In August 1864, less than three months before the election, Republican leaders visited President Lincoln at the White House and told him that he had no hope of re-election. Their canvassing indicated that the country was so weary of the war that the Democratic candidate would triumph easily. Some Republicans were urging the President, for the sake of the party, to give up the party's nomination—which had been conferred only two months earlier—so a stronger candidate could be nominated. "Mr. Lincoln is already beaten," wrote Horace Greeley, the famous Republican editor of the New York Tribune. "He cannot be elected. And we must have another ticket to save us from utter overthrow. If we had a ticket as could be made by naming Grant, Butler, or Sherman for President, we could make a fight yet."George McClellan was his Democrat Party opponent. McClellan had been the General of the Army of the Potomac. Formed near the beginning of the war, this army was charged with protecting the capital city. Under McClellan's leadership, this army became very good at living in quarters, marching around, getting first dibs at supplies such as uniforms (had to look good for Congress, you know) and occasional sallies into the countryside. These sallies had to be very carefully planned as to avoid any possibility of contact with the enemy.
In those fraught days, Lincoln himself wrote a memorandum, which he asked his cabinet to sign (on the back so they could not read its contents). "This morning, as for some days past," he wrote, "it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured the election on such grounds that he cannot possibly save it afterward. (read more)"
He would, of course, fail in his attempt to avoid the enemy, at least a couple of times. His forays into battle were half-hearted, poorly planned and destined to fail. His reluctance to use his large army prompted President Lincoln to say, "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time."
Even after the fall of Atlanta, the Democrats (led by McClellan) refused to accept victory, preferring defeat at any cost. Fortunately for the Union, McClellan and his gang of appeasers lost.
Will our gang of appeasers lose?