Charge Into the Fray

Story of the Day for Monday December 11, 2011

Charge Into the Fray

                 Then David said to Solomon, his son, “Be strong and courageous, and act . . .”  

                                                                             1 Chronicles 28:20

 During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed Gen. George McClellan to lead the Army of the Potomac, and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

When he took command in July of 1861, McClellan’s troop strength was 50,000. By November it had swelled to 168,000 – the largest army ever assembled in modern times.

As the mighty Northern army slowly rolled toward Richmond, the Confederates knew, with their 35,000 men and few cannons, they could not defend their capitol.

False reports came to McClellan that the enemy troop strength was three times what it actually was. McClellan still had almost twice as many men, but he became so alarmed he refused to attack. Instead he gave his fears free reign. He began to imagine his adversary’s troop strength as greater than his own, and make panicky pleas to Washington for more reinforcements.

McClellan’s forces were bolstered to 192,000, but still he refused to attack. He still believed he was outnumbered.

The Confederate generals were brilliant at assessing the character of their opposing generals. Once they concluded that McClellan was easily unnerved, they did everything they could to accommodate his fears.

In order to gain time in bolstering their defenses at Richmond, the Rebels set up cannon emplacements to block their advance. When their jittery leader finally had his troops advance, they discovered the “cannons” were simply logs that had been stripped of their bark and painted black. “Quaker guns,” they came to be called.

But the showstopper was left to the southern general, John Magruder. His pathetically skimpy troops were no match for McClellan’s troops. So, he sent his troops up a hill and then made them walk past a gap in the hills where the Union troops could observe them. They then formed a circle. All day long they would march in a circle – leading the wide-eyed McClellan to believe they were vastly outnumbered.

Back in Washington, President Lincoln repeatedly wrote to his general, urging him to “strike a blow” – that he must act. But McClellan refused. If he had “acted,” he could easily have taken Richmond. But he never tried.


When King David neared the end of his reign, he appointed his son, Solomon, to succeed him. In addition to governing a nation, David called upon his son to build a magnificent temple for the Lord.

This mammoth undertaking was large enough to scare anyone from attempting it. But David gave his son what he needed. He told him not to be afraid; the Lord would be with him. “Be strong and courageous,” David counseled, “. . . and act.”


Fear can assemble troops faster than General Magruder to cow you into submission. Sometimes, the only way to puncture the illusion is to charge into the fray.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)