the reasons are well known to the army.
It is sufficient to say they were of a character not to be foreseen nor prevented by human sagacity or resources.
In withdrawing from the south bank of the Rappahannock before delivering a general battle to our adversaries, the army has given renewed evidence of its confidence in itself and its fidelity to the principles it represents.
In fighting at a disadvantage, we would have been recreant to our trust, to ourselves, our cause, and our country.
Profoundly loyal, and conscious of its strength, the Army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interest or honor may demand.
It will also be the guardian of its own history and its own honor.
By our celerity and secrecy of movement, our advance and passage of the rivers was undisputed, and, on our withdrawal; not a Rebel ventured to follow.
The events of last week may swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army.
We have added new luster to its former renown.
We have made long marches, crossed rivers, surprised the enemy in his intrenchments, and, wherever we have fought, have inflicted heavier blows than we have received.
We have taken from the enemy 5,000 prisoners, 15 colors; captured and brought off 7 pieces of artillery; placed hors de combat 18,000 of his chosen troops; destroyed his depots filled with vast amounts of stores; deranged his communications; captured prisoners within the fortifications of his capital, and filled his country with fear and consternation.
We have no other regret than that caused by the loss of our brave companions; and in this we are consoled by the conviction that they have fallen in the holiest cause ever submitted to the arbitrament of battle.
issued a kindred order next day; in which, with at least equal justice and modesty, he says:
With heartfelt gratification, the General commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men, during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged.
Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm, you attacked the enemy, strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock.
While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory, for the signal deliverance he has wrought.
It is, therefore, earnestly recommended that the troops unite on Sunday next in ascribing to the Lord of Hosts the glory due His name.
Let us not forget, in our rejoicings, the brave soldiers who have fallen in defense of their country; and, while we mourn their loss, let us resolve to emulate their noble example.
The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one [Jackson] to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success.
The operations of our cavalry, under Stoneman
, had been ill-judged, feeble, and inefficient as well could be. Averill
, who was on the right, went out to Culpepper Court House, and thence to the Rapidan
; where he remained, attempting nothing and achieving it, till an order from Hooker
him, directing his return to the north side of the Rappahannock
; which was obeyed with alacrity.
himself pushed down by Louisa Court House and Yanceyville
to Thompson's Cross-Roads, on the South Anna
; having meantime sent Col. Wyndham
with a detachment to Columbia
, on the James
, where a little damage was done and more attempted to the James and Kanawha Canal
. Gen. Gregg
, with the 1st Maine and 10th New York, was impelled eastward, to destroy the railroad bridge on the Fredericksburg
road at Ashland
; but proved unequal to the task, and contented himself with burning two or three turnpike bridges; falling back upon Stoneman
Col. Judson Kilpatrick
was sent, with the Harris Light
, to cut the railroads leading northwarda from Richmond
still nearer that city, and struck2