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[186] idol, and to designate a new victim. The clamour was for young commanders. Gen. George B. McClellan had been lifted into a sudden popularity by the indifferent affair of Rich Mountain. He was a graduate of West Point; had been one of the Military Commission sent to the Crimea; and just before the war had been employing his genius as superintendent of a railroad. He was now to take command of the Federal forces on the line of the Potomac, and to find himself suddenly exalted in the newspapers to comparisons with Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal and Napoleon the Great.

The volatile, superficial and theatrically-inclined mind of the North is, perhaps, in nothing more strikingly displayed than in its demonstrations towards its public men. Yankee fame has come to be one of the curiosities of the world. Scott was “the Greatest Captain of the Age.” But McClellan was “the Young Napoleon.” The name of the new hero appeared on placards, on banners, and in newspaper headings. Reporters stretched their ears to catch the least word he uttered; artists of illustrated journals dogged his steps; his eyes, hair, mouth, teeth, voice, manner and apparel were carefully described in newspaper articles. Every store of flattery and praise was exhausted upon a man who found himself famous by nothing more than the caprice of the multitude.1

For months after the battle of Manassas an almost unbroken quiet extended along the line of the Potomac. McClellan had tolerated the advance of the Confederate lines to Munson's Hill, within a few miles of Alexandria; and every attempt to draw him out into a general engagement proved unavailing. Northern politicians complained of his inactivity;

1 There has been a curious Yankee affectation in the war. It is to discover in the infancy or early childhood of all their heroes something indicative of their future greatness, or of the designs of Providence towards them. Thus their famous cavalry commanders rode wild horses as soon as they could sit astraddle; and their greatest commander in the latter periods of the war-Ulysses S. Grant-when an infant in arms desired a pistol to be fired by his ear, and exclaimed, rick again I-thus giving a very early indication of his warlike disposition. The following, told of McClellan in a Washington newspaper, during the days of his popularity, is characteristic:--

The infant Napoleon.

An incident which occurred in the city of Philadelphia in the winter of 1826-7, is particularly worthy of record in our present crisis, inasmuch as it relates to the early history of one who fills a position commanding the attention and admiration of the world, and particularly of our own country. I will premise by saying I was in Philadelphia in the winter spoken of, attending medical lectures under a distinguished surgeon, then a professor in one of the institutions of the city. A son was born to our professor, and the event scarcely transpired before the father announced it to his delighted pupils. Scales were instantly brought from a neighboring grocer. Into one dish he placed the babe, into the other all the weights. The beam was raised, but the child moved not I The father, emptying his pockets, threw in his watch, coin, keys, knives and lancets, but to no purpose — the little hero could not be moved. He conquered every thing I And at last, while adding more and more weight, the cord supporting the beam gave way, and broke rather than the giant infant would yield I The father was Dr. McClellan, and the son-General McClellan I! our young commander on the Potomac. The country will see a prophetic charm in this incident.


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