Mary Todd Lincoln corresponded with her husband on November 2, 1862, advising him of popular sentiment against the cautious command of general of the Army of the Potomac George B. McClellan.
All the distinguished in the land… would almost worship you if you would put a fighting general in the place of McClellan.
Letter, Mary Todd Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln, November 2, 1862. (Abraham Lincoln Papers) Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years. Manuscript Division
McClellan defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, but he failed to take advantage of the victory by pursuing Robert E. Lee’s weakened army. Earlier that year, McClellan won a series of victories in the Peninsular Campaign, which brought Union troops within five miles of Richmond, which served as the Confederate capital at the time. However, the general’s hesitancy cost him the opportunity to take Richmond. On November 5, shortly after receiving Mrs. Lincoln’s letter, the president removed McClellan from his command.
Abraham Lincoln’s law partner (and biographer) William Herndon, whose memories of the president’s young adulthood became an important source of information about Lincoln after his assassination, popularized the notion that the Lincoln’s marriage had been a failure. Lincoln’s heart, Herndon alleged, belonged to Ann Rutledge, whom young Lincoln had known in New Salem, Illinois. However, most historians now agree that Mary Todd was the love of Abraham Lincoln’s life and a source of strength and inspiration despite her occasionally erratic behavior during their years in the White House.
- Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years provides a glimpse into several important moments in the life of the sixteenth president, including a page of a sum book from his childhood and a letter to Mary S. Owens, who received a proposal of marriage from Lincoln in 1837. Search the term Lincoln in the collection to find more material. To learn more about the Manuscript Division, visit the special presentation Collecting, Preserving, and Researching History: A Peek into the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.
- Visit The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, which brings together a wealth of Lincoln materials including correspondence and papers accumulated primarily during Lincoln’s presidency in forms such as prints, broadsides, books, pamphlets, sheet music, cartoons, maps, drawings, and other memorabilia that offer a unique view of Lincoln’s life and times.
- Search on the keyword George B. McClellan in the Abraham Lincoln Papers to read a series of letters and telegrams sent by, to, and about the general in chief of the Union (or Federal) armies, who also served for a time as the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. Also, search the term Herndon to view correspondence involving Lincoln, Herndon, and others.
- Search the term George B. McClellan in the collection Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints to find photographs of the general. Also search the term Richmond to find many images of the city.