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BIRTH AND ANCESTRY OF GENERAL MCCLELLAN. HIS TRAINING AT THE
MILITARY ACADEMY AND IN THE WAR WITH MEXICO.
HIS VISIT TO
HIS RESIGNATION FROM THE ARMY AND RETURN TO
MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE BRINTON MCCLELLAN was born in the city of Philadelphia, the seat of the Colonial Congress, the original capital of the American Union, the consecrated birthplace of our national greatness, on the 3d day of December, 1826.
His father, a physician of eminence, was a native of Connecticut, into which “land of steady habits” and of sterling men his ancestors had migrated from the mountains of Scotland, bringing with them the ancient Scottish love of liberty and of law, the just, tenacious nature of that hardy and heroic race which has bulwarked freedom and beaten back oppression on so many a hard-fought field from the days of Bruce and Wallace to our own.
The American people are not much given to inquiring into the ancestry of those who do the State service; but the faith which the republicans of old Rome held in the virtue of blood while still the Republic stood, was abundantly vindicated when the Roman people saw the shameless despotism of the worst of the Cæsars administered by men of base extraction and of corrupt birth. And wherever the permanence and the power of the commonwealth depend upon the virtue of its public servants, it should be no insignificant recommendation of a man to the confidence of his fellow-citizens that his
fathers in their time were citizens of credit/" men, highminded men,” who knew alike their duties and their rights, and were as firm in maintaining the latter as they were faithful in fulfilling the former.
Such were those New England volunteers of the Revolution of whom the historian Bancroft tells us that, within a fortnight after the stand made at Lexington, there was scarcely a town in Connecticut that was not represented among the besiegers at Boston. The men who thus swarmed to the defence of their country were no reckless and revolutionary horde, delighting in war and careless of life. To use the words of the same historian, they were “men of substantial worth, of whom almost every one represented a household. The members of the several companies were well known to each other, as to brothers, kindred, and townsmen; known to the old men who remained at home, and to all the matrons and maidens. They
sure to be remembered weekly in the exercises of the congregations; and morning and evening in the usual family devotions they were commended with fervent piety to the protection of Heaven. Every young soldier lived and acted, as it were, under the keen observation of all those among whom he had grown up, and was sure that his conduct would occupy the tongues of his village companions while he was in the field, and perhaps be remembered his life long. The camp of liberty was a gathering in arms of schoolmates, neighbors, and friends; and Boston was beleaguered round from Roxbury to Chelsea by an unorganized, fluctuating mass of men, each with his own musket and his little store of cartridges, and such provisions as he brought with him, or as were sent after him, or were contributed by the people round about."
Of such a stock came George Brinton McClellan.
Removing from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, his father had achieved by his abilities and character a high position in the midst of that galaxy of accomplished medical men by whom