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 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 02:11 am
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BobInFla
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Did McClellan's dismal failure to support Pope during the Second Bull Run campaign border on treason?



 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 06:30 am
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Hellcat
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I don't know if there was a failure. From what I'm looking at it looks more like an out right attempt to destroy Pope. James McPherson in Battle Cry of Freedom apparently quotes a letter he wrote to his wife prior to 2nd Bull Run (2nd Manassas) in which he calls Pope a villian and expect's Lee to get rid of him.



 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 03:08 pm
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BobInFla
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Correct. By McClellan's "failure" I meant his deplorable lack of any effort to aid Pope. It's been a while since I've read about the Second Bull Run Campaign, but my understanding is that Pope did - and had every reason to - expect support from McClellan.  But the egotistical McClellan, miffed by Pope's appointment to command the newly formed Army of Virginia after McClellan dismal peformance in the Peninsula Campaign, just sat wherever he was, made no effort to engage or divert any enemy in his vicinity nor made any move in Pope's direction.  Inexcuseable conduct imho!



 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2012 03:01 am
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southernsympathizer
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I agree with you Bob. McClellan was incompetent bordering on cowardice in my opinion. In "Battle Cry of Freedom" and in "Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee", the general consensus is that McClellan was never supported enough to risk his life and his troops lives but when it came to Pope, he would not do the same thing he accused his superiors of doing - aiding the ally.

Running opposite Lincoln in 1864, the man who gave him a generalship and defended him was the last straw in my opinion.



 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2012 08:53 am
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Hellcat
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I don't know about incompetent, but he certainly did some things that I would say made him more ineffective towards winning the war. You have to give him credit for organizing the Army of the Potomac following First Bull Run (Manassass). But once it was ready for the field he then wanted to sit and wait and wait and wait. Even in the field how often did he have to be prodded to move. And how often did he overestimate the forces he was facing and refuse to immediately move on them until he had more forces brought up. Or overestimates caused him to pull back.

Now there was one time I've read about in the Seven Days that would be incompetence on McClellan's part that could have allowed him to march on Richmond. Things might have been different if he'd tried, but he didn't.



 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2012 10:47 am
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BHR62
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When asked Grant described McClellan as one of the great mysteries of the war. He had success written all over him. Showed heroism in the Mexican War....was a military observer in the Crimean War....wrote army manuals and designed the saddle the cavalry rode on.  He rebuilt the AoP into an incredible fighting machine.  A very admirable undertaking that showed immediate results.  But yet he was very indecisive as a general when it came to actual combat. He was very gullible in believing anything the Pinkerton's told him intelligence wise. The Peninsula Campaign....Grant would have ended the war right then.

Treason though.....its hard to prove but a case sure can be made for it, IMO. His letters to his wife are pretty damning on his lack of help to Pope. I think it was the Civil War Times that had a long article on his slow movements towards Pope. He seemed to view Pope as the enemy rather than Jackson. He seemed to take great pleasure in seeing Pope destroyed at 2nd Manassas. When Lee marched north into Maryland Lincoln had no choice but retain McClellan in command. At Antietam he would once again show incredible slowness and total lack of killer instinct. He could have easily destroyed Lee right then and there with one more push.

I think he wanted the country exactly as it was in 1860. So he wasn't motivated to deliver a crushing war ending blow to where the north could then dictate terms to the south. He was one of those who believed in the south coming back on peaceful terms....which in reality would never have happened.

Last edited on Thu Dec 20th, 2012 10:51 am by BHR62



 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2012 01:55 pm
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Hellcat
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Something I just thought about. There could have been a reason he was slow, a political reason. Perhaps he was setting himself up for the 1864 election all along. The general who organized the Army of the Potomac following the defeat at First Bull Run (Manassas), and under whose leadership the army saw few, if any casualties in addition to insuring the army was never defeated in battle.



 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 10:15 am
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BHR62
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That is one way to look at it. He did have aspirations obviously. In one of his letters to his wife he talked about how he could easily make himself dictator if he so choose. Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't his plan if elected to reinstate the Union as it was in 1860? I thought he made a comment that he wouldn't accept two nations. Due to the Union soldiers sacrifices they had made to that point.  Which went against his own party's platform.

I think Grant's way to the presidency was better though. Just destroy Lee's ability to fight and then head for the White House.

Last edited on Fri Dec 21st, 2012 10:15 am by BHR62



 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 12:20 pm
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Hellcat
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I'll have to look it up but I thought McClellan's intention was to just end the war and make peace with the South, not whether or not to restore things to where they were in 1860.



 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 02:03 pm
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BHR62
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This is from his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention:

"The Union was originally formed by the exercise of a spirit of conciliation and compromise. To restore and preserve it, the same spirit must prevail in our councils and in the hearts of the people. The reestablishment of the Union, in all its integrity, is and must continue to be the indispensable condition in any settlement. So soon as it is clear, or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready for peace upon the basis of the Union, we should exhaust all the resources of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations, and taught by the traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and interests of the country, to secure such peace, reestablish the Union, and guarantee for the future the constitutional rights of every State. The Union is the one condition of peace. We ask no more.

Let me add what I doubt not was, although unexpressed, the sentiment of the convention, as it is of the people they represent, that when any one State is willing to return to the Union it should be received at once with a full guarantee of all its constitutional rights. If a frank, earnest, and persistent effort to obtain these objects should fail, the responsibility for ulterior consequences will fall upon those who remain in arms against the Union, but the Union must be preserved at all hazards. I could not look in the face my gallant comrades of the army and navy who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that their labors, and the sacrifices of so many of our slain and wounded brethren, had been in vain, that we had abandoned that Union for which we have so often perilled our lives. A vast majority of our people, whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace on the basis of the Union under the Constitution, without the effusion of another drop of blood, but no peace can be permanent without Union."

So he basically says lets go back to 1860. Although after 3 bloody hard fought years I doubt the Confederates would have just said ok. Too much blood had been spilled on both sides, imo, to not see through to total victory.  So I'm not sure how realistic McClellan's view was.

Last edited on Fri Dec 21st, 2012 02:07 pm by BHR62



 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 03:19 pm
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Texas Defender
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BHR62-

  Like you, I have grave doubts that the peaceful reunification of the states could ever have taken place after 1864. My view of the presidential campaign of the Democrats in that year is that they were trying to have things both ways. (General Mclellan certainly was).

  The Peace Democrats managed to get into the party platform a plank calling for the end of the war. (This was attacked by the Republicans as being: "Traitorous.") General McClellan declined to endorse this part of his party's platform. He promised that he could conduct the war: "More skillfully" than Mr. Lincoln could.

  The Peace Democrats also managed to secure the vice presidential nomination for George H. Pendleton, whose views on the continuation of the war differed from General McClellan's.

George H. Pendleton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia       Mr. Pendleton at least deserves credit for helping to reform the civil service system.

  I believe that the Republicans were successful in portraying the Peace Democrats as being disloyal.They also suggested that the Democrats' plan for ending the war would leave the institution of slavery in place, which by 1864 Mr. Lincoln was no longer willing to do.

  In the end, though, I think that the Lincoln presidency was saved by Union military successes in the months leading up to the election. Most notable of these, of course, was General Sherman's taking of Atlanta and the beginning of the March to the Sea.

  These events showed that the CSA was becoming a hollow shell that could no longer defend its territory. They served to buoy up the spirits of the northern populace which had been at a low ebb earlier in 1864.

  As a result, the majority of northerners chose to keep Mr. Lincoln and thereby pay whatever the price would be required to carry on the war to complete military victory.

 

  For those with the time and the inclination to read it, here is a detailed explanation of the political events and maneuverings involved in the election campaign of 1864:

Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864 - Abraham Lincoln's Classroom

Last edited on Fri Dec 21st, 2012 03:31 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 07:15 pm
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Hellcat
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You're right about Lincoln's campaign being saved by Federal victories in 1864. I know I've read the fall of Atlanta and the capture of Mobile Bay helped secure Lincoln's re-election. Northern papers heavily trumpeted these victories.

I'm not sure how much more skillful McClellan would have really been. Yeah he had the military training Lincoln did. He certainly put that to good use organizing the army. But his conduct in the field commanding the Army of the Potomac (vs. prior to his command of this army) have me questioning how skillful he would have been as commander-in-chief in place of Lincoln.



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