BUST VIEW LITHOGRAPH OF MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN

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Item Code: 855-04

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Lithograph CDV image of Major General George McClellan. Image depicts the General in uniform, from the mid-chest up. Image is clear with very good contrast. This lithograph is well done and has the quality of a photograph.

Reverse is blank but has a light period pencil inscription that reads “GEN. MC CLELLAN.”

George Brinton McClellan was born December 3, 1826 in Philadelphia. He began his military career after entering the United States Military Academy in 1842.  He graduated second in a class of fifty-nine in 1846.  He was appointed as a brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers and served under General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War. The recipient of brevet promotions to both 1stLieutenant and Captain, he returned to West Point as an instructor after the war.  Other duties included service as an engineer at Fort Delaware, expeditions to explore the Red River, and the exploration of possible routes for the transcontinental railroad.  He was also a military observer during the Crimean War.  In 1857, McClellan resigned from the Army to take a position with the Illinois Central Railroad.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Ohio governor William Dennison appointed McClellan Major General of Ohio Volunteers on April 23, 1861.  This promotion, along with the support of Governor Denison, encouraged President Lincoln to commission McClellan a Major General in the Regular Army. McClellan secured Kentucky and western Virginia for the Union and this success, combined with the defeat of General Irvin McDowell at the battle of First Bull Run, led McClellan to become commander of the Army of the Potomac. Later, upon the retirement of General Winfield Scott in November of 1861, McClellan became General-in-Chief of all Federal armies.

After the defeat at Manassas, much of the Army of the Potomac was unorganized, and its new commander set to work providing the men proper military training and instilling in them a remarkable esprit de corps.

In the spring of 1862, McClellan was removed as General-in-Chief, though he retained command of the Potomac Army.  Facing great pressure from President Lincoln, he launched a campaign against the Confederate capital along the Virginia Peninsula, known as the Peninsula Campaign.  Continually misled by bad intelligence McClellan frequently delayed his attacks, allowing his opponent ample time to retreat slowly toward the Richmond defenses. After a tough fight at Fair Oaks Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate army facing McClellan. Taking advantage of McClellan's cautious streak, Lee hammered at the inert Army of the Potomac in a series of fierce and unrelenting assaults.  Over the course of the bloody Seven Days' Battles, McClellan’s mighty host was forced to abandon its bid to seize Richmond and retreat to the safety of Washington.

With Little Mac at its head, the Army of the Potomac moved to counter Lee's 1862 invasion of Maryland. The two armies met at Antietam on September 17, 1862, the single bloodiest day of the war. Battle weary and bloodied, the Confederate Army retreated back into Virginia under the cover of darkness.

Though he had managed to thwart Lee's plan to invade the North, McClellan's trademark caution once again denied the Northern cause a decisive victory. In November of that year McClellan was relieved of command and ordered back to Trenton, New Jersey to await further orders, though none ever came.

In 1864, McClellan was nominated to be the Democratic candidate for president.  He ran on an anti-war platform, promising that he would negotiate peace terms with the Confederacy to help end the war as soon as possible.  But by November of 1864, a string of Union successes had convinced many that the war was in its final phase.  McClellan resigned his army commission on Election Day and lost the election.

After the war, McClellan served as an administrator for a number of engineering firms and in 1878 was elected Governor of New Jersey.  In his final years, the former general penned a defense of his tenure as commander of the Army of the Potomac, but died before he could see it published.  He died on October 29, 1885 in Orange, New Jersey and is buried in Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, NJ.      [sm]

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