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Wilson, James Harrison (1837-1925) Volume I. Extracts from Military Writings, (Compiled at West Point 58-59-60) Recollections of the Great Rebellion, taken from Diary, & written during the War

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04096 Author/Creator: Wilson, James Harrison (1837-1925) Place Written: Various Type: Autograph manuscript signed Date: circa 1866 Pagination: 146 p. ; 22.8 x 18 cm.

Summary of Content: Bound manuscript contains copies of notes taken while a student at West Point, copies of personal letters written from 1861-1862, and later recollections of the Civil War. Letters sent to Stephen A. Douglas and Simon Cameron among others. Recollections focus on service during 1862. On Antietam says, "From a lack of manly constancy and tenacious intrepidity in some of the generals, and a lack of Ilan in the soldiers, what might have been made a conclusive victory was at best a drawn battle." Relates conversation with McClellan about McClellan's possible removal from command. Troops have a "beautiful enthusiasm" for McClellan, though "he is not a dangerous man to pursue a flying enemy." Despite flaws he was "immeasurably superior to his surroundings," and blame should focus on the generals under him. Emancipation Proclamation "was received sullenly & threateningly," and some even discussed "the idea of McClellan marching upon Washington, deposing the President and putting himself at the head of the government." Discusses other events during Fall of 1862. Written after the close of the Civil War, most likely in 1866. Long partial transcript in collateral folder. Possibly a second volume written, but not known. Signed by Wilson several times.

Background Information: James H. Wilson served as General McClellan's aide-de-camp during the Maryland campaign in 1862, including the battle of Antietam. Later defeated Nathan Bedford Forest at Selma, and rose to rank of ...Major General of volunteers.See More

Full Transcript: From a lack of manly constancy and tenacious intrepidity in some of the generals, and a lack of Ilan in the soldiers, what might have been made a conclusive victory ...was at best a drawn battle with a slight advantage on our side...There is no place in the world better calculated than Washington to... disgust one with the venality, littleness and penalty of mankind...I was particularly struck by the boisterous but real and beautiful enthusiasm of the troops whenever we went for Gen'l McClellan. The whole army would break out into wild cheers whenever he would pass among them...General McClellan, while he is by far the most reliable of our generals that I have yet met or known, is by no means as great as I had hoped and expected he would be. he is not a dangerous man to pursue a flying enemy. He is rather a Fabius Maximus than a Hannibal...The President's Emancipation Proclimation was recieved today. I fail to remember a single officer who gave it his clear & unqualified approval. It was received sullenly & threateningly...At this time the idea of McClellan marching upon Washington, deposing the President and putting himself at the head of the government was quite freely discusse among a class of subalterns of the regular service.See More

People: Wilson, James Harrison, 1837-1925
McClellan, George B., 1826-1885

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarMilitary HistoryUnion ForcesUnion GeneralWest Point (US Military Academy)BattleBattle of Antietam (Sharpsburg)RebellionAfrican American HistoryEmancipationEmancipation ProclamationMutinyPresidentGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: Reconstruction

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