On November 1, 1861, Major General George B. McClellan issued General Orders, No. 19 (Headquarters of the Army) announcing that he was assuming command of the Armies of the United States.
General Orders, No. 19.
Headquarters of the Army
Washington, November 1, 1861
In accordance with General Orders, No. 94, from the War Department, I hereby assume command of the Armies of the United States. In the midst of the difficulties which encompass and divide the nation, hesitation and self-distrust may well accompany the assumption of so vast a responsibility; but confiding as I do in the loyalty, discipline, and courage of our troops, and believing as I do that Providence will favor ours as the just cause, I cannot doubt that success will crown our efforts and sacrifices.
The Army will unite with me in the feeling of regret that the weight of many years and the effect of increasing infirmities, contracted and intensified in his country’s service, should just now remove from our head the great soldier of our nation–the hero who in his youth raised high the reputation of his country on the fields of Canada, which he hallowed with his blood; who in more mature years proved to the world that American skill and valor could repeat if not eclipse the exploits of Cortez in the land of the Montezumas; whose whole efforts have been directed to uphold our honor at the smallest sacrifice of life–a warrior who scorned the selfish glories of the battle-field when his greatest qualities as a statesman could be employed more profitably for his country; a citizen who in his declining years has given to the world the most shining instance of loyalty, in disregarding all ties of birth and clinging still to the cause of truth and honor. Such has been the career, such the character, of Winfield Scott, whom it has long been the delight of the nation to honor both as a man and a soldier. While we regret his loss, there is one thing we cannot regret–the bright example he has left for our emulation. Let us all hope and pray that his declining years may be passed in peace and happiness, and that they may be cheered by the success of the country and the cause he has fought for and loved so well. Beyond all that, let us do nothing that can cause him to blush for us; let no defeat of the Army he has so long commanded embitter his last years, but let our victories illuminate the close of a life so grand.
Geo. B. McClellan
Major-General, Commanding U.S. Army