General M'Clellan.The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1121, p. 612.
December 14, 1861
On the retirement of General Scott, on the 31st of last October, General M'Clellan was formally declared Commander-in-Chief of the Federal forces, of which he had been for some time the actual head. George M'Clellan was born at Philadelphia in December, 1826, and destined for the military service. In his sixteenth year he was sent to West Point, and left it in 1846, as Second Lieutenant in the Engineers, to take part in the Mexican War. His bravery in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco gained him promotion, and at the storming of the forts of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec his conduct was so brilliant that it gained him his captaincy. After the peace he was appointed a teacher at West Point, where he wrote a manual of the art of war, which is highly esteemed by American soldiers. After this he built Fort Delaware, and then was ordered to Texas and New Mexico to make a topographic survey of the district through which the Pacific Railway was to run. This difficult task was interrupted by a summons to Washington, where the military department had selected him, in conjunction with Major Mordecai and Captain Delafield, to go and witness the operations in the Crimea, which excited as great interest in America as they did in Europe. As there was no prospect of active service on his return home, M'Clellan determined to leave the army, and accepted the post of technical director to the Illinois Central Railway, which he held for several years with credit. In this position the outbreak of the civil war surprised him, and, as he was universally respected and known in the West, he was at once called to a high post. The Governor of Ohio appointed him Major-General and chief of the militia of that State ; but by the recommendation of General Scott he was made Major-General of the regular Army, and intrusted with a most important command in Western Virginia. After the defeat of the Federal army at Bull Run, M'Clellan was summoned to Washington to take supreme command. A Washington letter describes the enthusiasm felt by his men for General M'Clellan:—"General M'Clellan (it states) is one of the least pretentious of men; he generally wears the simple blouse of the rifleman, with not even the starred shoulder-straps to denote his rank; a man who never wastes time—who is indefatigable in his pursuit and attack of the enemy, and equally untiring in his efforts to secure the utmost comfort of his men compatible with the circumstances of a soldier's life. When his line is on the march he is ever among the men, with a kind and cheering word for every company—a pleasant look, or kind salute, or hearty grasp of the hand for every officer or private with whom he is brought on speaking terms by business; and in a fight he is always at the front of the column, in the thickest of the danger, encouraging his soldiers by cheering word and fearless deed. He takes soldier's fare with the rest, asking no better food, and no more luxurious bed than the newest-recruited private under his command. If he sees a man without proper shoes or clothing he has that man with his Captain sent to his own quarters, where the man is served with the garments he needs and the Captain receives a reprimand that leads him to look more closely after the comfort of his men in future."