Today in 1862 President Lincoln removed General George B. McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac due in part to failure to pursue General Lee’s army after the Battle of Antietam. McClellan was given command of the Army of the Potomac after the Union Army was soundly defeated at the First Battle of Bull Run In Manassas Virginia. Early in 1862 McClellan led his army to the James Peninsula southeast of confederate capitol of Richmond. During the “seven Days” Battle McClellan was poised to take Richmond, but retreated when faced with a series of attacks by General Lee.
In August of 1862 Lee defeated Union General Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run, and quickly enacted a plan to invade the North. President Lincoln called on McClellan’s army to thwart the invasion and McClellan met Lee’s army at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17th. Although widely contested to a victor, Lee opted to retreat across the Potomac back to Virginia. Lincoln urged McClellan to pursue Lee, but he refused claiming fatigue of his men and horses. McClellan did finally begin a half-hearted pursuit of Lee’s army in October, but it took nine days to complete the crossing of the Potomac and by now Lee was deep in Virginia and had rested and re-grouped his troops.
On November 4th Lincoln relieved McClellan of command and gave the Army of the Potomac to General Ambrose Burnside. McClellan’s next battle with Lincoln came when he won the democratic nomination for president in the 1864 elections. He was easily defeated.