Sunday, March 14, 2010

Inside Jokes

The upcoming third issue of Teddy and the Yeti opens with a colored version of the story "Presidents and Precedence" - a seven-page tale that was first published (in black and white) in the Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch anthology.  The first page of this story features the iconic (?) image of the Yeti knocking the head off a robotic Abraham Lincoln.  The Yeti soon discusses her growing dislike for the 16th President of the United States, surely aggravated by the fact that robot Lincolns keep attacking her, mentioning that if she were alive at the time (and, presumably, allowed to vote) she would have voted for "the other guy".  Ted retorts by asking if she even knows who "the other guy" was, which, of course, the Yeti does not.

This scene gave me a measure of satisfaction beyond its surface, as "the other guy", at least during Lincoln's bid for a second term in office, just so happens to have been an uncle of mine.  Well, a great-great-great-great-whatever uncle of mine: Civil War General George Brinton McClellan.

Let me say that it is difficult to look back at the history of the United States and say "boy, I wish Uncle George had won the election...over Abraham Lincoln."  Lincoln has earned his spot on Mr. Rushmore, for sure, as a liberator and a great leader.  It's hard to think of what this country might have become without his steady, guiding hand just when we as a people needed it most.  The Presidential election of 1864 was won by a landslide, and really, how could it have been otherwise?  McClellan had no chance, and it was for the betterment of the country that he lost.

That being said, seeing the Yeti punch robot Lincoln in the head was somewhat cathartic, in a twisted way.  Lincoln and McClellan had a strained relationship, with Lincoln famously writing that since the General was not using the Union army, he "would like to borrow it for a time."  McClellan, in his own display of insubordination, once rode his horse into the White House.  Into the White House!  Imagine something like that happening today.

Perhaps because of this feud, and certainly due to his hesitant nature in battle (he'd often defeat the Confederate forces and then hold back, thinking the enemy was trying to draw him out into a trap, when in reality they were just retreating), McClellan isn't given what I think is his just due by a lot of the history books.  I think this is unfair - and I'll admit that being related to the guy has something to do with it.  But if you read about the man, one thing that inevitably comes up is how popular he was with the soldiers in his command: this is what he based his '64 Presidential campaign on.  I think that caring for the welfare of those underneath you, not wanting to have men slaughtered needlessly, is something that should be admired, even if it was sometimes too cautious an approach for an all-or-nothing struggle like the Civil War.

McClellan's story isn't told very often anymore - most people don't realize that Ulysses S. Grant wasn't the only general to command the Union Army - but I'm proud of him, in my own way.  Losing the election didn't seem to keep him down, either, as he was elected governor of New Jersey in 1878.  His son, George Jr., was a member of the House of Representatives and the mayor of New York City in the early 20th century.  And I write a small press comic book!  Sigh.

In case anyone is wondering why my last name is "McClelland", not "McClellan", well...the spelling was a bit more "optional" in the 19th century.  Some people kept the 'd', some people dropped it.  I have no idea why.  I don't dwell on it often.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Wow, just amazing. Learn something new everyday.