The Randall Index

Any horse's assWe don't know why they're hostile, but if you want to measure any historian's "hostility quotient" toward McClellan, here's a fun, 16-point scale.


J.G. Randall was a biographer whose landmark Lincoln the President appeared between 1946-55 (Randall died in 1953). He has been called "the greatest Lincoln scholar of all time" (The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia), "the profoundest student of Lincoln's career" (author Allan Nevins), and his book has been called "the outstanding critical scholarly interpretation" (author D.H. Donald). Randall deeply appreciated George McClellan, his gifts and his accomplishments for the Union cause. He was skeptically amused by historians critical of McClellan and, as a little joke he compiled a list of all current dubious claims and charges against McClellan. Using the passage as a checklist, one simply matches an historian's conclusions against each entry. Thus, author Stephen Sears scores a perfect 16 on the Randall Index.

Had he lived, Randall might be amazed at how far modern historians have taken McClellan bashing. His joke is now our reality.

The list appears below with the full text under it.

Got a rating? Let's make a list. Email info at georgebmcclellan dot org


McClellan remained for many months uselessly inactive with a magnificent army.

He suffered delusions and infatuation as to enemy superiority.

He snubbed the President.

He treated the Congressional war committee with contempt.

He evaded questions as to his intentions.

He exhausted Lincoln's patience.

He made erroneous plans.

He missed golden opportunities.

He demanded needless reinforcements.

He was a victim (or accomplice) of his secret service.

He clamored loud and long when troops were denied him.

He blamed the government with intentions to destroy his army.

He allowed himself to be surprised by enemy maneuvers.

He permitted subordinates to endure heavy fighting without sending them reinforcements.

He instructed the President as to his political duties.

He failed to take Richmond when all he had to do was brush aside Johnston, Lee and Jackson.


"For certain writers the military career of George B. McClellan has become a fixed stereotype. It is assumed that if one is pro-Lincoln, he must be anti-McClellan, though the most bitter of McClellan's foes were also opponents of Lincoln. According to his detractors McClellan remained for many months uselessly inactive with a magnificent army, suffered delusions and infatuation as to enemy superiority snubbed the President, treated the congressional war committee with contempt, evaded questions as to his intentions, exhausted Lincoln's patience, made erroneous plans, missed golden opportuni ties, demanded needless reenforcements, was a victim (or accomplice) of his secret service, clamored loud and long when troops were denied him, blamed the government with the intention to destroy his army, allowed himself to be surprised by enemy maneuvers, permitted subordinates to endure heavy fighting without sending them reinforcements, instructed the President concerning political duties, and in the Seven Days failed to take Richmond when all he had do was to brush aside Confederate defenses under Johnston, then under Lee and Jackson! "

And

"He is most bitterly assailed, not by those who have gone afresh into the elaborate sources to study his campaigns, but by those who repeat or perpetuate a party bias."

-- Lincoln the President, Vol. 1 Springfield to Gettysburg, by J. G. Randall, New York, Da Capo, 1997 

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(c) 1998 The McClellan Society