1. The Temerity of a Second Lieutenant
Towards the end of the appendix he present what he thinks is his killer piece of evidence. When "second lieutenant" McClellan was stationed at the USMA in the early 1850's he had the temerity to write to "brigadier-general" Totten about his position. The ranks are deliberately in quotes, as those are the ranks Glatthaar used.
To Glatthaar the arrogance of a mere 2Lt writing to a BG is damning enough he feels no need to perform any analysis. I am a scientist by profession, and I do look for evidence and analyse it. In this case I went to the 1850 Army Register and looked at the USMA entry:
One notes the ranks and positions. McClellan is a brevet Captain* and an assistant-instructor under Capt GW Cullum and the second ranking officer in Company A, U.S. Engineers (the only formed engineer company in the whole U.S. Army). Totten is is a Brevet Brigadier-General and is inspector of the USMA.
Now in 1850 Cullum took a two year leave of absence and went to Europe. No-one was appointed to replace him in Coy A or at the USMA. Being the military his chief subordinate "steps up" and Bvt Capt McClellan found himself acting company commander and the acting instructor of practical engineeering, one of the most important positions at the USMA.
Glatthaar seizes on a situation that here developed where Capt. Brewerton decided to deny Bvt Capt McClellan the right to requisition resources his acting position should have allowed him too. Now, Brewerton is McClellan's immediate superior (his "1 up"), and what do you do when disputes of this nature develop? You send it up another level to Brewerton's superior (McClellan's "2-up"), and that is Bvt Brig. Gen. Totten. Hence in fact writing to Totten is the right thing to do, both practically and according to military protocol.
One must wonder why Glatthaar felt the need to not be consistent (or correct) in his use of ranks. One suspects that the perceptual difference between second lieutenant and captain was too big a lure for his preordained conclusions, following a line of reasoning Rowland calls "specious".
* Note that the USMA is not a regiment, and hence rank in the army rather than rank in the regiment is correct. In the army McClellan was a captain, and would have been a major except he refused a promotion based on the fact he believed he did not deserve it. Even Ethan Rafuse in a lecture I recently watched of his got the nature of the brevet wrong. It is not "honorary" rank, it is rank in the army greater than that in ones regiment, and is "real" rank.
2. The "squabble" with Rev. Samuel W. Crawford
Glatthaar makes some hay with the fact that McClellan "had a squabble with his teacher" and "claimed fifty years later to be blameless". This is from Sears' "George B. McClellan" (pg 4) as is most of the evidence, and used in the same manner.
Sears of course gives context. Crawford tried to whip McClellan and McClellan defended himself and defeated Crawford. How this is supposed to be evidence of problems with superiors is beyond me. It is more indicative of a strong and courageous young boy who has the courage to stand up for himself rather than meekly be beaten. In fact this is an important aspect of his character we'll come back too.
3. Second in his class
Glatthaar, using Sears as a reference says McClellan was aggrieved to coming second in his class. Glatthaar moves on, but Sears' evidence is this line from a letter reading:
" I must confess that I have malice enough to want to show them that if I did not graduate head of my class, I can nevertheless do something."
Sears and Glatthaar see this as evidence McClellan feels cheated out of his rightful place. Myers gives a larger extract:
"I am the only one of my class (of those who entered the Engineers) who is to go to Mexico, and I must confess that I have malice enough to want to show them that if I did not graduate head of my class, I can nevertheless do something."
Which completely changes the context and meaning. Here McClellan is disappointed to have been pipped at the post, but is happy he will get to go on active service and prove himself. The first four cadets got commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, and their class rank became literal, as the seniority of these four was in that order. The difference of one place could mean the difference of years to obtain a Captaincy (although the three members of the class still in the engineers in 1860 were all promoted to Captain together that year). The class leader, Charles Seaforth Steward, and the third and fourth placed officers (Charles E. Blunt and John G. Foster) got the much desired fortress assignments on the Atlantic coast. McClellan alone asks for a combat deployment, and is assigned as the junior company officer of the newly forming "Company A", US Engineers.
There probably is annoyance here, but McClellan takes it as a challenge to prove himself more than his three rivals, and goes to war whilst his former competition goes off to balls and drinks champagne.