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Lincoln, McClellan, and Grant

April 3, 2019

Shortly before General Fremont was removed from command in Missouri he got Lincoln to notice Ulysses Grant, but he was not the only person touting Grant’s military career.  Grant’s Congressman, who was from Grant’s adopted hometown, also had Lincoln’s ear.  Apparently, Grant had made a good impression on the people of the 1st Congressional District of Illinois.

Grant did not always make such a good impression.  Although he graduated from West Point in the middle of his class (21st out of 39), he was near the bottom of the entire Academy in conduct (156th out of 223).  He had received so many demerits for poor dress, tardiness, and lack of proper bearing that, despite his exquisite horsemanship, he was denied a cavalry commission in the regular army.

George McClellan was the exact opposite of Grant.  He graduated from West Point near the top of his class (2nd out of 59), and was a model of military decorum.  While serving in California during peacetime, Captain Grant developed a reputation for drinking that haunted him years later.  When Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers, General McClellan refused to meet with Grant, but Grant was persistent and obtained a Colonel’s commission through other channels.

Lincoln had put McClellan in charge of the Army of the Potomac.  When McClellan failed to pursue the enemy after the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln removed him.  McClellan ran against Lincoln in 1864 and lost.

Grant’s accomplishments at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga eventually earned him the position of Commanding General.  He ran for President in 1868 and 1872 and won both times.

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