In mid- November 1862, on the day after General Ambrose Burnside had assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, George McClellan said farewell to those long considered to be soldiers of “his” army.
One soldier later wrote that the “men were wild with excitement. They threw their hats into the air and cheered their old commander as long as his escort was in sight.” Although some officers and men recognized “Little Mac’s” shortcomings, most in his army idolized him, despite his propensity to procrastinate and his failures in battle.
News of McClellan’s firing flooded across both the North and the South. The Richmond Dispatch on November 17 reported the dismissal, caustically noting,
“We are by no means sure that the removal of McClellan from command is calculated to do the Yankee cause any great harm. It is said that he is the best General they have, and we think it probable he is. Yet they could have fallen upon no man who could have made a more signal failure that he did in his campaign against Richmond. If he be the best, they must all be exceedingly bad.”
On November 7, 1862 an officer from Washington, D.C. appeared at George McClellan’s Virginia field headquarters with the orders of November 5 removing “Little Mac” from command and turning over his army to Ambrose Burnside.
McClellan’s replacement as general in charge of the Union Army of the Potomac was not the only command changes made in the Union and Confederate armies in early November 1862.
On November 5 Lincoln also replaced General Fritz John Porter from his corps command; Porter, a pro-McClellan corps commander, would be charged with willful disobedience to orders at the battle of Second Manassas. He would be replaced by Joseph Hooker.
On Wednesday, November 5, 1862, after weeks of stress President Abraham Lincoln drafted the following telegram: “By direction of the President, it is ordered that Major General McClellan be relieved of the command of the Army of the Potomac; and that Major General Burnside take the command of that Army.”
November 1862 did not begin well for the national Republican Party and President Abraham Lincoln. On November 4 the Democrats continued their impressive gains made in October, picking up critical seats in Wisconsin. The Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, with victories in New England, the border slave states, California, and Michigan. Northern commentators acknowledged war weariness as a reason for Democratic Party inroads, but many Northerners voted Democratic because of their opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation. Many in the North, for the first time, ha
November 1862 arrived with little changed since the late summer and early fall. McClellan’s army finally had moved into Virginia but was not actively pursuing Lee. Bragg had been pushed out of Kentucky with his army essentially intact. In the West, Grant was preparing to move against Vicksburg. The Confederate raider Alabama plagued Union shipping on the high seas, but the Union blockade of the Confederate coastline was slowing taking its toll. The recently issued Emancipation Proclamation was the subject of great controversy, with many in the North blaming Republican political revers
In late October 1862 the Union Gulf Blockading fleet continued to harass the Texas Confederate coastline, attacking at Sabine Pass on October 29 and Lavaca on October 31. At Sabine Pass, Union ships skirmished with Confederate batteries, but without adequate manpower Union forces could not physically occupy the area. In truth, a visiting blockade runner from England had brought yellow fever to the area in September 1862 so Union forces cared not to expose themselves to that disease. At Lavaca, several Confederate garrisons were stationed in the town, which also had a large Confederate a
On October 30, 1862 Union General Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel died of yellow fever while stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina. A West Point graduate, the multi-talented Mitchel primarily served as a professor at both West Point and Cincinnati College. In 1845 he personally financed and constructed at Cincinnati the world’s second largest refracting telescope.
Despite the fact that Lincoln’s administration warned that French interference and support for the Confederacy would result in war, Emperor Napoleon III of France throughout 1862 met unofficially with Southern diplomats, raising hopes that he would unilaterally recognize the Confederate States of America.