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help, he said that General Mcade did send word "to say that Gibbon was not advancing on his right." IIe further says, "I sent Gibbon orders, and also went over myself and urged him on. I sent two aides-de-camp, and they were with him doing the best they could to help him on. They did not advance so vigorously as they should have donc, I think." When speaking of Birney, he says that his and Sickles' divisions "must have commenced crossing (the river) before Meade made his attack," but he did not know whether they had crossed before the attack was made. He nowhere censures Birney for not having been up in time.

General Meade, in his testimony, says that "General Birney did come up just in time for me (General Meade) to get the men out, and prevent the enemy from following any further than the edge of the woods in front of the batteries." He also says, "The division of General Birncy I think might have come up sooner than it did." In his official report of the battle, he says the column of attack was formed between nine and ten o'clock, and the disposition of the troops had scarcely been made when the enemy began the attack. As has been shown, General Birney did not receive until ten o'clock the order to cross his division over the Rappahannock. Is it any wonder that he did not support an attack made between nine and ten o'clock, more than three miles from the point from which he moved? The man who "thinks" that he might have come up sooner has surely not taken the trouble to ascertain the hour of the day when Birney received the order to advance.

Between the testimony of General Mcade and that

General Birney there is a discrepancy which a faithful historian cannot fail to note, notwithstanding the fact that he thus places side by side the statement of a dead man with that of a General who has lived to see the end of the rebellion, and who by good fortune has occupied so conspicuous a place in the Army of the Potomac. General Meade says he sent three times to General Birney, twice requesting him to advance to his support. To these " requests the answer was that General Birney was under the order of General Reynolds, sustaining General Stoneman, and could not move without their orders." The third time, General Meade says, he "assumed the responsibility, (though it was an assumption on his part,) and ordered Birncy up." General Birney, on the other hand, testifies that he received only "a request from General Meade to advance to his support," with which request he immediately complied, though by doing so he disregarded an order from General Reynolds, his immediate commander. Both the statements of these officers are under oath, and the reader must judge between them. The only comment the writer will make is, that if General Meade's messengers, who carried the first two requests, are reported correctly, they must have misunderstood General Birney, for he was not at any time "sustaining General Stoneman."

In calling General Stoneman as a witness, we will let him testify in his own words, and submit the following extracts from his official report of the battle:

"The state of affairs when Birney's (First) Division arrived on the ground, followed soon after by Sickles' (Second) Division, was any thing but promising.


opportune arrival, however, first checked and then drove back the advancing enemy, who, with their peculiar yell, were in hot pursuit of the two exhausted and retiring divisions of Meade and Gibbon, and also were able to save cach and every gun belonging to the latter division, which had in the confusion been abandoned by their support. Nor was this all the results of the timely arrival and gallant conduct of the two first-named divisions; for they succeeded in not only preventing Doubleday's command from being cut off and taken in reverse, the left of Smith's corps (which had not been engaged) from being turned, but possibly, if not probably, saved the entire left wing from disaster.

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"But in doing this valuable service, this First Division lost upwards of a thousand as brave men as ever pulled a trigger.

"Of the conduct of this division I cannot speak too highly. Composed, as it is, of regiments from almost every State from the Penobscot to the Mississippi, the entire country may justly feel proud of its well-earned fame.

"Amongst the stragglers and skulkers the Kearny badge was in no one single instance observed, while the new regiments, then and now belonging to this division, appeared to vie with their veteran brothers in arms, in coolness, courage and efficiency.

"Where all did so nobly and well, it is difficult to distinguish. I must, however, be permitted to compliment Brigadier-general D. B. Birney upon the handsome and admirable manner in which he handled this, his now present division, and, at the same time, cannot omit to give

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all due credit to his able Brigadier-generals, Berry, Robinson and Ward, for the splendid manner in which they led and fought their separate brigades."

General Birney's report of the part taken by his division. in this battle will be found in the Appendix to this sketch. An explanation is perhaps requisite to show why so much has been said about General Birney's conduct at the battle of Fredericksburg. It has so often been made the subject of criticism by officers of the army who had only heard one version of the story, and of comment in social circles, where General Birney and his accusers are both known, that the writer has thought it but fair to the memory of General Birney that the whole story should be told, and when this is known he is willing that an intelligent public shall decide whether Birney was or was not in fault. Conscious of having done his entire duty, Birney never attempted to justify his conduct either in public or private, but such indifference would be criminal on the part of any one who undertakes to sketch the military life of any man who served his country so faithfully as did General




FTER the defeat of the Union forces at Fred

ericksburg, the indignation of the country was unbounded. It was doubtful, for some time, with whom

rested the responsibility of the movement and its failure. Vague and painful charges were made against

officers of the army and of the administration. A bad feeling prevailed in the army, and the friends of the different prominent general officers were engaged in warm discussions about the part their several friends had performed in the movement upon Fredericksburg. Besides the destruction of mutual confidence among the general officers in the army of the Potomac, there were also dissensions at Washington. General Burnside had determined upon another movement of his army, and on the 30th of December it had actually begun, when the President telegraphed to General Burnside that no general movement should be made without letting him know of it. The movement was suspended, and General Burnside went at once to Washington, when the President told him that some general officers of his command had represented that the contemplated movement, if made, would be disastrous, and, General Burnside understood the President to say, that no prominent officer of his

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