From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

McClellan in Charge

How did McClellan excuse his slowness?

McClellan’s telegraphs to Washington, D.C., are a masterpiece of subterfuge. Everything he describes—from the weather to the condition of his men’s shoes—suggest that circumstances delayed him.

In fact, McClellan was simply not the person to respond with alacrity. Had Robert E. Lee obtained a confidential dispatch, revealing the disposition of the enemy forces, he would have had every man on the move within an hour: Stonewall Jackson would have been even quicker. But McClellan, the master organizer, was not one for rapid movements. He did have the Army of the Potomac on the move, but it was not until the morning of September 15 that they battled the Confederates for the two mountain passes.


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