McClellan as president of the Illinois Central railway.
When McClellan entered upon his Peninsular Campaign in 1862 the important duty of defending Washington from the army of "Stonewall" Jackson fell to the corps commanded by Banks.
In 1864 he returned to Ohio, took active part in the campaign of that year, wrote part of the National Democratic platform at Chicago, and assisted to nominate McClellan for the presidency.
There were soldiers more accomplished, as was McClellan, more brilliant, as was Rosecrans, and more exact, as was Buell,.
Under McClellan he commanded a division of infantry in the Peninsular campaign, and directed the Union siege operations against Yorktown, and he was soon afterwards placed in command of the V.
On the same day on which McClellan was relieved from his command, Porter, his warm friend and supporter, was suspended.
At his own request he was ordered east, and on the 23rd of September 1861 was made brigadier-general of volunteers and assigned to command a brigade in the Army of the Potomac. He took part in the Peninsula campaign, and the handling of his troops in the engagement at Williamsburg on the 5th of May 1862, was so brilliant that McClellan reported "Hancock was superb," an epithet always afterwards applied to him.
General McClellan had captured the passes of South Mountain farther east on the 14th, and his Army of the Potomac marched to meet Lee's forces which, hitherto divided, had, by the 16th, successfully concentrated between the Antietam and the Potomac. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia occupied a position which, in relation to the surrounding country, may be compared to the string of a bow in the act of being drawn, Lee's left wing forming the upper half of the string, his right the lower, and the Potomac in his rear the bow itself.
Hill, whose men had fought the battle of South Mountain and had already been three times engaged a fond on this day, proper support must have enabled the Federals to crush Lee's centre, but Franklin and Porter in reserve were not allowed by McClellan to move forward and the opportunity passed.
Pressure was brought to bear on McClellan to renew the fight, but he refused and Lee retired across the Potomac unmolested.
McClellan advanced from the Ohio in June and captured Philippi.
A month later, an easy triumph was obtained by McClellan and Rosecrans against the Confederates of Virginia at Rich Mountain.
The Southerners undeniably rested on their laurels, and enabled McClellan, who was now called to the chief military command at Washington, to raise, organize and train the famous Army of the Potomac, which, in defeat and victory, won its reputation as one of the finest armies of modern history.
McClellan and the Army of the Potomac faced Johnston, who with the Army of northern Virginia lay at Manassas, exercising and training his men with no less care than his opponent.
- Many schemes were discussed between McClellan and President Lincoln before the Army of the Potomac finally took the offensive in Virginia.
It was eventually decided that General Banks was to oppose "Stonewall" Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, Fremont to hold western Virginia against the same general's enterprise, and McDowell with a strong corps to advance overland to meet McClellan, who, with the main army, was to proceed by sea to Fortress Monroe and thence to advance on Richmond.
Johnston had, long ere this, fallen back from Manassas towards Richmond, and the two armies were in touch when a serious check was given to McClellan by the brilliant successes of Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.
McDowell, instead of marching to join McClellan, was ordered to the Valley to assist in "trapping Jackson," an operation which, at one critical moment very near success, ended in the defeat of Fremont at Cross Keys and of McDowell's advanced troops at Port Republic (June 8-9) and the escape of the daring Confederates with trifling loss.
McClellan, deprived of McDowell's corps, felt himself reduced to impotence, and three Federal armies were vainly marching up and down the Valley when Johnston fell with all his forces upon the Army of the Potomac. The Federals lay on both sides of the Chickahominy river, and at this moment Johnston heard that McDowell's arrival need not be feared.
The course of the battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks bore some resemblance to that of Shiloh; a sharp attack found the Unionists unprepared, and only after severe losses and many partial defeats could McClellan check the rebel advance.
Lee soon cut the communication with White House, but McClellan changed his base and retreated towards Harrison's Landing on the James river.
In the end the Federals were sharply pursued, but McClellan had gained a long start and, fighting victoriously almost every day, at length placed himself in a secure position on the James, which was now patrolled by the Federal warships (June 26 - July I).
Buell's failure to appreciate political considerations as a part of strategy justified his recall, but the value of his work, like that of McClellan, can hardly be measured by marches and victories.
Halleck (at the Washington headquarters) began by withdrawing McClellan from the James to assist Pope in central Virginia; Lee, thus released from any fear for the safety of Richmond, turned swiftly upon Pope.
But Lee received no real accession of strength, and when McClellan with all available forces moved out of Washington to encounter the Army of northern Virginia, the Confederates were still but a few marches from the point where they had crossed the Potomac. Lee had again divided his army.
Had McClellan moved at once he could have seized the passes without difficulty, as he was aware that he had only cavalry to oppose him.
On the i 6th McClellan found Lee in position behind the Antietam Creek, and on the 17th was fought the sanguinary and obstinately contested battle of Antietam (q.v.) or Sharpsburg.
- McClellan, after the battle of the Antietam, paused for some time to reorganize his forces, some of which had barely recovered from the effects of Pope's unlucky campaign.
When on the point of resuming the offensive, McClellan was suddenly superseded by Burnside, one of his corps commanders.
Like Buell, McClellan had tempered the tools with which others were to strike; he was not again employed, and in his fall was involved his most brilliant subordinate, Fitz John Porter.
A week later the Federals, again moving to their left, arrived upon the ground on which McClellan had fought two years before, and at Cold Harbor (Porter's battlefield of Gaines' Mill) the leading troops of the Army of the James joined the lieutenant-general.
McCLELLAN, George Brinton (1826-1885), American soldier, was born in Philadelphia on the 3rd of December 1826.
Resigning his commission in 1857, McClellan became successively chief engineer and vice-president of the Illinois Central railroad (1857-1860), general superintendent of the Mississippi & Ohio railroad, and, a little later, president of the eastern branch of the same, with his residence in Cincinnati.
Pursuant to orders, on the 26th of May, McClellan sent a small force across the Ohio river to Philippi, dispersed the Confederates there early in June, and immensely aided the Union cause in that region by rapid and brilliant military successes, gained in the short space of eight days.
McClellan laid slow siege to Yorktown, not breaking the thin line first opposed to him, but giving Johnston full time to reinforce and then evacuate the position.
McClellan followed up the Confederate rearguard and approached Richmond, using White House on the Pamunkey as a base of supplies; this entailed a division of his forces on either bank of the Chickahominy.
After a pause in the operations McClellan felt himself ready to attack at the moment when Lee, leaving a bare handful of men in the Richmond lines, despatched twothirds of his entire force to the north of the Chickahominy to strike McClellan's isolated right wing.
McClellan himself made little progress, and the troops beyond the Chickahominy were defeated after a strenuous defence; whereupon McClellan planned, and during the celebrated Seven Days' Battle triumphantly executed, a change of base to the James river.
Pope's disastrous defeats brought McClellan a new opportunity to retrieve his fame.
McClellan advanced slowly and carefully, reorganizing his army as he went.
But the Confederates safely recrossed the Potomac, and McClellan showed his former faults in a tardy pursuit.
McClellan was never again ordered to active command, and the political elements opposed to the general policy of Lincoln's administration chose him as presidential candidate in 1864, on a platform which denounced the war as a failure and proposed negotiating with the South for peace.