November 5, 1862: Lincoln Removes McClellan


By November 5, 1862, Abraham Lincoln had reached the end of his patience with George B. McClellan, Commander of the Army of the Potomac.  The story of the War in the East for the Union in 1862 was largely the tragedy of Little Mac.  A superb organizer and trainer of troops, and not a bad strategist, McClellan lacked all tactical ability and  could not win battles.  Additionally, he simply was afraid to risk the fall of the iron dice of war.  McClellan had created the Army of the Potomac and made certain that the men under his command were well supplied, paid on time, and well-equipped, and as the above video indicates most of his men were fond of him.  If some other general could have acted as field commander, McClellan would have made a fine chief of staff.  As it was, the Army of the Potomac was not going to meet with success as long as Lincoln left him in command, and his removal was inevitable.    Here is the text of the order removing McClellan and turning a page in the Union war effort:



By direction of the President, it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that army; also that Major-General Hunter take command of the corps in said army which is now commanded by General Burnside; that Major-General Fitz John Porter be relieved from the command of the corps he now commands in said army, and that Major-General Hooker take command of said corps.

The General in Chief is authorized, in (his) discretion, to issue an order substantially as the above forthwith, or so soon as he may deem proper.


Published in: on November 5, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Mind you, replacing MacClellan with Burnside was like trying to cure influenza with malaria.

    • Agreed as to that! Burnside’s replacement, Joe Hooker, had real ability, although against Lee and Jackson he was simply out of his league.

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