George B. McClellan (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Although McClellan was unsuccessful in destroying Confederate armies or capturing Richmond, his victory at Antietam permitted the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and he helped make the Army of the Potomac a potent fighting force.
Long considered the “problem child” of the American Civil War (1861-1865), George B. McClellan was a talented, if flawed, general. Following initial success in the Ohio Valley, he was elevated to command of the Army of the Potomac and, during the fall of 1861, directed the operations of all Union armies. He transformed the Army of the Potomac from a volunteer fighting force into a professional army, but did not lead it to ultimate victory. Adored by his troops, he nonetheless proved reluctant to take risks, retreating from Richmond in 1862, the object of his Peninsular Campaign, rather than engaging the Confederate army in a slugfest.
Although he badly bloodied the Army of Northern Virginia at Antietam (1862), he did not attack quickly when he knew his foe was divided and then did not give vigorous pursuit when the Army of Northern Virginia retreated. Further, his personal loathing for President Abraham Lincoln created policy problems for the Union over issues such as slavery and war aims. Cashiered in...
(The entire section is 273 words.)
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