(19.) GENERAL GEORGE B. Mc CLELLAN (1826-1885)
Democrat McClellan/G. H. Pendleton
Defeated by Republican Abraham Lincoln/Andrew Johnson, 1864
Talk of McClellan’s nomination began when he took charge of the Army of the Potomac at Lincoln’s request. He was a West Point man and organization and training were his special ability. He had served in the Mexican War, but he resigned from the army in 1857 and was president of a railroad when the Civil war began.
McClellan, obsessed with preparedness and overly considerate of his troops, consistently awaited reinforcements. The President, in consulting with McClellan about failing to move forward, said, “You over-estimate the enemy.” Repeatedly, McClellan ignored the President’s orders, holding back at Phillipi, West Virginia, with 20,000 of the finest trained men in the field.
People were discouraged at the many Union defeats and the Republicans held meetings to discuss other candidates than Lincoln. With the influence of the “Copperheads,” McClellan, whose dashing appearance and showmanship appealed to the people and endeared him to his officers and men, was nominated on the Democrat ticket. The President was particularly under criticism because of vetoing the Wade-Davis Bill, which demanded immediate cessation of hostilities. However, Sherman’s successes in Georgia turned the tide and Lincoln was reelected.
McClellan was governor of the State of New Jersey at a later date.