Sunday, June 13, 2010

McClellan's Reaction to Lewinsville: Looking for Victory Where You Can Find It

In light of Thursday's post on the Civil War history of McLean, I thought readers might be interested in General George McClellan's take on the first skirmish in Lewinsville, Virginia on September 11, 1861.  I recently came across this interesting telegram sent on the day of the battle by McClellan to President Lincoln, Secretary of War Simon Cameron, and General-in-Chief Winfield Scott:

Gen'l Smith made reconnaissance with two thousand men to Lewinsville, remained several hours & completed examination of the ground. When work was completed & the command had started back the enemy opened fire with shell, killing two men & wounding three.
Griffin's battery silenced the enemy's battery. 
Our men then came back in perfect order & excellent spirits.  They behaved most admirably under fire.

We shall have no more Bull Run affairs. 

Interesting how McClellan reacted to this small skirmish.  After the utter defeat of First Bull Run, it is not surprising that the commanding general was looking for any way to reassure himself and his superiors that the Army of Potomac was capable of something.  And the concluding line is classic -- a boastful promise to McClellan's bosses that he will not let them down.  Before long, he would be in trouble for moving too slowly.  As Lincoln once quipped, if McClellan wasn't going to use his army, he would like to borrow it for a time.  It's easy to have no more Bull Runs when you are paralyzed by inaction!

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