Little Mac Attack

When my great-grandfather, Archibald Van Orden, served in the Union’s Army of The Potomac in 1862, Major General George B. McClellan was in charge. At West Point, classmates nicknamed him “Little Mac” in joshing reference to his short stature. After elevation to overall command of the US Army, he earned a new sobriquet: “Young Napoleon.” This illustration may show a small resemblance.

Large George_B_McClellan_-_retouched

Rarely have soldiers and politicos disagreed so vehemently about a General.

McClellan’s troops are known to have “adored” their General, hailing him as “charismatic” and “highly popular.” Conversely, President Abraham Lincoln (and his cabinet) belittled McClellan, especially with news reporters in earshot.

Was this a case of the tall man (Lincoln) putting down the small man (McClellan)? Or was it the case of a Major General with a minor talent for aggressive warfare?

History, as it is said, is written by the victors. Lincoln demoted McClellan. In the Presidential Election of 1864, McClellan ran as the Democratic candidate against Republican Lincoln. Lincoln won. McClellan lost.

As the original Napoleon might have said of the outcome:  “C’est la guerre.”

Napoleon_in_His_Study

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