George Brinton McClellan
b. Philadelphia, Dec. 3, 1826, d. Oct. 29, 1885,
After graduation from West Point in 1846, the youthful McClellan served in the Mexican War with displayed ability. At the start of the war, McClellan was put into a position of leadership.
After a successful campaign in Virginia, McClellan was given command of the Army of Potomac, one of the Union's strongest armies, after its defeat at Bull Run. With almost 100,000 troops under his command, he led the Peninsular campaign, marching toward Richmond. Despite weighted numbers and staggering odds, Jackson and Johnston, and eventually Lee, thwarted his efforts, and the campaign toward Richmond was abandoned. His overcautious approach was his greatest fall back, and much of this cautiousness was caused by faulty estimates of enemy numbers. At the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, his over cautiousness led to a draw at the costly battle instead of a Union victory. Due to his apparent inactivity, Lincoln relieved him of duty in November.
In 1864, he won the nomination for presidential candidation, but was squarely defeated by Lincoln. In the postwar years he was a successful engineering consultant and traveled the world.
Bibliography: Sears, S. W., The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan (1989); George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon (1988; repr. 1989) and To the Gates of Richmond (1992).