General Burnside Replaced as Commander of the Army of the Potomac

January 25, 1863

President Lincoln meets at the White House at 10 A.M. with General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck and General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Army of the Potomac who has clear lost confidence in his subordinates and they in him.  According to Halleck’s subsequent letter to General William  Franklin: “…General Burnside 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 was 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 afterward came in, and the matter of accepting his resignation was discussed.  I strongly urged him to withdraw it, which he finally consented to do.”

Burnside was prevailed upon to accept a new command rather than resign completely. Burnside biographer William Marvel wrote: “After breakfast …Lincoln called Stanton and Halleck into his office and told them he had decided to replace Burnside with Hooker.   When Burnside arrived at ten, the president broke the news to him.   For all his dislike and distrust of hooker, Burnside accepted the decision with overall relief.   Assuming the resignation of his commission had been accepted, he asked if he might not go directly home.  Not at all, they told him; they wanted him to take command of a new, expanded department consisting of North and South Carolina.  Burnside had learned that his old friend John G. Foster had graciously asked for Burnside to come back and resume command at Newbern, but Burnside did not want to take Forster’s assignment away.  Besides, he argued, David Hunter had only recently been appointed head of the Department of South Carolina, and he was senior to Burnside.”

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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