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the name of Philadelphia as the metropolis of physical science and the healing art in the New World was made illustrious throughout both hemispheres. It was the best reward of the life-long exertions of Dr. McClellan that he was thereby enabled to bestow upon his children all the advantages of education which the country could afford; and at the early age of thirteen George was entered as a student of the Freshman class in the University of Pennsylvania.
An inborn vocation, however, led him, as a like impulse a century before had led a certain young surveyor in Virginia, towards the life of an engineer and a soldier; and a cadet's warrant having been obtained for him, George Brinton McClellan in 1842 was sent to the Military Academy at West Point.
It is perhaps scarcely worth while to defend the Academy at West Point against the charges with which ignorance and passion have so often, in the course of the present war, assailed it. But the testimony of Gen. Barnard is so explicit in contradiction of the assertion that the influences exerted at the Academy upon the minds of the students have ever been unfavorable to the development of a large, loyal and intelligent patriotism, that it may well be quoted here. "That the greater part of the educated officers of the United States Army," says Gen. Barnard, in his treatise on the battle of Bull Run, "should have proved false to their flag, and gone over to the cause of secession, would imply that that cause had in it that which could justify a body of loyal and highly educated men, sworn defenders of the flag of their country, to espouse a cause which made flagrant war upon it. The facts are these: Of nine hundred and fifty-one officers of the Army, two hundred and sixty-two have proved disloyal. They (the disloyal) were, with a few exceptions, born in the seceding States; and it was not until their States had seceded, and placed themselves in hostile array, that such yielded (and most of them sorrowfully) to the supposed necessity of casting their lot with
the section which gave them birth. Several of those who felt themselves called upon to relinquish their commissions in the army have declined to enter the Confederate service, and array themselves against their flag. Many more are known to have resigned with similar resolution, but returning to their native States, they have found themselves compelled to serve -compelled by influences which none but a martyr resists. The number of commissioned officers of the regular army borne on the Register for January, 1862, was two thousand and nine. Three hundred and three were born in the slave States, (District of Columbia included,) of whom one hundred and thirty were graduates of the Military Academy. Eightynine were born in seceded States, of whom forty-five were graduates of the Military Academy. More than half of these latter graduates were from Virginia, but all the seceded States, except Mississippi, were represented. The number of officers of the army born in the free States who went over to the rebel cause is small, and can be counted on the fingers."
At the Military Academy the young McClellan soon found himself thoroughly at home, distinguished himself in the exact studies to which he was called upon to apply his mind, and won the esteem of his superiors by his scholarlike and soldierly bearing. He was graduated with the second honors of his class in 1846; assigned to duty with a company of the Engineers, and ordered before the close of the year into active service on the line of the Rio Grande River.
The war with Mexico was then raging; and Lieutenant McClellan reached his post just after the battle of Monterey had been fought and won. It is a curious coincidence, and perhaps not altogether unworthy of notice, that although many years younger than Mr. Lincoln, General McClellan should have made his first appearance in the public service of the country simultaneously with the national debut of his actual competitor for the presidential chair.
Abraham Lincoln appeared for the first time on the stage
of national affairs in 1847, as a member of Congress from the State of Illinois; and although by no means prominent in the debates of the House of Representatives, he yet attracted attention by the pertinacity with which he denounced the national administration as having provoked the war with Mexico unnecessarily and wantonly, if not wickedly and with a sinister purpose. If we are to accept the cant of the present day, in deed the actual president of 1864 was in 1847 a most malignant and active Mexican "Copperhead."
In 1847 George Brinton McClellan also appeared for the first time on the stage of national affairs, as a soldier in the field upholding the honor of the national flag. After a brief period of service, at once obscure and arduous, on the banks of the Rio Grande, the young Lieutenant was ordered to Tampico in January, 1847, to take part in the concentration of troops then going on in preparation for the grand expedition which General Scott was about to lead in the footsteps of Cortez against the capital of Montezuma.
The future Commander of the Army of the Potomac was thus made an eye-witness at the outset of his career of the political difficulties and the personal spites which so often surround the path and thwart the plans of the truest patriots and the most accomplished military leaders. No one who is familiar with the history of his country needs to be reminded of the jealousies with which General Scott was forced to contend before he could set himself free to move against the public enemy; and the scenes which passed before the eyes of the young Lieutenant of Engineers during that fretful winter at Tampico must have often recurred to the mind of the Commander of the Army of the Potomac during that period of tremendous but unappreciated labor which intervened between the rout of General McDowell in July, 1861, and the marvellous proclamation made six months afterwards, urbi et orbi, to the city and to the world by Abraham Lincoln, of his deliberate intention to "crush" the great rebellion by a simultane
ous advance of all the armies of the Union on the 22d of February, 1862.
In the beginning of the month of March, 1847, the army of General Scott at last disembarked from its transports to the west of the island of Sacrificios, and the memorable siege of Vera Cruz and San Juan d'Ulloa began.
It is not our purpose minutely to pursue the fortunes of Lieutenant McClellan through the wonderful campaign of which this siege was the initial chapter.
Who, indeed, can now find the heart to rewrite or even to reperuse the annals of that campaign, in which, if fanaticism and folly are to wreak their will upon us unchecked, American soldiers of the North and of the South, of the East and of the West, for the last time marched side by side to death and victory?
The executive documents of the Thirtieth Congress, in which the story of that glorious campaign lies embalmed, and awaits the historian's skillful hand, can be read now without overmastering emotion only by the fanatic or the fool, by him who is indifferent to his country's fate, or by him who rejoices in her ruin.
To these formal and official pages the course of subsequent events has given the painful interest of a tragedy. In them we read how, working with an equal zeal to serve one common cause, Lieutenants Beauregard and McClellan earned the commendation of their commander in the trenches before Vera Cruz; in them we read how the escort of Captain Robert E. Lee, engaging the skirmishers of Valencia in the Pedregal, opened that stern, unswerving march which led the stars and stripes, through storm and stress of strife and victory, up to their station of triumph on the heights of Chapultepec and the towers of the city of Montezuma. Heintzelman and Magruder, Kearney and Pillow, meet us, marching, manœuvering, fighting manfully together under the one old flag. One day Lieutenant T. J. Jackson, "the horses of his guns nearly all killed
or disabled, his drivers and cannoniers cut up," gets one of his pieces from under the direct fire of Chapultepec, opens upon the enemy, and holds the battle till the castle is carried. Another day, Lieutenant Reno, "in the advance with his mountain howitzers," maintains against the superior artillery of the enemy so fierce a fire as saves the bold advance of "Lieutenant-Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston" with his voltigeurs. Now we have "Captain Hooker" riding gallantly down alone to reconnoitre the ground for Lieutenant-Colonel Hebert, of Louisiana; anon, "Lieutenant Grant, of the Fourth Infantry," pushed forward with a party to aid in securing advantages won by the troops of Tennessee and South Carolina.
Between these once fraternal names how wide a gulf has since been dug by passion, by madness, and by folly—a gulf which, in the providence of God, nothing surely but reason and justice can ever bridge again!
The peculiar importance of that arm of the service to which, in virtue of his distinction won at the Academy, Lieutenant McClellan was attached, naturally gave him a prominence in the operations of General Scott's advance to which his years. and his rank would not otherwise have entitled him. He won his promotion to the rank of second lieutenant early in the campaign, and received his brevet as first lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Contreras on the 19th of August of the same year. The service of the engineers and the staff officers at Contreras was of the most arduous kind, testing in the highest degree the coolness, the personal bravery, and the powers of physical endurance, as well as the professional skill, of those engaged in it. General Valencia's position was infinitely more formidable from the broken, rough, and impracticable character of the country, than from the skill with which that pompous and wordy personage had selected and intrenched his camp, and the reconnoissance which determined the route taken by our troops to assault and overwhelm their enemy, had to be executed on a moonless night, over