Thursday, August 12, 2010

What do you think of this George B. McClellan Cartoon

Check out this political cartoon from Musselman Library’s Special Collections.

Published in Vanity Fair on March 29, 1862, this cartoon pokes fun of General George B. McClellan. McClellan had been cautious to attack the Confederates gathered by Manassas. However, when McClellan finally got around to moving his forces forward he discovered that Joseph E. Johnston had actually withdrawn his troops. Furthermore, the cannons that had caused much of McClellan’s hesitation turned out to be logs which were painted black (“Quaker guns”).

Do you think that General McClellan deserved the criticisms he received? Was he too cautious?

Find more political cartoons and other great Civil War artifacts at Musselman Library’s Civil War Era Collection that can be found online at GettDigital (


  1. I DO think George deserved the criticisms he received!

  2. No, not for the Quaker guns. See Joe Harsh's article from the Centreville newspaper back when he wrote a column for it. I have a copy if you'd like to see it.

  3. very funny cartoon and very interesting information.

  4. Hellow CWI -- my name's Sean. I'm one of the webmasters at A People's Contest, a new blog from the Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State (our URL is: Nice cartoon -- obviously, Little Mac had his (MAJOR) shortcomings as a general, but these days, it's so easy to be uncritically critical of McClellan. His cautiousness and his bombast have become literary tropes at this point. Viewed in hindsight (and compared with Lee) it's easy to knock him, but he had a tremendously difficult tast, part of which he did splendidly (organizing the Army of the Potomac), and he still fared better than all his successors prior to Meade. I won't give him two thumbs up, but I'll give him one.