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and the youngest, Arthur, is a captain in the army, attached to the staff of General Wright.
The first school to which George was sent was kept by Mr. Sears Cook Walker, a graduate of Harvard College in 1825, and a man of distinguished scientific merit, who died in January, 1853. He remained four years under Mr. Walker's charge, and from him was transferred to a German teacher, named Schipper, under whom he began the study of Greek and Latin. He next went to the preparatory school of the University of Pennsylvania, which was kept by Dr. Crawford, and in 1840 entered the University itself, where he remained two years. He was a good scholar, and held a high rank in his class, both at school and in college; but he was not a brilliant or precocious lad. His taste was for solid studies : he made steady but not very rapid progress in every thing he undertook, but he had not the qualities of mind that make the show-boy of a school.
In June, 1842, he entered the Military Academy at West Point, being then fifteen years and six months old. He went there in obedience to his general inclination for a military life. He had no particular fondness for mathematical studies, and was not aware that they formed so large a part of the course of instruction at the Academy. Having a modest estimate of his own powers and attainments, it was a source of surprise as well as pleasure to him to find, at the examination in January, 1843, that he was coming out one of the best scholars in the class.
The Academy was at that time under the charge of Colonel De Russey. Among his classmates were several persons who have served with distinction in the army of the United States, as well as some whose mistaken sense of duty led them at the breaking out of the civil war into the ranks of the Confederates. Among these latter was that remarkable man, Thomas Jonathan Jackson, better known by his far-renowned name of Stonewall Jackson, who in his brief military career seems to have combined all the dash and brilliancy of one of Prince Rupert's Cavaliers, with the religious enthusiasm of one of Cromwell's Ironsides.
Young McClellan was a little under the prescribed age when he entered the Academy; but his manly character and sound moral instincts were a sufficient protection against the dangers incident to all places of education away from the pupil's own home, and from wbich the vigilant care and absolute power of the Government cannot entirely guard the young men committed to its charge at West Point. He showed at the start a more careful intellectual training than most of the youths admitted to the Academy. His conduct and bearing throughout his whole course were unexceptionable. His deportment then, as always, was singularly free from that self-assertion wbich is frequently seen, but not always pardoned, in men of superior powers. He showed perseverance, a strong will, and resolute habits of application. His acquisitions were not made without hard work, but, when made, they were securely held. At the close of
the course at West Point, he stood second in general rank in the largest class which had ever left the Academy. In Engineering and Geology he was first. The highest scholar in the class was Charles G. Stewart, now a major of engineers. He came out first because he was more uniformly strict in complying with the rules and regulations of the Academy, as well as more attentive to its regular studies.
McClellan was graduated in the summer of 1846, before he had completed his twentieth year. Fow young men have ever left West Point better fitted by mental discipline and solid attainments for the profession of arms than he. He had also a precious gift of nature itself, in that sound health and robust constitution which are large elements of success in every department of life, but without which distinction in a military career is almost hopeless. He was of middle height, and his frame was well proportioned, with broad shoulders and deep chest. His muscular strength and activity were very great, and all manly exercises came easy to him. He was patient of heat and cold, capable of severe and long-continued application, and able to sustain fatigues and exposures under which most men would have broken down. Such he was at the age of twenty, and such he is now. Aided by strictly temperate habits, his body has always been the active and docile servant of his mind. In all the toils and exposures of his military life, in sickly climes and at sickly seasons, he bas preserved uninterrupted good health. He
could to-day discharge with ease the duties of a common soldier in any arm of the service; and in the shock of encountering steel, few men would be more formidable, whether on horseback or on foot.
At the close of his student-life, a new impulse had been given to the military spirit of the country, and of the army especially, by the breaking out, a few weeks previously, of the Mexican War. The brilliant victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma (May 8 and 9, 1846), gained against immense odds, had shed new lustre upon American arms, and opened to the officers of the army the prospect of a more congenial and animating employment than the dreary monotony of a frontier post or a harbor fort. McClellan went at once into active service as brevet second lieutenant of engineers, and was assigned to duty as junior lieutenant of a company of sappers and miners*
* Sappers and miners form a part of the Corps of Engineers. They are employed in building and repairing permanent fortifications, in raising field redoubts and batteries, in making gabions and fascines, in digging trenches and excavating galleries of mines during sieges, and also in forming bridges of rafts, boats, and pontoons. Their duties require higher qualities, mental and physical, than those of the common soldier. A sapper and miner must have a strong frame, a correct eye, steady nerves, and a certain amount of education. It may be well to add, for the benefit of civilians, that gabions are baskets made of twigs, which are filled with earth and used as screens against an enemy's fire; that fascines are bundles of twigs, fagots, and branches of trees which are used to fill up ditches, form parapets, &c.; and that pontoons are a kind of fat-bot
then in the course of organization at West Point, under charge of Captain A. J. Swift. The first lieutenant was G. W. Smith, now a general in the service of the Confederate States. Captain Swift had studied the subject in Europe; and he instructed his lieutenants, and the latter drilled and exercised the men.
The summer was spent in training the company, and in preparing their equipments and implements. It was a branch of service till that time unknown in our country, as since the peace of 1815 our army had had no practical taste of war, except in an occasional brush with the Indians, where the resources of scientific warfare were not called into play.
The duties in which Lieutenant McClellan now found himself engaged were very congenial to him, and he devoted himself to them with characteristic ardor and perseverance. In a letter written in the course of the summer to his brother, Dr. McClellan, with whom his relations have always been of the most affectionate and confidential nature, he says, “I am kept busy from eight in the morning till dinner-time. After dinner, I have to study sapping and mining until the afternoon drill, after which I go to parade. After tea, we (Captains Swift, Smith, and myself) generally have a consultation. Then I go to tattoo. The amount of it is that we have to organize by the 1st of September the first corps of engineer troops that bave
tomed boat carried along with an army for the purpose of making temporary bridges.