Friday, October 19, 2012

McClernand Appointed to Command a New Army

A few months back the Federal naval forces had moved in to Vicksburg, but after several weeks of combat had retired, having discovered it would take a major military force to capture the “Gibraltar of the West.” It seemed that Grant would be the man for the job but he had not yet moved, having spent his time fighting Van Dorn and Price in northern Mississippi. But 150 years ago today another man was appointed to make an attempt at it, and that was John Alexander McClernand.

McClernand was an Illinois lawyer whose career had been very similar to that of Abraham Lincoln, the president. Although he was a Democrat and Lincoln a Republican, they were still friends. When the war came he was appointed a political general, helping Lincoln to win support from the Illinois Democrats. 150 years ago today he obtained leave to visit Lincoln in Washington, DC, and convinced him to give him his own independent command to make an attack on Vicksburg, Mississippi. This news would spurn Grant into action. He did not want McClernand to gain the great fame that would come from the capture of Vicksburg, which Grant expected to be his own.


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