This print was produced sometime after the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. General McClellan had intended to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond in the summer of 1862, but after a series of engagements with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Seven Days Battle, he withdrew to the James River, 20 miles from Richmond. Lincoln then called for the Army of the Potomac to return to Washington, D.C. The failure of the Peninsula Campaign crushed the morale of Union forces, who believed the capture of the Confederate capital would bring about and end to the fighting.
A critic of McClellan’s retreat, the artist of this print depicts the general reclining aboard a ship at the safety of his headquarters at Harrison’s landing. He sips on a drink while a bottle rests below him. In his left hand, he holds his sword below him and his hat lies on the ground. The illustration is signed in the lower left hand corner, simply as “Potomac.”
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