General John Pope had a bad reputation for outright lies in post-battle reports and was said to have “excelled as a fiction writer.” After his message of glorious victory at the battle of Second Manassas in mid-1862, Lincoln and his cabinet were delighted and went to bed that night expecting “more glad tidings at sunrise.” Pope had actually been severely thrashed by Lee’s smaller army and his disorganized army straggled back toward Washington.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
Lincoln Needs General with Killer Instinct
“McClellan presented the letter to Lincoln when they were alone on the [steamer] Ariel.
“First of all,” he wrote, “the Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever the cost in time, treasure and blood.” The war, he insisted, “must be conducted upon “the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It must not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State . . . It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations.”
In a shaft at General Pope’s rough treatment of civilians in Virginia, McClellan continued: “Neither confiscation of property, political executions of people, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery, should be considered for a moment,” continuing, “In prosecuting the war, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected.”
Unless such a clear declaration of principles is made, the general warned, it would be “almost hopeless” to recruit enough men for the army. “A declaration of radical views, especially on slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies.”
The president pocketed the letter without comment, leading the general to wonder what he really thought about it. When Lincoln read the letter to his cabinet a few days later, [Edwin] Stanton and Treasury Secretary [Salmon] Chase demanded McClellan’s immediate removal from command.
They realized that he was totally opposed to carrying on the war to subjugate the South and destroy slavery. Lincoln wanted a new general with a killer instinct who would march on Richmond by the overland route while still protecting Washington. He found his man in John Pope.”
(The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy, Frank van der Linden, Fulcrum Publishing, 2007, excerpts, pp. 26-27)