THE MULES OF FREDERICK
McCLELLAN'S dismissal has been the subject of much controversy and deserves serious attention, because it is really the Test Case of Lincoln's strategy. The invasion of the North had been forced back. What was now required was decisive victory over the Confederate forces. Was McClellan the man to win it? If so, Lincoln made the mistake of his life.
It has been alleged that Mcclellan, for political reasons, was not wholehearted in his desire for victory. This is the first point to be considered.
A man of intelligence cannot help having political views of some kind, and in America at that time the views were of various different kinds. An able journalist had preached the doctrine that 'no good could come of a Union pinned together by bayonets': other people wanted the Union but believed conquest to be impossible, and therefore looked to conciliation and compromise as the only solution: others again wanted complete victory but doubted whether Lincoln and his Cabinet were the men to achieve it. There may have been (in fact, of course, there were) people whose private interests and ambitions coloured their views, but there were plenty of honest men who, loathing war and especially fratricidal war, looked for a compromise that would end it. Such men were not traitors.
A soldier is in a very different position. Once he puts on uniform his sole duty is to defeat the enemies of that uniform. For him there is no such thing as half loyalty -- anything short of wholehearted determination to