McClellan and Failure

A Study of Civil War Fear, Incompetence and Worse

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About the Book

In the eyes of many historians, Union general George B. McClellan single-handedly did more damage to the Union war effort than any other individual—including Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. Promoting his own ideas and career regardless of the consequences, McClellan eventually became a thorn in the side of President Lincoln. Removed from command on November 5, 1862, McClellan left a legacy of excessive caution that continued to affect the Army of the Potomac.
From West Point to Antietam, this volume examines McClellan’s army career and especially how his decisions affected the course of the Civil War. Union actions are examined in detail with special emphasis on the roles McClellan played—or did not play. Excerpts from McClellan’s orders and correspondence provide a contemporary picture and motives for his actions. An appendix examines the treatment given McClellan by various historians.

About the Author(s)

Edward H. Bonekemper, III is a visiting lecturer in military history at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He lives in Willow Street, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edward H. Bonekemper, III
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 29 photos, maps, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010 [2007]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4575-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0682-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

Introduction: The General Who Failed      3

1 Rising to Power and Prestige      9

2 Winning Through Others in Western Virginia      13

3 Maneuvering in Washington      24

4 Evading Battle as General-in-Chief      35

5 Crawling up the Virginia Peninsula      53

6 Retreating at a Distance During the Seven Days’ Battle      79

7 Undercutting Pope      95

8 Squandering Opportunities at Antietam      123

9 Earning Lincoln’s Rejection      141

10 McClellan’s Motivations      156

Appendix: Historians’ Treatment of George B. McClellan      175

Notes      179

Bibliography      199

Index      207

Book Reviews & Awards

“impressive…intriguing”—Blue & Gray Magazine; “well written…I would suggest reading his work…well-presented”—Civil War News; “this book goes beyond the usual criticisms of McClellan and explores his operational ineptitude, his fear of failure, his cowardice on the battlefield, his missed opportunities for early Union success, and even his treacherous behavior that caused John Pope to lose the Battle of Second Manassas”—50plus Senior News; “a critical study of the career of one of the most controversial commanders in the Civil War. This telling of the tale is complete, warts and all…excellent…a must read…one of the best biographies to come on the scene in quite some time”—North Jersey Civil War Round Table; “building on his Lee and Grant books, Ed Bonekemper has produced a scintillating and incisive critique of the disastrous Civil War career of George B. McClellan. This book is a ‘must’ for Civil War buffs.—Edwin Baldrige, Professor Emeritus, Muhlenberg College.