16 August 2006
I don’t intend to make a habit of simply linking to other blogs, but in this case I hope you’ll let me slide.
As sighted on the latest History Carnival, “Greenman Tim” Abbot has written a thoughtful piece called “Little Mac” Attack: History vs. the Soldier’s View on his Walking the Berkshires blog. Nothing earth-shattering, perhaps, but a different perspective from the average. Almost never a bad thing.
He gives a nice synopsis of the subject:
I have often wondered at the disconnect between the deep affection the Army of the Potomac had for its ill-starred commander and the verdict of history. His men by their own accounts adored him. Lincoln was certain the soldier votes of McClellan’s veterans would cost him re-election in 1864 when “Little Mac” ran on the Democratic ticket. Yet armchair generals and Civil War buffs alike condemn McClellan as a failed and self-promoting army commander who may have been an efficient administrator but who consistently over-estimated his foes and was outgeneraled time and again on the Peninsula.
He quotes from a letter of a Captain Read (of BGen Brooks‘ staff) talking about McClellan’s having been relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac soon after Antietam, in November 1862:
“… It is the feeling in the camp that a deep act of injustice has been done, purely from political motives, and there is a general indignation manifested. The demonstrations of affection with which little “Mac” was received by his troops as he paid them a farewell visit it is beyond the power of pen to describe …”
Later Tim makes a simple statement that also summarizes my own take on General McClellan
McClellan is a complex figure.
Aren’t we all?