Life and Campaigns of George B. McClellan

George B. MCCLELLAN   |   George Stillman HILLARD

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Life and Campaigns of George B. McClellan


(LINCOLN) (MCCLELLAN, George B.) HILLARD, George Stillman. Life and Campaigns of George B. McClellan Major-General U.S. Army. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1864. Octavo, original brown cloth.

First edition of this campaign biography of George McClellan, intended to help McClellan beat Lincoln in the 1864 Presidential race, in original cloth.

Toward the end of the Civil War, the relationship between McClellan and Lincoln had disintegrated. McClellan, hopelessly old-fashioned and steeped in tradition, was unprepared for a war fought largely without rules. He refused to fight with poorly fed and ill-prepared troops; summarily rejected the use of dirty or punitive tactics such as house-burning, foraging, and confiscation of property; and, most damningly, ignored orders when Lincoln needed him to go to battle. Fed up with his disobedience, Lincoln relieved McClellan of command. Without the Army of the Potomac to command, "McClellan sought and obtained the Democratic party's 1864 presidential nomination, but the convention was dominated by Peace Democrats, or Copperheads, who wrote a platform calling the war a failure and demanding an immediate armistice, with vague reference to a possible, though in reality highly unlikely, future restoration of the Union by peaceful negotiation. McClellan, in his letter accepting the nomination, tried unsuccessfully to distance himself from this extreme position, emphasizing his determination to continue the war until the Union was restored. The people, however, perceived McClellan and the Democrats, not without reason, as the party of peace and disunion. In the event, major Federal victories during the fall of 1864, particularly the capture of Atlanta, made a mockery of the Democratic platform and helped ensure McClellan's defeat by a landslide. Vote totals among soldiers were even more starkly against him, even in the Army of the Potomac that once idolized him. On election day, before the results were known, McClellan wrote out his resignation from the army" (ANB). Hillard's biography of McClelland was an attempt to do what Hawthorne had done for Pierce—to rehabilitate, to promote. It is "an uncritical account written as a buttress for McClellan's presidential candidacy" (Nevins II:64). While unsuccessful, it provides insight into how those who loved McClellan best (and there were many—his soldiers and fellow officers among them) viewed his command and how his Civil War legacy might be understood in light of that perception. Dornbusch II:2238. Nicholson, 377. Early ink owner initials.

Light foxing to edges of text block, faint pinpoint spotting to original cloth, a few tiny rubs to spine. A near-fine copy.

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