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General Discussion > George B McClellan

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message 1: by Tonja (new)

Tonja | 5 comments Can anyone recommend a solid biography on George B McClellan? I am looking for one that is unbiased, which may be difficult considering how polarizing he was.

Thank you in advance.

Tonja


message 2: by Chad (new)

Chad | 23 comments I think most consider George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon by Stephen W. Sears to be the best biography of Mc. I also enjoyed McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse which is a little less critical of the general.


message 3: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 433 comments Tonja wrote: "Can anyone recommend a solid biography on George B McClellan? I am looking for one that is unbiased, which may be difficult considering how polarizing he was.

Thank you in advance.

Tonja"


Tonja: As Chad mentioned above, I endorse Stephen Sears' bio of McClellan.


message 4: by Tonja (new)

Tonja | 5 comments Thank you Chad and Manray9!


message 5: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Hotaling | 73 comments I found a book on Mac in a book store in Maine that might be of interest - "The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan Selected Correspondence 1860-1865" Edited by Stephen Sears.


message 6: by Tonja (new)

Tonja | 5 comments Thank you, I truly appreciate the recommendations.


message 7: by Big (new)

Big John | 2 comments I just finished Sears' biography a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. McClellan loom large over Eastern theater civil war books, but he's a pretty mysterious guy and this book really helped flesh him out. The goodreads synopsis of the book says it's "Neither an indictment nor an apologia", but McClellan comes off looking pretty bad (Although he seems like a great father and husband).


message 8: by Bob (new)

Bob | 2 comments I have the Sear's book on reserve at my library. The consensus is this is the top shelf for McClellan. BTW, I think President Lincoln described his warfare tactics best; "He has a case of the slows".


message 9: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 433 comments Bob wrote: "I have the Sear's book on reserve at my library. The consensus is this is the top shelf for McClellan. BTW, I think President Lincoln described his warfare tactics best; "He has a case of the slows"."

I thought highly of Sears' bio of McClellan. He did have the "slows." McClellan lacked the thoughtful audacity of good generals. Grant had it, Winfield Scott and Napoleon too, so did Rommel.


message 10: by Chad (new)

Chad | 23 comments No doubt that Mc knew how to build an army, but I don't think he ever grasped the concept that the army wasn't really his- it was the nation's. I think his failure to move the army from the Pennisula, nearly three weeks after he was ordered to to so, couple with his refusal to come to Pope's assistance in a timely fashion, borders on treasonous insubordination. Not to mention his behavior on the day after Antietam- hundreds of thousands of Americans may have died because he did not chance attacking with his two fresh corps a crippled ANV.


message 11: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 433 comments Chad wrote: "No doubt that Mc knew how to build an army, but I don't think he ever grasped the concept that the army wasn't really his- it was the nation's. I think his failure to move the army from the Pennisu..."

Chad: He feared failure more than he prized success.


message 12: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Hotaling | 73 comments One of my favorite Civil War quotes come from President Lincoln, who after imploring McLellan to move after Antietam, and getting answers about his tired army, wrote this, "What have you done since Antietam that has fatigued anything?"


message 13: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 950 comments Kerry wrote: "One of my favorite Civil War quotes come from President Lincoln, who after imploring McLellan to move after Antietam, and getting answers about his tired army, wrote this, "What have you done since..."

Good quote Kerry!


message 14: by Dimitri (new)

Dimitri | 25 comments Kerry wrote: "One of my favorite Civil War quotes come from President Lincoln, who after imploring McLellan to move after Antietam, and getting answers about his tired army, wrote this, "What have you done since Antietam that has fatigued anything?"

A classic quote. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom embellishes it a bit:

"But this appeal failed to move McClellan. Whe n little happened for another two weeks except telegrams citing broken-down horses, Lincoln lost patience: "Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?"

Let it never be said that old-timey formality can't be more hilarious than our F-laden action movie onliners.


message 15: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 433 comments Dimitri wrote: "Kerry wrote: "One of my favorite Civil War quotes come from President Lincoln, who after imploring McLellan to move after Antietam, and getting answers about his tired army, wrote this, "What have ..."

Dimitri: Hear! Hear!


message 16: by Bob (new)

Bob | 2 comments And he bungled Antietam despite the fact that his scouts found Lee's battle plan wrapped around a few cigars.


message 17: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Hotaling | 73 comments Dimitri wrote: "Kerry wrote: "One of my favorite Civil War quotes come from President Lincoln, who after imploring McLellan to move after Antietam, and getting answers about his tired army, wrote this, "What have ..."

You nailed the quote Dmitri. I was just going from memory. Good job!


message 18: by Big (new)

Big John | 2 comments Manray9 wrote: He feared failure more than he prized success.

I think that this hits the nail on the head. His private correspondence that is a big part of the Sears book shows a pattern where he gets excited about a plan, maneuver or campaign and then as the hour draws near he begins to focus on what could go wrong and seems to accept that it is going to fail and begins throwing out blame and accusations to anyone who will listen to cover his butt. He seemed given to serious self-doubt, but was too proud to ever recognize it.

A major factor in McClellan's conduct during the war was the fact that he was a Democrat taking orders from an increasingly radical Republican administration. It has led to some speculation that he was actively forcing stalemates with the AVN to discredit Lincoln's administration and end the war, but that theory does not seem to be taken very seriously in modern scholarship. I think McClellan was so worried that Lincoln and Stanton were trying to discredit HIM (Perhaps even sabotaging his campaigns and sacrificing thousands of their own soldiers), lest he become a political threat during the next election, that he began to see insults and conspiracies everywhere.


message 19: by George (new)

George | 91 comments I don't think McClellan ever had a fear he didn't give counsel to. I wonder if he ever slept. Rafuse's book says basically that McClellan felt that major victories over the Confederates would result in increasing and solidifying Southern resistance. I'm not crazy about Rafuse's book, but it is interesting and makes a serious attempt to turn Little Mac into a more heroic figure. For some reason, he seems to think Mac's attack on Yorktown was brilliant, although the time lost there overcoming rather limited Southern resistance clearly sabotaged the rest of the campaign.

As for Lincoln quotes on Mac, one of my favorites was something along the lines of, if you don't intend to use your army, I'd like to borrow it for a little while.


message 20: by Al (new)

Al Arnold (goodreadscomorderlyforlee) | 1 comments My favorite Lincoln quote on McCllelan is, "He has got the slows." This is hilarious and I appreciated the quote as a general thought of Lincoln about more than Mac.


message 21: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Smith (sharonbsmith3) | 6 comments Sears used a lot of McClellan's wartime letters in his rather negative biography, but if you want to really feel negative about the little guy read The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected Correspondence, 1860-1865, mentioned above. His egomania was almost unbelievable. Sears also edited this one. I bought it online for three dollars with free shipping. I guess there's not much competition to try to understand the inner workings of McClellan's brain.


MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) "... if you don't intend to use your army, I'd like to borrow it for a little while. "

This is my favorite quote as well, Al.


message 23: by James (new)

James | 25 comments One thing that McClellan did do that I really liked was to establish the balloon corps and put T. Lowe in charge of it. That is not covered in Sear's biography of McClellan but it does show up off and on in his "letters" volume.


message 24: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 433 comments James wrote: "One thing that McClellan did do that I really liked was to establish the balloon corps and put T. Lowe in charge of it. That is not covered in Sear's biography of McClellan but it does show up off ..."

James: Take a look at F. Stansbury Haydon's --

Military Ballooning during the Early Civil War by F. Stansbury Haydon Military Ballooning during the Early Civil War


message 25: by MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) (last edited Aug 02, 2018 02:52PM) (new)

MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) I finally received the Sears' bio. Haven't started reading it yet, but am looking forward to it. I think I will order the papers e-book as well.


message 26: by Porter (new)

Porter Broyles | 196 comments Manray.... you got my juices salivating... I'm a balloon twister and woke I know military ballooning is different this a bridge that I can use while entertaining.


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