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[604] river, cried out to them, in bitter irony, that they were coming over to assist them in building the bridges. The day of the 21st was thus consumed. On the morning of the 22d the rain was still falling, and the vehicles had ceased to move altogether. The three days rations which the soldiers had stowed away in their haversacks were nearly exhausted. The enemy was still watching them; and even if the bridges had all been constructed, and Lee had allowed the army quietly to cross to the other side of the river, it could not have subsisted there for two days for want of means to procure supplies at such a distance from its depots. The game was lost before being played. The only question was how the army might again reach its cantonments without abandoning the greatest portion of its materiel. Burnside bowed his head before this decree of adverse fortune, and with a sinking heart he gave the signal for retreat. Fortunately, the overflowing river did not allow the enemy to disturb this painful march. By means of superhuman efforts, all the cannon and vehicles which had not been shattered on the road were brought back along corduroy causeways, constructed with that skill which has always characterized the American soldier. On the 23d of January the army of the Potomac was again settled in its former camps, where it went into winter quarters. The impossibility of undertaking an aggressive campaign at that season of the year had been too strikingly demonstrated to renew the experiment.

Burnside was not responsible for the failure of this last attempt, and could find no fault with any of his lieutenants. But irritated and discouraged by this misfortune, he could no longer bear the criticisms, which he had not heeded until then, and which he finally read in the very silence of his humblest soldiers as well as his most zealous officers. He had determined to put an end to this state of things, and he requested the President to dismiss Generals Hooker, Brooks, Newton and Cochrane from the service of the United States, and to deprive Generals Franklin, Smith, Sturgis and Ferrero and Colonel Taylor of their respective commands. This would be to strike a crushing blow at those whom the army had learned to consider as its bravest and most experienced leaders. By signing such an order Mr. Lincoln would have disorganized the entire army. No serious cause for complaint was alleged

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