The Melancholy Battles
JANUARY 1, 1862, and no Union advance, but continued operations. McClellan intended a series of attacks on different parts of the South. This meant creating a general plan; it called for readiness and precise timing. East and West, he, the creator of armies, must breathe into them the breath of life. Preparations had to be complete before Mc- Clellan would take risks. The Army of the Potomac was far from ready, thought Olmsted. He deplored the "scandalous quality" of army clothing, the waste of excess rations, and the starvation of horses. The soldiers needed years of training, because their officers seemed incapable of discipline and instruction. Let slowness, tedium, and patience, said Olmsted, supplant melodramatic and extravagant demands for a "grand coup."
People understood delay in the fall of 1861, but uneasy questioning grew with the new year. Radical Republicans censured McClellan's inaction. Certain newspapers tried to goad him into action, although winter roads made a forward move impossible. Delay paved the way to distrust of his leadership. War had run up a debt of $600,000,000 by March 1, 1862, and many demanded results commensurate with the magnitude of costs.
One gusty morning in March the Army of the Potomac marched out of Washington. The enemy withdrew, leaving worthless fortifications at Manassas and Centreville. McClel