Battle of First Bull Run Online Exhibit

Major-General McClellan

Portrait of Major-General McClellan, a black-and-white illustration from Harper's Weekly magazine.

Caption: Major-General M'Clellan, U.S. - From a photograph. See page 487 [for related story].

Source: Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 3, 1861, page 484; text below from page 487.

General M'Clellan

We publish on page 484 a portrait of Major General M'Clellan, U.S.A., whose brilliant victories in Western Virginia we have already illustrated. We subjoin an authentic account of General M'Clellan's career:

He was born in Philadelphia on December 3, 1826. At the age of sixteen he entered the Military Academy at West Point, graduating with the class of 1846, with the rank of Brevet Second Lieutenant of Engineers. Until the Mexican War, however, he had no opportunity of distinguishing himself, and then, "for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco," as the orders expressed it, he was breveted First Lieutenant. "For gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Molino del Rey," on September 8, 1847, he was offered a Brevet Captaincy, which he declined. He was advanced to this rank, however, subsequently, "for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Chapultepec," and received the command of a company of sappers, miners, and pontoneers in May, 1848. At the close of the Mexican War he returned to West Point, where he remained on duty with the sappers and miners until 1851. During this time he introduced the bayonet exercise into the army, and translated and adapted a manual which has since become a textbook for the service. During the summer and fall of 1851 he superintended the construction of Fort Delaware and in the succeeding spring was assigned to duty, under Major R. B. Marcy, in the expedition for the exploration of the Red River. Thence he was ordered direct to Texas, as senior engineer, on the staff of General Persifer F. Smith, and engaged for some months in surveying the rivers and harbors of that State. In 1853 he was ordered to the Pacific coast, in command of the Western division of the survey of the North Pacific Railroad route. He returned to the East in 1854, on duty connected with the Pacific survey, and was engaged also in secret service to the West Indies. The next year he received a commission in the First Regiment of Cavalry, and was appointed a member of the commission which went to the seat of war in the Crimea and in Northern Russia. Colonel Richard Delafield, one of his colleagues, is now an officer in the rebel army, and Major Alfred Mordecai, the third member of the Commission, a short time ago resigned the Superintendency of the Troy Arsenal. Major M'Clellan's report on the "Organization of European Armies and the Operations of the War," a quarto volume, embodying the result of his observations in the Crimea, greatly enhanced his reputation as a scientific soldier. In January, 1857, weary of inaction, he resigned his position in the army to become Vice President and Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, which post he held for three years, when he was offered and accepted the Presidency of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, of which he was also General Superintendent. When our domestic troubles assumed formidable dimensions, Major M'Clellan's services were at once called into requisition. Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, tried to secure the benefit of his experience in organizing the volunteers from that State; but the tender of the Major-Generalship of the Ohio forces reached him first, and he at once accepted it. On May 14 he received a commission as Major-General in the United States Army, and now has command of the Department of Ohio, which comprises all of the States of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and that part of Virginia lying north of the Great Kanawha River and west of the Green Brier River and the Maryland line, with so much of Pennsylvania as lies west of a line drawn from the Maryland line to the northeast corner of M'Kean County.

Note: Harper's Weekly also published an image of McClellan with senior staff members on August 24, 1861. New York Illustrated News carried a portrait of General McClellan in their August 12, 1861 issue.

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Last Updated: August 7, 2012