James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  as President Davis and other friends, remonstrated with him for exposing himself to danger, and once, when he was for leading a charge himself, his men cried out, “General Lee to the rear!” “It is well war is so terrible,” he once said; “we should grow too fond of it.” 1  91   The match between Lee and Jackson on one side and McClellan on the other was unequal, and McClellan of course went down. Into the dispute between him and Lincoln’s friends touching the withdrawal of troops from his command and the alleged failure properly to reënforce him we need not go further than to refer to one point which the General made. But for an unwise order of the Secretary of War, there would have been troops enough for all. Emboldened by the Union successes, he stopped recruiting on April 3, at a time when it was not difficult to get men and when the impulse to volunteer should not have been checked. 2 But no matter how many troops had been given to McClellan, he could not have handled them in such a manner as to get the better of Lee and Jackson. It is certain that Lincoln and Stanton desired his success as ardently as he did himself.  92   Although McClellan could not manage 100,000 men on the offensive, he made a masterly retreat. 3 He was able to carry out Lincoln’s injunction, “Save your army,” when a lesser man might have lost it. Lee expected to capture or destroy the Union force, but failed to divine McClellan’s plan until too late to frustrate it. Convinced as he was that the retreat would be down the Peninsula, he neglected to interfere immediately with the movement for a change of base to the James river, which McClellan had determined on making
Note 1. Fitzhugh Lee, 260; 294; Long, 338; O. R., XI, Pt. III, 632. [back]
Note 2. III, 636; see General Meade, I, 268. [back]
Note 3. “A retreat is the most exhausting of military movements. It is costly in men, ‘more so,’ says Napoleon, ‘than two battles.’” Lieut-.Col. Henderson, I, 534. [back]