Edwin McMasters Stanton, Secretary of War (American National Biography)

Scholarship
William B. Skelton, "Stanton, Edwin McMasters," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00942.html.
As secretary of war, Stanton became increasingly disillusioned with his erstwhile friend McClellan, who had remained ensconced in the Washington defenses since the summer of 1861 and showed little inclination to take the offensive against the Confederate forces in Virginia. In March 1862 Stanton and other cabinet members convinced Lincoln to remove McClellan as commanding general of the entire army, though McClellan continued to command the Army of the Potomac. For several months in the spring and early summer of 1862, Lincoln and Stanton performed the role of commanding general. The two civilians pressured McClellan into launching his Peninsula campaign, personally directed the capture of Norfolk, and devised a nearly successful plan to trap Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley. In a controversial move, however, Stanton suspended recruiting in early April in order to reorganize the recruiting service--and in the apparent belief that the war would soon be over. Because of this step, as well as the administration's decision to detain Major General Irvin McDowell's corps as a shield for Washington, D.C., McClellan and his Democratic supporters claimed that the secretary of war had withheld essential reinforcements from the Peninsula offensive, contributing to its failure. While these charges were unfounded--McClellan's army strongly outnumbered the Confederates throughout the campaign--Stanton and McClellan remained bitter enemies, each calling for the removal of the other, until Lincoln finally relieved McClellan of command in November 1862.
How to Cite This Page: "Edwin McMasters Stanton, Secretary of War (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/20784.