Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 58
James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
Page 58
defeat of the rebel army now at Manassas.” 1 The Union troops were sufficient in number and fighting quality to accomplish it. All the authorities agree that McClellan’s organization of the Army of the Potomac was little short of magical. The training to fit men for active service generally required six months; under McClellan it had been accomplished in three. The change from the “grand army” before the battle of Bull Run to McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, according to William H. Russell, was marvellous. The soldiers of July, who, in his opinion, could have been overcome by one-third their number of British regulars, were in September perhaps as fine “a body of men in all respects of physique” as had ever “been assembled by any power in the world.” 2  15
  When McClellan and McDowell rode together from camp to camp on the south side of the Potomac, McClellan used to point toward Manassas and say, “We shall strike them there.” What might have been is doubtless as unprofitable a subject of speculation in war as in the other affairs of life; but it is a fact of importance that during the autumn the President and the country rightly began to lose confidence in McClellan’s military ability. They had good reason for this distrust. His apology in his report of August 4, 1863, 3 and in his “Own Story” receive little justification from the pitiless contemporary record and from other facts since brought to light. On October 27, according to his own account, his effective force was 134,000; “the number disposable for an advance,” 76,000: 4 Johnston had 41,000. The Union artillery was superior; the infantry had better arms. The health of the Union army was good, that of the Confederate bad. The weather was fine and dry; up to
Note 1. O. R., V, 11. [back]
Note 2. Ante; III, 493. [back]
Note 3. O. R., V, 5. [back]
Note 4. Ibid., 10. [back]


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