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General McClellan has many times in the course of his career exhibited a power of self-command, and a forgetfulness of all merely personal considerations in behalf of his obligations to his country and to the troops under his command, which entitles him to a high place among those heroes who, like England's Iron Duke, have dared to feel that

"The path of duty is the way to glory."

But never surely were these qualities more keenly tested than they must have been by this "war order," which at once shocked his common sense as a soldier and outraged his selfrespect as an officer high in command.

Before this "order" was issued, General McClellan had explained to the President the plan of campaign which he intended to pursue in Virginia. Like the immortal Dutch commissioners who harassed the soul of Marlborough with their incessant interferences in his campaign, the President certainly had a right in virtue of his position to know what operations the general in command of his armies was about to undertake; but like those high and mighty marplots also, his excellency committed the blunder of interpreting this right into a warrant for assuming the control of those operations, objecting to them, and modifying all the conditions essential to their sucHad Mr. Lincoln consulted General Halleck on the subject of these pretensions of his, that officer, who has done his country the service of translating Baron Jomini's great work on the art of war, might have enlightened him as to the limits of executive duty, with the following passage, upon which the campaign of 1862 on the Peninsula was destined to furnish a commentary more striking than any which the older history of warfare has bequeathed to us.

cess.

"In my judgment," observes Baron Jomini, discussing the part taken by the Executive Aulic Council of Vienna in directing the operations of the Austrian armies, "the only duty which such a council can safely undertake is that of advising

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LIFE OF GEN. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.

as to the adoption of a general plan of operations. Of course I do not mean by this a plan which is to embrace the whole course of a campaign, tie down the generals to that course, and so inevitably lead to their being beaten. I mean a plan which shall determine the objects of the campaign, decide whether offensive or defensive operations shall be undertaken, and fix the amount of material means which may be relied upon in the first instance for the opening of the enterprise, and then for the possible reserves in case of invasion. It cannot be denied that all these things may be, and even should be, discussed in a council of government made up of generals and of ministers; but here the action of such a council should stop; for if it pretends to say to a commander-in-chief not only that he shall march on Vienna or on Paris, but also in what way he is to manœuvre to reach those points, the unfortunate commander-in-chief will certainly be beaten, and the WHOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF HIS REVERSES WILL REST UPON THOSE WHO, TWO HUNDRED MILES OFF FROM THE ENEMY, PRETEND TO DIRECT AN ARMY WHICH IT IS DIFFICULT ENOUGH TO HANDLE WHEN ACTUALLY IN THE FIELD.

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CHAPTER VI.

GENERAL MCCLELLAN AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.

HOLDS THAT POSITION

FOR ABOUT TWO MONTHS. GENERAL PLAN OF CAMPAIGN AND POLITICS OF THE WAR.

WHEN General McClellan accepted the formal command of the armies of the Union on the 1st of November, 1861, of course he accepted that most responsible position with the understanding that he was to enjoy in the discharge of its duties "the confidence and cordial support, thus by fair implication promised, and without which he could not" (it is President Lincoln, be it remembered, who speaks) "with so full efficiency serve the country."

The meaning of the words "confidence" and "cordial support," as we shall now see, must undergo a serious modification before either of these terms can be fitted to the treatment which General McClellan did actually receive from the executive of the Union.

From the moment when General McClellan was thus made responsible for the general progress of the war, the campaign of the Potomac necessarily ceased to be the exclusive subject of his care. The more extended power now conferred upon him authorized, and indeed required him, to devote himself to perfecting and developing, in a systematic plan of operations, those suggestions of movements to be made on many other points of the circle of hostilities, which he had before thrown out at the request of the President, and in a merely advisory way.

Still regarding the capture of Richmond, and the defeat of

the main rebel army in Virginia, as the leading object to be aimed at, and determining to conduct in person that part of the operations he was about to direct, the new commander-inchief undertook a complete review of the political and military elements of the problem before him. The results of this labor are fully presented in the letters of instructions which he addressed to the different generals by whom the different parts of the general scheme of operations upon which he had resolved were intended to be carried out.

We give these letters in full, for a fair understanding of the whole history of the war subsequently to the first of November, 1861, can only be obtained by a careful perusal of them.

It will be observed that three of these letters bear date from the 7th to the 11th November, 1861, while the two others, and these not the least important, are dated on the 14th and 23d of February, 1862, respectively. The instructions comprised in them all belong to one system of action; but it is of vital consequence for the reader to bear in mind that the position of the writer had become materially modified by circumstances, which will be fully considered in the progress of this sketch, during the interval between the 12th of November, 1861, and the 14th of February, 1862.

The operations of the armies in the departments of the Ohio and of Missouri, which are treated of in the letters written in November, 1861, and the operations of the armies on the South Atlantic and on the Gulf, which are treated of in the letters written in February, 1862, were intended to be actively begun at one and the same time, when the general plan of operations was drawn up by General McClellan in November, 1861. The position of affairs in the departments of the Ohio and of Missouri, however, was such, in the month of November, 1861, the whole region embraced in those departments being then substantially under the control of our arms, that a judicious political administration of our military force was the imperative need of the moment there.

In the departments of the South Atlantic and the Gulf, on the contrary, we had our whole way still to make; and it was altogether undesirable therefore, from a military point of view, that any important directions should be issued, or any important movements undertaken in that part of the scene of action, until the opening of the season for general and combined operations.

Before the opening of that season came, General McClellan, as we have seen, had been virtually deprived of the authority necessary to the execution of his plans. On the 23d of February, 1862, he still retained indeed the nominal command of the armies of the Union, but he had been publicly notified, and the armies and the people of the Union with him, that he no longer enjoyed the "confidence," and could no longer expect the "cordial support," without which it was impossible. for him to discharge the duties of command.

The President, who had seen fit thus to violate his pledged faith to the commander-in-chief within less than three months from the day when it was given, proceeded to deal with the plan of operations adopted in November, 1861, according to his pleasure.

In so far as concerns the politics of war, the principles of the plan laid down by General McClellan in his letters of instruction were entirely abandoned by the President. General McClellan, in his memorandum presented to the President on the 4th of August, 1861, had recognized the new and dangerous character likely to be impressed upon the war of secession by the results of the Confederate victory at Manassas. "The contest," he had then said, "began with a class, now it is with a people; our military success alone can restore the former issue." In his letters of instruction to the commanders of departments he dwelt earnestly upon the importance of taking all possible pains to prevent the complete and permanent impression of this new and dangerous character upon the war. “National wars," observes Baron Jomini, "are of all wars

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