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Chapter 12: General George B. McClellan and the organization of the army of the Potomac

In July 25th Major General George B. McClellan took command of the combined departments of Washington and Northeastern Virginia, and November 1st succeeded the venerable General Winfield Scott as the commander of all the armies of the United States. McClellan's name became familiar to every household in the land. In addition to his active, high command and an exalted rank his name was made still more conspicuous in that he stood as a candidate for the Presidency in 1864.

Indeed, McClellan holds no small place in the history of his country. The story of the Peninsular Campaign of 1862 could not be told without making him the central figure from the organization of the Army of the Potomac till the sad withdrawal of its forces after the bloody battle of Malvern Iill.

My first sight of McClellan was in 1850, when I was a cadet at West Point. He had then but recently returned from Mexico, where he had gained two brevets of honor. He was popular and handsome and a captain of engineers, and if there was one commissioned officer more than another who had universal notice among the young gentlemen of the academy it was he, himself a young man, a staff officer of a scientific turn who had been in several battles and had played everywhere

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