Brian Hoeg Civil War Group Projects
George Brinton McClellan
When you hear the name George McClellan, courageous, brave, heroic, and decisive are probably not the first words that come to mind. That's probably because none of those words describe him. George McClellan was an indecisive coward, unfit for his position as a general, partially because of his sympathy for his troops, but also because of his "conspiracy theories" which constantly screwed over the union troops under his leadership.
McClellan, also known as "Lil' Mac," and "Young Napoleon," was a prestigious student at the West Point academy. He was the youngest recruit, however when he graduated he was second in his class, and the first one ended up serving under him. After graduating McClellan was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers and in the Mexican War, he won brevets of 1st Lieutenant and Captain for his zeal, gallantry, and ability in constructing roads and bridges over routes for the marching army.
He also taught at West Point for 3 years. The accomplishments went on and on. McClellan became a surveyor of possible transcontinental railroad routes, and as a member of a board of officers, he was able to go to Europe and study Napoleon's tactics. McClellan's legacy also gave us the "McClellan Saddle," which became obsolete by 1942 (but it sure was important before that!). McClellan later resigned from his position as 1st Captain of Cavalry to become the Chief Engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad. When the civil war began, McClellan was living in Ohio running two railroad companies.
It was only downhill from there. Though McClellan was successful in West Virginia, the rest of the war didn't pan out as well. McClellan had many opportunities to put the war to an end,