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Abraham Lincoln Seated With General McClellan

Photograph of Lincoln During the Civil War

By , About.com Guide

Abraham Lincoln and General George B. McClellan had a rocky relationship from the start of the war. McClellan was removed as the General-in-Chief of the Army of Virginia after he ignored Lincoln's order to be more aggressive. He was instead placed in charge of the Army of the Potomac.

On November 5, 1862, Lincoln removed McClellan for the second and final time from command. He felt that he was not aggressive enough. After the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln wanted McClellan to pursue General Robert E. Lee as his troops fled the battlefield. McClellan did not want to do this and instead delayed for more than a month. When he finally did decide to move south, he took nine days to have his troops cross the Potomac River. Lincoln replaced McClellan with General Ambrose Burnside.

When President Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864, McClellan ran against him as the Democratic candidate. Even though he ran as part of the Democratic Peace Party, he was more pro-war than the platform. This worked against him and the party. Lincoln easily won reelection with 55% of the popular vote.

Interestingly, this photograph dates from the time after the Battle of Antietam and about a month before McClellan would be removed from command.

Abraham Lincoln Seated With General McClellan

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-7948 DLC

President Lincoln and General George McClellan at Antietam.
October 3, 1862.

Idea for inclusion in lessons

This photograph captures a unique point in history where two men were disagreeing about the course of the Civil War. After looking at the picture, have the students create a conversation that Lincoln and McClellan might have been having at this moment. The context of the conversation could include:

  • Winning the Battle of Antietam
  • The Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln had just announced
  • McClellan's delay in pursuing General Lee
  • Lincoln's firing of McClellan that will occur a month after this photo was taken

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