Department or Program



This study explores how George Brinton McClellan’s experiences as part of the Delafield Commission in 1855 influenced his generalship during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. The primary object of the Delafield Commission was to study the Siege of Sebastopol, the site of the major Anglo-French effort against the Russians during the Crimean War. Delayed by diplomatic and political setbacks, McClellan failed to reach Sebastopol in time to witness the siege. In part one, I discuss how his European experience reinforced his antipathy towards professional politicians, a temperament cultivated by his Whig father. Congruently, McClellan’s dislike of politicians reappeared at the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign when he ignored President Lincoln, and thus precipitated the removal of the 1st Corps from his command. In part two, I detail how McClellan’s impressions of the ruins of Sebastopol influenced his decision to besiege Yorktown. When McClellan arrived at Yorktown, he believed that an overwhelming Union victory was imperative, and he attempted to recreate the Allied siege of Sebastopol in order to achieve such an outcome. Though he sought to avoid the missteps of the British and French in Crimea, McClellan incorrectly judged the situation at Yorktown, and his decision to initiate a siege there cost the Union Army the initiative, and doomed the ensuing campaign.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Baker, Andrew

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.