George McClellan, Portrait

Major General George Brinton McClellan served as General-in-Chief of all U.S. armies from November 1, 1861 to March 11, 1862. He also commanded the Army of the Potomac from July 25, 1861 to November 5, 1862. [Wikimedia Commons]

George Brinton McClellan - Facts

Key facts about Union General George Brinton McClellan.

Advertisements

Full Name:

  • George Brinton McClellan

Birth Date:

  • December 3, 1826

Birth Location:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • Dr. George McClellan and Elizabeth Steinmetz (Brinton) McClellan

Education:

  • United States Military Academy

Occupation:

  • Military officer, railroad executive, politician

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA), General-in-Chief (USA), Army of the Potomac commanding officer, Governor of New Jersey

Spouse:

  • Mary Ellen Marcy (1860)

Nicknames:

  • Little Mac, Young Napoleon

Place of Death:

  • West Orange, New Jersey

Date of Death:

  • October 29, 1885

Place of Burial:

  • Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, New Jersey

Significance:

  • George B. McClellan was the third of five children born to Dr. George McClellan and Elizabeth Sophia (Brinton) McClellan.
  • George B. McClellan’s father was a prominent physician and a founder of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
  • At the age of thirteen, George B. McClellan enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania to study law.
  • At age fifteen, George B. McClellan received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1842, despite being a few months shy of the academy’s enrollment requirements.
  • George B. McClellan graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1846, ranked second in his class of fifty-nine cadets.
  • George B. McClellan received a brevet promotion to second lieutenant on July 1, 1846, and was assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • During the Mexican-American War, George B. McClellan performed invaluable service as a combat engineer with the Company of Sappers, Miners, and Pontooners, constructing roads, bridges, and combat fortifications.
  • During the Mexican-American War, George B. McClellan was promoted to the full rank of second lieutenant on April 24, 1847.
  • During the Mexican-American War, the War Department brevetted George B. McClellan to the rank of first lieutenant, effective August 20, 1847, for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco.”
  • During the Mexican-American War, the War Department brevetted George B. McClellan to the rank captain, effective September 13, 1847, for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chapultepec.”
  • George B. McClellan was an engineering instructor at the United States Military Academy from 1848 – 1851.
  • George B. McClellan served as an official observer of the European armies during the Crimean War in 1855.
  • George B. McClellan was promoted to first lieutenant (effective July 1, 1853).
  • George B. McClellan was promoted to captain (effective March 3, 1855).
  • George B. McClellan resigned his commission on January 16, 1857, to accept a more lucrative position as chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad.
  • In 1858, George B. McClellan was promoted to the position of vice president of the Illinois Central Railroad.
  • George B. McClellan married Ellen Mary Marcy on May 22, 1860, at the Calvary Church in New York City. Their twenty-five-year marriage, which lasted until McClellan’s death in 1885, produced one son and one daughter.
  • In August 1860, George B. McClellan accepted an offer to become president of the eastern division of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • On April 23, 1861, Ohio Governor William Dennison appointed George B. McClellan as commander of the Ohio Militia with a rank of major general in the volunteer army.
  • On May 3, 1861, Washington officials issued General Orders, Number 14, placing George B. McClellan in command of a freshly-created military unit known as the Department of the Ohio.
  • George B. McClellan assumed command of the Department of the Ohio on May 13, 1861.
  • On May 14, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln informed George B. McClellan that he was nominating him for a commission in the regular army at the rank of major general, effective May 14, 1861.
  • On August 3, 1861, the U.S. Senate confirmed George B. McClellan’s nomination as major general in the U.S. Army.
  • When George B. McClellan officially signed his commission as major general in the U.S. Army on September 9, 1861, only General-in-Chief Winfield Scott outranked him.
  • George B. McClellan’s victory at the Battle of Philippi on June 3, 1861, is generally considered as the first significant land engagement in the eastern theater of the American Civil War.
  • George B. McClellan’s victory at the Battle of Rich Mountain on July 11, 1861, was instrumental in securing Federal control of western Virginia and the eventual establishment of the State of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
  • On July 25, 1861, the War Department issued General Orders, No. 47, announcing that George B. McClellan was assigned command of the Military Division of the Potomac.
  • On August 20, 1861, George B. McClellan issued General Orders, No. 1, assuming “command of the Army of the Potomac, comprising the troops serving in the former departments of Washington and Northeastern Virginia, in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and in the States of Maryland and Delaware.”
  • George B. McClellan fell out of favor with General-in-Chief Winfield Scott because he did not support Scott’s “Anaconda Plan.”
  • On November 1, 1861, the War Department issued General Orders, No. 94, announcing Scott’s retirement and President Lincoln’s executive order proclaiming that “Major-General George B. McClellan . . . [would] assume the command of the Army of the United States.”
  • Radical Republicans in Congress distrusted George B. McClellan because he was a member of the Democratic Party and because he did not support emancipation
  • Despite his early infatuation and support for George B. McClellan, President Abraham Lincoln eventually tired of the general’s insolence and indecisiveness.
  • George B. McClellan formed a low opinion of Abraham Lincoln when the future president worked as a lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad. Privately, the general referred to Lincoln as a “gorilla,” a “baboon,” and “unworthy of … his high position.”
  • On March 11, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued “President’s War Order, No. 3” relieving George B. McClellan of all commands except the Department of the Potomac.
  • On March 17, 1862, George B. McClellan launched his ill-fated Peninsula Campaign.
  • Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s victories during the Seven Days Battles (June 25 to July 1, 1862) forced George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to retreat down the Virginia Peninsula, bringing to an end McClellan’s unsuccessful Peninsula Campaign.
  • General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck recalled the Army of the Potomac to the Washington area on August 3, 1862, and redeployed many of George B. McClellan’s soldiers to Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia.
  • On August 30, 1862, reinforcements from George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac prevented Major General John Pope’s retreat from the Second Battle of Bull Run from becoming a disorganized rout.
  • On September 12, 1862, the War Department issued General Orders, No. 129, ending the existence of the Army of Virginia by merging its three corps with George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.
  • Many of George B. McClellan’s soldiers fondly referred to him as “Little Mac.”
  • On September 17, 1862, George B. McClellan scored a strategic victory over Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam.
  • George B. McClellan refused to comply with President Abraham Lincoln’s appeals to pursue Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s retreating army after the Battle of Antietam.
  • President Abraham Lincoln’s use of the strategic Union victory at the Battle of Antietam as the impetus for issuing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation displeased George B. McClellan’s because McClellan believed that the war was not – nor should it be – about ending slavery.
  • On November 5, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order relieving McClellan of his command of the Army of the Potomac and replacing him with Major General Ambrose E. Burnside.
  • George B. McClellan served as commander of the Army of the Potomac from July 25, 1861 – November 5, 1862.
  • The Democratic Party nominated George B. McClellan as their presidential candidate in 1864.
  • George B. McClellan ran as a War Democrat in the presidential election of 1864.
  • Incumbent President Abraham Lincoln easily defeated Democratic candidate George B. McClellan in the 1864 presidential popular vote 2,213,665 – 1,805,237.
  • Incumbent President Abraham Lincoln easily defeated Democratic candidate George B. McClellan in the 1864 Electoral College vote, 212 – 12.
  • George B. McClellan resigned his military commission on November 8, 1864.
  • In 1877, New Jersey voters elected George B. McClellan to the office of governor.
  • George B. McClellan served one term as Governor of New Jersey from January 15, 1878, to January 18, 1881.
  • George B. McClellan died at his home in West Orange, New Jersey on October 29, 1885, after suffering a heart attack at age fifty-eight.
Advertisements

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title George Brinton McClellan - Facts
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 1, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
GET THE BEST OF AMERICAN HISTORY CENTRAL DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
SIGN UP
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to receive news, offers, updates, and additional information from R.Squared Communications, LLC and American History Central. Easy unsubscribe links are included in every email.
CLOSE [X]