BORN: 1826 in Philadelphia, PA.
DIED: 1885 in Orange, NJ.
CAMPAIGNS: Rich Mountain, Corrick's Ford, Fort Monroe, Williamsburg,
Malvern Hill and Antietam.
(Replacing Winfield Scott.)
George Brinton McClellan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 3, 1826, to a distinguished family. After leaving the University of Pennsylvania in 1842, he studied at the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1846. McClellan became an engineer officer, and was twice brevetted for service in the Mexican War. In addition to working as an engineering and teaching at West Point, he observed European tactics and designed a saddle that was named after him. In 1857, he resigned his commission as a captain, and became chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1860, after rising to the position of vice president of that company, he became president of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. When the Civil War began, McClellan was living in Cincinnati. Appointed major general of Ohio volunteers, he became well known for his skills as an administrator; as well as for the victories at Rich Mountain and Corrick's Ford, for which he took credit. He headed the defeated Union forces at the First Battle of Bull Run. Nicknamed "Little Mac," McClellan managed to improve the quality of the Army of the Potomac in a few months, to the point that it was able to stand up to the best Confederate troops. This feat made McClellan popular among his troops, but his anti-Republican sentiments did not endear him to government officials. The harshest conflicts existed between McClellan and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. McClellan also clashed with some of his military colleagues, including Gen. Winfield Scott and Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck. Overly cautious at times and unwilling to take the offensive, McClellan retreated to the James River in July of 1863, despite his victories from Williamsburg in May to Malvern Hill in July. President Lincoln removed him from that command in August of 1863, but put him back when his replacement led the Union to defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run. McClellan rejuvenated and organized the troops, but performed poorly in the Antietam Campaign. He was able to stop Confederate General Lee's invasion of Maryland, but was slow to follow up after the retreating Confederate forces. At that point, Lincoln relieved McClellan permanently. He remained on inactive duty, and became involved in politics, and ran for President in 1864 as the Democratic candidate. Defeated in the election, he spent his civilian life traveling, working as a civil engineer, getting involved in various business ventures and writing a memoir, "McClellan's Own Story" (1887). He was elected governor of New Jersey in 1878, serving until 1881. McClellan died on October 29, 1885, in Orange, New Jersey.