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1864 February 27: General McClellan for President?

March 2, 2014

In August of 1864, at their national convention in Chicago, the Democratic Party would nominate General George B. McClellan as their candidate for president.  In this editorial, reprinted in the February 27, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press, some Democrats are already finding fault with him as a potential nominee.

The Course of General McClellan.

From the Green Bay Advocate, War Democrat.

What matters it here, in this time of peril, whether McClellan’s or somebody else’s plans and theories, in 1862, were better?  It is precisely of as much consequence as the question of Grouch’s fidelity at Waterloo.  It is a matter with which history has to deal–not we here in the trenches, restating an assault upon the life of the nation.

Suppose McClellan to have been badly treated.  Shall the earth and the sun stand still until he is attended to ?  Give him a court-martial, or a committee of inquiry, if he wants it ;  shoot him or Stanton—whichever is found to be in the fault—do anything in reason that he wants done ;  but let us go on meanwhile with more pressing and important matters.

Joe Hooker [Joseph Hooker] had as good a right to growl and grumble, and hump himself up.  Did he do it ?  Go and ask him, down there in Tennessee, good naturedly smoking his cigar under the shadow of Lookout Mountain.  John Pope, as brave a fighting man as ever lived, never had the hundredth part of the time, the favor, the patient waiting, which was given McClellan to do something with the Army of the Potomac—did he fall back, glum and cross, and demand that nothing should be done until he was avenged ?  He came from the command of a great army to a mere Indian border war, as gaily as though it were a holiday excursion.  Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] did not cope with Longstreet [James Longstreet] at Fredericksburg, and was summarily sent away ;  but he sought another trial and gave him hard knocks at Knoxville.  McDowell [Irvin McDowell], the earliest victim of ill-luck, has been vainly urging, over since, not the indorsement [sic] of his plans at Bull Run, but a command to lead once more at the Rebel army.  Rosecrans [Williams S. Rosecrans], the beloved of all, who was blown out after Chickamauga, as you would blow out a penny candle, referred to the druggist, instead of the Government, about the opium question.  Even Scott [Winfield Scott], the greatest general living, who was set aside gently but firmly, takes his morning walks in the Fifth Avenue, and if he doesn’t encourage, he doesn’t discourage the attempts we are making to save the country.

Up to the advent of Meade [George G. Meade], every General who has had command of the Army of the Potomac, has been relieved from it under the circumstances which they probably did not regard as flattering.  But of them all, there has been only one who has undertaken to inflict his wrongs—if they were wrongs—upon the country.  That one is Geo. B. McClellan.  He asks the country to take notice that not only his military plans but his ideas as to the politics of war, are different from those which have pursued.  He publishes old letters to the President [Abraham Lincoln].  He charges Stanton [Edwin M. Stanton], the existing Secretary of War, with having connived at his defeat and the destruction of the army.  He advocates the election of a man to the Governorship of Pennsylvania who decides that the draft is unconstitutional.  And he permits himself to be named as the Presidential candidate of the Fernando Woods, the Vallandighams [Clement L. Vallandigham], and all the other dead weights hanging on this war.  It is one of the fatalities which seem to attend that class of politicians, that they are making a candidate of that kind.  So long as they keep control of the Democratic party, so long will it be beaten.

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