On this day in 1860, George B. McClellan married Ellen Marcy at the Calvary Church in New York City. Much sought after, apparently, Miss Marcy had already received a proposal from George’s good friend from West Point, Ambrose Powell Hill. He had asked for her hand four years earlier, but Marcy’s father, an Army officer, disapproved, and our entry on Hill notes that his health may have been a contributing factor. According to the historian James I. Robertson Jr., Hill suffered from prostatitis, the result of gonorrhea he had contracted while at West Point. “The summer of 1844 was generally a pleasant time for Hill,” Robertson writes, and so it was for a cadet of “lithe figure and manly bearing.” But such things come with a price. And that price, quite possibly, was Miss Mary Ellen Marcy.
George McClellan, meanwhile, served under her father, Randolph Marcy, who was “encouraged by McClellan’s pursuit of a civil career,” as our McClellan entry puts it. As counter-intuitive as it might seem in retrospect, the Army was no place for social advancement in those days. Robert E. Lee was miserable and always threatening to quit. And McClellan did quit. He joined the railroads, became a vice president, and married the lovely Miss Marcy.
The aging and eminent Winfield Scott attended, as did the future Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston. Even a rival suitor showed up in support of McClellan, but not, as far as I can tell, poor A. P. Hill. His next meeting with McClellan would be on the battlefield.
NOTA BENE: I am a Cole Porter fan (who isn’t?), and I am a Pogues fan, and I miss the late Kirsty MacColl. Put the three together, and you have “Miss Otis Regrets” after the jump.
A version of this post was originally published on May 5, 2011.
IMAGES: Ambrose Powell Hill, hand-colored daguerreotype (The Museum of the Confederacy); McClellan and his wife, 1862, by R. W. Addis