In the eyes of many historians, Union General George B. McClellan single-handedly did more damage to the Union war effort than any other individual--including Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. McClellan's success in the Mexican War along with his prestigious position as president of the Eastern Division of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad had left him well positioned to enter the Union Army when hostilities began. Originally a major general in command of the Ohio Volunteers, McClellan attained the same rank in the regular Army three weeks after the beginning of the Civil War. Promoting his own ideas and career regardless of the consequences, McClellan spent his Civil War command defying his superiors and attempting to avoid battle, eventually becoming a thorn in the side of President Lincoln and the Union cause. Removed from command on November 5, 1862, McClellan's overly cautious attitude nevertheless permeated the Army of the Potomac for years. From West Point to Antietam, this volume examines his Army career. The main focus of the work is McClellan's Civil War service and the ways in which the man and his decisions affected the course of the war. The Union Army's invasion of rthern Virginia, the Peninsula Campaign and the Second Battle of Bull Run are examined in detail with special emphasis on the roles which McClellan played--or did t play. Through a combination of incompetence and paraia, McClellan managed to throw away numerous chances at a Union victory and, consequently, a quicker end to the war. Excerpts from McClellan's orders and correspondence provide a contemporary picture and firsthand motives for his actions. An appendix examines the treatment given McClellan by various historians. Assorted maps and an index are also included.
Edward H. Bonekemper, III, is a visiting lecturer in military history at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He lives in Willow Street, Pennsylvania.