Friday, January 13, 2012

McClellan and Lincoln Argue Over Strategy

Lincoln and McClellan
McClellan, commander of the Northern armies, had been sick for the past weeks with typhoid fever, and so Lincoln decided to call a council of war to take matters into his own hands, since he could not see McClellan. Lincoln wanted to commence operations in Virginia as soon as possible, but McClellan did not think the army was prepared. McClellan was enraged when he heard of Lincoln's meetings behind his back. He left this record of the meeting:
I mustered strength enough on Sunday morning (Jan. 12 1862) to be driven to the White House, where my unexpected appearance caused very much the effect of a shell in a powder-magazine. It was very clear from the manner of those I met there that there was something of which they were ashamed.
They next day they met again, and McClellan was asked to explain his plans. He responded thus:
To this I replied, in substance, that if the President had confidence in me it was not right or necessary to entrust my designs to the judgment of others, but that if his confidence was so slight as to require my opinions to be fortified by those of other persons it would be wiser to replace me by some one fully possessing his confidence; that no general commanding an army would willingly submit his plans to the judgment of such an assembly … incapable of keeping a secret, so that anything made known to them would soon spread over Washington and become known to the enemy.
The clashes between Lincoln and McClellan would continue over the coming months, with McClellan continually resisting what he saw as a premature attack before he was ready.


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