In the continuing evolution of McClellan as a vaudeville character Make Your Own Luck co-authors Eileen C. Shapiro, a strategic consultant, and Howard H. Stevenson, a Harvard University professor tell us,
As most Civil War buffs know, that devastating national upheaval might have abruptly ended at the battle of Antietam in September 1862 if Gen. George McClellan had not been so cautious.They're probably right about "most" buffs "knowing" this. But they are not interested in correcting the problem this kind of "knowledge".
McClellan wasted time checking with the War Department higher-ups and President Lincoln before attacking. By that time Lee had rearranged and consolidated his troops to make them less vulnerable to McClellan’s assault.I recall him informing his betters after-the-fact. I recall him brushing off the false intelligence pressed upon him by Halleck and Gov. Curtin during the advance. I recall differently.
"The U.S. Civil War could have been ended that week in September 1862. Instead, it dragged on for close to another three years, ultimately costing a total of 558,000 military deaths, more than the sum of all U.S. military in all other wars including the Revolutionary War, both World Wars, and subsequent wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq," the authors write.
McClellan: author of 558,000 military deaths. Don't laugh, it gets Lincoln and Davis off the hook.
If some buffs think that, let them convince the rest of us that (1) armies could be annihilated in 1862 (2) with immediate political consequences (3) and GBM had the sole opportunity to do so. You don't get a free pass after asserting hypotheticals.
Personally, I favor the historic answer as to how the war might have ended before 1865: with the capture or killing of Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet and any generals willing to set up a junta should the first two events occur. I let the events of April 1865 teach me something about how American Civil Wars might end.
Which takes McClellan criticism to a whole new level.