What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

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Duncan
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What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

Postby Duncan » Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:06 am

I am reading Volume I of Shelby Foote's American Civil War narrative and General McClellan is a bit of an enigma to me. He's loved by the people and the troops but he just seems unwilling to fight. President Lincoln was frustrated by him and he was incredibly conservative, moving very slow in the Peninsular Campaign and unwilling to attack unless he had a secure retreat. Perhaps secure retreat is a bit harsh. He did need a good line back for supply and communication and may have been somewhat gun shy after Ball's Bluff. So what's the deal? Was he a very timid General? Was he one of those guys who is a great leader in preparing for the defense (similar to Lee) and should have been placed in charge of training and defending the capital? Or what?..

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Re: What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

Postby Frizzenspark » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:35 am

Initial response, is that Little Mac was an excellent Peace-Time general; he was an innovator and an excellent administrator. He would have wanted to protect and preserve the Army he worked so hard to develop, sort of a Mother Hen to his Chicks
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Re: What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

Postby Duncan » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:23 pm

Captain Sobol (?) comes to mind, from Band of Brothers. He was credited by his troops for being the reason they were so well prepared for war, even though the didn't want to go into combat with him. McClellan seemed to be excellent at preparing an army for war, but unwilling to fight it.

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Re: What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

Postby Whiterook » Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:26 pm

I agree on all points, actually....of what I've read on the man, he was more suited to army building, than leading. He was a sluggish and paranoid field commander. That last statement can be backed up by dozens of field combat examples, unfortunately. That's not to say he did not tally several important favorable goals and victories....but he was indeed a flawed field commander (among many flawed field commanders).

I've often wondered if his woes as a field commander stemmed from being more about destroying the Confederacy's ability to fight by eliminating its logistics than strictly by combat. The guy was more computer than Schwarzenegger.
If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

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Re: What's the deal with George B. McClellan?

Postby rcleary171 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:02 pm

Poor George. I grew up in Trenton NJ and I use to ride my bike in the grave yard were he's buried. I had learned he was governor of New Jersey and a few buildings in lower Manhattan where I work bear his name. But he knew how to build an army - he just loved it too much to risk it in battle.


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