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The President and Major General George B. McClellan on the Battlefield of Antietam, photograph by Alexander Gardner, October 3, 1862

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The President and Major General George B. McClellan on the Battlefield of Antietam, photograph by Alexander Gardner, October 3, 1862

Congress Investigates the Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, some members of Congress expected an easy Union victory. After early losses to Confederate forces, they grew critical of President Abraham Lincoln’s military strategy. In 1861 a resolution to investigate two particular Union defeats was amended to create a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War with a broader mission. The committee examined many aspects of the Union effort, intending to use its investigatory power to influence the president’s military decisions.

Between 1861 and 1865, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War investigated and provided oversight of President Abraham Lincoln’s command of the Union Army in the Civil War.