McClellan Society Inaugural Meeting in Lawrence

The McClellan Society will hold its inaugural meeting on Sunday, February 22, at 3:00 p.m. in Meeting Room #1 of the Lawrence HQ Branch of the Mercer County Library at Brunswick Ave. (Alt. Rt. 1) and Darrah Lane in Lawrence Township.

Attendees will be invited to constitute the organization and choose missions and structures for it. The group's organizer, Dimitri Rotov (of Trenton) says, "I expect it will be a kind of historical society with an educational mission, but that is entirely up to the membership."

Rotov expects that members will be united in the desire to honor and study George Brinton McClellan, the son of the founder of Philadelphia's Jefferson Hospital, the father of a famous New York Mayor, and himself a governor of New Jersey. McClellan is best known as the senior Civil War Union general (until Grant's promotion in 1864) who revived Union armies in the East after two defeats in 1861/62 but who was feared by Lincoln;s supporters as a potential rival for the presidency and removed from command. McClellan is buried in Trenton, a place to which Lincoln directed McClellan to await orders that never came.

"McClellan's reputation as a soldier has been hostage to politics ever since the Civil War," says Rotov. McClellan's reputation took a turn for the worse in the 1940s and 1950s, when a deepened public interest in Lincoln was advanced by the work of such as Carl Sandburg, Carl Van Doren and others. The last Lincoln biography of distinction that was also vigorously pro-McClellan appeared in 1946 (the final volume in 1955): J.G. Randall's Lincoln the President. Since then, historians have acted as if fondness for Lincoln requires animosity towards McClellan.

"With spreading interest in the Civil War, increased interest in McClellan is inevitable," says Rotov. "He was a genius and he saved the Union."