George B. McClellan (1826–1885) was a Union general in the Civil War. McClellan was educated at West Point and served in the Mexican-American War. He resigned his commission in 1857 to take a position as chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. He was briefly the president of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad before returning to the Army as commander of the Department of the Ohio. After a Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, McClellan was made commander of the armies near Washington, DC. He then succeeded Winfield Scott as general in chief of Union forces.

McClellan proved to be a disappointing commander, however, refusing to go on the offensive against Confederate forces. Rather than making an attempt at taking Richmond, McClellan consistently retreated from Confederate forces. In the Seven Days’ Battles of 1862 he was driven back by Robert E. Lee. At Antietam, McClellan managed to halt the Confederate invasion but failed to follow up by aggressively attacking Lee’s army. In November 1862, a frustrated Lincoln finally removed McClellan from command. McClellan still held the support of the Army, however, and in 1864 he made a run for the presidency as the Democratic nominee. He failed to take the election, however, in part because of his past support for ending the war by compromising with the South.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Related Site Content