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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/55

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McClellan for Peace. 47

street. "We ought to have whipped the Yankees, restored the Union and settled the negro question ourselves, but we are a big load to carry in some of our own leaders."

Very sincerely, your friend,


Bishop of Savannah, Ga.

[The conjecture to which the receipt of a letter by General Lee from General McClellan gave rise that it was desired by the latter to end the war by forcible means, ousting the politicians in control at Washington is a very suggestive one. It is well-known that General McClellan distrusted the patriotism and good faith of the administration. He had not been supported with reinforcements at the critical moment in the operations in front of Richmond, and the failure of his peninsula campaign was due, in his opinion, to the un- willingness of the designing politicians at Washington to see a Dem- ocrat gain the prestige and political influence that a decisive victory at Richmond would have given him. His army had been virtually taken away from him after the "change of base" to James river, and given to Pope, with the result that it was badly beaten in the second battle of Manassas. Only when General Lee crossed the Potomac into Maryland and his advance upon Washington was feared, was General McClellan again placed in command to save the situation which he did at Antietam by causing General Lee to re- cross the Potomac. Soon after that action General McClellan was again deprived of his command, for the reason, it was believed in 1862, that a general was wanted who preferred the success of the Republican party to the restoration of the Union. Whether this belief was or was not correct it is unnecessary to consider, but it is undeniable that in the presidential campaign of 1864 General Mc- Clellan was prevented by force and fraud from receiving the votes cast for him. In the earlier elections of 1862 on the *' stop-the-war " issue a number of the leading Northern States gave large Demo- cratic majorities. It was, therefore, not difficult for General Cobb and General Longstreet in 1862 to believe that in proposing an in- terview after the battle of Antietam General McClellan had it in mind to restore the Union by united action of the two chief armies, in defiance of politicians who were supposed to have only party interests in view.

General Lee,' it will be noted, is said to have declined to meet General McClellan, so that it was not definitely ascertained what the