Saturday, November 04, 2006

Window Into McClellan

While reading Stephen W. Sears excellent book "Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam", I reacted with surprise to one small sentence. Characterizations of General George Brinton McClellan typically paint him as exclusively a soldiers general, a great organizer, timid on the battlefield, and frequently directing his wrath at any government or army official foolish enough to challenge his authority. His men adored him like no other Union commander. This is perhaps why I reacted with surprise when I read on page 279 the general's response to the 79th New York, a group of Scottish soldiers who had refused to fight unless the army lifted the ban on wearing kilts. The sentence read,

"McClellan's response was to surround them with hardbitten regulars with orders to shoot if the volunteers did not promptly return to duty..."

This side of General McClellan seems rarely discussed.



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