I am much obliged to you for your suggestions presented in your letters of February and March. I know the pleasure experienced in shaping campaigns and battles, according to our wishes, and have enjoyed the ease with which obstacles to their accomplishment, in effigy, can be overcome. The movements you suggest in both letters have been at various times studied, and canvassed with those who would be engaged in their execution, but no practicable solution of the difficulties to be overcome has yet been reasonably reached. The weather, roads, streams, provisions, transportation, etc., are all powerful elements in the calculation, as you know. What the future may do for us, I will still hope, but the present time is unpropitious, in my judgment. The idea of securing the provisions, wagons and guns of the enemy is truly tempting, and the desire has haunted me since December. Personally, I would run any kind of risk for their attainment, but I cannot jeopardize this army.The Official Records show that the Federal army under Burnside was thoroughly demoralized after the disasters of Fredericksburg and the failure of the ‘Mud Campaign.’ Not only were desertions numerous, but an alarming degree of insubordination was prevalent throughout the army. To remedy this condition of things, Burnside was displaced, and on the 26th of January, 1863, Maj.-Gen. Joseph Hooker, the second in the command, was given charge of the army of the Potomac. He speedily restored it to a condition of efficiency and brought its strength up to nearly 134,000 soldiers, when, toward the last of April, he made ready to cross the Rappahannock and attack Lee's 63,000 veterans. Jackson
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