James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
procrastinated, aiming always at his ideal completeness of preparation. On October 13, Welles recorded, the mortifying intelligence that the Rebel cavalry rode entirely around our great and victorious Army of the Potomac, crossing the river above it and recrossing the Potomac below McClellan and our troops.1 This will be a mortifying affair to McClellan, wrote Meade, and will do him, I fear, serious injury.2 On October 22, Welles set down in his diary: It is just five weeks since the Battle of Antietam and the Army is quiet, reposing in camp. The country groans but nothing is done. McClellans inertness makes the assertions of his opponents prophetic. He is sadly afflicted with what the President calls the slows.3 Meade had a high respect for McClellan, but held the opinion that he errs on the side of prudence and caution and that a little more rashness on his part would improve his generalship.4
On October 26, the army, 116,000 strong, began to cross the Potomac and six days later the last division was over. The Confederates fell back. On November 7, the Union Army was massed near Warrenton and received word from the President that he had relieved McClellan and placed Burnside in command. The Army is filled with gloom, wrote Meade next day. Burnside, it is said, wept like a child and is the most distressed man in the Army, openly says he is not fit for the position and that McClellan is the only man we have who can handle the large army collected together.5 The pressure of the Radicals led by Stanton and Chase undoubtedly influenced the President to remove McClellan, but he ought not to have issued the order unless he and his Secretary of War knew of a