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[557] the future was unfortunately to justify in a striking manner. On the morning of the 8th the army of the Potomac learned, with astonishment and grief, that it had lost the chief who had called it into existence and led it for the first time into battle—the chief who had shown them the spires of Richmond, and who on the morrow of a great disaster had restored their self-reliance, and who, in short, had just led them to victory. We are not called upon to pass judgment upon General McClellan's military career in this place. In spite of our sincerity, such an estimate on our part might look like the reflection of our sentiments of profound gratitude and abiding friendship for our old chief; but every reader may judge for himself in accordance with the facts we have impartially related. We will simply state that the Washington authorities took all sorts of precautions to prevent the soldiers of the army of the Potomac from manifesting any sympathy for McClellan, which would have been too severe a reflection upon their conduct, and that the news of his departure caused universal rejoicing among the adversaries whom he had met on so many battle-fields.

The displacement of a general-in-chief in the midst of a campaign, just as he was about to attack or to be attacked by the enemy, is not only a severe condemnation of the individual whom it affects, but it is a serious, and we may add a dangerous, measure, and the chief magistrate of a great nation should never resort to it, unless public interest requires it. The motives which decided Mr. Lincoln, the real causes of complaint he may have had against McClellan, have always remained enveloped in mystery.

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