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[605] against these officers to justify such punishment, except that they did not possess that confidence in their chief which cannot be enforced. Burnside deceived himself, moreover, by selecting these officers only upon whom to cast his censure, which might equally have been applied to his whole army. The President understood this; and without accepting his resignation of the rank of major-general, which Burnside had tendered him, he relieved him, at his own request, of the command of the army of the Potomac on the 25th of January.

McClellan's successor quitted this army carrying with him the personal regard of all those who had known him, but he only bequeathed to it the remembrance of cruel disasters. He had received this army full of ardor and confidence, and he left it morally and physically weakened. Despite the reverses it had just experienced, it had lost none of its courage or patriotism, and was only waiting for a chief capable of leading it to retrieve its fortunes.

The organization into grand divisions was abolished. Sumner, broken down by age and infirmities, was at his own request relieved of his command. Advantage was taken of this occasion to deprive Franklin of his own, whose seniority of rank and services in the army designated him for the functions of general-in-chief, but who was too faithful to his friend McClellan not to have many enemies at Washington; and Hooker, having thus become the senior general of the army of the Potomac, received the dangerous honor of being made its leader. This third chief had shared all its trials; by his undaunted courage, his sterling military qualities, and perhaps, also, his self-reliance, he had made himself a great reputation among all ranks. His appointment was well received by his old companions in arms.

In the next volume we shall see what new trials were reserved for the army of the Potomac under his command.

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