RIA recently shared this picture of a Colt 1860 owned by the twice Commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, General McClellan. A real piece of work he was. Probably the biggest ego of the war for a guy who didn’t do anything but complain. A noted expert on training and organizing an Army but not so much on the other stuff. His one debatable success coming from some one dropping General Lee’s attack plans in a field and a Union soldier finding them. The man could have taken Richmond if he moved with alacrity but that just wasn’t in his making. Within days of taking command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee drove Mac from virtually the city limits all the way back to DC. It didn’t do much for Mac’s reputation as you can imagine.
“Little Mac”as he was called by his troops was much loved. Robert E. Lee, on being asked (by his cousin, and recorded by his son) who was the ablest general on the Union side during the late war, replied emphatically: “McClellan, by all odds!” Surprising praise from Old Mars Lee. The only thing the man ever said I would not agree with. Maybe Mars Lee admired his organizational skills? Perhaps he confused him with some one else?
General U.S. Grant did not know what to make of Mac, after the war when asked about Mac, Grant said –
” McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war. As a young man he was always a mystery. He had the way of inspiring you with the idea of immense capacity, if he would only have a chance. Then he is a man of unusual accomplishments, a student, and a well-read man. “
Considering what Grant did, I’m sure Mac was a mystery to him.
“Probably no soldier who did so little fighting has ever had his qualities as a commander so minutely, and we may add, so fiercely discussed.”
When reading Mac’s cables to the war Department and his own dairies and letters to his wife, there is not much to like about the man. It seems he had a persecution complex , delusions of grandeur and was apt to blame everything and everyone but himself. He constantly over estimated CSA troops by absurd amounts. He was famously tricked by Johnston by painting tree trunks black to look like canons ( quaker guns the troops called them).
McClellan himself summed up his style of warfare in a draft of his memoirs:
It has always been my opinion that the true course in conducting military operations, is to make no movement until the preparations are as complete as circumstances permit, & never to fight a battle without some definite object worth the probable loss
I guess the capital of the CSA was not a good enough objective for Little Mac. He was an excellent foe for Lee have to face while still fine tuning his command on the Army Of Norther Virginia though.
I didn’t mean this to end up on a semi lecture about Civil War Generals, I was ust going to show the gun. The war is a favorite subject of mine and is one of those things I know an absurd amount of things about. I wish I had devoted all that time to something more useful over the years and I’d probably be rich. Maybe I will write about it a little more from now on if you guys want me to.