Primary Resource

"Order Relieving General G. B. McClellan and Making Other Changes" by Abraham Lincoln (1862)

In this order issued on November 5, 1862, one day after the congressional mid-term elections, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln relieved Union general George B. McClellan, a potential political rival, of command of the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln believed that McClellan should have pursued the Confederates more aggressively after his victory at the Battle of Antietam on September 17. Lincoln replaced McClellan with Ambrose E. Burnside, and Fitz-John Porter—who would soon be court-martialed for his actions at the Second Battle of Manassas—with Joseph Hooker.

Transcription from Original

November 5, 1862.—Order Relieving General G. B. McClellan and Making Other Changes.

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 5, 1862.

By direction of the President, it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that army. Also that Major-General Hunter take command of the corps in said army which is now commanded by General Burnside. That Major-General Fitz-John Porter be relieved from command of the corps he now commands in said army, and that Major-General Hooker take command of said corps.

The general-in-chief is authorized, in [his] discretion, to issue an order substantially as the above, forthwith, or so soon as he may deem proper.

A. Lincoln.