04 January 2009 by Published in: General News 6 comments

Antietam ranger John Hoptak has a fascinating post on his blog today suggesting that after the Battle of Antietam, George B. McClellan sent a note to Robert E. Lee suggesting that they declare an armistice and then march their combined armies into Washington, D. C. I’m not entirely sure that such a letter was ever sent-there is certainly no evidence of such a letter in the Official Records, but it certainly makes for a tantalizing and fascinating prospect. Read the post and see what you think.

I wonder what you Antietam and George B. McClellan students think of this…..

Scridb filter


  1. Tom Clemens
    Mon 05th Jan 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Eric,
    John handles it well, but I am, pardon the pun, a doubting Thomas. Among other things, McClellan was sick the night after the battle and it is hard to believe he’d take such a step when he was that ill.
    Golly, Lincoln cashiers Key for disloyalty in the aftermath of the Maryland Campaign. Given that sort of atmosphere and his tenuous command situation, it is hard to imagine McClellan taking such a step. What if Lee responded favorably? Wouldn’t this be treason on McClellan’s part? It just doesn’t smell right. Keilly or Longstreet cooked this up for their own purposes.

  2. Mon 05th Jan 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Fascinating stuff. I have to agree with Tom. With all the major participants dead, it leads me to suspect Keilly and not Longstreet (who would almost certainly have put it in his memoir or discussed it later in life).


  3. Tue 06th Jan 2009 at 12:09 pm


    Keiley, of course, was a bishop in Savannah (not suggesting he is above fabrication) but his brother, Anthony M. Keiley, was a notable politician in tidewater Virginia (not saying that profession is inclined to fabrication either). Still if I had to pick one who might have spun a yarn….

    Bishop Keiley’s main preoccupation at the time mentioned was raising funds to rebuild the Cathedral in Savannah (which would not be paid off for about another 15 years). Although the Bishop was a veteran of the war, the real connection to Longstreet was his other brother John M. Keiley. If my notes are correct, J.M. Keiley served for a time on Longstreet’s staff.

    However, I just don’t see much motive for the man to come forward with what is clearly an outrageous claim. Money? What could he gain?

    On the other hand, would Longstreet have floated a “story” to an old friend as as sounding board? But the Bishop, taking things at face value, didn’t try to separate the facts from fantasy?


  4. kevin a kearns
    Wed 07th Jan 2009 at 6:32 pm

    george couldnt beat them he might as well join them.who would command?george would take a month to move.he couldnt take richmond so now he can take washington?he should have driven lee into the potomac river and ended it then,at least tried with the 5th corps.i dont believe this for an instance he would join with lee-majority of union soldiers,officers would probally fire a volley into his headquartes tent.

  5. Will Hickox
    Thu 08th Jan 2009 at 11:03 pm

    McClellan was not a Lincoln lover, and his reputation among historians has suffered accordingly. But he was an honorable man and a patriot. He proved this during the ’64 presidential campaign when he repudiated the Democrats’ peace plank and pledged to fight the war to a conclusion if he was elected. I find it inconceivable that he would have written such a letter, much less gone ahead and sent it to the enemy commander.

  6. Jim Morgan
    Sat 10th Jan 2009 at 8:41 am

    Um, I think Bishop Keilly breathed in a little too much incense.

    Jim Morgan

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