McClellan at Antietam
- Speaking of not-completely-reliable sources, Henry K. Douglas in this instance, here is a note from Steve Stotelmyer about McCllean's presence, or not, at the 1867 dedication ceremony.
The source that supports the assumption of McClellan attending the dedication of the Antietam National Cemetery on September 17, 1867, is the official program of the dedication ceremonies. This program was first published by the Board of Trustees in History of Antietam National Cemetery, Baltimore, MD, 1869. It was later reprinted by George Hess in his History of Antietam National Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA, 1890. In the Order of Procession in both pamphlets appears the following, "General Grant and Staff, General McClellan and Staff, Major general Burnside and Staff. In the September 13, 1867, Middletown Valley Register, there appears the following, "The committee of arrangements, have announced the following program...The procession will include*Gen. Grant and staff; Major Gen. McClellan and staff; Major Gen. Burnside and staff." While this does not prove conclusively that McClellan attended, it does prove that he was invited. This is corroborated by the Administrative History of the Antietam National Battlefield and National Cemetery, published by the National Park Service in 1986. This publication lists McClellan as an "Invited guest." These sources contradict Henry Kyd Douglas. In his I Rode With Stonewall. On page 177 Douglas claims that McClellan made a "curious statement" at a dinner that, "when the Antietam National Cemetery was dedicated*he was not asked to take any part in the ceremonies and was not even invited to be present." Why Douglas would say this when the documentary evidence clearly shows otherwise is a mystery, a circumstance that cast doubt on Douglas' veracity. If Douglas is wrong about that, he certainly could also be in error when he claims that McClellan's trip to Antietam in May 1885 was "the first and only time he ever visited it after the battle of Antietam." Unfortunately the contemporary newspapers are moot as to whether or not McClellan attended the dedication. While it is true that the Oct. 5, 1867, Harpers Weekly does not list McClellan in attendance, this does not prove conclusively that he was not there. There were other dignitaries in attendance that were not mentioned by Harpers Weekly. However, two local newspapers, the Boonsboro Oddfellow, and the Middletown Valley Register also fail to mention McClellan in attendance. This could be interpreted to suggest that McClellan was absent, but once again does not conclusively prove it. What we have is a mystery. There is evidence that shows McClellan was invited, but no conclusive evidence to show that he did not attend. Although one would think that if he were there the local papers would have mentioned it. This is circumstantial evidence at best. My mistake in Bivouacs was trusting too much to official program documents. I wholeheartedly apologize to all concerned for the error in judgment. If we ever reprint again I will make sure to properly footnote the sources and make the reader aware of the controversy. If we are lucky, this may spark one of the Talk Antietam readers to find something definitive. Regards,Steve
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