Sunday, September 14, 2014

DC Shot of the Day: Major General George B. McClellan

Major General George B. McClellan

History is told by the victor; so it's not exactly encouraging to read up on Union Major General George B. McClennan. Talk about negative press. His bosses didn't seem to care for him: Ulysses S. Grant said, "McClellan is to me, one of the mysteries of the war." Meanwhile, he ran against Commander-in-Chief Abraham Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election, carrying just three states in the process. Turns out, Lincoln didn't trust him (the term insubordinate comes up a lot) ultimately resulting in his being stripped of command. Ouch.

McClennan took a few years off in Europe, after his '64 defeat. He returned to the States, and continued to dabble in politics with mixed results (he served as Governor of New Jersey for a single term.) So why the statue? Beats me; but I used to live a block away from it as a kid (it's at the intersection of California Street, Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue) and thought it looked cool. That's good enough of a reason, don't you think?

Good enough for Frederick William MacMonnies who sculpted the bronze equestrian back in 1907 at a cost of $50,000 (more than $1.2 million today, when adjusted for inflation.) It was dedicated on May 2, 1907, and remains one of the city's best-looking statues.