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Doc. 3.-battle of Fredericksburg, Va. Reply of Maj.-Gen. Franklin.1

On the sixth day of April last a Report, purporting to be signed by the members of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, was published in many of the leading papers in the United States.

The Thirty-seventh Congress expired, by constitutional limitation, on the fourth of March previous. Some of the testimony embodied in the report has been taken since that time, and, consequently, this document has been spread before the country without having been submitted to either branch of Congress.

I do not refer to this irregular proceeding of a committee which had ceased to have a legal existence as a defence against the charges of which they have convicted me, but as one of the facts fairly to be considered in connection with the report itself, and the purposes it was intended to subserve.

The committee have not devoted much space to me, either in citations of testimony or in statements of their own; but in that limited space they have presented me before the country as responsible for the loss of the battle of Fredericksburg, in consequence of my disobedience of the orders of General Burnside.

If this be true, I have been guilty of the highest crime known to the military law, for the commission of which my life is forfeit and my name consigned to infamy.

Justice to the country, to the administration which has given me important commands in its armies, and to myself, demands that I meet these grave allegations as promptly as possible; while, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, the mode I adopt is the only one open to me.

Since the publication of the report, I have received an answer to an inquiry at the Adjutant-General's office, informing me that there are no charges on file against me at the department, to which, as a soldier, I am amenable. I am not at liberty to ignore a report which has already reached the hands of a majority of the loyal people of the United States, emanating from a committee of their representatives in Congress, because the legislative department of the government has taken upon itself duties that belong to the executive. I cannot shut my eyes to the magnitude of the question in its immediate public aspect. If it affected only myself, I might be well contented with the verdict which history will pass upon the transaction, under the sacred law which governs the ultimate triumph of the truth.

For two years we have been struggling to subdue a rebellion so enormous in its proportions and so persistent in its purposes that it has become a revolution.

This government has put into the field over seven hundred thousand men. To discipline these men, and to lead them in the field, the country must depend upon such as have been educated, to some extent at least, in military science. Hence it is a public question of the highest possible importance, whether an officer who has held important commands since the beginning of the war is entitled to the confidence of the people, or has justly forfeited his claim to it. It is a sad commentary upon the disjointed condition of the times, that at the very moment when the nation is offering its blood and treasure without stint in the effort to preserve inviolate the principles of civil liberty, a citizen of that nation, however humble, shall be accused, tried, and condemned of an infamous crime, before a tribunal sitting in secret session, without notice, or even an intimation of the charges made against him; without the opportunity to confront or examine the witnesses brought against him; to be himself called and interrogated, in utter ignorance that he is under trial; and, finally, to be denied permission to produce witnesses, when the fact became apparent to him that he was, for some unexplained reason, in danger of condemnation.

Since the time when the corner-stone of all civil liberty was laid under that government from which we derive our laws, which gives to the meanest subject, or the greatest criminal, the right to meet his accusers face to face and to confront his witnesses, no parallel can be found, in the history of constitutional governments, so startling in its violations of all that is sacred in personal rights, as are the proceedings of the secret tribunals created by the Congress which has just expired.

The report in question has been given to the press, but no part of the evidence is published, except such extracts as the committee have seen fit to embody in the report itself. Of my own testimony given before the committee, but a small part is printed. I shall therefore submit to the public some facts, stated by me to the committee, which they have not published, and some of the proofs which I requested the committee to take, but which they declined, upon the ground that they had not the time to take the testimony.

Among the facts submitted by me to the committee, which they have not noticed, are some which I must repeat in substance here.

On the twelfth day of December last, when I crossed the Rappahannock, I was in command of the Left Grand Division of the Army of the Potomac, which numbered about forty thousand men. It was entirely crossed and posted in line of battle by three o'clock of that day. My command consisted of two corps of three divisions each. At five o'clock General Burnside came to my headquarters, where he met — with me-Generals William F. Smith and John F. Reynolds, corps commanders. The subject of conversation was a proposed attack upon the enemy on the following morning, when I strongly advised General Burnside to make an attack from my division upon the enemy's right, with a column of at least [160] thirty thousand men, to be sent in at daylight in the morning. At that time two divisions of General Hooker's command were on the north side of the river, near the bridges that I had crossed.

In order to make such an attack as I advised, I informed General Burnside that these two divisions must be crossed during the night. I reiterated my request that I should receive my orders as early as possible, that I might make the necessary dispositions of the troops before daylight. He stated at one time that I should have my orders in any event before midnight, and at another, that I should have them in two or three hours. He left my headquarters about six o'clock P. M., and I awaited his orders during the night. None reached me until half past 7 o'clock in the morning. At midnight I sent an aid to ask for them, and received the reply that they were being prepared, and would be sent forthwith. The order which I received was brought by General Hardie, of General Burnside's staff, well known in the service as an able and zealous officer. It reached my hands at 7h. 30m. on the morning of the thirteenth. My command was then in the same position as when General Burnside left my Headquarters the evening previous. The night had passed without orders, and General Hooker's two divisions were still on the other side of the river. With the light furnished by this state of facts, General Burnside's order, though incongruous and contradictory on its face, admitted of but one interpretation, viz., that he intended to make an armed observation from the left, to ascertain the strength of the enemy,--an interpretation also given to it by both of my corps commanders. The order is as follows:

headquarters army of Potomac, December 13, 5.55 A. M.
Major-General Franklin, commanding Left Grand Division, Army of Potomac:
General Hardie will carry this despatch to you and remain with you during the day. The General commanding directs that you keep your whole command in position for a rapid movement down the Old Richmond road; and you will send out at once a division at least, to pass below Smithfield, to seize, if possible, the heights near Captain Hamilton's, on this side of the Massaponax, taking care to keep it well supported, and its line of retreat open. He has ordered another column, of a division or more, to be moved from General Sumner's command up the Plank-road to its intersection with the Telegraph road, where they will divide, with a view to seizing the heights on both those roads. Holding these heights, with the heights near Captain Hamilton's, will, he hopes, compel the enemy to evacuate the whole ridge between these points.

He makes these moves by columns distant from each other, with the view of avoiding the possibility of a collision of our own forces, which might occur in a general movement during the fog. Two of General Hooker's divisions are in your rear, at the bridges, and will remain there as supports. Copies of instructions given to Generals Sumner and Hooker will be forwarded to you by an orderly very soon. You will keep your whole command in readiness to move at once as soon as the fog lifts. The watchword, which, if possible, should be given to every company, will be “ Scott.”

I have the honor to be, General,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John G. Parke, Chief of Staff.

Thus it will be seen that after ordering me to keep my whole command in readiness for a rapid movement down the Old Richmond road, I was directed to send out at once a division at least to seize the hill at Hamilton's. After referring to the order to General Sumner, he reiterates the direction to keep my whole command in readiness for the Richmond road movement.

For three hours before the order reached me I was satisfied that General Burnside had given up the idea (if he ever entertained it) of making an attack in force from the left, for the delay in sending the orders made such an attack impossible with any reasonable chance of success. And in this connection it is not improper in me to state that a map, made by the rebel General Jackson's topographical engineer, has fallen into the hands of our officers since General Hooker has been in command, from which it is apparent that the enemy's position could not have been carried by any force less than that recommended by me on the afternoon of the twelfth.

General Burnside knew the strength in numbers and position, as well as the desperate determination of the rebel army. Had he intended a movement in force, his orders both to myself and General Sumner would have been commensurate with such a purpose. Had he expected me to make such an attack upon an enemy whom I had met too often to be guilty of the folly of underrating, he would have given me the night in which to make a disposition of my troops for the conflict of the morrow, instead of leaving me to pass it in sleepless anxiety in my tent.

General Burnside ought to have known, and doubtless did know, that to make his “main attack,” and thereby bring on a general engagement on my front, under an order of this description, sent after daylight in the morning, was to send his troops to a useless and unavailable slaughter; and, therefore, he could not have intended it. I acted upon the order at once, as nearly according to its literal directions as was in my power. The attack was ordered to be led by General Meade, one of the ablest officers in our service, supported by General Gibbon on his right, and General Doubleday in reserve. These three divisions formed one of the two corps (General Reynolds's) under my command on the south side of the river. Shortly after Meade advanced, the enemy's cavalry appeared on the left, accompanied by artillery, and Doubleday was ordered to drive them away. Soon after these troops were advanced, finding that the enemy was in force on all sides, I sent to General Stoneman to cross with one of his divisions, and before that had entirely crossed his second division was also ordered over. [161]

Map showing the positions of the troops forming the left wing of the army of the Potomac under the command of Major General W. B. Franklin in the battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862.


The crossing of these divisions (which should have been made during the previous night, had an attack in force been contemplated) occupied at least three hours. While this was going on, one of General Smith's divisions was also ordered to report to General Reynolds. Of these several movements General Burnside was kept informed, by reports made by General Hardie to him at intervals during the day; and between 7.40 A. M. and 3.40 P. M. it was reported to him, by an officer of his own staff, that out of the eight divisions composing my entire command, including the two divisions that had been ordered across the river, six divisions had been employed in making the effort to seize Hamilton's hill, keeping the attacking force supported, and in checking the advance of the enemy, while but two divisions were left to protect the bridges, the right and the centre, and to keep the line of retreat open, and which two divisions were actually attacked during the day.

After my testimony had been taken by the committee, and they had declined to call General Hardie as a witness, I asked permission to hand them copies of the report's made by him to General Burnside during the day. This request was granted; and although it is impossible to overstate the value of the testimony contained in these despatches, fourteen in number, sent from the field of battle by an officer of the staff of General Burnside, who could have had no motive at the time to state anything but the exact truth, as the events were transpiring under his own eyes, yet no mention of, or reference to, these despatches is made by the committee in their report. As they present a statement of the transactions of the day upon the left, as seen by a competent and impartial witness, I present them in full, in the order in which they were sent. It will be noticed that the first despatch is dated at 7.40 A. M. This despatch is as follows, viz.:

headquarters Franklin's Grand division, December 13, 7.40 A. M.
General Burnside:
General Meade's division is to make the movement from our left; but it is reported that the enemy's skirmishers are advancing, indicating an attack upon our position on the left.

James A. Hardie, Brigadier-General Vols., Assistant Inspector General.

The telegraph station connecting with General Burnside's headquarters was about one third of a mile from my headquarters, so that by eight o'clock of that morning General Burnside was informed by his Assistant Inspector-General of the fact that I had sent General Meade's division to make the movement directed by him. I submit, with entire confidence, that had General Burnside, upon the receipt of General Hardie's first despatch, discovered that I had either misapprehended his order, or was sending too small a force to its execution, he would at the moment have corrected my misapprehension.

So far from that, General Burnside did not communicate with me in any manner from that time until 2.25 P. M. of that day, when he sent me an order in writing, in which it was stated that my instructions of this morning were so far modified as to require an advance upon the heights immediately in my front. General Hardie's despatch upon the receipt of this order is as follows:

headquarters left Grand division, December 13, 2.25 P. M.
General Burnside:
Despatch received. Franklin will do his best. New troops gone in; will report soon again.

James A. Hardie, Brigadier-General Volunteers.

Later in the day, and after three o'clock, when every regiment that I could spare was engaged in various parts of the field (as will appear by referring to Hardie's reports, and General Burnside's own testimony hereafter given) with an enemy that greatly outnumbered us, and when all my energies were directed to save the wing from being overpowered, and its line of retreat cut off, I received a verbal message from General Burnside, by one of his staff, that General Sumner's troops were being hard pressed, with a request to make a diversion in his favor if I could. To this I also responded that I would do my best.

For the details of what was done by me during the day, I leave General Hardie's despatches to speak for themselves. He was at my side from shortly after sunrise until sunset. He not only knew of every order and movement made by me, or under my direction, but was a perfectly competent judge of their wisdom and sufficiency.

In the performance of an act of common justice he has placed these despatches at my disposal.2

The following are copies of all those sent by him on the thirteenth of December, the day of the battle:

headquarters Franklin's Grand division, December 13, 7.40 A. M.
General Burnside:
General Meade's division is to make the movement from our left; but it is just reported that the enemy's skirmishers are advancing, indicating an attack upon our position on the left.

9 o'clock A. M.
General Meade just moved out. Doubleday supports him. Meade's skirmishers engaged, however, at once with enemy's skirmishers. Battery opening, on Meade probably, from position on Old Richmond road.

11 o'clock A. M.
Meade advanced half a mile, and holds on. Infantry of enemy in woods in front of extreme left, also in front of Howe. No loss so far of great importance. General Vinton badly but not dangerously wounded.

Later--Reynolds has been forced to develop his whole line. An attack of some force of enemy's troops on our left seems probable, as far as can now be judged. Stoneman has been directed to cross one division to support our left. Report of cavalry pickets from the other side of the river, that enemy's troops were moving down the river [163] on this side during the latter part of the night. Howe's pickets reported movements in their front, same direction. Still they have a strong force well posted, with batteries there.

12 o'clock M.
Birney's division is now getting into position. That done, Reynolds will order Meade to advance. Batteries over the river are to shell the enemy's position in the woods in front of Reynolds's left. He thinks the effect will be to protect Meade's advance. A column of the enemy's infantry is passing along the crest of the hills from right to left, as we look at it.

12.5 P. M.
General Meade's line is advancing in the direction you prescribed this morning.

1 o'clock P. M.
Enemy opened a battery on Reynolds, enfilading Meade. Reynolds has opened all his batteries on it; no report yet. Reynolds hotly engaged at this moment; will report in a few moments again.

1.15 o'clock P. M.
Heavy engagements of infantry. Enemy in force where battery is. Meade is assaulting the hill; will report in a few minutes again.

1.25 o'clock P. M.
Meade is in the woods in his front; seems to be able to hold on. Reynolds will push Gibbon in if necessary. The battery and woods referred to must be near Hamilton's house. The infantry firing is prolonged and quite heavy. Things look well enough. Men in fine spirits.

1.40 o'clock P. M.
Meade having carried a portion of the enemy's position in the woods, we have three hundred prisoners. Enemy's batteries on extreme left retired. Tough work; men fight well. Gibbon has advanced to Meade's right; men fight well, driving the enemy. Meade has suffered severely. Doubleday to Meade's left not engaged.

2 1/4 o'clock P. M.
Gibbon and Meade driven back from the woods. Newton gone forward. Jackson's corps of the enemy attacks on the left. General Gibbon slightly wounded. General Bayard mortally wounded by a shell. Things do not look as well on Reynolds's front, still we'll have new troops in soon.

2.25 P. M.
Despatch received. Franklin will do his best. New troops gone in — will report soon again.

3 o'clock P. M.
Reynolds seems to be holding his own. Things look better somewhat.

3.40 o'clock P. M.
Gibbon's and Meade's divisions are badly used up, and I fear another advance on the enemy on our left cannot be made this afternoon. Doubleday's division will replace Meade's as soon as it can be collected, and if it be done in time, of course another attack will be made. The enemy are in force in the woods on our left towards Hamilton's, and are threatening the safety of that portion of our line. They seem to have detached a portion of their force to our front, where Howe and Brooks are now engaged. Brooks has some prisoners, and is down to the railroad. Just as soon as the left is safe, our forces here will be prepared for a front attack, but it may be too late this afternoon. Indeed, we are engaged in front anyhow. Notwithstanding the unpleasant items I relate, the morale generally of the troops is good.

4 1/2 o'clock P. M.
The enemy is still in force on our left and front. An attack on our batteries in front has been repulsed. A new attack has just opened on our left, but the left is safe, though it is too late to advance either to the left or front.

I am willing to abide by this testimony, to determine whether I lost the battle of Fredericksburg in consequence of my disobedience of an order directing me “to attack with a division at least, and to keep it well supported.”

On the night following I was with General Burnside at his headquarters, when he informed me that he intended to renew the attack from the right, and to lead the Ninth corps in person. At two interviews during that night, (which lasted at least two hours,) he did not intimate to me any disapprobation of my conduct, or of that of my officers and men, during that day.

Again I urged upon him that if the attack was to be renewed to renew it from the left, but with such force and preparations as would command success. An order, however, for an attack from the right was given by him. On the following day I had another interview with General Burnside, at his request, in which he informed me that strong protests were made against a renewal of the attack by Generals Sumner and Hooker, and he abandoned the plan of another attack with expressions of the greatest reluctance. I was with him for two or three hours on that occasion and during that interview he did not express or intimate, in his language or deportment toward me, that he was not entirely satisfied with my conduct, and that of my officers and men. On the Wednesday or Thursday following I had another interview with him, in which, so far from expressing any dissatisfaction with me, he stated very distinctly, that I alone of his generals had “held up his hands,” (as he expressed it;) that he had fully determined to resign his command, and to recommend me as his successor, as the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. From that time until I was relieved from the command of the left grand division, although frequently called into consultation by General Burnside, he never had told me, or gave me to understand, that I either misconstrued or disobeyed his orders, or was in any way responsible for the disaster of the thirteenth, or had in the least lost his confidence. Indeed, had he believed that I had disobeyed his orders on the thirteenth, he could not have discharged his duty to the country without preferring charges against me to that effect.

It was during the period of time last referred to that the General Order No. 8, to which the [164] committee have made reference in their report, was directed to be issued by General Burnside. The committee state that this order dismissed some officers from the service, subject to the approval of the President, and relieved others from duty with the Army of the Potomac; that General Burnside asked the President to sanction the order, or accept his resignation as Major-General; that the President acknowledged that General Burnside was right, but declined to decide without consulting with some of his advisers. As I was relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac almost immediately after this interview with the President, I shall assume that I was one of the officers thus relieved in the order; an assumption I could not make from any evidence derived from General Burnside's conduct to me when we were together, but which I am compelled to make, because I have been so informed by two gentlemen of high character, who have seen and read the order.

It further appears from the report, that the committee had that order before them; and as they have seen fit to visit upon me solely the responsibility for the loss of the battle of Fredericksburg, without referring in any manner to the repulse on the right, or stating its fearful loss in killed and wounded, I feel at liberty to state, on the authority of these same gentlemen who have seen Order No. 8, that under that order General Hooker was one of the officers dismissed from service, subject to the approval of the President. If, therefore, that order is invoked as a record of conviction, and, by it, General Hooker is dismissed while I am only relieved, I have the right to state the fact, and leave the public to judge of the motives of the committee — it stating that they have not considered it essential to report upon the operations of the right wing in this battle. Not only so, but I have a right to challenge the verity of the statement “that the President acknowledged General Burnside was right,” when it was known to the committee that in the same order in which the President relieved General Burnside from the command of the Army of the Potomac, he made General Hooker his successor.

But I shall not accept it as conclusive against my conduct, that General Burnside did recommend that I should be relieved. It is a part of the history of the times that after the failure of his attempt upon the rebel army behind the heights of Fredericksburg, he addressed a letter to General Halleck, relieving the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief from all responsibility for that movement; and it is equally true, though not so publicly known, that shortly after that letter was published, General Burnside made quite as formal and earnest a request to the President to remove the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief from the positions severally occupied by them, as he did to dismiss certain of his officers in the Army of the Potomac. If it was true that the movement was his own, it was but an act of common justice to assume its responsibility.

Without intending to reflect upon that kind of magnanimity that takes the responsibility of a failure from the shoulders of those above us, and places it upon those below us, I will prove, by documentary evidence from General Burnside's hand, that his plan, as given to the committee, was not the plan on which he conducted the operations of the battle.

The committee have printed General Burnside's plan of attack as given by him. By the side of this, I print an extract from the letter of General Burnside to General Halleck, dated December nineteenth, six days after the battle, by which it appears that he intended to make his “vigorous attack,” as he there calls it, over two miles from my front and upon the heights in the rear of the town of Fredericksburg, and that part of his order to me in which he informed me of the orders which he had given to General Sumner, showing that General Sumner's movement was to be simultaneous with mine. In this he states the measures taken to avoid a collision between General Sumner's forces and mine, while in the plan before the committee he is represented as testifying that he did not mean that General Sumner should move until I had taken the position designated in the order.

General Burnside's Plan of Attack, as given by the Committee.

“The enemy had cut a road along in the rear of the line of heights where we made our attack, by means of which they connected the two wings of their army, and avoided a long detour around through a bad country. I obtained from a colored man, from the other side of the town, information in regard to this new road, which proved to be correct. I Wanted to obtain possession of that new road, and that was my reason for making an attack on the extreme left. I did not intend to make the attack on the right until that position had been taken, which I supposed would stagger the enemy, cutting their line in two; and then I proposed to make a direct attack on their front and drive them out of their works.”

General Burnside's Plan of Attack, in his Letter to General Halleck.

“I discovered that he did not anticipate the crossing of our whole force at Fredericksburg, and I hoped, by rapidly throwing the whole command over at that place to separate, by a vigorous attack, the forces of the enemy on the river below from the forces behind and on the crest in the rear of the town, in which case we could fight him with great advantage in our favor. For this we had to gain a height on the extreme right of the crest which commanded a new road lately made by the enemy,” &c.

Extract from General Burnside's Order to me, informing me of General Sumner's Orders.

“ He has ordered another column of a division or more to be moved from General Sumner's command up the Plank road to its intersection of the Telegraph road, where they will divide, with a view to seizing the heights on both of those roads. Holding these heights, with the [165] heights near Captain Hamilton's, will, I hope, compel the enemy to evacuate the whole ridge between these points. He makes those moves by columns, distant from each other, with a view of avoiding the possibility of a collision of our own forces, which might occur in a genera movement during the fog.”

The statements in General Burnside's letter to General Halleck, his statement in the order of the thirteenth to me, and his statement of his plan before the committee, all agree upon one point at least — that he did not mean to make his “main attack” under either of those orders. Under the orders he issued he designed seizing, first, the heights in rear of the town; next, the heights near Captain Hamilton's, which he supposed would stagger the enemy; and then, he proposed to make a “direct attack” in the enemy's front, and drive him out of his works. The orders not only agree in this, but the fact, in all the significant proportions of its results, in killed and wounded, was before the committee, that General Sumner's command did actually move to seize “those heights on the crest in rear of the town,” almost as soon as I did at that time. I had not only not taken the position at Captain Hamilton's, but was crossing troops from the other side of the river to save those who had been sent to make the attempt. General Burnside was informed of all this by General Hardie as the effort progressed. How then is it to be accounted for that General Burnside could have so far forgotten his intentions as to say, “that he did not intend making the attack on the right until that position (my position) had been taken?” If he did not intend to do so, why did he make the attack before the contingency happened? He knew that the position on the left was not taken; why then did he order General Sumner forward if his intention was to keep him back until it was taken? If he did not intend that General Sumner should move until I had taken the heights at Captain Hamilton's, what does this language in his order to me mean, “He has ordered another column, of a division or more, to be moved from General Sumner's command up the Plank road to its intersection with the Telegraph road, where they will divide with a view of seizing the heights on both of those roads? Holding these heights with the heights near Captain Hamilton's will, he hopes, &c. He makes these moves by columns distant from each other with a view of avoiding the possibility of a collision of our own forces, which might occur in a general movement during the fog.”

This is the language of a simultaneous movement; and that no doubt may be left about it, he gives as a reason why he keeps the moving columns distant from each other, that they might not encounter each other in a fog. If both columns were not to be moved at the same time, it is difficult to see how they could have collided in a fog.

It is, therefore, perfectly evident that under both orders issued that morning by General Burnside, he imagined that he could seize certain heights over two miles distant from each other, with the comparatively small force of a division sufficiently supported, for each column, and that when these were taken, he expected to follow up, by orders for a main attack with the “whole command,” which I was to keep in “position for a rapid movement down the Old Richmond road.” In the execution of these orders, the enemy discovered himself in force so much greater than General Burnside anticipated, that the plan proved totally inadequate to its expected results.

The disaster which followed is a matter of history, and considering the pressure to which the mind of the commanding General must have been subjected since that time, it is not difficult to find a reason why his present recollection of his plan differs so materially from the orders which he gave before the movement was made; but I submit that is an insufficient reason for visiting the consequences of the failure upon his subordinate in command.

After reciting the order, the committee state that when last before them, I considered the meaning of the order to be an armed observation to ascertain where the enemy was. They then proceed as follows: “In his (Franklin's) testimony given when your committee were at Falmouth, he says, ‘I put in all the troops that I thought it prudent and proper to put in. I fought the whole strength of my command as far as I could, and at the same time keep my connection with the river open.’ ” These two statements seem to be presented under the idea that they convict me of an inconsistency, and in the report furnished by the committee to one of the newspapers, printed in pamphlet form, entitled “Tribune War tract, no. 1,” this statement of the committee is headed, in capital letters, “Franklin's inconsistent statements.” What inconsistency is there between my interpretation of the second clause of the order, that it was for an armed observation to ascertain where the enemy was, and in the statement that in sending in this armed force of observation I had ascertained where the enemy was, and had been compelled to fight the whole strength of my command as far as I could, and at the same time keep my communication with the river open, in resisting a superior force, which had discovered itself on three sides of me? But the committee, in quoting my testimony, for some reason satisfactory to themselves, have omitted to state what was testified by me in the same connection.

By referring to the testimony given by me at Falmouth, (which has heretofore been made public,) I find that the words immediately following the quotation made by the committee in their present report are as follows: “The reason that we failed was, that we had not troops enough to carry the points where the attack was made, under the orders that were given.” Why the committee have omitted that part of my evidence, while from the quotation marks the reader is led to suppose the whole sentence is given, I shall not stop to inquire.

The next statement in the report refers to the number of troops with which the attack was made by me, under the orders to send out “a division [166] at least,” to seize the heights near Captain Hamilton's, and that is headed in the tract in the same conspicuous manner, “Franklin responsible for the defeat.”

The committee's statement on this subject occupies but a few lines, and admits the sending out by me, under this order, of four divisions, numbering sixteen thousand five hundred men, as stated by them, without giving the number of Doubleday's division, which was nearly seven thousand more. The committee name only Meade's, Gibbon's, Doubleday's, and Birney's divisions, as those by which the attack was made and supported. They had it in proof, and in General Hardie's reports, that Newton's and Sickles's divisions also aided in that movement, while the divisions of Howe and Brooks also engaged the enemy during the day. However easy of explanation it may be that the employment of Newton's division was not referred to in the report, it is difficult to understand why Sickles's division should be omitted, when the only evidonce they have published on this subject discloses the fact that Sickles's division was also engaged.

The committee further say, “that the attack was in reality made by one of the smallest divisions in my command, the division of General Meade, numbering about four thousand five hundred men.” They have omitted to state in that connection what was in evidence before them, that Meade's division was posted on the extreme left of my line, and the order being to attack at once, was consequently best posted for the attack. The Army of the Potomac had no braver soldier or better officer than General Meade, to lead his division to the attack.

The committee next say, that “General Burnside, upon hearing of the small force ordered to attack the enemy, sent an order to General Franklin to make a vigorous attack with his whole force.” The committee do not state when General Burnside sent to me any order after that received at 7.30 A. M.; but if the ordinary construction is to be put upon their language, they intend to be understood that a second order was sent to me immediately after the receipt of General Hardie's first despatch to General Burnside, dated at 7.40 A. M., in which he was informed of what I proposed to do under the order. As before observed, this despatch must have been received by General Burnside by eight o'clock A. M. So that, according to the report, General Burnside sent me a second order to make a “vigorous attack with my whole force,” shortly after eight o'clock A. M. By referring to General Hardie's reports, it will be seen that the first despatch from General Burnside, after that brought by him, is dated 2.25 P. M. in which he states,--

December 13, 2.25 P. M.
Despatch received. Franklin will do his best. New troops gone in. Will report soon again.

This order, so far from being an order to make a “vigorous attack with my whole force,” directed me as follows:

“Your instructions of this morning are so far modified as to require an advance upon the heights immediately in your front.”

The response made to this modification of the order is shown by General Hardie's despatch to his chief just given.

The committee then proceed: “Several of the witnesses testified, that had the attack then been renewed with all the available force under General Franklin's command, it would have been successful.” Who these witnesses are is not stated, nor is a word of their testimony given. If any one upon whose opinion the public would place any reliance has been found to express such an opinion, it has been given in ignorance of the orders under which I was acting during the day, or upon the assumption that such an order as the committee state I did receive, was issued to me in the early part of the day. I have shown that no such order was issued, and that the second order that was issued was received at 2.25 P. M. In connection with this modified order. it is necessary to state, that immediately in front of one of my divisions was a narrow valley, held on both sides by the enemy, and protected by abatis, and troops entering it were necessarily subjected to a fire from both sides. It is patent from an examination of this last order, that so far from being an order to renew the attack upon the hill at Captain Hamilton's, it was a virtual abandonment of that attempt. I was not allowed the opportunity to examine those witnesses, nor to produce those I named to the committee, who ware with me during the day, aid who alone were sufficiently acquainted with all the facts to form a respectable opinion on the subject.

But whatever opinions may have been expressed before the committee by witnesses, whose names they have not given, the same committee submitted a report to the Senate on the twenty-third day of December last, containing the evidence taken by them on the nineteenth of that month, in which the testimony of General Burnside, taken immediately after the battle, is given. This has been printed by order of the Senate. From this document I make the following extract, (referring to the battle of Fredericksburg:)

Q. By Committee.--“What causes do you assign for the failure of your attack here?”

A. “It was found impossible to get the men up to the works; the enemy's fire was too hot for them; the whole command fought most gallantly; the enemy themselves say they never saw our men fight so hard as on that day.”

Q. “Were the enemy's works very strong?”

A. “Their works are not strong works, but they occupy very strong positions. It is possible that the points of attack were wrongly ordered; if such is the case I can only say I did to the best of my ability.”

* * * * *

Q. “Do I understand you to say that you expected General Franklin to carry the point at the extreme left of the ridge in the rear of the town, and thereby enable our troops to storm and carry their fortifications?” [167]

Sketch of the battle of Fredericksburg, Saturday, Dec. 13, 1862. right wing C. S. A., Lt. General Jackson's corps. By Jed Hotchkis, 2nd corps, Anv.


A. “I did expect him to carry that point; which being done, would have placed our forces in rear of their extreme left, and which I thought at the time would shake their forces to such an extent that the position in front could be easily stormed and carried.”

Q. “To what do you attribute his failure to accomplish that?”

A. “To the great strength of the position, and the accumulation of the enemy's forces there.”

General Burnside then explained, that the delay in building the bridges gave the enemy time to accumulate his forces before he was able to order the attack.

* * * * *

Q. “What was the conduct of the officers and men during the attack?”

A. “With the exception of a single regiment it was excellent.”

Q. “Will you state, as nearly as you can, the whole number of our troops that were engaged”

A. “We had about one hundred thousand men on the other side of the river.”

Q. “What part of that number were actually engaged in battle?”

A. “Every single man of them was under artillery fire, and about half of them were at different times formed in columns of attack. Every man was put in column that could be got in.”

With this evidence of the General commanding the army before them, a committee of Congress, in a report submitted to the public without the testimony, deliberately states:

The testimony of all the witnesses' before your committee proves most conclusively that had the attack been made upon the left with all the force that General Franklin could have used for that purpose, the plan of General Burnside would have been completely successful, and our army would have achieved a most brilliant victory.”

The committee continue, (still referring to the order, which, they say, was to make a “vigorous attack with my whole force,” and was sent by General Burnside upon his hearing of the small force which I had ordered to the attack,) “General Franklin testifies that it was not an order but a request, and that when he received it, it was too late to renew the attack, and therefore he did not do it. General Franklin testifies as follows:” The committee then proceed to give an extract from a small portion of my testimony, in which not a word of my testimony on the subject of this request is given. My statement to them on that subject was substantially that after three o'clock of that day, according to my best recollection, an Aid from General Burnside came to me with the message that the enemy was pressing General Sumner on the right, and that I was requested to make a diversion in his favor if I could. I again replied that I would do the best I could. About the time that this message came, viz., at 3.40 P. M., as will be seen by referring to General Hardie's reports, that officer informed General Burnside as follows:

Gibbon's and Meade's divisions are badly used up, and I fear another advance on the enemy on our left cannot be made this afternoon. Doubleday's division will replace Meade's as soon as it can be collected, and if it be done in time, of course another attack will be made. The enemy are in force in the woods on our left toward Hamilton's, and are threatening the safety of that portion of our line. They seem to have detached a portion of their force to our front, where Howe and Brooks are now engaged. Brooks has some prisoners, and is down to the railroad. Just as soon as the left is safe our forces here will be prepared for a front attack. But it may be too late this afternoon. Indeed we are engaged in front anyhow. Notwithstanding the unpleasant items I relate, the morale generally of the troops is good.

Keeping in mind the fact that the divisions of Howe and Brooks, which General Hardie reported to General Burnside were then actually engaged, were the two divisions upon which I had to rely to protect my right, centre, and bridges, and that every other division of my command was at that moment already in support of the left, and that this despatch of General Hardie's was a piece of the evidence before a committee, supposed to be in search of the truth in regard to a subject of such magnitude as the loss of the battle of Fredericksburg, it seems incredible that the next paragraph of their report following the extract from my testimony, which they have given, is the one already quoted, that,--

“The testimony of all the witnesses before your committee proves most conclusively that had the attack been made upon the left with all the force that General Franklin could have used for that purpose, the plan of General Burnside would have been completely successful, and our army would have achieved a most brilliant victory.”

This sweeping statement is made without giving a word of testimony in support of the conclusion, or the name of a witness. I am necessarily in ignorance of what has been testified to by others before the committee, but I know that General Burnside and myself were at least two of “all the witnesses,” and that he, when he was first examined, testified to the contrary of any such statement. I know that General Hardie's words, written from the battle-field to his chief, were in evidence, and that the facts shown by these witnesses prove the conclusions of this committee to be as unfounded as they are unmerited.

Standing, as I do, thus arraigned and condemned by the committee, I have no fear that my countrymen will adopt their verdict until I have been heard in my own behalf. They have thus far inhaled with the air they breathe that vital principle of fair play that hears before it condemns. As a people, they have no purpose to serve in striking down a public servant, unless he has proved to be unfaithful to his trust; and to their sense of justice I appeal, though the circumstances attending my accusation compel me to add to my statement a few words personal to myself.

My profession is that of arms. I was educated to it as a pupil of the nation. My duty and inclination [169] leading in the same path with the feeling that stirred the nation's pulse when its flag was torn down by parricidal hands, I dedicated my life, and whatever was inwrapt within my life, to the defence of my country. I did not under-rate the proportions of the rebellion, and I accepted my line of duty with the conviction that the nation would require of its loyal children determined purpose, and, perhaps, great sacrifices, before its unity would be restored. With these convictions I took command of a brigade in the Army of the Potomac in June, 1861. From that time until I was relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac, on the twenty-fifth day of January, 1863, I have been trying to do my duty in camp and upon the field. That I have not altogether failed, the brave men who have grown up with me have proved on the battle-fields of Virginia and Maryland; and it is but common justice to those of them who yet live, and to the memory of those who are dead, to say that they never failed me in the time of trial. My time has been passed with my command. Including a period of illness, I have been absent from it but twenty-one days. This has left me but little time to look after matters personal to myself. Having no political associations of influence, I must content myself, as best I can, with the reflection that the committee believed that the failure at Fredericks-burg demanded a victim, and that, being of no consequence except as a soldier, it was most available to order me to that duty.

I have had no friendships which have stood in the way of the performance of my duty.

When General Burnside took command of the Army of the Potomac, and up to the time he left it, I gave a hearty obedience to every order he gave me, as well as a full and frank expression of my opinion when he invited me to his councils. I supposed that we were attached friends, and that we were both looking only to those means which would achieve success. I agreed with him fully in the propriety of crossing the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg at the time proposed by his original plan. After that failed, whatever advice I gave to him in council sprang from the honest convictions of my judgment, and I should have been recreant to my duty to my country and my own conscience had I given him any other. When the crossing was determined upon, with what alacrity I obeyed the order, the time within which my troops were crossed and placed in line of battle is the best evidence. This done, and our troops posted on the enemy's side of the river, with nothing but frail pontoon bridges between them and their destruction as an army, I proposed that an assault should be made upon the enemy's position with a column strong enough to command success, (naming the number of at least six divisions,) with the request that I might be allowed to make immediate dispositions to carry it out. After waiting through the night, I was ordered to take a particular height with one division, and to keep my whole command in readiness for some contemplated movement. In obeying this order according to its letter and spirit, a force of the enemy upon my left, my right, and my centre discovered itself, sufficient to engage during the day every division in my command. Our failure was the natural consequence of the insufficient preparation and inadequate provision for an attack upon an army like that in front of us. This being the state of the facts, so far as I am concerned, without a hearing or the opportunity of defence, a report from the legislative branch of the government has been spread through the newspapers and in pamphlets before my countrymen, stating that had I obeyed the orders given me by General Burnside on that day, our army would have achieved a most brilliant victory. Instead of a brilliant victory, it was a sad and fearful disaster, in which many brave men fell — men to whom I was attached by two years association; and for this disaster, and for the blood of these comrades, this committee say I am responsible.

I place these facts by the side of their report, perfectly willing to abide by the verdict which the public will pass upon me.


The correspondence which follows shows the grounds upon which I based my assertion that General Burnside formally and earnestly requested the President to remove Mr. Stanton and General Halleck from the positions which they held in 1862-63.

Now, there is no excuse which can justify a statement of the kind made by General Burnside to his Generals on this subject, and the effect upon some of them was more damaging than would at first sight appear.

Having entire confidence in the truth of his statement, they looked upon him as a man whose boldness in bearding the lions in their den, entitled him to a certain admiration, but who had been destroyed by this very boldness. They considered him a doomed man, and that the end of his career as the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, was only a question of a few days.

It is, therefore, not to be wondered at, that certain Generals finding that he was still acting as if he felt firm in his seat, and as though his open condemnation of the Secretary of War and General-in-Chief had done him no harm, and knowing the extreme want of confidence of the troops in his capacity, should begin to feel nervous and anxious about the destiny of the Army of the Potomac under such a commander, and should believe that a representation of the feeling of the army toward him, made to influential persons in Washington, taken in connection with the fact (as they supposed it) that he had asked for the removal of the President's two chief military subordinates, might have weight in having some important change effected, without subjecting them to any very grave charges.

Nor is it to be wondered at that Generals who heard him make this statement, should afterwards have less confidence in his judgment; and should consider that no important operations would thereafter be carried on under his command.

In other words, it is quite likely that the misunderstandings caused by this “statement,” might account in a great degree for the conduct of certain officers affected by the notorious Order No. 8.

When 1 gave my evidence before the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War in December 1862, I did not quote the order which I received from General Burnside under which I made the attack at the battle of Fredericksburg. This is the reason for the omission.

I thought that General Burnside was the proper person to present this order in evidence. I asked him, after he had given his evidence, if he had delivered a copy of the order to the committee, or if he intended to deliver one, and he informed me that he had given it, or intended to give it.

Yet upon examination of the published evidence, upon which the committee based its report, I cannot find that this order was brought to its attention until General J. F. Reynolds gave his evidence in March, 1863, and I gave mine about April first, 1863. [170]

So General Burnside's memory failed again in this instance.

This fact is mentioned because I stated to the committee in December, 1862, that I had fought the whole strength of my command as well as I could “under the orders that I had received,” supposing the committee knew, as it ought to have known, what orders I had received. It ought to have known these orders, because it had already received the evidence of the commanding General.

There is one omission in the report of my evidence before this committee which is somewhat important to me. When I was before it, about April first, 1863, I stated that if my conduct at the battle of Fredericksburg was in course of investigation by it, I would be glad to have taken the evidence of Generals Smith and Hardie, who were with me during the whole day of the battle. The chairman refused to call these gentlemen, on the ground that there was no time. No mention of the request or the refusal was made in the report or the evidence. Yet there are published in the evidence two affidavits of staff officers of General Burnside, bearing on the subject, and both dated after the date of my evidence and made in Cincinnati, the committee sitting in Washington. If there was time to have received them, there was time to have taken the evidence of Generals Smith and Hardie. Whether these affidavits were considered in making up the report of the committee I do not know.

On March nineteenth, 1866, General Franklin wrote to General Halleck, informing him that circumstances might render it necessary for him to publish certain correspondence between them in relation to a statement made by General Burnside, that he had! requested of the President the removal of the Secretary of War and General-in-Chief shortly after the battle of Fredericksburg. The following are copies of General Halleck's answer and its enclosures, followed by copies of all the correspondence:

headquarters Military division of the Pacific, San Francisco, Cal., April 17, 1866.
Major-General W. B. Franklin, Hartford, Conn.:
General: I have just received your note of March nineteenth, in which you state that it may be necessary for you to publish my letters to you (which you have hitherto regarded as confidential) in regard to General Burnside.

Having no intention to enter into any discussions in regard to differences or disputes which have arisen out of the events of the war, I shall very much regret the necessity of bringing my name into any question of difference between yourself and General Burnside. In order that you may have in your possession all the documentary evidence on the subject, I enclose herewith copies of my letter to him of May ninth 1863, and his telegraphic answer of May fourteenth. Whether or not General Burnside ever made the promised answer to your pamphlet, I know not. I have never seen any, and the enlosure is the only correspondence we ever had on the subject.

Both Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton assured me at the time that General Burnside had never made to them, or in their presence, the statement alluded to in your pamphlet; out that on the contrary, he had always expressed full confidence in, and warm regard for both the Secretary and myself.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

General Halleck to General Burnside.


Headquarters of the army, Washington, May 9, 1863.
Major-General Burnside, Cincinnati.
General: Major-General Franklin's pamphlet on the battle of Fredericksburg has been before the public for some weeks, and no doubt has attracted your attention.

General Franklin states positively that after that battle you urged the President to remove from office the Secretary of War and General-in-Chief. In the absence of any contradiction of this positive statement, it must be presumed that it is correct.

As you certainly could have had no motives personal to yourself for giving this advice to the President, and as you were well aware that I was placed in my present position contrary to my own wishes, and that I had endeavored to be relieved from it, I am bound to believe that, in my case, you were actuated in giving the alleged advice to the President, solely by a desire to confer a personal favor upon me. I look upon the matter in this light, and sincerely thank you for using your influence with the President, in the manner stated by General Franklin, to have me relieved from a thankless and disagreeable position, which you knew I did not wish to occupy.

Very truly yours,

From Gen. Burnside to Gen. Halleck.


Letter of the ninth, (9th,) just received. Never saw Franklin's pamphlet till day before yesterday. Shall answer it briefly, as soon as I have time. It cannot hurt any of us after it is answered.


General Halleck to General Franklin.

Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., May 25, 1863.
[Personal and private.]

Major-General Franklin, York, Penn.:

General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of your pamphlet on the battle of Fredericksburg. I do not feel called upon to express any opinion in regard to the matters of dispute between yourself and General Burnside. Of course one or the other must be in error, but I presume the differences are such as often occur between honorable men, who both believe themselves to be in the right. There are, however, one or two statements in regard to myself to which I desire to call your attention.

You state positively that General Burnside made a “formal and earnest request to the President to remove the Secretary of War and General-in-Chief from the positions severally occupied by them.” If consistent with your own sense of propriety, I respectfully ask that you will give me your authority for this positive assertion on your part. I am induced to ask this, from the fact that General Burnside was fully aware that I was placed in my present position against my own wishes; that I had taken every proper measure to avoid its responsibilities, and, at that very time I was desirous of being relieved from these responsibilities. I say that General Burnside was personally fully aware of these facts. How, under such circumstances, he could request my removal, is to me incomprehensible. Nevertheless, till your positive statement is explained or contradicted, it must be believed.

You seem to think that General Burnside's letter to me was drawn out of him for the purpose of removing responsibility from the shoulders of his superiors. In regard to this matter I have only to say, that the letter was published by permission of the President, after both the Secretary of War and myself had advised against its publication, and I had positively refused my assent. As I had advised against the Fredericksburg base from the beginning, and had abundant proofs of that fact, I required no statement of General Burnside in regard to my responsibility.

Again, in regard to General Burnside's order, or pretended order, No. 8, you are also under misapprehension. I have never seen that order. I learned from the President that an order had been presented to him by General Burnside, dismissing several officers of his command for endeavoring to create dissatisfaction and insubordination in his army. I said immediately, that if such was the case, the commander in the field ought to be sustained. I did not then know, nor do I know now, the names of the officers charged with so high a military offence. Moreover, I have been told by good authority that the pretended order, published in the newspapers, is very different from the order shown the President.

In these, as in many other matters connected with the Army of the Potomac, the press has grossly misrepresented me. But time will place all these things in their true light.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

General Franklin to General Halleck.

York, Penn., May 27, 1863.
To Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
General: I have received your letter of the twenty-fifth inst. I am sure, from your statement, that General Burnside did not make the “formal and earnest request to remove the Secretary of War” and yourself, to which reference is made in my pamphlet reply to the Committee on the Conduct of the War, and my assertion should have been that General Burnside said that he made the request.

The facts are these. General Burnside was in Washington on or about January first, last. He returned to camp, and soon after his return, informed me, I think in the presence of General Smith, and perhaps others, that he had seen the President, and had verbally recommended to [171] him the acceptance of his resignation, and the removal of the Secretary of War and yourself The President, however, refused to entertain the suggestion, and the next interview which General Burnside ad with him was in the presence of the Secretary of War and yourself. Between the first and second interviews he had reduced to writing the proposition which he had made in the first interview, and he read to the President a letter to him in which he tendered his own resignation, and proposed the vacation of the Secretary of War's and your positions, for the reason that all three of you had lost the confidence of the people. This is the substance of the story as I heard it from him just after his return to camp. On one occasion, just before his last attempt to cross the Rappahannock, I was in his tent with Generals Smith, Woodbury, Hunt, and Captain Comstock, corps of engineers, when I said to him, in substance, “you yourself recommended to the President the removal of the Secretary of War and Genenal Halleck.” He did not deny it; in fact he acknowledged that he had so recommended.

There is nothing in my pamphlet, nor have I said anything which will justify the assertion, that I “think that General Burnside's letter to me” (you) “was drawn out of him” for any purpose. On the contrary I know that before he wrote it, he expressed his intention of writing it to several persons, myself among the number, and the reason he gave for this intention was, that he might disabuse the minds of the people as to who was responsible for the battle of Fredericksburg. He intended the letter for publication, I know, and was excited to write it by the newspaper articles, which threw the blame upon the administration. I never had, nor ever expressed, an idea that the letter in question was drawn out of General Burnside by any person, or for any purpose, but have always known that the dictates of his own mind led him to write it.

I do not think that I have ever asserted, or ever thought that you had seen Order No. 8. I have, looked over my pamphlet carefully, and find no sentence which will bear the construction that I thought you had seen it. I received all of the information in my possession concerning it from officers who saw it in General Hooker's hands, and the names in the pretended order, as published, agree in all respects with those reported to me as present in General Hooker's copy. The pamphlet was, however, written before the publication of the order in the Herald.

It was not my intention in my pamphlet to refer to any persons except the Committee on the Conduct of the War and General Burnside. I am sorry that my confidence in General Burnside's honesty led me to assert that he had requested the removal of the Secretary of War and yourself, and I can only account for his numerous mistakes by the hypothesis that he is crazy.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

General Halleck to General Franklin.

Headquarters of the army, Washington, May 29, 1863.
[Private and personal.]

Major-General Franklin, York, Penn.:

General: Your letter of the twenty-seventh is received, and I thank you for your frank reply to my inquiry.

Immediately on receiving your pamphlet, I addressed a note to General Burnside, calling his attention to what you had stated in regard to his having formally and earnestly requested my removal, and as he has not denied its correctness, I presume he admits it.

There is one singular statement in your letter, in regard to the embodying of General Burnside's recommendation for our removal m his letter of resignation, and reading it to the President in the presence of the Secretary and myself. There is not a word of truth in this, so far as I am concerned. The only letter of resignation of General Burnside which I ever saw or heard of, made no allusion whatever to either of us.

The reason of my alluding to Order No. 8 was, that you say the President “declined to decide, without consulting some of his advisers.” The public would presume, perhaps, that I was one of these advisers, I merely wished to undeceive you on that point. The facts are these: General Burnside had had an interview with the President in the night, or very early in the morning. I was sent for while at breakfast. When I arrived at the President's room, he informed the Secretary and myself that General Burnside had proposed the dismissal and relieving of several high officers, and if his order were not approved he wished to resign. The President announced his decision to relieve General Burnside, and put General Hooker in command. He asked no opinion or advice, either from the Secretary or myself, and none whatever was offered by either of us. General Burnside afterwards came in, and the matter of accepting his resignation was discussed. I strongly urged him to withdraw it, which he finally consented to do.

The removal of General Burnside, and appointment of General Hooker, was the sole act of the President. My advice was not asked at all in the matter, and I gave no opinion whatever.

I have never doubted the honesty and integrity of purpose of General Burnside, but in his various statements he has certainly committed some most singular errors, and in none more so than in regard to the “Pontoons,” upon which the public press got up such a furor against me. I had the means at the time of disproving most of his statements, but declined to use them, preferring, as in the case of the battle of Fredericksburg, to remain silent. By publicly denying one false charge, it would be inferred that those undenied were true. Moreover, when holding a command, I never enter into newspaper discussions.

Nevertheless, I think it due to history that officers should, among themselves, seek to reconcile and explain conflicting statements. It was simply with this object in view that I wrote to yourself and General Burnside, and I thank you for answering me so promptly and kindly. I only regret that General Burnside has not done the same.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Gen. W. F. Smith to Gen. Franklin.

New York, May 29, 1863.
dear Franklin: Burnside referred to the matter of his letter to the President, asking that Stanton, Halleck, and himself should vacate their places, several times in my presence; but the first time in such detail that no new points were afterwards developed. He said he had had a long conversation with the President, which resulted in his going back to the hotel, and writing this letter, which he sent. In the letter he said he was sure Stanton and Halleck had not the confidence of the country, but of that the President could judge for himself; but he could assert positively that they had not the confidence of the army, and therefore suggested that the three should resign. The President said he could not think of accepting his resignation, and asked him if he had any objections to going to the others interested and making the statements in their presence. Burnside said no, certainly not, and they went to the War Department, saw the Secretary and General-in-Chief, and in their presence he reiterated his remarks about want of confidence; that neither of them said a word with reference to the matter, and the conversation after that was an attempt to get orders to cross the river, or orders not to cross the river. Burnside also made in Washington, and at the time, the same statement to Mr. John Tucker, then Assistant Secretary of War, and I certainly placed implicit confidence in his story. You are entirely at liberty to make any use of this letter.

Yours, as ever,

This letter was transmitted by General Franklin to General Halleck, with a letter of transmittal merely.

General Halleck to General Franklin.

[Personal and private.]

General: Yours of the third instant, enclosing a copy of General Smith's letter of May twenty-ninth is received. No such conversation as that mentioned by General Smith, nor any in the slightest degree resembling it, ever took place between General Burnside, the President, Mr. Stanton, and myself. What General Burnside may have said to the President or Secretary of War about me, in my absence, I, of course, do not know; but I have assurances that he never suggested my removal to either.

I have no desire to push this inquiry any farther, being satisfied that General Burnside's memory was, at least at that time, unreliable.

Very respectfully,

Gen. W. T. H. Brooks to Gen. Franklin.

Indianapolis, June 2, 1863.
dear Franklin: I received your letter of the twenty ninth ult. yesterday. I was very sorry not to meet you.

I spoke to the Secretary about Burnside having stated that he had told the President he ought to remove himself [172] and Halleck. He said he had never heard of it until a few days before, when Halleck having seen the statement made by you in your pamphlet, spoke to him about it. That so far as he knew, there is not a word of truth in it.

I heard Burnside make the statement in your presence. I have heard Sedgwick and Hancock say they heard Burnside make the statement. I have heard Hooker refer to it, as though he had heard it direct. I am almost certain I have heard Meade say he had heard Burnside make the same statement. I called the Secretary's attention to this in a letter written just before our last move, but he says he never received it.

Nearly every general officer in the Army of the Potomac has heard Burnside make the boast. I believe I wrote you that Hooker had mentioned the subject to the President, and he said he had never heard it.

Yours truly,

The above extract was sent to General Halleck with a letter of transmittal on June sixth, 1863.

1 a reply of Major General William B. Franklin, to the report of the Joint Committee of Congress on the conduct of the war, submitted to the public on the 6th of April, 1863.

2 In addition to the forces referred to in these despatches, a division from General Wilcox's corps reported to me late in the afternoon, and was put in the vicinity of the bridges; too late, however, to aid In any of the operations on the extreme left.

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