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the enemy or drive him south.” This order McClellan declined to obey. On the roth of that month, J. E. B. Stuart, a dashing Rebel cavalry officer, crossed the Potomac, going as far north as Chambersburg, Penn., which he raided, and made the entire circuit of McClellan's army before he recrossed into Virginia.
A few days after this daring exploit, which McClellan had confidently predicted would end in his “bagging" the whole of Stuart's command, Lincoln wrote a long and friendly letter to McClellan, in which he begged for a forward movement, arguing the case from a military point of view with much acuteness. Still McClellan did not move.
He complained that his horses were fatigued and had the sore tongue. Lincoln could not help asking what his cavalry had done since the battle of Antietam, fought more than a month before, that they should be fatigued. McClellan showed that he resented this home thrust, and Lincoln, ready to plead his own desire to be exactly just, wrote to the General to say that he was very sorry if he had done the General any injustice. He added, however: "To be told, after five weeks' total inactivity of the army, and during which period we had sent to that army every fresh horse we possibly could, amounting in the whole to 7918, that the cavalry horses were too much fatigued to move, presented a cheerless, almost hopeless, prospect for the future.” It may be added to this that the winter was now close at hand, when active operations in the field, always difficult, would be impossible under McClellan's command.
Finally, on the 5th of November, 1862, just one month after the order to cross had been issued, the army did cross the Potomac. By this time, of course, the Rebels, recovering from their defeat at Antietam, were ready for battle or for a retreat. It was too late. General McClellan was relieved from command of the Army of the Potomac on the 5th of November, and was ordered to Trenton, New Jersey. His military career was closed, and we hear no more of him until he emerged, in 1864, as the Presidential candidate of the Democratic party.
This long and interesting chapter of military history is valuable as showing forth th patience, forbearance, and sagacity of Lincoln. Again and again, he was urged by the impatient and fiery spirits around him to remove McClellan, and subject him to trial by courtmartial for disobedience of orders. Even those who did not advise these extreme measures with the General, counselled the President to withdraw McClellan from command. But Lincoln knew that many of the subordinate commanders in the Army of the Potomac were warm champions of McClellan's military genius, believers in his mysterious power to win great victories. They would support any other commander with lukewarmness, if they supported him at all. There was no such rigid and severe discipline in the Union army as exists in the military organizations of European states. Military councils were something in the nature of condensed town meetings. The rank and file maintained an exchange of sentiment and judgment that corresponded exactly to the public opinion of towns, cities, and other communities. The
country was slow to give up its faith in the young General, who, in the very opening of the war, achieved military successes in western Virginia and won for himself a name before other men had had a chance to distinguish themselves. Lincoln was reluctant to rouse animosities and harsh judgments by a removal of McClellan while he yet had a chance to retrieve himself. He remained to encourage popular and military confidence. It was not until McClellan had, so to speak, worn out his reputation, that he was removed.
THE TURNING OF THE TIDE.
The Battle of Fredericksburg–Rise of the Peace Party-Factions in
Congress—The Battle of Chancellorsville-A Conscription Ordered and Martial Law Declared—Colored Troops Enlisted-Great Financial Measures Afoot-Vallandigham's Expulsion and Return-Growth of the Anti-War Sentiment-Fall of Vicksburg and Battle of Gettysburg—Popular Rejoicings—The President's Proclamation of Thanksgiving-Draft Riots in New York—Lincoln's Address on the field of Gettysburg-Grant and Sherman in the West.
ENERAL AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE succeeded G
McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. General Burnside was a graduate of the United States Military Academy, but had been, like his predecessor, engaged in other pursuits than that of the military service, before the beginning of the war of the Rebellion. He was “every inch a soldier” in appearance, of fine figure and address, amiable, loyal, and patriotic. He undertook the command of the army with many misgivings. McClellan's favorite generals, it was probable, would not support him with cordiality, and, although he had proved his ability while handling a corps, as at the battle of Antietam, he took command of the Army of the Potomac with diffidence. Assuring himself, as far as he was able, of the co-operation of his comrades in arms, he assumed command, after much persuasion, on the 9th of November, just at the beginning of winter.
At the outset, there was a disagreement between Burnside, Halleck, and Lincoln as to the best line of attack upon the Rebel forces. Burnside's plan was to make a sudden and aggressive movement towards Richmond by the way of Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock. Halleck preferred the line reaching through Gordonsville, farther to the west. Lincoln was asked to decide between the two. Inclined as he was to defer to the judgment of the general who was to conduct the movement, he favored Burnside's plan. Accordingly, he went over the situation in council with Halleck, and then wrote to Burnside that Halleck approved the Fredericksburg route, provided Burnside should move with rapidity. Otherwise, he was sure that that route would not be the best. Burnside's army was directed towards Fredericksburg, but, owing to a delay in furnishing him with the pontoons required for crossing the river, Lee was able to occupy and fortify the heights above the city, and before Burnside was ready to put in his pontoon bridges, he was confronted with Lee's concentrated army.
Burnside arrived at Falmouth, on the northern side of the Rappahannock, November 19th; his pontoons did not arrive until the 25th. The attack was made, in the face of difficulties almost hopeless to overcome, on the 15th of December. Lee occupied the heights above Fredericksburg, his artillery commanding every approach from the opposite side of the river. The assault was made, however, and, as many despondent military critics had predicted, the Army of the Potomac was repulsed with frightful slaughter. It was a great disaster. Wash