Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Wanted to “Borrow” the Army

During one of the periods when things were at a standstill, the Washington authorities, being unable to force General McClellan to assume an aggressive attitude, President Lincoln went to the general’s headquarters to have a talk with him, but for some reason he was unable to get an audience.

Mr. Lincoln returned to the White House much disturbed at his failure to see the commander of the Union forces, and immediately sent for two general officers, to have a consultation. On their arrival, he told them he must have some one to talk to about the situation, and as he had failed to see General McClellan, he wished their views as to the possibility or probability of commencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac.

“Something’s got to be done,” said the President, emphatically, “and done right away, or the bottom will fall out of the whole thing. Now, if McClellan doesn’t want to use the army for awhile, I’d like to borrow it from him and see if I can’t do something or other with it.

“If McClellan can’t fish, he ought at least to be cutting bait at a time like this.”