When and why was the career of General McClellan almost over in Chapter 8 of Across Five Aprils? 

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the fall of 1862, it appeared that the career of General McClellan was almost over.  With the war dragging on and losses on both sides mounting, the tide of public opinion had turned against him.  The general feeling was that McClellan was too hesitant out on the field of battle; he waited too long before making his moves, and at the bloody battle of Antietam specifically, he did not press his advantage after driving the rebels out of Maryland and allowed the retreating Confederates to get away.  It appeared that the President had lost confidence in the diminutive, handsome General as well, because after Antietam, McClellan was removed from command.  His replacement was Ambrose Burnside, who turned out to be as rash as McClellan was uncertain.

There were those, however, who thought that McClellan was a brilliant military man.  Shadrach, who served under the General, wrote that many in his regiment thought he could do no wrong, accepting "suffering of any kind as something through which they (could) show their devotion to this leader".  Shadrach himself was not so sure.  Although he believed that the General was "personally brave and devoted to the cause for which his men (were) fighting", he felt that McClellan was "afraid of something", and that he lacked "the singleness of purpose, the brutal tenacity, that the winner of this war...must have" (Chapter 8).

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Across Five Aprils

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