I read a blog last week how General McClellan would go into winter quarters because he didn’t want to get his soldiers’ skirts dirty. Now, I’m not a great fan of General McClellan. He was arrogant, and what he didn’t do at the Second Battle of Bull Run bordered on treason, but I always admired his attitude toward his men. He was reluctant to engage the enemy because he didn’t like to see his men killed. He saw plenty of that at Antietam and the Peninsula Campaign. By the way, Robert E. Lee lost almost twenty percent of his army in that same campaign.
So McClellan saw plenty of fighting though he wasn’t nearly as aggressive as Grant, and to say that he didn’t want to get his men’s skirts dirty is demeaning. It reminds me of Peter Jennings in 1995 saying that the United States shouldn’t have dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I always wondered how Peter would have felt if he had been a Marine on Saipan waiting to invade Japan’s mainland.
If they had invaded, they would have gotten their skirts dirty and their boots full of blood. So much for dirty skirts.