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[576] had been entrusted for the last three weeks would have sufficed to repel any direct attack upon those heights. At a council of war which he held prior to putting his army in motion, and in which his generals agreed in recommending him to concentrate the entire effort of his army upon a single point, a German prisoner, who was questioned on the subject, gave an exact description of the defences accumulated on the Telegraph Road. This information would have caused any general-in-chief to hesitate. He, however, merely replied, ‘That has always been my favorite point of attack.’1 Those fatal heights already possessed a strange fascination for him; but none around him participated in his views with the exception of the old Sumner, whose age had by no means cooled his somewhat indiscreet ardor. The whole army had witnessed the earth thrown out of the enemy's entrenchments, and there was not a soldier who, after attentively surveying these positions, had not arrived at the conclusion that his general would find some means of turning them.

The army would certainly have felt well disposed to fight if its chief had at the outset inspired his troops with confidence. McClellan was much regretted by a great many officers and a large majority of the soldiers; but while these regrets gave rise to a feeling of jealousy among the superior officers, and excited a spirit of criticism against his successor, the soldiers asked for nothing better than to follow him if he was capable of leading them to victory. Unfortunately, he was almost a stranger to them. He had neither taken part in the laborious organization of the army, nor participated in the battles which the latter had fought before Richmond; people waited to judge of him by his work. Consequently, when the army, which had been massed in front of Fredericksburg and Smithfield since the day previous, was ordered on the evening of the 10th to take up its line of march in the direction of the Rappahannock, this order was received with a mixture of satisfaction and astonishment. The restless and monotonous life of the cantonments in presence of the enemy was about to cease; but everybody felt that it was

1 See Hooker's deposition, Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 1863, vol. i., p. 667.

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