or rather how little blame should be attached, to the general who has had the misfortune to lose a battle.
Upon a charge of slowness and over-cautiousness General McClellan
has a right to be tried by his peers,--that is, by the officers of the regular army, and especially by those who have served under him. To their judgment he can confidently appeal, and by their verdict he is ready to stand or fall.
Indecision and unreadiness are, no doubt, defects of mind or infirmities of temperament, arising from not having any plans of conduct, or from not carrying them out with promptness In either case, they are traits which taint the whole being, and lay their paralyzing touch upon all the currents of life.
A sluggish, dawdling, and dilatory man may have spasms of activity, but he never acts continuously and consecutively with energetic quickness.
When in a commanding general we see a campaign, or a military enterprise, marked by rapidity of movement, by plans promptly formed and vigorously executed, and when in the same man we see at another time pauses, delays, which bring upon him the reproach of slowness, it is fair to infer that his conduct in the latter case is the result of a cautious and far-seeing wisdom, which comprehends all the difficulties of the position, and knows that the more haste the less speed, so far as the matter in hand is concerned.
The evidence as to general character is important in an issue like this.
Let us apply these principles to General McClellan
's military career.