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eve of marriage, his death fell like a pall on many loving hearts. Lee at first reported his losses at “about 1,800 killed and wounded” —one of those preposterous misrepresentations to which commanders on either side were too prone. His actual loss, as embodied in the detailed reports of Longstreet and Jackson, was over 5,000,” and may probably be fairly estimated at 6,000, including 500 unwounded prisoners. He claims to have taken 900 prisoners and 9,000 small arms, but no guns. Thus closed what the exulting correspondent at Lee's headquarters of The Times (London) calls “a memorable day to the historian of the Decline and Fall of the American Republic.” Not so, O owl-eyed scribe but rather one of those days of bloody baptism from whose regenerating flood that Republic was divinely appointed to rise to a purer
life, a nobler spirit, a grander, more benignant destiny!
It would be incredible on any testimony less conclusive than his own" that Gen. Burnside, on the very heel of this prodigal, horrible carnage, resolved to attack again next day, and on the very point where the enemy's lines had been proved impregnable at a cost of 10,000 men. Another butchery as fruitless and still more demoralizing would doubtless have been incurred, but for the timely and forcible remonstrance of stern old Sumner —who never kept out of a fight when
there was a shadow of excuse for go
ing in—and who protested, backed by nearly every General in the army, against such suicidal madness. Burnside finally gave way, and thus probably saved the 9th corps (of old, his own) from useless, inexcusable sacrifice.
* Longstreet reports his losses thus: killed,
the enemy into their next line, and, by going in
The two armies stood facing each other throughout the 14th and 15th : Lee strengthening his defenses and awaiting a renewal of the attack; Burnside at length deciding to withdraw all but Hooker's corps across the river, and continue to hold Fredericksburg; but this he finally gave up, on Hooker's representation that he should be unable to hold the town; and decided to récross his entire army during the night of the 15th; which was quietly effected without serious loss. A few of our desperately wounded, a few pickets, and considerable ammunition, were left by us in Fredericksburg; but Franklin did not lose a man; and not one gun was abandoned as a trophy of this ill-starred advance on Richmond. Our pontoons were all taken up and brought off; the Rebels next day réoccupying Fredericksburg and their side of the river; and thenceforth pickets and sharp-shooters fired across the stream, whenever any temptation to a shot was afforded, with as businesslike an air as though the Rappahannock had always been the boundary of two hostile empires, over which no armed force had ever ventured. Lee has been blamed for not following up his advantage; and it is just possible that he might have made something by a tremendous bombardment of the town while still crowded with our decimated, disheartened troops—possibly by a sudden, determined assault upon it, or upon Franklin's wing, with the great 17 Lee's ' General Order No. 38,’ dated Dec. 21, congratulating his army on their success in
this encounter, Says:
body of his army. But how could
sand of this brave army; and its columns,
“As the day broke, our long lines of troops were seen marching to their different positions as if going on parade—not the least demoralization or disorganization existed.
“To the brave officers and soldiers who accomplished the feat of thus récrossing in the face of the enemy, I owe every thing. For the failure in the attack, I am responsible ; as the extreme gallantry, courage, and endurance shown by them were never exceeded, and would have carried the points had it been possible.
“To the families and friends of the dead, I can only offer my heartfelt sympathies; but for the wounded, I can offer my earnest prayer for their comfort and final recovery.
“The fact that I decided to move from Warrenton on to this line rather against the opinion of the President, Secretary of War, and yourself, and that you have left the whole movement in my hands, without giving me orders, makes me the more responsible.”
But General Burnside's usefulness as commander of the Army of the Potomac was at an end. Officers and soldiers alike felt that he had sadly misjudged in ordering an assault on the bristling heights south of Fredericksburg—stillmore,in seeking to repeat that assault after the bloody, calamitous experience of the 13th–and the popularity of McClellan was immensely strengthened and widened by that disastrous repulse. Whatever his faults, ‘Little Mac' had ever been careful of the lives of his men; and this fact was now remembered to his credit. Had the army been polled for the choice of a commander at any time during the month following our withdrawal from Fredericksburg, it is probable that McClellan would have had a decisive majority, and morally certain that Burnside's supporters would have proved a still more indubitable minority. The latter, however, had no idea of sitting down under his defeat.
While the Rebel chiefs were congratulating each other that the Army of the Potomac had been paralyzed, at least for the Winter, he was planning a fresh and determined advance on Richmond. Within a fortnight after his bloody repulse, he ordered” rations cooked, wagons packed, and every thing made ready for a general movement; intending to make a feint above Fredericksburg, but to cross at the Sedden House, six or seven miles below; while 2,500 cavalry, with 4 guns, crossing at Kelly's ford, were to raid across the Virginia Central, the Lynchburg and the Weldon Tailroads, blowing up the locks on the James River Canal; crossing the Nottoway, and reporting to Gen. Peck, in command at Suffolk; while several other flying expeditions were to distract the enemy's attention and deceive him as to the significance of the general movement. He had just given “ the initial impulse to this combined movement, when a telegram from the President arrested it; and, repairing at once to Washington, Gen. B. learned that representations had been made at headquarters by certain of his subordinates, prompted and sustained by others, that, if he were permitted to proceed, in the existing temper of the army, he would inevitably incur disasters so grave as to signally belittle, if not wholly efface, those of the recent failure. In deference to these representations, the President had telegraphed as he did; and the Secretary of War and the General-in-chief, though now for the first time apprised of the clandestine communications of army officers to Mr. Lincoln, failed even to attempt a removal of the impression
* Dec. 30.
they had made on the President's mind. Returning to the army, Gen. Burnside soon ascertained that certain details of the proposed cavalry movement had transpired—in fact, he was assured by Gen. Pleasanton that they were known among Secessionists in Washington two or three days after his first interview with the President —so he abandoned that movement; intending to make one somewhat different, in the course of a few days. This new movement contemplated a crossing in force at Banks's and at the United States fords, above Fredericksburg; the crossing below being also made, or at least menaced, as originally proposed: and again his preparations were perfected and his army now put” in motion; when, at 10 P.M., there burst over it one of the severest and most trying storms ever experienced in that region. Snow, driving sleet, pouring rain, a general breaking up of the roads, hitherto hard and dry, and a chaos of the elements which rendered locomotion impossible and life under the drenching sky scarcely endurable, arrested that advance at its outset, and fixed our army in the mire wherein it for hours wretchedly, sullenly, hopelessly floundered. Daylight exposed to the enemy across the stream movements which were intended to be consummated under the cover of night: they were not foolish enough, had they been able, to squander their men and animals in
attempts to assail our stalled and struggling forces; but they guarded the fords so strongly that Burnside was glad to order his men back to their old camps—some of which they had burned on quitting, in the confident expectation that they should nevermore need them.
Gen. Burnside, having discovered, as he believed, the officers who had paralyzed his efforts by fomenting discontent in his army, and by disheartening communications to Washington, now prepared a general order (‘No. 8'), dismissing “ them from the service; but, on the advice of a trusted friend, decided to submit it to the President before giving it publicity or effect. He did so ; and the President, after consultation with his official advisers, decided, instead of approving the order, to relieve Gen. Burnside from command; which was accordingly done: the order stating that Gen. B. was so relieved at his own request—against which, Gen. B. remonstrated as most unjust, pressing his demand that his resignation should be accepted instead ; but he was finally persuaded to withdraw it, and agree to serve wherever his aid might be required, allowing any order to be published that might be deemed essential to the public weal. Thus ended” his command of the Army of the Potomac.
During this Winter and the ensuing Spring, a number of raids were made by the Rebel cavalry: one” by J. E. B. Stuart across the Rappahannock to Dumfries, where 25 wagons and some 200 prisoners were taken, and thence toward Alexandria and around Fairfax Court House, burning the railroad bridge across the Accotink, and returning in triumph with their spoils; another,” by a party of Imboden’s troopers, farther west, from the Valley to Romney, where the guards of a supply train were surprised and routed: 72 men, 106 horses, and 27 wagons taken and carried off; a third,” by Fitz Hugh Lee, across the Rappahannock, near Falmouth, surprising a camp, and taking 150 prisoners, with a loss of 14 men ; a fourth,” by Gen. W. E. Jones, in the Valley, routing two regiments of Milroy's cavalry, and taking 200 prisoners, with a loss of 4 men only; while a more daring raid was made by Maj. White, of Jones's command, across the Potomac at Poolesville, taking 77 prisoners. Lee further reports that Capt. Randolph, of the Black Horse cavalry, by various raids into Fauquier county, captured over 200 prisoners and several hundred stand of arms; and that Lt. Moseby (whose name now makes its first appearance in a bulletin) “has done much to harass the enemy; attacking him boldly on several occasions, and capturing many prisoners.” One or two minor cavalry exploits, recited by Lee in ‘General Order No. 29,’ read too much like romance to be embodied in sober history; yet such was the depression on our side in Virginia, such the elation and confidence on the other, such
21 Jan. 20, 1863.
* Maj.-Gen. Hooker, with Brig.-Gens. W. T. H. Brooks and John Newton, were designated in this order for ignominious dismissal from the service; while Maj.-Gens. W. B. Franklin and W. F. Smith, and Brig.-Gens. John Cochrane and Edward Ferrero, with Lt.-Col. J. H.
Taylor, were relieved from duty with this
and Gen. Franklin, with expressive silence, were
relieved by the same order. Gen. Sumner died
soon afterward, at Syracuse, N. Y.
the very great advantage enjoyed by Rebel raiders in the readiness of the White inhabitants to give them information, and even to scout in quest of it, throughout that dreary Winter, that nothing that might be asserted of Rebel audacity or Federal imbecility is absolutely incredible. The somber cloud is lighted by a single flash, not of victory, but of humor. In a Rebel raid far within our lines, Gen. Stoughton, a young Wermont Brigadier, was taken in his bed, near Fairfax Court House, and, with his guards and five horses, hurried off across the Rappahannock. Some one spoke of the loss to Mr. Lincoln next morning: “Yes,” said the President; “that of the horses is bad; but I can make another General in 5 minutes.”
When General Hooker assumed * command of the Army of the Potomac, its spirit and efficiency were at a very low ebb. Desertions were at the rate of 200 per day; soldiers clandestinely receiving citizens' clothing by express from relatives and others to facilitate their efforts to escape from a service wherein they had lost all heart. The number shown by the rolls to be absent from their regiments was no less than 2,922 officers and 81,964 non-commissioned” officers and soldiers—many of them in hospitals, on leave, or detached on duty; but a majority, probably, had deserted. The frequency, audacity, and success, of the Rebel cavalry raids that Winter forcibly indicate the elation and confidence felt on one side, the apathy, born of despondency, on the other. Superior as its
* Feb. 16. * Feb. 25. 27 Feb. 26. 28 Jan. 26.
* So Gen. Hooker testified before the Committee on the Conduct of the War. But this
enormous total probably includes all who had deserted from the regiments composing that army since they were severally organized, as well as the sick and wounded in hospitals.