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Wisconsin in the Civil War

The Rank and File Grow Impatient

For almost two years, General George McClellan, commander of all Union armies, refused to engage the Confederates in battle. Soldiers of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry at LaGrange, Tennessee, were impatient to end the war. When President Lincoln finally dismissed the timid McClellan in November 1862, one soldier writes about the regiment's reaction.

I believe I speak the sentiments of all our boys when I say that the government has done well by removing McClellan, Buell, & Co., and that it will do well to clean out the whole "chebang" of do-nothing officers, west as well as east. We are anxious to return home to our wives and children, who need our love and care, but we want the rebellion ended first, if possible, so that we may never have to do our "first works" over again, in subjugating the traitors.

I assure you there is an under-current of intense feeling among the rank and file of our armies, that is fast setting against the Administration, on account of its supineness and slowness, and nothing but the most earnest and energetic policy in the future can change or control it. It has been understood for a long time that "Little Mac" and his imitators were "played out," and the action of the President in removing them has not surprised us. If men are put in their places who will go ahead, and carry out policy of the late proclamation, and the confiscation act, and no obstacles put in their way, all will be well. But to have the lives our best and bravest frittered away uselessly in camps and hospitals, battle-fields or pestiferous swamps, is getting to be too much, even for American patriotism.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 5, page 69.

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General George McClellan and staff.
General George McClellan and staff.

WHI 76542
Studio Portrait of General George McClellan.
Studio Portrait of General George McClellan.

WHI 72990
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