Democratic presidential candidate George B. McClellan is lampooned as an incompetent military leader. He sits in a saddle mounted on the boom of the Union ironclad vessel Galena.
The print recalls two prominent failures in McClellan’s tenure as commander of the Army of the Potomac, which haunted him during the 1864 campaign. The Galena, a Union ironclad leading a flotilla of Union gunboats against Richmond, was driven back and badly damaged by Confederate batteries just miles from the capital in May 1862. McClellan was criticized for refusing to bring nearby land troops to the navy’s aid. Shortly thereafter McClellan’s peninsular campaign toward Richmond came to a disastrous conclusion with the Battle of Malvern Hill, shown here raging in the background. McClellan’s troops retreated to the protection of naval guns, effectively ending the Union threat to Richmond.
The artist shows McClellan viewing the battle through a telescope from his safe perch. He calls to the troops, "Fight on my brave soldiers and push the enemy to the wall, from this spanker boom your beloved General looks down upon you."
Source: American Political Prints, 1766 - 1876: A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress, 1991, by Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.