This website contains only a portion of our McClellan research. Another 200 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1347, 1466, 1457, 1450, 1547, 1633, 1647, 1513, 1597, 1641 are included in all of our PDF Extended History products and printed materials wherever feasible under the title Early McClellan History. Some material has been updated after our first publication of this product in 1986.
The complete article can be found in Our Changing World: A Documentary History of America's Past, Volume 1, which is available here.
Lincoln replaced McClellan with General Ambrose E. Burnside on November 3, 1862. Loading...
The archives of George Brinton McClellan (1826–1855), a U.S. Army commander and governor of New Jersey, contain 33,000 objects (59,477 pictures), the majority of which were scanned from 82 reels of previously generated microfilm. The collection is divided into seven series.
Series I consists of administrative papers including letters, reports, journals, and memoranda. They cover the years 1857-1860 when McClellan was serving as military adviser to President-elect Lincoln.
Series II contains personal papers including diaries, notes, and sketches made by or about McClellan. They date from his youth through his early career in the army until his service as general-in-chief of the Union forces during the Civil War.
Series III includes correspondence between McClellan and his family members, friends, and associates. It covers the years 1857-1858 when he was preparing for service in Kansas where there was concern that he might be called upon to defend that territory from invasion by slavery extending states.
Series IV consists of official documents including letters patent, orders, and papers related to McClellan's appointments as major general in the army, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and brigadier general. They date from February 11, 1861 to July 17, 1864 when he was promoted to major general.
George B. McClellan was a major American military and political leader of the nineteenth century. On December 3, 1826, George Brinton McClellan was born into an affluent Philadelphia family. He attended the University of Pennsylvania but did not complete his studies. Instead, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he graduated in 1846. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the army, he served as an ordnance officer in California before returning to Europe as part of the 8th United States Infantry. In 1851, he married Eleanor Butler, with whom he had five children.
After several years away from duty, McClellan received promotion to first lieutenant. In 1857, he led a battalion in the Mexican War. Returning home after the war, he became involved in politics and in 1861 was elected colonel of the new 11th Ohio Infantry. In 1862, he took command of all Union forces in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign and achieved victory at the Battle of Williamsburg. After this success, Lincoln made him commander of all the Union armies in Virginia, which included John Pope's Army of the Potomac. In this role, he failed to exploit Lee's weaknesses through lack of coordination between his own troops and those of Pope. In October 1862, McClellan was replaced by Ambrose E. Burnside.
George Brinton, McClellan's father, was a wealthy Virginia planter and slave owner. His mother was Mary Ball, of Irish descent. She died when George was only eight years old, and his father later married Anne Penrose Ewell, another rich widow with children of her own.
When he was twenty-one years old, George McClellan moved to Maryland and worked as an attorney before becoming involved in politics. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat but was defeated for re-election by a Republican opponent. After leaving Congress, he returned to practicing law and was appointed by President James K. Polk as the inspector general of the Army during the Mexican-American War. The war ended before he could be deployed so McClellan never saw combat.
In 1857, George McClellan was elected governor of Maryland but was defeated for re-election by another Republican. A few months later, his father died, probably from suicide, because there were no signs of illness prior to his death. Heartbroken, McClellan decided not to run for office again.