Halleck describing his politics

From Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies – A Life of General Henry W. Halleck by John Marszalek.  Cambridge MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,  2004. Page 139

“I believe I have triumphed!! Just received a telegram from Halleck stating that Pope and Burnside are very hard pressed.” George B. McClellan

Aug 21 1862

McClellan in a letter to his wife

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 206

“for my sake that of the country & of the old Army of the Potomac that you and all my friends will lend the fullest & most cordial cooperation to Genl. Pope. George B. McClellan

McClellan in a letter to Porter urging cooperation with Pope

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 268

“They will be very glad to turn their affairs over to me.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in a letter to his wife as the crisis unfolds during the Second Manassas Campaign

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 207

“I have a terrible task on my hands now-perfect imbecility to correct.  No means to act with, no authority-yet determined if possible to save the country….Two of my corps will either save that fool Pope or be sacrificed.”

George B. McClellan Aug 29 1862

McClellan to his wife on the deteriorating situation around Washington as the Second Manassas Campaign unfolds

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 264

“to speak frankly & the occasion requires it, there appears to be a total absence of brains & I fear the total destruction of the Army.”

George B. McClellan Aug 31 1862

McClellan to Halleck describing the state of affairs at the end of the Second Bull Run campaign

From Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies – A Life of General Henry W. Halleck by John Marszalek.  Cambridge MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,  2004. Page 146

“You don’t know what a task has been imposed upon me!  I have been obliged to do the best I could with the broken & discouraged fragments of two defeated armies defeated by no fault of mine – nothing but a desire to do my duty could have induced me to accept the command under such circumstances. George B. McClellan Sep 2 1862

McClellan to his wife describing his challenge

From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  Page 26

“Again I have been called upon to save my country.  The case is desperate but with God’s help I will try unselfishly to do my best & if he wills it accomplish the salvation of the nation.  My men are true & will stand by me to the last.” George B. McClellan Sep 5 1862

McClellan to his wife describing his challenge

From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  Page 26

“Still entirely too indefinite to justify definite action.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan to Halleck describing his lack of knowledge about Lee early in the Maryland Campaign

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 88

“Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobbie Lee, I will be willing to go home.  I will not show te writing-here is the signature, and it gives the movement of ever division of Lee’s army.  Tomorrow we will pitch into his center, and if you people will only do two good, hard days’ marching I will put Lee in a position he will find it hard to get out of.”

George B. McClellan Sep 13 1862

McClellan to John Gibbon upon discover of SO 191

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990. Page 217

 

“Now I know what to do”

George B. McClellan

McClellan upon receipt of Lee’s Lost Order

From Cavalryman of the Lost Cause by Jeffry D. Wert.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2008. Page 146

“we will pitch into his center [and] put Lee in a position he will find it hard to get out of.” George B. McClellan Sep 13 1862

McClellan to John Gibbon upon receipt of Special Order 191.  Gibbon Personal Recollections, 73;

From Sealed With Their Lives The Battle for Crampton’s Gap by Timothy J. Reese.  Baltimore:  Butternut and Blue,  1998. Page 12

“If I can believe one-tenth of what is reported, God has seldom given an army a greater victory than this.” George B. McClellan

McClellan to his wife on the battle of South Mountain

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990. Page 244

 

“Thus far, our success is complete but let us follow up closely but warily.  Attack whenever you see a fair chance of success.”

George B. McClellan Sep 15 1862

McClellan in orders to Franklin after the Battle of South Mountain

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 303

“After a rapid examination of the position I found that it was too late to attack that day,”

George B. McClellan

McClellan’s decision not to attack on Sep 15

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 409

“After a night of anxious deliberation and a full and careful survey of the situation and condition of our army, the strength and position of the enemy, I concluded that the success of an attack on the 18th was not certain….At that moment…the national cause could afford no risks of defeat.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan justifying his failure to attack on the 18th of Sep

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 254

“Spectacle yesterday was the grandest I could conceive of-nothing could be more sublime.  Those in whose judgment I rely, tell me that I fought the battle splendidly & that it was a masterpiece of art.” George B. McClellan Sep 18 1862

McClellan to his wife describing the battle of Antietam

From Our Boys Did Nobly Schuylkill County Pennsylvania, Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam by John David Hoptak.  John David Hoptak, 2009. Page 263

“I feel that I have done all that can be asked in twice saving the country….I have at least the right to demand a guarantee that I shall not be interfered with.”

George B. McClellan Sep 20 1862

McClellan in a letter to his wife after Antietam

From Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies – A Life of General Henry W. Halleck by John Marszalek.  Cambridge MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004. Page 150

“to prone to be sure that everything was ready before acting”

George B. McClellan

McClellan recalls that Lincoln offered this criticism of him during his visit after the battle but that was all.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 346

“But I may not have command of the army much longer, Lincoln is down on me….Yes Couch, I expect to be relieved from the Army of the Potomac and to have a command in the West.” George B. McClellan Oct 16 1862

McClellan in a discussion with Darius Couch after receipt of a letter from Lincoln

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 355

“I have the satisfaction of knowing, that God has, in His mercy, a second time made me the instrument for saving the nation.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan to his wife describing the battle of Antietam

From “The Maryland Campaign in Perspective.” by Gary W. Gallagher. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed.  Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 86

“I fought the battles of South Mountain and Antietam with a halter around my neck; If the Army of the Potomac had been defeated and I had survived I would no doubt have been tried for assuming authority without orders and…probably been condemned to death.” George B. McClellan

McClellan to his wife describing the battle of Antietam

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 57

“Those in whose judgment I rely, tell me that I fought the battle splendidly and that it was a masterpiece of art.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan to his wife describing the battle of Antietam

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 57

 

“The remedy for political error if any are committed…to be found only in the action of the people at the polls.” George B. McClellan

McClellan after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation urging the army to support the government.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 349

“To the Army of the Potomac and bless the day when I shall return to it.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan’s final champagne toast to his staff after his relief

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 288

“It is much easier to conduct campaigns and fight battles than to write their history-at least I find it so.” George B. McClellan Feb 20 1863

McClellan to Edward Everett while compiling his Report on the Organization of the Army of the Potomac, and Its Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 332

“I would really prefer writing three battles to writing the report of one.  You are necessarily combating …the vanity of every officer concerned.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan writing to his wife about the difficult in writing his official report

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 341

“It probably would have been better for me personally had my promotion been delayed a year or more” George B. McClellan

From McClellan’s Own Story by George B. McClellan

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

Page 55

“The certainty that the enemy had…at ascertained places, other troops than those known in detail, in considerable numbers necessarily caused in my estimates additions to be made for the sake of that safety, to the known quantities; which may have created the impression that the force of the enemy in front of Washington was exaggerated.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in a paper prepared for but omitted from the final report of his command of the Army of the Potomac

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 106

“that the true course was to make no movement until the preparations are as complete as circumstances permit, [and never to fight a battle] without some definite object worth the probable loss.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in his memoirs  retrospectively describes his understanding of the task before him in the Maryland Campaign

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 226

 

“It has always been my opinion that the true course in conducting military operations, is to make no movement until the preparations are as complete as circumstances permit, and never to fight a battle without some definite object worth the probable loss” George B. McClellan

Draft of McClellan’s memoirs McClellan’s Own Story

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 293

“I feel easy now.  Thank you…”

George B. McClellan Oct 28 1885

Last words

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 401

By Abraham Lincoln

 

“[I'd] remove him at once but for the elections.”

Abraham Lincoln Oct 13 1862

Lincoln to NY gubanatorial candidate James Wadsworth

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 287

 

“Are you not overcautious when you assume that you can not do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?  It is all easy if our troops march as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say they can not do it.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln prodding McClellan into action

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 59

“but we must use the tools we have”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay regarding to opposition in the Cabinet to McClellan’s restoration

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 156

“Gen McClellan and myself are to be photographed…if we an be still long enough.  I feel Gen. M should have no problem…” Abraham Lincoln Oct 1862

Lincoln in letter to Mary at the time Lincolns picture is taken by Gardner after the Battle of Antietam letter courtesy of Lloyd Ostendorf

From “Lincoln and McClellan.” by Stephen Sears. Lincoln’s Generals. edited by Gabor Boritt New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

“has acted badly in this matter”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay reacting to word of McClellan’s lack of support to Pope

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 156

“he excels in making others ready to fight” Abraham Lincoln Sep 5 1862

Lincoln to John Hay

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 267

“I am constantly told that you have no communication or consultation with them [the three corps commanders]; that you consult and communicate with no one but Gen. Fitz-John Porter and perhaps Franklin.  I do not say that these complaints are tru or just, but at all events it is proper you should know of their existence.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln advising McClellan of complaints of his favoritism of Fitz-John Porter

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 155

“I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses.  Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?”

Abraham Lincoln

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 197

 

“I must have McClellan to reorganize the army and bring it out of chaos.  But there has been a design-a purpose in breaking down Pope without regard of consequences to the country.  It is shocking to see and know this, but there is no remedy at present.  McClellan has the army with him.”

Abraham Lincoln   Sep 5 1862

Lincoln confides to a secretary about reappointing McClellan

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 169

 

“McClellan has the army with him”  Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay regarding to opposition in the Cabinet to McClellan’s restoration

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 6

 

“McClellan is working like a beaver.  He has acted badly in this matter, but we must use what tools we have.  Unquestionably he has acted badly toward Pope.  He wanted him to fail.  That is unpardonable.  But he is too useful just now to sacrifice.”  Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay

From General John Pope A Life for the Nation by Peter Cozzens.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 2000. Page 199

“McClellan knows the ground.  His speciality is to defend.  He is a good engineer, and there is no better organizer.  He can be trusted to act on the defensive.”

Abraham Lincoln Sep 1862

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 170

“McClellan suffered from the “slows” and was “good for nothing” in an offensive campaign. But in the present sitution, with the need to defend Washington and reorganize the beaten troops and restore their morale, there was on one better.”

Abraham Lincoln Sep 1862

Lincoln at cabinet meeting where he announces the reappointment of McClellan after Lee’s invasion of Maryland

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 260

“practical and very serious question…strong enough even with my help-to set your foot upon the necks of Sumner, Heintzelman and Keyes all at once?”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln counseling McClellan on the advisability of not working with his Corps commanders

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 212

“received in quarters which we cannot entirely disregard … as merely an effort to pamper one or two pets” and that he was “constantly told that you consult and communicate with nobody but General Fitz John Porter, and perhaps General Franklin.”  Abraham Lincoln May 9 1862

Lincoln to McClellan on his partiality toward Porter and Franklin

From “Poor Burn The Antietam Conspiracy that Wasn’t.” by Ethas S. Rafuse. Civil War History  #54 (June 2008) Kent: Kent State University Press

“There is no man in the Army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops of ours into shape half as well as he….If he cant fight himself, he excels in making others fight.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to his private secretary regarding the reapppointment of McClellan

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 57

“to useful just now to sacrifice.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay reacting to word of McClellan’s lack of support to Pope

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 156

that McC was doing nothing to make himself either respected or feared.

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s observation of McClellan after Antietam

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 55

“who can man these fortifications and lick these troops of ours into shape half as well as [McClellan]

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln to John Hay regarding to opposition in the Cabinet to McClellan’s restoration

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 157

By Winfield Scott

 

“Had Major-General McClellan presented the same views in person, they would have been freely entertained and discussed.  All my military views and opinions had been so presented to him, without eliciting much remark, in our few meetings, which I have in vain sought to multiply.”

Winfield Scott Aug 9 1861

Scott in a letter to Secy of War Cameron complaining about McClellan’s lack of cooperation

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 78

“the cabinet, including the President, has been charmed by your activity, alor, and consequent success.” Winfield Scott

Scott in a letter to McClellan at his appointment to command the Army of the Potomac

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 51

“the remedy of arrest and trial before a court-martial would probably soon cure the evil.  But it has been feared that a conflict of authority near the head of the Army would be highly encouraging to the enemies and depressing to the friends of the Union. [Consequently] being unable to ride in the saddle or to walk…I shall definitely retire from the Army.”

Winfield Scott Oct 4 1861

Scott in a letter to Secy of War Cameron

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 12

“When I proposed that you should come here to aide me…you had my friendship and confidence.  You still have my confidence.” Winfield Scott Sep 27 1861

Scott to McClellan after McClellan fails to provide information to Scott and is embarassed at a Cabinet meeting

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 135

 

By Ulysses S. Grant

 

“McClellan is to me, one of the mysteries of the war.”

U.S. Grant

Grant writing about McClellan

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 384

“McClellan was a young man when this devolved upon him, and if he did not succeed, it was because the conditions of success were so trying. If McClellan had gone into the war as Sherman, Thomas, or Meade, had fought his way along and up, I have no reason to suppose that he would not have won as high a distinction as any of us.” U.S. Grant

From Around the World with General Grant: A Narrative of the Visit of General U.S. Grant, Ex-President of the United States, to Various Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in 1877, 1878, 1879; To Which Are Added Certain Conversations with General Grant on Questions Connected with American Politics and History, by John Russell Young. 2 volumes New York: American New Company, 1879. Page 216

 

By Henry Halleck

 

“But you cannot delay the operations of the army for these drafts….The country is becoming very impatient at the want of activity.  There is a decided want of legs in your troops.  They have too much immobility….not sufficiently exercised in marching; they lie still in camp too long…to make them good and efficient soldiers.” Henry Halleck

Halleck in a letter to McClellan after the Battle of Antietam urging McClellan to move

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 347

“Gen. McClellan is in many respects a most excellent and valuable man, but he does not understand strategy and should never plan a campaign…his friends have excited his jealousy…I did sustain him, and in justice to me and to the country, he ought now to sustain me.  I hope he will but I doubt it.” Henry Halleck Jul 28 1862

Halleck describing McClellan in a letter to his wife.

From Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies – A Life of General Henry W. Halleck by John Marszalek.  Cambridge MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,  2004. Page 138

“get General McClellan to move. He has now lain still twenty days since the battle of Antietam and I cannot persuade him to advance an inch. It puts me out of all patience.” Henry Halleck Oct 7 1862

Halleck to his wife complaining on McClellan’s lack of movement after Antietam

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 266

“It requires the lever of Archimedes to move this inert mass.  I have tried my best, but without success.” Henry Halleck Oct 30 1862

Halleck to Hamilton R. Gamble speaking of the Army of the Potomac

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 332

“McClellan was the ablest military man in the world.”

Henry Halleck Jul 1862

Halleck to J.N. Alsop, a friend of McClellan as he rode the train east to assume command

From Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies – A Life of General Henry W. Halleck by John Marszalek.  Cambridge MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,  2004. Page 131

“The last time Abraham visited his children, they gave him a very cool reception, but I venture the next time will be more so.”

Henry Halleck

A soldier from the Iron Brigade after the relief of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 67

“The President does not expect impossibilities, but he is very anxious that all this good weather should not be wasted in inactivity.” Henry Halleck

Halleck to McClellan urging him to move.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 359

 

By George Meade

 

“everyone who returns to camp says that McClellan’s position is most precarious, and that if he does not advance soon and do something brilliant, he will be superseded.” George G. Meade

Meade in a letter to his wifeabout the precariousness of McClellan’s position after the Battle of Antietam

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 358

“Had their been no McClellan, there would have been no Grant; for the army made no essential improvements under any of his successors.”

George G. Meade

Meade on the impact of George McClellan

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 3

 

“I think myself he errs on the side of prudence and caution, and that a little more rashness on his part would improve his generalship.”

George G. Meade Oct 12 1862

Meade to his wife, Oct 12 1862

From George Gordon Meade and the War in the East by Ethan S. Rause.  Abilene:  McWhiney Founation Press, 2003. Page 46

“This removal now proves conclusively that the cause is political, and the date of the order, November 5 (the day after the New York election) confirms it.” George G. Meade

Meade on the removal of McClellan and the timing of it after the election.

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 64

 

“tired of playing this war without risks. We must encounter risks, if we fight, and we cannot carry on war without fighting.  That was McClellan’s vice.  He was always waiting to have everything just as he wanted it before he would attack” George G. Meade Mar 17 1863

Meade discussing McClellan’s approach

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 466

“very unfortunate in his friends and backers” George G. Meade Oct 7 1864

Meade to his wife Oct 7 1864 discussing McCLellan’s run for president

From George Gordon Meade and the War in the East by Ethan S. Rause.  Abilene:  McWhiney Founation Press, 2003. Page 150

By Gideon Welles

 

“An intelligent engineer and officer…to fight is not his forte…the study of military operations interests and amuses him…[liked] show, parade and power…wishes to outgeneral the rebels, but not to kill and destroy them.”

Gideon Welles

Welles in his diary succinctly describes McClellan

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 184

“can be trusted to act on the defensive, but he is troubled with the ‘slows’ and good for nothing for an onward movement. Gideon Welles Sep 2 1862

Welles in his diary recalling the cabinet meeting and Lincoln’s words about McClellan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 24

“had beyond any officer the confidence of the army. Though deficient in the positive qualities necessary for an energetic commander, his organizing powers could be made temporarily available till the troops were rallied.”

Gideon Welles Sep 2 1862

Welles in his diary recalling the cabinet meeting and Lincoln’s words about McClellan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 24

“He [Lincoln] knew full well the infirmities of McClellan, who was not an affirmative man; was worth little for onward movement; but beyond any other officer he had the confidence of the army, and he could more efficiently and speedily reorganize it and put it into condition than any other general….For an active fighting general he was sorry to say McClellan was a failure; he the ‘slows’; was never ready for battle, and probably never would be; but for this exigency, when organization and defense were needed, he considered him the best man for the service, and the country must have the benefits of his talents though he had behaved badly.”

Gideon Welles

Welles in his diary recalling the cabinet meeting and Lincoln’s rationale for restoring McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 126

“my faith in McClellan’s energy and reliability was shaken nine months ago; that as early as last December had,…xpressed my disappointment in the man.”  Gideon Welles

Welles responding in part to Stanton’s letter of no confidence in McClellan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 24

“Some of our best educated officers have no facility to govern, control and direct an army in offensive warfare.  We have many talented and capable engineers; good officers in some respects, but without audacity and in that respect almost utterly deficient as commanders.”

Gideon Welles August 1862

Welles commenting after 2nd Bull Run

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 169

 

“Stanton makes an occasional sneering remark, Chase now and then a better one.  There is no abatement of hostility toward McClellan.”

Gideon Welles Sep 21 1862

Welles records the feeling of the Cabinet toward McClellan after the Battle of Antietam

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 343

“that we overrate our own strength and underestimate the Rebels, this has been the talk of McClellan, which none of us have believed.”

Gideon Welles Aug 31 1862

Welles in his diary about McClellan’s overestimation of the enemy

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 581

By Joseph Hooker

 

“If they had left McClellan in command this never would have happened.”

Joseph Hooker

Though no friend of McClellan, Hooker had this to say about the defeat at Second Manassas

From General John Pope A Life for the Nation by Peter Cozzens.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 2000. Page 185

“McClellan had not enough of the devil in him.”

Joseph Hooker

Dec 31 1862

Col Lamson heard this said by Hooker about McClellan as reported by Charles S. Wainwright

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 150

“McClellan was too good a man to command an army in this country.”

Joseph Hooker 12/28/1863

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“He is not only not a soldier, but he does not know what soldiership is.”

Joseph Hooker

Hooker responding to McClellan’s cautiousness

From “The Destruction of Fighting Joe Hooker.” by Gene Smith. American Heritage Magazine October 1993, Vol 44 Issue 6  [Online] Available http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1993/6/1993_6_95.shtml

By Charles Wainwright

 

“A few days will now show whether they have been waiting until this election is over in order to remove McClellan.”

Charles S. Wainright Nov 7 1862

Wainwright speculating on whether McClellan would be removed after the elections

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 122.

“He has a good face, open and manly, set on a very thick, short neck, and is what may be called thick-set altogether.  I should not, from his looks, set him down as a great man by any means.  The General rode a splendid bay hourse, a trotter, and rode him well; he shows to advantage on horseback.”

Charles S. Wainright Sep 30 1862

Wainwright offers a description of McClellan after his first close look at him during the Presidential visit

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 109

“I have finished reading McClellan’s report, and it has given me a higher opinion of him that I ever had before; I now think him about as near being a great general as it is possible to come without arriving at it.

Charles S. Wainright Mar 13 1864

Wainwright on reading McClellan’s report

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 330

“The papers are full of reports of McClellan’s removal, and I fear they will prove only too true.  His enemies are very bitter, and will see no good in him, though their is not a doubt that no other man in the country could have saved Washington last month….I am not so strong an admirer of McClellan myself but that I can see he falls short of being a greally great general, such a one as we ought to have in command of this army, but I do think he is head and shoulders above any other man we have.”

Charles S. Wainright Oct 19 1862

Wainwright decrying the press’s calls for a movement after Antietam

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 116

“The papers, I see, are getting very impatient, and the old cry as to McClellan’s slowness is again being raised.  I was much surprised at first myself that we did not cross the river at once, but the more I know of the condition of the army, and other matters, the less certain does it appear that we could have done so to advantage.”

Charles S. Wainright Oct 10 1862

Wainwright decrying the press’s calls for a movement after Antietam

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 114

“The report too, shows wherein lay McClellan’s strength, and where his weakness.  The former was undoubtedly in planning: in the vast scope of his mind, taking in the whole field of operations, and his foresight as to what the enemy would do.   Charles S. Wainright Mar 13 1864

Wainwright commenting on McClellan

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 331

“until I can prove General McClellan to have been remiss,or mistaken, I am quite willing to believe he knows best, and has decided rightly.  They say he is very active around Washington, and does an immense amount of work.” Charles S. Wainright Feb 19 1862

Wainwright on the “radical” newspapers criticism of McClellan

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 18

“Whatever might be their opinion of McClellan as a general, no one who saw and heard him today as I did could help pronouncing him a good and great man: great in soul if not in mind.” Charles S. Wainright Nov 9 1862

Wainwright observing McClellan’s final moments in command of the Army of the Potomac

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 121

“Why McClellan should have remained at Yorktown until so late, when he must have heard the firing and known that a battle was going on, puzzled me at first.” Charles S. Wainright May 21 1862

Wainwright on McClellan’s absence from the Yorktown battlefield

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998. Page 68.

By Robert E. Lee

he answered most emphatically “McClellan by all odds”

Robert E. Lee Jul 15 1870

In a July 15 1870 visit with Mr. Cassius Lee General Lee’s first cousin,in Alexandria, Virginia,  he was asked which of the Federal generals he considered the greatest.

From Recollections and Letters by Robert E. LeeNew York:  Barnes and Noble, 2004  page 374

“I fear they may continue to make these changes till they find some one whom I don’t understand” Robert E. Lee

Lee to James Longstreet commenting on McClellan’s dismissal in Battles and Leaders

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 341

“I hate to see McClellan go.  He and I had grown to understand each other so well.” Robert E. Lee

Lee in a letter to his wife bemoaning the departure of McClellan

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 266

“McClellan will make this a battle of Posts.  He will take position from position, under cover of his heavy guns & we cannot get at him withough storming his works, which with our new troops is extremely hazardous.”

Robert E. Lee Jun 5 1862

In letter to Jefferson Davis

From Reading the Man – A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor. New York:  Penguin Group, 2007. Page 317

By Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

 

“he lacks nerve” Thomas Jackson Apr 24 1862

Jackson commenting about McClellan’s advance up the peninsula. Hotchkill Journal, Apr 24 1862, Reel 1

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997. Page 366

“I thought I knew McClellan, but this movement of his puzzles me.”

Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862

Jackson upon the apparent aggressiveness of McClellan at South Mountain.  As told by John Walker ???

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 62

“If he can handle his troops in the field with the same ability with which he organizes them in camp, he will be simply invincible” Thomas Jackson

Feb 1862

James Graham asked Jackson for a candid opinion of his classmate George McClellan.  Graham “Some Reminiscences” 126, 197 SHSP, 43 (1920): 64

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997. Page 325

By Others

 

“It seemed as if an intermission had been declared in order that a reception might be tendered to the general-in-chief.  A great crowd continually surrounded him, and the most extravagant demonstrations were indulged in.  Hundreds even hugged the horse’s legs and caressed his head and mane.  While the troops were thus surging by, the general continually pointed with his finger to the gap in the mountain through which our path lay..  It was like a great scene in a play, with the roar of the guns for an accompaniment.” A Massachusetts veteran

The reaction of soldiers who see McClellan at Middletown on their way to South Mountain

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990. Page 232

“Take off your engineering restraints; dismiss…from the Army every man who know how to build a fortification, and let the men of the North, with their strong arms and indomitable spirit, move down upon the rebels, and I tell  you they will grind them to powder in their power.”

A Radical Republican

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 173

“Upon our arrival, we found General McClellan sitting upon his horse in the road….As each organization passed the general, the men became apparently forgetful of everything but their love for him.  They cheered and cheered again, until they became so hoarse they could cheer no longer….A great crowd continually surrounded him, and the most extravagant demonstrations were indulged in.  Hundreds even hugged the horse’s legs and caressed his head and mane.  While the troops were thus surging by, the general continually pointed with his finger to the gap in the mountain through which our path lay.  It was like a great scene in a play, with the roar of guns for an accompaniment.”

A soldier in Hooker’s Corps

A description of McClellan at South Mountain

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 297

“From extreme sadness we passed in a twinkling to a delerium of delight…a Deliverer had come.”

A soldier responding to the reappointment of McClellan

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 57

“One of my oldest & best friends”   A.P. Hill

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 60

“Our troops know of none other they can trust”

Alexander S. Webb Sep 4 1862

Letter to Webb’s father

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 265

“a victim not of incapacity or inexperience but of his character and temperament.  Impatient of authority, querulous under criticism, religiously certain of divine guidance, deeply egotistical,  he lacked the central quality of a great commander”. Allan Nevins

The War for the Union (New York, 1960-1971), II 331-332

From “On the McClellan-Go-Round.”by Joseph Harsh. Battles Lost and Won Essays on Civil War History. Ed. John T. Hubbell. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1975. Page 63

 

“Gen McClellan is an indefatigable officer in organization.  Nothing seems to escape his attention or his anticipation.  Every endeavor is made, and constantly kept up, to enforce drill and discipline and to create and esprit de corps and confidence.  I have met no officer at all his equal in this respect.” Alpheus Williams

Williams on McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 53.

“Perhaps McClellan has too much of the Fabian policy, but in judging of this one must not forget that he has been placed in circumstances where to lose the game would have been to lose all.  My idea is that the cursed policy of this war has its origin at Washington.  Old fogyism has ruled in every department.  Trepidation for the safety of the Capital seems to have paralyzed all faculties of preparation and promptness.”

Alpheus Williams

Williams on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“I felt my flesh cringe.”

An officer who witnessed McClellan assuming command from Pope

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 274

“The old cry as to McClellan’s slowness is again being raised.  I was much surprised at first myself that we did not cross the river at once, but the more I know of the condition of the army, and other matters, the less certain does it appear that we could have done so to advantage.  This corps as yet has received next to no supplies…the men are bery badly off for shoes and blankets.  It seems almost as if the purposefully kept them back at Washington.”

An officer commenting on the need for supplies before another advance after Antietam

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 358

“We were badly beaten & lost a good deal.  I hope to God this will give us McClellan.” An officer Aug 30 1862

An officer writing to his family

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 266

“you have lots of enemies.  But you must keep cool; don’t allow them to provoke you into a quarrel” Ambrose Burnside Jul 15 1862

Burnside to McClellan, July 15, 1862, McClellan Papers, A73/reel 29:  288-289

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 242

“I wish our dear friends in the North who have forced McClellan to move had to share our comforts with us.  I reckon that the US is about played out, as they cannot fed clother or pay us, but it makes no difference if everyone that remains at home can get a political office.”

Charles H. Brewster Nov 5 1862

Brewster, an officer in the 10th Mass on the press and demands to advance.

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 63

“We have driven McClellan out of his fortifications & pursued him twenty miles, taking fifty pieces of artillery & tens of thousands prisoners.  Still he claims that he has gained a great victory.  The art of lying can go no farther.” D.H. Hill Jul 9 1862

D. Harvey Hill to Isabella Hill.  D.H. Hill Papers

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997. Page 505

“It was known that McClellan had replaced Pope in general command, and that was not pleasant news, for Lee regarded McClellan as the ablest of the Federal commanders;” Douglas Southall Freeman

Freeman describing reaction when it was heard that McClellan was restored to command in the Maryland Campaign.  Foot note is R.E.Lee, Jr.Recollections and Letters, 416

From R.E. Lee A Biography by Douglas Southall Freeman.  New York Scribners, 1934. Page 2:356

“by the Good Lord’s putting it into McClellan’s heart to keep Fitz John Porter’s corps entirely out to the battle, & Franklin nearly all out.  I doubt whether many hearts but McClellan’s would have accepted the suggestions, even from a Divine source, for common sense was just shouting, ‘your adversary is backed against a river, with no bridge & only one ford, & that the worst one on the whole river.  If you whip him now you destroy him utterly, root & branch & bag & baggage….& such game is worth great risks.  Every man must fight & keep on fighting for all he is worth.’  No military genius, but only the commonest kind of every day common sense, was necessary to appreciate that.” E. Porter Alexander

Porter Alexander’s observations after the war about McClellan at the battle of Antietam

From “The Maryland Campaign in Perspective.” by Gary W. Gallagher. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed.  Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 90

“They believe with all their hearts in McClellan, and are unwilling to be slaughtered in the experiment of muddle headed politician generals.”

Edward King Wightman

an army recruit on McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 52

“They are counting on your death. And are already dividing among themselves your military goods and chattels.” Edwin Stanton

Stanton advising McClellan of efforts of Lincoln to discuss with others while McClellan has typhoid fever

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 18

“The war will not end until the North wakes up.  As it is not conducted it seems to me to be a grand farce.  When certain politicians, Army contractors and traitors North are put out of the way, we shall succeed.  General McClellan is popular with the Army, and we feel that he has not had a fair chance.” Elisha H. Rhodes

Rhodes’ view on McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 62

“This change produces much bitter feeling and some indignation.  McClellan’s enemies will not rejoice, but the Army loves and respects him.  Like loyal soldiers we submit.” Elisha H. Rhodes

Rhodes on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“struck with the cacility with which he learned his lessons…strong attachments to friends – qualities for which he has always been remarkable.”

Erasmus D. Keyes

Keyes, a West Point instructor of McClellan (and a future corps commander working for him) records his impressions of McClellan at West Point

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 34

“the Mexicans had been firing at his party nearly all day without hitting a man.” Ethan Allen Hitchcock Mar 16 1847

Hitchcock reports seeing McClellan returning from a day of reconnoitering the best positions to plan army heavy batteries to shell Vera Cruz

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 79

“McClellan’s perception of himself as the reasoned, dispassionate statesman-general and those opposed him as self-serving politicians had the unfortunate effect of exacerbating a streak of petulance and self-righteousness that had been a feature of his character since childhood.”

Ethan Rafuse

Historian Ethan Rafuse’s assessment of McClellan

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 124

“That they [McClellan's high intelligence estimates] would have a significant impact on his conduct of operations is undeniable.  But to proclaim them the dominant force that shaped his generalship is to go too far.  It is more accurate to say that they reinforced an approach to military affairs that emphasized limitiing the influence of chance as much as was reasonably possible.” Ethan Rafuse

Rafuse on McClellan’s use of intelligence

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 132

“for whatever may have been the opinion of his military ability, or his failure to properly support Pope, it was well known that he alone had the power to restore confidance to the Army of the Potomac, and that as an organizer he had no superior in the army.” Ezra Carman

Carman on the selection of McClellan to resume active command

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 124.

“such men as you and Cump Sherman and Burnside are required.”

Fitz John Porter Apr 15 1861

Porter to McClellan in a letter

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 92

“Let…enemies say what they will, he who could so move upon the hearts of a great army, as the wind sways long rows of standing corn was no ordinary man.” Francis Amasa Walker

Walker, Francis Amasa, History of the Second Corps in the Army of the Potomac (New York 1866), p 138

From “On the McClellan-Go-Round.”by Joseph Harsh. Battles Lost and Won Essays on Civil War History. Ed. John T. Hubbell. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1975. Page 58

“It is considered generally that McClellan has been completely outwitted…I think the whole army felt that it was left to take care of itself, and was only saved by their own brave fighting.  You hav no idea of the imbecility of management both in action and out of it….I think officers and men are disgusted with and have lost confidence in McClellan….The stories of his being everywhere among the men in the fights are untrue.”

Francis Barlow Jul 4 1862

Ltr by Barlow to his mother criticizing for his conduct after the Seven Days

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 164

 

“…there are strong grounds for believing that he was the best commander the Army of the Potomac ever had.” Francis Palfrey February 24, 1905

(BG Francis W. Palfrey, historian and veteran, 1882)

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“He made absolutely no use of the magnificent enthusiasm which the army then felt for him” Francis Palfrey

Antietam veteran and first historian of the battle

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 323

“it is impossible to believe that McClellan believed…the Confederates had the force he attributed to them.” Francis Palfrey

Palfrey addressing McClellan’s enemy estimates

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 583

“Of McClellan’s conduct in the batle there is little to be said in the way of praise beyond the fact that he did fight it voluntarily, without having it forced upon him.” Francis Palfrey

Palfrey in his book Antietam and Fredericksburg

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 56

“While the Confederacy was young and fresh and rich, and its armies were numerous, McClellan fought a good, wary, damaging, respectable fight….His failure to accomplish more was partly his misfortune and not altogether his fault.” Francis Palfrey

Palfrey in his book Antietam and Fredericksburg

From “On the McClellan-Go-Round.”by Joseph Harsh. Battles Lost and Won Essays on Civil War History. Ed. John T. Hubbell. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1975. Page 59.

“Nothing seemed to them too bold to be undertaken or to difficult to be executed” Frazer Smith Persifor Aug 20 1847

BG Persifor speaking about McClellan and GW Smith at Battles of Contreras and Churubusco

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 23

“this meant that we were to be ready to cheer ‘Little Mac’ when he came along, which of course, we all did. He came, preceded by a squadron of cavalry and accompanied by a very large and brilliantly caparisoned staff, followed by more cavalry. He was dressed in the full uniform of a major general and rode a superbe horse, upon which he sat faultlessly.” Frederick L. Hitchcock Sep 13 1862

Hitchcock describes the passing of George McClellan

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. Page 107

“I never saw men have so much confidence in a man as the soldiers have in McClellan.” Frederick Pettit

A Pennsylvanian on McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“Lieutenant McClellan, frequently detached, and several times in command of the engineer company, is entitled to the highest praise for his cool and daring gallantry on all occasions, in the actions of both the 19th and 20th.”

G.W. Smith Aug 20 1847

Smith reporting on McClellans actions at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 109

“McClellan seized the Sergeant’s musket, fired at, and killed the man who shot Hastings.” G.W. SmithSmith reporting on McClellan’s actions at Saint Cosme gate where he killed a Mexican who wounded one of his men (Sergeant David H. Hastings)

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 110

 

“I hope to God this will give us McClellan.”

George Bayard

Bayard in a letter to his father after the Battle of Manassas

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 135

“I have more confidence in General McClellan than in any man alive.”

George Custer February 4, 1905

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“McClellan’s style of work…to entrench himself, advance five miles, and then spend three weeks getting up another line of fieldworks….Perhaps no one whose specialite’ is military engineering can be a great captain and handle men in the field with decision.” George Templeton Strong

Strong, expressing impatience with the slow movement of McClellan

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 239

“was overcautious, he always hurt them more than any of the other Union generals when he did fight.” Gordon Bradwell

Bradwell, a Georgian soldier later remembers McClellan and welcomed the change

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 289

“The men are right in sentiment, though many leading officers are McClellanized.” Grenville M. Dodge

A western general who visits Grant’s HQ

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 46

 

“He seemed to be everywhere…Every earthwork thrown up, every gun mounted, every position taken, every regiment moved, and almost every gun fired, are guided by his personal direction”

Henry J. Raymond  Jun 1862

Written by NY Times editor

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 202

“Nothing has yet been done today.  McClellan is cautious and seems anxious to make a sure thing of it.  What the events of the day may bring forth, I do not know.  One thing is certain, it can result only in victory for us.” Henry Royer Sep 18 1862

Capt Royer of the 96th Pennsylvania describes the Antietam battle.

From Our Boys Did Nobly Schuylkill County Pennsylvania, Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam by John David Hoptak.  John David Hoptak, 2009. Page 262

“a good strategist, McClellan had an almost prescient grasp of the tactical realities.  His organizational ability and his capacity to inspire the loyalty and affection of his troops well complemented these qualities.  But as Johnston correctly realized, McClellan’s excessive caution and tendency to exaggerate difficulties virtually nullified all these outstanding attributes.”

Herman Hattaway

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 173

“The one-armed lift the wine to you, McClellan / And great Antietam’s cheers renew.” Herman Melville February 4, 1905

“The Victor of Antietam”)

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“If anything can try the patience and courage of troops it must be their fighting all day for five consecutive days and then falling back every night.” Israel B. Richardson Jul 6 1862

Richardson’s official report of the Seven Days Battles

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 165

 

“The fiction as to the strength of Lee’s forces is the most remarkable in the history of modern wars.  Whether McClellan was the victim or the accomplice of the inventions of his ‘secret service’ we cannot tell.  It is almost incredible that he should be deceived, except willingly.” Jacob D. Cox

Cox addressing McClellan’s enemy estimates

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 583

“but one of the best that the world ever saw…prince of Generals…will yet vindicate his claim to be considered the greatest General of modern times.

Jacob Miller

Miller a Pennsylvanian talks about McClellan

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 67

“The hallucination that McClellan was not capable of serious work seemed to pervade the army, even to this moment of dreadful threatening.”

James Longstreet

Longstreet after the war describing his hesitation about fighting a battle in Maryland

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 294

McClellan “sat there with indecision stamped on every line of his countenance” John Beatty Jul 11, 1861

Describing McCLellan’s arrival at the Battle of Rich Mountain

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 90

“The Federal cavalry arm “had not yet fallen into the hands of those who knew th proper use to make of it” John C. Tidball March 5, 1905

“The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65″ Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 307

“fight better under him than under anybody else.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“it did my heart good to hear my brigade cheer when I told them he [McClellan] was in command. They were perfectly wild with delight hurled their caps in the air and showed the great enthusiasm, right within hearing, too of Genl. Pope who has turned out a complete failure.”

John Gibbon Sep 3 1862

Gibbon in a letter to his wife

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 59

“There is but one opinion upon this subject among the troops and that is the Government has gone mad.  It is the worse possible thing that could have been done and will be worth to the south as much as a victory.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“There are those who insist that it is from incompetence that he has been removed.  But the soldiers, who are not so steeped in prejudice that they can see nothing but party, claim he had submitted to one reduction after another of his forces until he has a smaller army than Lee although we are the attacking party.  The soldiers believe he has accomplished nothing short of a miracle in saving his army.” John Haley

Haley of th 17th Maine  on McClellan’s removal

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“Boys, McClellan is in command again!  Three cheers!”

John Hatch Sep 3 1862

Hatch announcing McClellan’s reassumption of command

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 262

“the machinations of McClellan and his parasites…the praetorian faction in the Army of the Potomac.” John Pope

Pope complaining to Halleck after being sent west to confront the Sioux uprsising in Minnesota

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 156

“McClellan is acting with much prudence and caution…Six weeks will tell the story, in that time we will beat them badly or will be beaten ourselves.”

John Sedgwick May 17, 1862

Sedgwick complaining about McClellan’s slow approach toward Richmond

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 137

 

“Nowhere has a charge of slowness been less justly levelled…On September 2, 1862, McClellan assumed command of the disorganized, dispirited and chaotically intermingled fragments of five separate armies.  Within one week, he marched into Maryland with a field army which was still sorting out its wagons and batteries and leavened by a high percentage of raw troops snatched directly from the mustering-in ceremonies.  In another week he brought Lee to bay at Antietam and inflicted on im the severest casualty rate ever suffered by the Army of Northern Virginia in the bloodiest days battle of the entire war.”

Joseph Harsh

Harsh responding to charges of slowness against George McClellan

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 56

xxxxxxxxxxx

 

“No one but McClellan could have hesitated to attack”

Joseph Johnston Apr 1862

Johnston describing McClellan’s failure to immediately attack at Williamsburg

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 180

 

“We are engaged in a species of warfare at which we can never win.  It is plain that General McClellan will adhere to the system adopted by him last summer, and depend for success upon his artillery and engineering.”

Joseph Johnston Apr 30 1862

Johnston to Lee regarding the need to take the offensive to thwart McClellan’s tactics

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 50

 

“the old McClellan method of fighting in detail, one corps at a time, the rest of the army looking on….Lee’s army ought not to have gotten away so easily, but should have beenpushed to the wall, and fought without mercy every day.  From experience, however, we know that General McClellan is not equal to great occasions, and therefor it is useless to expect brilliant results while he is in command.”

Josiah Marshall Favill

an officer in the 57th NY talking about McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 51

“The parade showed up a wonderfully fine looking body of men which, under a capable leader, could do almost anything.”

Josiah Marshall Favill  A lieutenant, no fan of McClellan’s

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 66

“we cannot understand why we should entrench ourselves so powerfully, when we came here for the purpose of attacking.  Our commander-in-chief is very timid, certainly, and the prospects for a further advance upon Richmond seem extremely slender.”

Josiah Marshall Favill  May 1861

Favill wonders why McClellan is so timid

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 147

 

“We understand the present advance has been ordered peremptorily by the President, who is disgusted with McClellan’s torpidity, and is bound to make him take the offensive.”

Josiah Marshall Favill

Favill, A New York officer on rumors of the movement of the Army after Antietam

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 63

“It is a little thing, accomplishing not much harm, and yet the President well night lost his temper over it.”

Lincoln’s Secretary

Lincoln’s secretry recording Lincoln’s reaction to Stuarts ride around the Army of the Potomac in October 1862

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 351

“The Army is in mourning & this is a blue day for us all.  It is known that his removal was planned & to be carried into effect the moment the Elections were over-They did not dare to remove him before the Election.”

Marsena R. Patrick

Patrick on the removal of McClellan and the timing of it after the election.

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 64

 

“a mind that was derivative and deductive, rather than innovative and analyticall, and preferred to work within existing paradigms, rather than think creatively.” Matthew Moten

Historian Matthew Moten comments on the reports that McClellan wrote for the military commission.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 63

“Permit me to suggest that a careful comparison of the notices which appear in the newspapers, lists of prisoners of war, and deserters, if made by an intelligent, educated man, would soon give us a tolerably correct idea of the force opposing us.  If this has ever been done in this part of the country, there is, I fear, reason to believe that it has been done by incompetent or unfaithful hadns.” Montgomery Meigs

Meigs in a letter disputing the methodology of estimating enemy truth strength

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 583

“But Johnston knew his man as did indeed every Confederate leader later on.  Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, the Hills all knowing his points, while serving in the U.S. Army could now rightly measure him.  McClellan was a lovable man, an admirable organizer, but with little taste for battle unless largely outnumbering his opponent”. Moxley Sorrel

Sorrell speaking of McClellan in the Peninsula campaign

From Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer by Moxley G. Sorrell. New York:  Bantam edition, 1992. Page 40

“McClellan was of decided ability in many respects; timorous, but safe; and there was no better organizer.  He seemed to hate battle, and it is surprising that with such a record he should have secured and retained the devotion and confidence of his men to the very end.  There was no lack of physical courage; it was a mental doubt with him.”

Moxley Sorrel talking about McClellan

From Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer by Moxley G. Sorrell. New York:  Bantam edition, 1992. Page 102

“The gaudium certaminis [joy of argument, competition or of battle] was no part of him” Moxley Sorrel Winter of 1861/62

Sorrell speaking of McClellan

From Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer by Moxley G. Sorrell. New York:  Bantam edition, 1992. Page 15

“…they believed in him, and so did I.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne  February 4, 1905 (Nathaniel Hawthorne on the Army and McClellan, 1862)

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“His error was in expecting and requiring a degree of perfection in preparation and of absolute safeguard against the possibility of failure, such as the highest generalship would not, under the circumstances, have exacted” New York Times Oct 30 1885 McClellan Obituary

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 401

“We consider this war substantially over.” New York Tribune Jun 3 1862

Horace Greely’s newspaper asses the end of the war is near with McClellan 5 miles from Richmond

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 218

“I don’t know what Genl. McClellan is doing.  I wish he would wake up to the impatience of the country a little and make us move with a little more rapidity.  I do not believe he lacks genius for his profession, but I think he inclines too much to engineering.” Oliver O. Howard

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 136

 

“Lieutenant G.W. Smith, in command of the engineer company, and Lieutenant McClellan, his subaltern, distinguished themselves throughout the whole of the three actions…Nothing seemed to them too bold to be undertaken, or too difficult to be executed; and their services as engineers were as valuable as those they renderdin battle at the head of their gallant men.” Persifor Smith Aug 20 1847

Persifor Smith reporting on the actions of the engineer company at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco

From  The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan and Thomas W. Cutrer. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009. Page 109

“It does not seem possible to find any other battle ever fought in the conduct of which more errors were committed than are clearly attributable to the commander of the Army of the Potomac.”

Peter S. Mitchie

General Peter S. Mitchie regarding McClellan’s role at Antietam

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 56

“But McClellan’s want of Generalship, or treason, has gotten us into a place, where we are completely boxed up.” Philip Kearny Jul 1862

Kearny after Malvern Hill

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 164

 

“I, Phillip Kearney, an old soldier, enter my solemn protest against this order for retreat  I say to you all, such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason” Philip Kearny Jul 1 1862

Kearny protesting McClellans retreat order after Malvern Hill

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 162

 

“Still although there is no one to exactly replace McClellan-But I now proclaim distinctly that unless a Chief, a live officer, not an Engineer, of military prestige, (success under fire with troops) is put in command of the Army of the Potomac, (leaving McClellan the bureau duties of General in Chief), that we will be in for some awful disaster..McClellan’s fault is, that calculating for a future presidency, he succumbed to the politicians.”

Philip Kearny

Kearney commenting on McClellans lack of front line troop leading experience

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 124

 

“Virginia creeper”

Philip Kearny

From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. Page 136

 

“I asked him which of the Federal generals he considered the greatest, and “Why in the name of heaven McClellan did not renew the battle on Thursday, and follow speedily across the river, I can’t understand.  It looks to me as though it would have been better to crush them with fresh troops on Thursday than to have them skedaddle of under the pretext of burying their dead in plain sight of our general.  I am provoked, perhaps without cause, but I cannot help feeling that it prolongs this horrid war.”

Robert G. Carter

One of Porter’s men frustrated about McClellan’s unwillingness to attack on Sep 18, in a letter home

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 81

 

“[T]he enthusiasm of the troops for him is great, and that they fight under him better than under any one else, is proved by the difference between this battle and those around Manassas.   Robert Gould Shaw

Lt Shaw on Gen. McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 50

“I think everyone in the army regrets it, except, perhaps, some envious major-generals.” Robert Gould Shaw

Shaw on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“McClellan has done well-gained a decided victory, saved Washington, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and given the Rebels a hard stroke.  How splendidly his men fought under him, compared to what the troops did under Pope.”

Robert McAllister Sep 21 1862

Col McAllister of the 11th New Jersey sent this letter on Sep 21From “The Maryland Campaign in Perspective.” by Gary W. Gallagher. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed.  Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 86

“General McClellan is undoubtedly a great favourate with [the] men under him. Last night, it was announced that he was again in command…Everywhere the joy was great, and it was spontaneously and uproariously expressed. It was a happy army again.”

Rutherford B. Hayes

Hayes reporting the restoration of McClellan to command

From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  Page 27

“If the gentleman in the White House could have seen what I saw this morning-could have heard the cheers from those 100,000 soldiers which rent the air and deadened the artillery itself as the parting salute was fired-they would have felt that a mistake or crime has been committed by them, which the Army of the Union will never forgive.” S.L.M. Barlow

McClellan’s Democratic advisor on the relief of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“McClellan is a clear luxury-fifty days-fifty miles-fifty millions of dollars-easy arithmetic but not satisfactory” Salmon P. Chase May 1862

Chase talking to Horace Greeley

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 185

“My conviction is clear…that McClellan has a force which, properly handled, is vastly superior to any that can be brought against him.”

Salmon P. Chase May 1862

Chase after a visit to the Peninsula

From The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Page 581

“…he was the most extraordinary man I ever saw.  I do not see how any man could leave so much to others; and be so confident that everything could go just right” Samuel Heintzelman February 5, 1905

Heinzelman testifying before Comm on Conduct of the War

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 216

“great dissatisfaction….No less than three generals report to me about it, and one of them this morning was afraid his name would have to changed to Porter before he could be able to do anything.” Samuel Heintzelman

Heintzelman in his diary complaining of McClellan’s favoritism to Fitz-John Porter

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 211

“If we are attacked under Pope we fear another defeat, [whereas] McClellan would restore confidance to officers and men and he would be received with enthusiasm by the whole Army.” Samuel Heintzelman Aug 31 1862

Heintzelman in his journal speculating on the return of McClellan after Second Manassas

From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. Page 154

“I wish those northern editors, who have been striving to poison the public mind against McClellan, had to sit in my present position to write their infamous editorials.  No one is better pleased than myself with this advance, but endurance has its bounds even in this soldier and they have been far overstepped by northern civilians when talking about a winter campaign.”

Seymour Dexter

A New York private on the press and demands to advance

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 63

“Circumstances make your presence here necessary, come hither without delay.” Telegram

Jul 22 1861

Telegram directing McCLellan to report to Washington

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 118

“Well, McClure will do something.  If he can’t do better he’ll instruct the toll-gate keeper not to permit Lee’s army to pass through.  But as to McClellan, God only knows what he’ll do.” Thaddeus Stevens

Stevens on the apparently eminent invasion of Pennsylvania and the reaction of Major McClure and George McClellan

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990. Page 219

 

“I believe he was, both as a military man and as a manager of a country under military occupation, the greatest general this war has produced.”

Theodore Lyman Jun 2 1864

Theodore Lyman letter to Elizabeth Russell, 2 June 1864

From “Theodore Lyman letter to Elizabeth Russell, 2 June 1864.” Family Tales. Retrieved from http://www.familytales.org/dbDisplay.php?id=ltr_thl6954

“felt for the first time in along while a decided sensation of enthusiasm burning in the ashes of my defunct patriotism.”

Thomas P. Southwick

A private in the 5th New York on McClellan’s departure

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

“It always seemed to me that McClellan, though no commander ever had the love of his soldiers more, or tried more to spare their lives, never realized the metal that was in his grand Army of the Potomac….He never appreciated until too late what manner of people he had with him.”

Thomas W. Hyde

Hyde reflecting on McClellan’s relationship with his army

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990. Page 315

 “It was a grave misfortune,” writes Gen. Merritt, “that the controllers of our Army organization in the early part of the rebellion did not appreciate the part that cavalry was to play in the war – a misfortune for the country – a greater misfortune for the cavalry. *** The few cavalry regiments which were permitted by by our frugal Government *** were emasculated and disorganized by furnishing details as escorts , guides, orderlies, and small scouting parties, until nowhere in the State of Virginia was there a sufficient force of Union cavalry to meet successfully the splendidly-organized squadrons of Southern horse under Stuart and the younger Lees. No one was more to blame for this than McClellan, and no one of the unfortunate commanders of the Army of the Potomac suffered more because of the lack of properly organized cavalry than this general. Nor did he know how to use the cavalry he had in hand. His treatment of cavalry and cavalry commanders was proverbially harsh and unjust. He divided it up with a lavish hand among his infantry corps, division and brigade commanders, so that the smallest infantry organization had its company or more of mounted men, whose duty consisted in supplying details , as orderlies for mounted staff officers, following them mounted on their rapid rides for pleasure or for duty; or in camp, acting as grooms and bootblacks at the various head-quarters. It is not wonderful that this treatment demoralized the cavalry. It is not strange that the early cavalry commanders looked with despair on their shattered squadrons, and submitted in disgust to the disintegration which their best efforts could not prevent, and afterward in silence to the abuse for failures which they did not deserve. It was not until McClellan was removed that the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was fairly organized under Stoneman, with Buford and David Gregg as his lieutenants. Then it was that we commenced practicing the lessons which the enemy had taught us, pursuing his tactics to his ruin.”

Wesley Merrit

Gen. Merritt, by the way, opens his contribution to this volume with some plain-spoken criticisms upon McClellan and his treatment of the cavalry when he had assumed command of the Army

From Crossed Sabers. “Book Review From Everglades to Canyon. March 3, 2009. Retrieved from http://crossedsabers.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-review-from-everglade-to-canyon.html

“a total lack of understanding and sympathy with the eccentric and mystical, but yet great-hearted and stupendous genius.”

Wiliam Starr Myers

Historian William Starr Myers describes the development of McClellan’s relationship with Lincoln from their days in Illinois”

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 75

“…you intended to work by strategy and not by fighting”

William Franklin Apr 7 1862

Letter from Franklin to GBM describing conversation with Stanton discussing GBMs plan

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 176

“things had gone so well on all the other parts of the field that he was afraid to risk the day by an attack there on the right at that time.”

William Franklin

Franklin reflecting on why McClellan did not order his corps to attack on Sep 17.

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 324

“amiable and agreeable…in everything a gentleman in the highest interpretation of the term.” William Gardner

Gardner, a classmate of McClellan’s at West Point recalls him

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 34

“the effect of this man’s presence upon the Army of the Potomac-in sunshine or in rain, in darkness or in daylight, in victory or defeat-was electrical, and too wonderful attempting to give a reason for it.

William H. Powell Written in 1886

Cpt William H. Powell 4th US Infantry recalling the effect of McClellans reappointment to command of the Army in Sep ’62

From Antietam 1862  The Civil War’s Bloodiest Day by Normas S. Stevens. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1994. Page 9

“Everyone is willing to do as he bids; the President confides in him, and ‘Georges’ him; the press fawn upon him, the people trust him.”

William H. Russell

Russell in his diary recording McClellan’s arrival in Washington

From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005. Page 119

“Squarely built, thick throated, broad chested, with slightly-bowed legs…eyes deep and anxious looking.”

William H. Russell

Russell describing McClellan

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 80

[McClellan] had the pendantry of war rather than the inspiration of war.  His talent was eminently that of the cabinet; and his proper place was in Washington, where he should have remained as general-in-chief….”

William Swinton

From “I Fought the Battle Splendidly.” by Wilson A. Greene. Antietam – Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1989. Page 82

“McClellan’s reappointment gives great satisfaction to the soldiers.  Whether right or wrong they believe in him”

William T. Lusk Sep 4 1862

Lusk, one of Burnside’s officers in a letter to his father

From George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears.  New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988. Page 265

“a naturally superior man, had the finest opportunities in Mexico and Europe.  Even his juniors admit his qualifications.” William T. Sherman,

May 20 1861

Sherman to John Sherman

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983. Page 51

xxxxxx

“There is nothing too good that I can say of General McClellan. He was a man and a thorough soldier.”  Winfield Scott Hancock February 27, 1905

From http://www.georgebmcclellan.org/

“We have met another disaster in front of Richmond….I was not and am not disappointed….I am fully vindicated….McClelland [sic] is an awful humbug and deserves to be shot.”

Zachariah Chandler Jul 6 1862

Senator Chandler to his wife on the disaster in front of Richmond

From Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Page 2924

“The general has many friends in the army who will be sorry to part with him, and even those of us who have no great faith in his abilities, are attracted to him through long association, and will feel the change, as another link broken in the chain of friendship,which in the army, is highly developed.”

A lieutenant on the rumors of the relief of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 63

“The general query is, why was he taken from us at such a time, if at all?  The prevailing opinion among the officers and men is that the Administration is awfully inefficient, besides having no inclination to do that which would hasten the termination of the war.”

a Wisconsin private on the removal of McClellan

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. Page 65

 

dashing through the streets like a small earthquake-in-new uniform…with a glittering staff.”

From Second Only to Grant Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs by David W. Miller. Shippensburg PA:  White Mane Books. 2000.

9 Responses

  1. [...] Leave a Comment  I have posted my first selection of quotes.  They are quotes by and about George B. McClellan.  There are 79 quotes here from various sources.  Any feedback on organization, display etc is [...]

  2. I’m not convinced by Freeman’s statement that “it was known” that McClellan had replaced Pope. Not at all.

    • Harry, this is an example of where I didnt follow my own rule about the quote being made by a person or a contemporary. I believe that Harsh in Taken at the Flood says that Lee in fact did not know for a time that McClellan was bak in command. Thanks for your feedback

  3. Also, in IE 8 the right side of the quotes are being truncated.

    • Thanks, there is a lot of work that I have to do to get the data from an excel spreadsheet with about 10 columns into a format that works here..

      • Try copying the text first to Notepad (or equivalent) to get it into plain text. whgen you coipy text from another program like Word or Excel, a lot of junk comes with it. So if you don’t want to start from scratch and retype everything into WordPress’s editor, copy to Notepad first, then to WordPress.

      • I am using a MacBook. Is there an equivalent to notepad that you are aware of?

      • No, I don’t know anything at all about Macs. I have to imagine they have some sort of plain text program.

  4. Second sentence whould read “When you copy”.

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