Friday, February 24, 2012

Civil War Chronicles, Month 12, Finally!

Ellen Mary Marcy was born in Philadelphia in 1836. Her father, Randolph, worked as an explorer of the unsettled west for the government. In 1852, he was sent to explore and identify the origin and trail of the Red River. Young George McClellan, an Army officer was assigned to his team.
Marcy came to appreciate the young McClellan during the expedition and invited him to visit his home in 1854. There, the 27-year-old George met Ellen, then 18, and was instantly attracted to her. He wrote her mother, "I have not seen a very great deal of the little lady mentioned above, still that little has been sufficient to make me determined to win her if I can." Ellen's father welcomed George as a suitor, but Ellen was completely uninterested in him.
Ellen was in love with Ambrose Hill, an army officer and future general for the Confederacy. Without her parents' permission the comply became engaged. When Randolph learned that Ellen had accepted Ambrose's proposal, he took action. Arguing that life as an Army wife was not what he envisioned for his little girl, he threatened to disown Ellen if she had further contact with Hill. While McClellan was also in the Army, he planned to leave service for a career in private industry and his family was independently wealthy. Randolph deem him a much more suitable match.
For many months, Ellen complied with her father's wishes and refrained from corresponding with Hill. Eventually, she broke off the engagement, but she still had no desire to marry George. Over the years, he proposed to her several times. Other young men also sought her hand. In all, she received nine proposals over the course of six years. She rejected them all.
Then in 1859, the Marcy family visited McClellan as they were relocating for Randolph's work. George proposed again and at last Ellen accepted. They were married May 22, 1860.
As the Civil War began, George was drawn back into service for the Army of the Potomac. Ambrose Hill, Ellen's spurned suitor, was assigned to a Confederate force that frequently engaged in battle with McClellan's forces. Those who knew of the history between the two men observed that Hill seemed to enjoy particularly aggressive assaults on McClellan's troops. George himself seemed to acknowledge this when he was drug from bed early one morning to respond to yet another attach by Hill, commenting: "My XXX, Ellen! Why didn't you marry him?"
George and Ellen corresponded frequently during the war. He shared his personal thoughts about those he worked with and about government in general: "When I returned yesterday after a long ride I was obliged to attend a meeting of the Cabinet at 8 pm. & and was bored and annoyed. There are some of the greatest geese in the Cabinet I have ever seen--enough to tax the patience of Job."
Repeatedly, George complained about other officers and about the President's approach to the war. Ellen supported and encouraged George's views even envisioning a time when he could march on Washington itself: "I long to have the time come when you can have your revenge against the mean and contemptible" actions of the President and his administration.
Lincoln was fully aware of George's opinions and eventually relieved him of his command. Untroubled, George went on to be successful in business and was elected governor of New Jersey. Ellen was reported to be a faithful companion who always supported her husband and his views.
~~ from Homestead Hearth, Mexico Mo

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