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[559]

Chapter 2:

Fredericksburg.

WITHOUT uttering one word of complaint, McClellan announced to the army that he had ceased to command. He remained for three days longer in the midst of it, sparing no pains to make the new general familiar with its organization, and gave the latter a last proof of his friendship by accompanying him as far as Warrenton, where he took leave of his companions in arms for the remainder of the war. The affable manners, high character and disinterestedness of the new general-in-chief, together with the remembrance of his success at Roanoke, secured him the regard of all his comrades; but it soon became evident that when he thought of declining the dangerous honor of commanding an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men, his instinct and presentiments had not deceived him. The orders that McClellan had issued for the two following days were strictly carried out; and on the 9th of November this army found itself concentrated in the vicinity of Warrenton, within one day's march of the positions occupied by Longstreet on the other side of the Rappahannock; it was ready to attack this general and wrest Culpepper Court-house from him before Jackson could come to his assistance. But if the impetus had been given, the impelling power no longer existed; for Burnside had already submitted a new plan of campaign to the authorities at Washington, differing entirely from that of his late chief. Meanwhile, he paused, for he had not taken a sufficiently strong hold of the reins, so suddenly placed in his hands, to conduct his soldiers immediately to battle. A fine opportunity was thus lost, less through his fault than that of the authorities, who had selected such an unpropitious moment for making a change in the supreme control of the army.

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