McClellan has something relevant to say as well. In a memo drafted December 29 of 1881 located with the McClellan Papers at the Library of Congress he notes that before his spell of typhoid in late 1861,
... no party had been openly formed against me. [But] The Radicals had by this time become convinced that I was not to be used by themselves as a tool; they saw that my object was to restore the Union - while their's was the reverse..."The reverse" alludes to the "conditions" heard by Waud and Pleasanton and heard of by Porter - conditions in which Senator Ben Wade (right) figured.
Congressional radical George Julian, writing after the war, remembered Wade as taking the position that McClellan was prolonging the war to the benefit of the Democratic Party - that Democrats might be recalled to power to make peace with the South. The thought appears in T. Harry Williams' Lincoln and the Radicals and I don't have Julian's exact wording.
At first glance, this might seem to repudiate the "conditions" we have been discussing. I don't think it does. "Prolonging the war" - if those were the exact terms - could mean major delays in "shattering the South." Certainly it means endangering emancipation and Lincoln's re-election. To quote Plesanton via Kelly:
The terms offered were these: The war must not be ended until the South was crushed. Slavery abolished. And the President reelected.Slowness pertains to the speed at which the South is crushed and the conditions for emancipation are set up. McClellan and others could rightly feel - as a major portion of the electorate felt - that the Republicans were in no hurry to end a war that was a major asset to party building. Julian and Wade could wish for a different kind of slowness, a succession of battles embittering both sides, grinding down the South, and providing a steady stream of victories sufficient to win mid-terms and presidential elections for a reunion in due time.
Waud's recollection contradicts Julian's. In Waud's, Radicals think McClellan is moving too fast. And they don't want him positioned (via success) for the presidency. In Julian's, the Radicals again are represented as feeling he is moving too slow. But that slowness accusation hides a world of meaning.
What of Pleasanton's recollection?
Well, we know of Sen. Chandler's interactions with Heintzelman during McClellan's typhoid episode - they were of a sort such that Heintzelman could feel he had been offered command. Two years later (or more) we have Pleasonton feeling the same way after time spent with Wade.
What strikes the modern reader as odd is that someone could take seriously the offer of a senator in this. It would be a presidential matter. But we have to credit Heintzelman and Pleasanton. They knew how the government ran and they were not fools. This leaves us with a series of questions:
Was Wade freelancing when he interviewed Pleasanton for command of the AoP?
Or was he a cutout for Lincoln?
Were the "conditions" inferred by Pleasanton or stated by Wade?
Did Pleasanton talk up the "conditions" such that they became legend even to such unfriendly ears as Porter's?
More questions than answers, I am afraid. What I am sure of is this: honest men believed in the conditions; dishonest men (writers and historians) have suppressed this part - and many other parts - of the Democratic case against the Republican management of the Civil War.