Saturday, July 19, 2008

George McClellan, Whining Jerk

I'm sorry. George Brinton McClellan just makes my blood boil. It isn't so much what he does or doesn't do. It's the fact that he's a jerk, and an insubordinate one at that. Alternately a blowhard and, when thing's don't go right, a whining loser whose immediate reaction is to blame everyone but himself. Consider this June 25, 1862 telegram to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton:
I regret my great inferiority in numbers but feel that I am in no way responsible for it as I have not failed to represent repeatedly the necessity of reinforcements, that this was the decisive point, & that all the available means of the Govt should be concentrated here. I will do all that a General can do with the splendid Army I have the honor to command & if it is destroyed by overwhelming numbers can at least die with it & share its fate.

But if the result of the action which will probably occur tomorrow or within a short time is a disaster the responsibility cannot be thrown on my shoulders -- it must rest where it belongs. . . .

Assume, for the sake of argument, that McClellan's fantasies about relative numbers were correct. Assume further that Lincoln was dead wrong not to send every man east of the Appalachians to the Peninsula. Even so, can someone explain to me, please, why the man who dictated those words shouldn't have been fired on the spot?


  1. I agree, and so did my 3rd great grandfather, a Union vet from Pennsylvania, who apparently used to say querulously to his wife, "Damn it, mama, I can't say McClellan!" (which is rather odd and cryptic but radiates dislike, don't you think?)

    Great blog BTW, will be back...

  2. Laura,

    I'm delighted you visited -- and thrilled that you agree. Your quote made me laugh.

    I understand that McClellan had his virtues, but he just drives me crazy. Isn't it odd that someone so long dead can raise your blood pressure so much?

    Thanks for your comment, and please return soon.

  3. I've gone back and forth on McClellan over the years. The Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days have for most of my life as a Civil War student been my favorite campaign. I read Sears and his McClellan bashing like a lot of others. I think Sears is too harsh on McClellan in some ways, but I also think Russel Beatie in his Army of the Potomac series is far too easy. I have to believe the truth is somewhere in between. I think Little Mac was an excellent organizer and planner, but his crippling wekness was that, unlike Grant, he did give a d**n about what the enemy did while out of his site. Everything had to be just right, he had to hold back a proper reserve at all times, realities of the battlefield situation be d**ned, etc., until any chance he had for a victory was thrown away.


  4. Brett,

    I agree with you, but as I've said what really drives me crazy about McClellan is his attitude and his insubordination. In many ways, McClellan and Joe Johnston strike me as similar. I would have canned both of them.

  5. I found this site called maybe you can use it. It seems to help get me through the issues of dealing with some of the jerks I know. At least I can vent about these jerks, plus I get a kick out of sending them some cards.


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