Today in History:

96 Series I Volume XXI- Serial 31 - Fredericksburg


movement. It will be enough to say that the cavalry had already started upon it, and the necessary orders were prepared for all the forces, when I received from the President a dispatch in the following words:

I have good reasons for saying that you must not make a general movement without first letting me know of it.

I at once countermanded the order, and proceeded to Washington, and was told by the President that some general officers of my command had represented to him that the army was not in condition to move, and he was induced by their statement to telegraph me as he did.

Soon after this I made the fourth attempt, which was to cross at the fords above Falmouth, and moved the entire command for that purpose; but, owing to a severe storm, which rendered the roads almost impassable, together with other obstacles, I was forced to return the army to its old position. Many difficulties had presented themselves to me in the exercise of the command of this army. I was the first officer to take charge of it after its first commander had been relieved. I had not been identified with it in the Peninsular campaign, and was unacquainted with a large portion of its officers. The season was very far advanced, which rendered all military movements precarious. The army had not been paid for several months, which caused great dissatisfaction among the soldiers and their friends at home, and increased the number of desertions to a fearful extent, and, in short, there was much gloom and despondency throughout the entire command. When to this is added the fact that there was a lack of confidence on the part of many of the officers in my ability to handle the army, it does not seem so strange that success did not attend my efforts.

I made four distinct attempts, between November 9, 1862, and January 25, 1863. The first failed for want of pontoons; the second was the battle of Fredericksburg; the third was stopped by the President, and the fourth was defeated by the elements and other causes. After the last attempt to move I was, on January 25, 1863, relieved of the command of the Army of the Potomac.

I am not disposed to complain of my lack of success in the exercise of the command; and, in view of the glorious results which have since attended the movements of this gallant army, I am quite willing to believe that my removal was for the best.

The courage and heroism displayed by the army at the battle of Fredericksburg has not been excelled during the war, and the memories of the brave officers and men who fell on that field will ever be cherished and honored by a grateful country.

To the staff officers at my headquarters, and to those gentleman who so kindly volunteered their services for the day, I am indebted for their cheerful and hearty co-operation and assistance. The great numbers which necessarily composed the staff render it impossible to individualize, and, for fear of doing injustice by making improper distinctions, I must content myself by simply thanking them as a body.

Accompanying this report I send the appendices referred to, and the reports of all the grand division commanders and those of their subordinates; also the report of General H. J. Hunt, chief of artillery, and his subordinates; General Rufus Ingalls, chief quartermaster; General Woodbury and Lieutenant Comstock, chief of engineers, and Captain Cushing, chief signal officer.

The list of casualties, as shown by the reports of the grand division commanders, were as given below. I would state that a large proportion