Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

McClellan’s Command

What was the next move for the Army of the Potomac?

General McClellan had been putting off action for months, but Lincoln finally used one more stick to prod him into action. By another presidential war order, Lincoln removed McClellan as general of the Union armies while keeping him in charge of the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln made it plain, however, that the time had come.

McClellan had spent much time designing his plan, and as he revealed it, Lincoln felt that it was both too complicated and unwieldy. Rather than march against the Confederate forces at Manassas, McClellan intended to ship most of the Army of the Potomac to the James Peninsula, situated between the James and Chickahominy Rivers. Doing so would put the Army of the Potomac within sixty miles of Richmond without incurring any danger other than those faced by a voyage. Lincoln was skeptical, but any action was better than none.


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