This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 intended to cross the Rappahannock ten or twelve kilometres below Fredericksburg, while his cavalry, led by Averill, should proceed up this river as far as Kelly's Ford, cross the Rapidan, and, destroying the railway track in Lee's rear, traverse the whole of Virginia, so as to join the garrison which occupied Suffolk, near the mouth of the James. On the 30th of December the cavalry was already at Kelly's Ford, and all the infantry ready to start, when Burnside's operations were interrupted by a formal order from the President. The latter had been informed of the moral condition of the army of the Potomac and the want of confidence felt in its chief. After the battle of Fredericksburg, both Franklin and Smith had addressed him a memorial to show that it would be useless and dangerous again to attempt the passage of the Rappahannock, and a few days later two other generals, Newton and Cochrane, happening to be in Washington, had represented to him in the darkest colors the dissatisfaction prevailing in the army. We have already seen that Mr. Lincoln was wont to apply to military matters the system of compromises to which he had been accustomed in his political career; so, instead of silencing those who were dissatisfied if he believed them to be in the wrong, or of taking away the command from Burnside if he deemed him incapable of exercising it successfully, he adopted a halfway measure. He limited himself to interfering to prohibit the latter from renewing the campaign without previously consulting him. Burnside, whose loyalty and patriotism were always above suspicion, immediately tendered his resignation to the President. It was not accepted, but Newton and Cochrane were retained in the posts they occupied. It was in the midst of these painful circumstances that the army of the Potomac witnessed the close of the year 1862, the first of its active existence:--this year, which was marked by so many memorable events-by the siege of Yorktown, the comparatively successful battles of Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, the sanguinary but honorable defeats of Gaines' Mill and Glendale, and the success of Malvern Hill-this year, which had witnessed the disaster of Manassas, the fatal capitulation of Harper's Ferry, the victories of South Mountain and Antietam, and which had closed with the terrible defeat of Fredericksburg. For the Confederate
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.