Major General George B. McClellan

George Brinton McClellan (shown here with his wife, Ellen Mary Marcy) was the second Commander of the Army of the Potomac. The soldiers gave him the nickname "Little Mac", while others called him "Young Napoleon".

McClellan was reappointed to command of all of the Federal troops in the Washington District after John Pope's humiliating defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run. A superb organizer of troops he transformed the Union Army from a rag-tag, dispirited mob, into a disciplined, spirited army after their drubbing by James Longstreet and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Upon opening the Battle of Antietam on 17 September, McClellan allowed his troops to go in piecemeal, so what should have been one grand battle was actually three, very bloody, smaller battles, at three different locations on the battlefield, beginning at about 6:00 AM with Joseph Hooker's assault on Jackson's division on the Union right and ending just after 4:00 PM with A. P. Hill's division, making a forced march from Harper's Ferry, stopping Ambrose Burnside's attack on the Union left. The battle, while technically a draw, was claimed as a Union victory by the rules of the time that identified the victor as the one whose army remained in possession of the battlefield.

Unfortunately he was hesitant to use the Army effectively (some would say "at all."). President Abraham Lincoln once remarked that he would have liked to "borrow" the Army if McClellan wasn't using it and, after the battle of Antietam described the Army of the Potomac as "McClellan's Bodyguard." Due to his inaction during the autumn following the Battle of Antietam, McClellan was replaced by Burnside as Commander, Army of the Potomac.

McClellan was the Democatic nominee for President in 1864, losing the election to Abraham Lincoln.

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Photo credit: Library of Congress
Created 15 SEP 1999; Modified 17 MAR 2003