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  • McClellan

    Moving all the McClellan debate onto its own thread.
    "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

  • #2
    If you consider Mac to be a Politician-Warrior, I would consider him to be about 75% the former and 25% the latter.
    What's your guess?
    Even his fellow military peers on the Warrior side, Meade for instance, who had no personal animosity toward Mac, observed Mac always waited until every circumstance was perfect for battle before attacking and by that time, Lee would upset his plans, leaving Mac unable to change his.
    On the Politician side, Gideon Wells urged Lincoln to have Mac arrested for treason for refusing orders.
    The man obviously had a personal agenda.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mgronski View Post
      If you consider Mac to be a Politician-Warrior, I would consider him to be about 75% the former and 25% the latter.
      What's your guess?
      None, McClellan just isn't a political animal. If he was he'd likely have survived the intrigues of Stanton and the JCCW.
      "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
        None, McClellan just isn't a political animal. If he was he'd likely have survived the intrigues of Stanton and the JCCW.
        McClellan's entire civil war military career was run with an eye towards politics; this is the man who mused about taking his army and marching towards Washington.


        You can defend his tactics all you want, but the main was almost equivalent to a traitor himself.

        McClellan was a below average combat leader with a elite level opinion of himself.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Legionnaire66 View Post
          McClellan's entire civil war military career was run with an eye towards politics; this is the man who mused about taking his army and marching towards Washington.
          I think you'll find he didn't, unless you're referring to the joke he apparently* made to his wife in late July 1861. It's amazing what you can construct based on a flip remark. It is known that Edwin Stanton was trying to talk McClellan into staging some kind of coup d'tate at the time, which McClellan roundly rejected

          Of course, in November 1862 his generals actually did ask him to march on Washington, but he quietly got on a train and reported to Washington as ordered.


          * The source of the letter is questionable; the version on page 82 of McClellan's Own Story, has the phrasing is "I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet and Gen. Scott all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I have become the power in the land." - no mention of seeking dictatorship.
          Last edited by 67th Tigers; 28 May 10, 20:18.
          "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
            I think you'll find he didn't, unless you're referring to the joke he apparently* made to his wife in late July 1861. It's amazing what you can construct based on a flip remark. It is known that Edwin Stanton was trying to talk McClellan into staging some kind of coup d'tate at the time, which McClellan roundly rejected

            Of course, in November 1862 his generals actually did ask him to march on Washington, but he quietly got on a train and reported to Washington as ordered.


            * The source of the letter is questionable; the version on page 82 of McClellan's Own Story, has the phrasing is "I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet and Gen. Scott all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I have become the power in the land." - no mention of seeking dictatorship.
            How do you explain running a "private" intelligence department led by Mr. Pinkerton (who was incompetent anyway, but contained lists and records of all union agents) and then after being relieved of command taking that entire unit (save for I think an NCO who was actually IN the Army) back with him; leaving Ambrose Burnside with absolutely zero. Pinkerton claimed that his files were private and therefore his.

            That's treason. That is protecting the record for his future political campaign and career. His numeric inflations are also based on this same self serving advice.

            BTW, it took until Joe Hookers BMI(I think thats the initials) before the Army of the Potomac was able to have real accurate intelligence.

            And his "joking to his wife" occurred after the Peninsula Campaign. And a select few generals may have asked that he march on Washington- but the average enlisted man certainly would not have. Some units detested McClellan and the army was starting to see little mac for what he was;

            a little nothing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
              I think you'll find he didn't, unless you're referring to the joke he apparently* made to his wife in late July 1861. It's amazing what you can construct based on a flip remark. It is known that Edwin Stanton was trying to talk McClellan into staging some kind of coup d'tate at the time, which McClellan roundly rejected

              Of course, in November 1862 his generals actually did ask him to march on Washington, but he quietly got on a train and reported to Washington as ordered.


              * The source of the letter is questionable; the version on page 82 of McClellan's Own Story, has the phrasing is "I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet and Gen. Scott all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I have become the power in the land." - no mention of seeking dictatorship.
              WOW- This folder should be called 'McClellan Revisionism'!

              Your constantly twisting facts on McClellan to present a flair for the dramatic would make Harsh proud! Granted- he didn't win the Pulitzer Prize like James McPherson did, but you would make him proud.

              Then you quote from McClellan's 'Own Story'- and you even have nerve to post that 'his generals actually asked him to march on Washington.' LMFAO!

              Your 'March on Washington' comment comes from page 652 (Turn to it) of 'Own Story'. T. Harry Williams totally destroyed this contention as an absolute fantasy in the mind of McClellan as he mentions no names, no exact details, nor does McClellan appear to understand what his words really state about HIS own frame of mind. McClellan never once used the word 'generals'! He states that '....many were in favor.......' blah blah blah.

              Meade....Reynolds.....Burnside and the rest- they were ready to become traitors against the United States for McClellan? LMAO!

              Also, you mentioned Mac was ordered to Washington. He was NOT ordered to Washington! He was ordered to Trenton, New Jersey by Halleck.

              The only reason he went to Washington was to change trains- as Williams already detailed, McClellan didn't meet with anybody and was almost a 'ghost'.

              As for 'political' McClellan- In his 'Own Story' McClellan says; 'Taking both East and West and counting the losses also by disease, I do not doubt that more than half a million men were sacrificed unnecessarily for the sake of insuring the success of a political party.' (Mac was referring to the period of Stanton's advent in 1862).



              From T.Harry Williams;

              When McClellan was promoted, I went to him, for I was his friend-his close friend-and said: "General- you are now in a way to occupy the place occupied by Washington. You are to be the commander of all the armies and finally president. It is the greatest opportunity in the world at this time-one of the greatest at any time."

              But, poor fellow, he swelled up, outgrew advise, became pompous, and wanted to be surrounded by courtiers, aides and retinues. He seemed to have forgotten all about fighting in his overweening determination to remain at Washington and direct in grandeur. He commanded from the rear instead of the front, and so, of course, failed- fell into irretrievable disaster. Grant would have failed too, if he had adopted the same tactics-failed ignominiously.

              When McClellan did leave Washington it was because Stanton literally kicked him out of town. This weakness for vain display and hanging around Washington to dine and be petted by society, is the beginning of the conduct which lead to his suspension from the position of general-in-chief and finally from any command in the army.

              Besides the weakness mentioned, he was always afraid that if he should actually get into a fight, some of his men, if not himself, might get hurt. Grant had absolutely no fear of death for himself, or his men. He hesitated to do nothing needful even when certain that great slaughter was in inevitable. Like Stanton, his (Grant) single purpose was to vanquish the enemy, tear the Rebellion to tatters, and he knew well, as did Stanton that, especially when opposed by a splendid foe like ours, it could not be done for nothing.

              On this point too, McClellan failed. He had no clear comprehension of the real essence of war. Military men were astonished that he was not superseded sooner, and foreign-critics that he was not court-martialed.

              -General M. C. Meigs


              Finally, allow me to set the record straight on President Lincoln's frustration with General McClellan. Lincoln's problem with McClellan was that McClellan would not use the overwhelming force available to him to achieve a decisive result. Lincoln had set out clear political objectives. McClellan acted in a limited, inconclusive way.

              We have learned the proper lessons of history, even if some journalists have not.

              Gen. Colin L. Powell Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
              Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 29 May 10, 01:56.

              Comment


              • #8
                Mac's only "great" contribution to the American Civil War is to the South. He was the general that contributed the most to the success they did enjoy.

                That makes him, not Lee, the confederacy's best commander.

                Earlier the dictator letter was mentioned. It is real. I'll root around later, but the gist is that Mac states that if appointed dictator he could win the war in, IIRC, 6 months.

                The same type of ridiculous boast as (paraphrase) 'if I can't whip Bobby Lee with these I shall resign'.
                If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Legionnaire66 View Post
                  How do you explain running a "private" intelligence department led by Mr. Pinkerton (who was incompetent anyway, but contained lists and records of all union agents) and then after being relieved of command taking that entire unit (save for I think an NCO who was actually IN the Army) back with him; leaving Ambrose Burnside with absolutely zero. Pinkerton claimed that his files were private and therefore his.

                  That's treason. That is protecting the record for his future political campaign and career. His numeric inflations are also based on this same self serving advice.
                  No, Burnside and Pinkeron simply didn't like one another, and Pinkerton decided to end his employment. McClellan has nothing to do with it.

                  BTW, it took until Joe Hookers BMI(I think thats the initials) before the Army of the Potomac was able to have real accurate intelligence.
                  Actually, although they both used different figures (Pinkerton reports aggregate strength, Sharpe effective strength) both consistantly overestimated 10-20%.

                  And his "joking to his wife" occurred after the Peninsula Campaign. And a select few generals may have asked that he march on Washington- but the average enlisted man certainly would not have. Some units detested McClellan and the army was starting to see little mac for what he was;
                  Peninsula campaign was in 1862.
                  "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                    Actually, although they both used different figures (Pinkerton reports aggregate strength, Sharpe effective strength) both consistantly overestimated 10-20%.
                    While Pinkerton may have only overestimated, Mac cited complete other forces available to Lee that could destroy his army. Lil' Nappy frequently used the number 100,000 and sometimes as many as 200,000.

                    That isn't overestimation, that is seeking an excuse for failure or to simply risk failure by engaging the ANV in battle.

                    Regards,
                    Dennis
                    If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                    Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
                      While Pinkerton may have only overestimated, Mac cited complete other forces available to Lee that could destroy his army. Lil' Nappy frequently used the number 100,000 and sometimes as many as 200,000.

                      That isn't overestimation, that is seeking an excuse for failure or to simply risk failure by engaging the ANV in battle.

                      Regards,
                      Dennis
                      Actually it's not that far out.

                      Lee's ANV which launched the Seven Days had a little over 113,000 "present for duty" (in 219 "regiments" vs McClellan's ca. 170 "regiments"*) and an aggregate present of a bit higher (probably in the region of 140-150,000) and an aggregate present and absent of about 180,000. Another 20,000 or so were promised Lee, but would take time to pry lose from NC, SC, GA etc.

                      Beauregard's field force of some 60,000 aggregate present were not present, although there are reports they were. McClellan does not appear to have believed they were.

                      In every available category (rounded figures):

                      Regiments of all arms: 219 vs 170 (28%)
                      Aggregate present and absent: 180,000 vs 145,000 (24% CS advantage)
                      Aggregate present: ca. 140,000** vs 115,000 (21%)
                      PFD(E): 113,000 vs 95,000 (18%)
                      Effectives: 80,000 vs 70,000 (14%)

                      In roughly every directly comparable category Lee has roughly a 20% advantage in numbers. McClellan's estimate was Lee has 100-120,000 (i.e. roughly what it was). Pinkerton reported later 180,000 which is actually essentially Lee's roster strength, but not his actual strength.

                      Incidently, as we strip away non-effectives etc. the ratios get better for the Union, implying a more efficient organisation. Lee's ratio of PFD to effectives isn't that different from Antietam, which is interesting. Lee's army still had around 100,000 aggregate present at Fredericksburg and around 90,000 at Chancellorsville (inc. Longstreet's detachment). The Pennsylvania campaign destroys his army, it rarely goes about 50,000 aggregate present until it starts pulling in various other forces at Petersburg. With Longstreet and reinforcements from Richmond Lee has only slightly over 60,000 aggregate present in the Wilderness. Lee's army in the Seven Days is "the largest Confederate army that ever fought" (Joe Johnston).

                      * Regiments of all arms, i.e. taking extra coys etc. and coalating them into 10 coy regiments

                      ** This figure is from memory, the others are from returns etc.
                      Last edited by 67th Tigers; 29 May 10, 16:24.
                      "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by grognard View Post
                        I know he won't anything that upsets his pre-concieved ideas, but if he's going to post, he's going to get challenged. He'd flunk any course I teach because he will not look at both sides of the question and deal with the evidence that doesn't support his position.
                        If I'd flunk one of your courses, fine. Scientia imperii decus et tutamen.

                        Au contraire, I have looked at both sides of the argument, weighed the evidence and made deductions. They just aren't the same as BladerunnerNYC, Tom etc.

                        What I find is that arguing this case runs up against a dogma. When the evidence and literature runs contrary to this it is dismissed as "apologist" with the appropriate "why don't you read x, that is the holt writ". Two months ago the holy writ according to Bladerunner NYC was Bonekemper, until I pointed out that all the serious flaws that were prettymuch universally agreed upon. Now Bonekemper has been quietly dropped, but Bonekempers arguments are still put forward, using the references Bonekemper points to rather than Bonekemper proper. Hence we have a lot of Sears, "Gallagher" (even though "Gallagher" is actually Hubbell, and all his references are to Sears, even if clandestine in places), Catton (in his earlier "storyteller" phase, Catton redacted severely between 1951 and 1963). The books that don't fit (Rafuse, Harsh, Carman, Hassler, Reed, Palfrey etc.) are dismissed as "revisionist" or "apologist".

                        The "standard" view of McClellan has already been subject to a revisionist challenge that started around the centenary. The early historians that actually witnessed the event, Palfrey, Carman etc. all gave measured criticism in parts of McClellan but came down "on his side". Most studies on McClellan were "pro-McClellan", with the odd revisionist work appearing, generally linked to the "Lost Cause".

                        The changed with Bruce Catton's 1951 work "Mr. Lincoln's Army". Catton had swallowed the "Lost Cause" whole, and accepted their arguments without question. After this Warren Hassler wrote his 1957 "George B. McClellan: Shield of the Union", the last biography following the then standard rather than revisionist/ lost cause interpretation. Following Hassler, Catton later withdrew from his position, his 1963 "Terrible Swift Sword" is much more even handed, although still tending towards the lost cause.

                        The lost cause/ revisionist interpretation starts to take off from Murfin's "The Gleam of Bayonets". Murfin is responsible for all of the psychological mumbo-jumbo that has been written. What Murfin starts Sears continues in the 1980's, providing essentially identical arguments to Murfin.

                        Joseph Harsh became uneasy with the Murfin interpretation and in 1973 published on the matter pointing out the very selective use of evidence to establish this notion. We gained some superlative work in the maentime, especially Reed's "Combined Operations in the Civil War", Hagerman's "The American Civil War and the Birth of Modern Warfare", Grimsley's "The Hard Hand of War", Tap's "Over Lincoln's Shoulder", Harsh's trilogy and Rafuse's "McClellan's War".

                        Using these we can understand that indeed McClellan was being undermined in Washington, because he was viewed as most likely Democratic nominee for 1864. McClellan himself wasn't involved in party politics at the time but stuck to a conservative Democrat policy of fighting only the enemies army, whereas the radical Republicans who were dominating Washington (especially the JCCW) wanted to destroy the south utterly. They put forward their own people for command; Fremont, Burnside, Pope, Hunter and Hooker, and they were generally failures. When Meade (a Democrat) took command all the same accusations that were levelled against McClellan were again levelled at Meade. The first qualification of being a general was to be a member of the Republican Party, incompetant Republican generals were protected and promoted whilst competant Democrat generals were slandered and blocked.
                        "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Do you think Mac was the only army leader who had trouble with HQ?? Except for Grant, they all did.
                          His responses were clearly insubordinate, and Sect. of War Wells called for his arrest!
                          Meade was so un-political, it was nearly his undoing, leading to the Conduct Hearings which would not have gotten "legs" without Doubleday, Butterfield and Sickles. Yet Lincoln allowed Meade to make any leadership changes he needed before Gettysburg.
                          Among the Army "Regulars" such as Sedgewick, Reynolds and Hooker, all had doubts that Mac would ever lead them to victory, even if they harbored no ill will toward Mac, they said so among personal letters, but then again, they weren't thrown "under the bus" by Mac.

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                          • #14
                            Sorry, I meant Sedgewick, Reynolds and Meade.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
                              Mac's only "great" contribution to the American Civil War is to the South. He was the general that contributed the most to the success they did enjoy.

                              That makes him, not Lee, the confederacy's best commander.

                              Earlier the dictator letter was mentioned. It is real. I'll root around later, but the gist is that Mac states that if appointed dictator he could win the war in, IIRC, 6 months.

                              The same type of ridiculous boast as (paraphrase) 'if I can't whip Bobby Lee with these I shall resign'.
                              Exactly! And if you also notice the excellent points made by McPherson- McClellan was an aristocrat. In many ways Lee found in him a 'kindred spirit' of elitism. Also, here is a partial quote already used by Williams and McPherson- it is no secret from Feb of 1862-even 67 knows it;

                              'Capture Richmond and fetch Jeff Davis to Washington and the rebellion will be ended and you will be president.'

                              Stanton to McClellan.

                              There are so many quotes.......I would like to point out as well that Jeff Shaara wrote an excellent piece on McClellan at Antietam-page 29 onwards.

                              http://books.google.com/books?id=oWc...page&q&f=false

                              When one looks at 'McClellan Revisionism' the first striking detail is that people who have won the Pulitzer Prize for Civil War writings- like Michael Shaara, James McPherson, Bruce Catton, Fred Shannon and James Rhodes- they have all come down firmly on the side of McClellan being a failure in many regards-especially as a commander on the battlefield and in his elitist treatment of Lincoln. On that note- maybe Grant had the best quote describing McClellan......anyhow.....this isn't a secret- everybody here is familiar with the work that the above have all done.


                              As Rhodes said;

                              It is the mature judgment of almost all military authorities that, outnumbering the Confederates as he did three to one, he could at this time have broken their line from the York river to the James and have reached his position on the Chickahominy a month earlier than he did. He missed his opportunity.....as he missed so many opportunities.

                              On May 25, he telegraphed to the President, “The time is very near when I shall attack Richmond.” McClellan had an army of 100,000; Johnston had 63,000. Yet it is doubtful if McClellan would really have taken the initiative. He never reached his “ideal completeness of preparation”.

                              Rhodes states far more obviously in his 'History of the Civil War', as he also posts the excellent quote from Meade that may just sum McClellan up perfectly;

                              "McClellan was always waiting to have everything just as he wanted before he would attack, and before he could get things arranged as he wanted them, the enemy pounced on him and thwarted all his plans.… Such a general will never command success, though he may avoid disaster.”

                              General Meade, I, 345

                              Joseph L. Harsh, "On the McClellan-Go-Round," Civil War History 19 (June 1973): 101–18 is a continuation of the 1970 thesis paper that Harsh did regarding McClellan. Rafuse continued on that line, though he coats everything with 'sugar' to try and change the way people see McClellan (Rafuse will say McClellan was indeed a failure in many ways, but he will sugar coat it and explain why- pointing the blame at others).

                              His (Rafuse) book on McClellan was highly praised by Harsh (Who also is on record as stating that Jefferson Davis was a great president and that Longstreet.....let me leave it at that), yet it wasn't as it had any impact on how McClellan is viewed outside of of a small-yet vocal minority.
                              Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 30 May 10, 12:10.

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