Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas C., 1956-

Author's Keywords

McClellan; Civil War; Army of the Potomac; Gen. George B. McClellan; Union General; Young Napoleon


McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885; Generals--United States--History--19th century; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


This thesis is an examination of the factors that impacted the rise and fall of the military career of General George McClellan during the initial stages of the Civil War. It works almost exclusively with primary sources to gain a better understanding of General McClellan through his personal and professional correspondence. The thesis begins with a historiography of the scholars that have examined McClellan from the early days after the Civil War to those of the twenty-first century. The historiography is used as a framework for the debate about the rise and fall of General McClellan. The next three chapters deal exclusively with the factors themselves; starting with McClellan and the historical moment, then McClellan's disconnection with reality in relation to troop movements and numbers, and finishing with McClellan's arrogance/hubris towards both superiors and subordinates.