General Ambrose Burnside is Completing His Plans for a Major New Offensive

November 12, 1862

General Ambrose Burnside is completing his plans for a major new offensive at Fredericksburg, which required the use of pontoons.  Historian Bruce Tap: “When Burnside had met with [General Henry W.] Halleck at Warrenton on November 12, shortly after taking command, he had outlined his plans to him and received presidential approval for them a few days later.  But when Burnside’s chief engineer telegraphed Col. Daniel Woodbury, commander of the engineer telegraphed Col. Daniel Woodbury, commander of the engineering brigade and responsible for the pontoon movements, Woodbury had not yet heard of the order.  Since Burnside had to familiarize himself with a new command, it was not unreasonable for him to assume that Halleck would attend to the details — but Halleck had not.  When the pontoons did begin to move toward Falmouth, their arrival was delayed by bad weather, allowing Lee to concentrate his forces at Fredericksburg and removing any element of surprise Burnside might have gained.”

About this time, Lincoln also heard criticism from Pennsylvania congressmen about his impact on the recent elections.  “Republican attitudes toward these reverses were aired in a meeting between Lincoln and three party members,” wrote historian Bruce Tap. “Shortly after the election, Lincoln met with Pennsylvania congressmen William Kelley, Edward McPherson, and James K. Moorhead to discuss the election results.  Kelley, who had overcome numerous obstacles to recapture his seat, credited his victory to his willingness to support a vigorous war and his persistent calls for McClellan’s removal.  When Lincoln asked McPherson, who had lost a safe district, the cause of his defeat, McPherson talked around the issue until Kelley told Lincoln, ‘My colleague is not treating you frankly.’  When Lincoln assured McPherson he wanted frankness, McPherson said he had lost because the incompetent McClellan had been retained in command.  Turning to Moorhead, Lincoln said, ‘And what word do you bring?…You, at any rate were not defeated.’  Moorhead indicated that his victory was unrelated to the Lincoln’s actions and that Pittsburgh Republicans were upset with the president.  Moorhead had overhead one say that ‘he would be glad to hear some morning that you had been found hanging from the post of a lamp at the door of the White House.’”

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Published in: on November 12, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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