George McClellan Signed Photograph
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A rare image of the famous Union general, shown three-quarters length in uniform, nearly a month after his dismissal by President Lincoln. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.
Signed Photograph. Carte-de-visite by Silsbee, Case & Co. Inscribed on verso, “For Mr. Col Waite, with the respects of Geo B McClellan,” with a later publisher’s stamp in red: “Case & Getchell, from Dec. 3, 1862.” 2⅜ x 4 in.
McClellan may have inscribed this to Colonel Carlos Waite, a New York native who served in the Mexican War with McClellan, and who became colonel of the 1st U.S. Infantry Regiment stationed in Texas during the secession crisis in 1861.
George McClellan (1826-1885) was a controversial U.S. General and presidential candidate during the Civil War. He finished second in the West Point class of 1846, and served in the Mexican War. In 1861, McClellan quickly rose to command the Department of Ohio, and outmaneuvered Robert E. Lee in the western Virginia campaign. For four months, McClellan was General-in-Chief of all Union armies and played a critical role in organizing the Army of the Potomac. Though an excellent organizer and paternal symbol of the Army of the Potomac, and fondly remembered by his own soldiers, McClellan is most often remembered for his disputes with Republicans in Congress and with President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, and for his failures and inadequacies in the field. His Peninsula Campaign of 1862 started well but languished in spring rains and in the caution springing from McClellan’s penchant for accepting fabulous estimates of his opponent’s strength. When Robert E. Lee replaced wounded Confederate field commander Joseph Johnston, Lee took the offensive, and despite high casualties, outmaneuvered McClellan in the Seven Days’ Battles. McClellan was recalled to the defense of Washington after General Pope’s defeat at Second Manassas. In perhaps his finest hour, McClellan melded Pope’s men with his army and pursued Lee into rural central Maryland. The Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862) was a Union victory, though historians have parsed the many missed opportunities of destroying Lee’s army. This failure, combined perhaps with McClellan’s opposition to the prospect of an Emancipation Proclamation, led Lincoln to dismiss McClellan on November 5, 1862. He was never recalled to active service. A Democrat, McClellan ran against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential contest and was defeated. McClellan later served one term as state governor (1878-1881), and died of heart disease in 1885.