Sunday, October 30, 2011

SC6's Civil War Rewind, Part Seven: The New Chief

George McClellan Takes Over For The North.... And the Love/Hate Relationship With Lincoln Begins.

     Welcome to the latest installment of our Civil War rememberance, as it happened 150 years earlier - or close to it.  After the First Bull Run (Manassas to those of you south of the Mason-Dixon line), the North realized two things: that this would not be a quick and easy war, and that they were woefully unprepared or trained.  Abraham Lincoln knew that Irvin McDowell was the wrong man for both of those jobs.  He searched for a replacement to lead his troops, and decided on George McClellan.  He was half right....

     McClellan was regarded as a great preparer of armies, and he did that well.  He grew the size of the troops, taught them how to be disciplined soldiers, and in doing so, gave them a feeling of pride.  But, McClellan failed at two things.  First he built an army, but almost refused to use it.  Lincoln became frustrated with McClellan as time went on, asking if McClellan was too leery to use the army, that 'I would like to borrow it for a while'...

     As bad as that was, McClellan had a worse trait - his arrogance.  He openly insulted Lincoln and anyone who disagreed with him at every turn.  He often referred to Lincoln as a baboon or gorilla.... Today, that MIGHT get you fired, but Lincoln ignored him for a while, hoping to trade the insults for victories.  No victories came.. McClellan had a knack for overestimating his opponent's troop size, and thus asking that more troops be added. 

      We'll document the Lincoln-McClellan tiff along the way: from his 'Virginia Creeper' campaign (which took 9 months to start), to his underestimating a newly appointed general named Robert E. Lee - and the asswhipping Lee gave him in the Seven Days campaign, to McClellan's refusal to chase Lee after winning at Antietam, which was the final straw with Lincoln.  McClellan's response?  He ran against Lincoln for President in 1864.  It's all pretty interesting....

    Yeah, it's neat to go back to the beginning of something good or bad.  in this case, there were both.  If McClellan were just put in charge to train an army, the war might have been shorter.  But it was what it was, and Lincoln went through a slew of generals, until he pulled a once-fired drunk out of the West, nearly 2 years later.  But, it all started 150 years ago this week.


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