Major General George
General in Chief of the Union Army
Major General George B. McClellan was a highly capable organizer. He formed the Union Army of the Potomac after the Confederate victory at First Manassas. He commanded the Union Army that defeated General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam. The other military campaigns he commanded were not successful because of his lack of aggressiveness, slowness to act, and failure to gain adequate support from the political establishment headed by President Abraham Lincoln.
General McClellan conceived and led the Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond by an amphibious landing. His army actually won many battles around Richmond against General Lee during The Seven Days, but he continued to retreat. He constantly overestimated the strength of the enemy. Resources were redirected to Major General John Pope's army in Northern Virginia. When it was defeated at the Battle of Second Manassas and General McClellan's forces were withdrawn from the Virginia Peninsula, he took charge of the combined army defending Washington, D.C. This army ultimately won the Battle of Antietam. Shortly after the victory, President Lincoln replaced General McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac because he let General Lee's defeated army escape.
George Brinton McClellan was born into a prominent Philadelphia family in 1826. He graduated second in the Class of 1846 of the United State Military Academy at West Point. He earned two brevet promotions during service under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War. The U. S. Army sent him to study European armies during the Crimean War. He resigned his commission on January 16, 1857 as a captain. He became the Chief Engineer and Vice President of the Illinois Central Railroad. Just before the Civil War he became a Division President for the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. When the Civil War began, he reentered the military as the commander of the Ohio Militia. He won some minor military victories in West Virginia before he was chosen to lead the Union Army in the East. He was defeated by Abraham Lincoln in the 1864 Presidential Election. He served as the Governor of New Jersey. He died on October 29, 1885 in Orange, New Jersey.
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