The Civil War, Day by Day

General George McClellan

McClellan Replaces Scott as Commander of U.S. Forces

Life seemed to have prepared McClellan for greatness. He was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, graduated second in his class at West Point, and became the second highest ranking general in the U.S. Army. As Commander of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, McClellan reported to Scott, who was a celebrated veteran of both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Yet Scott was in poor health and could work only a few hours a day - much to the delight of McClellan. Bypassing the aging war hero and communicating directly with the President, he put in 18-hour days. . . achieving quick and visible results. McClellan boasted in a letter to his wife, Ellen, that “by some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land.”

When President Lincoln promoted McClellan to Scott’s office, he asked the young general if he could successfully retain command of the Army of the Potomac while fulfilling the duties of his new post. Ever confident, McClellan told Lincoln not to worry. . . “I can do it all.” Unfortunately, history would prove otherwise.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.