I could not fully exculpate myself without demonstrating that my commanding officer, General Burnside, was in fault. The narrative of facts proved this, but some of my friends did not understand the matter and have never been satisfied with my record.
Your clear and explicit statement removes all obscurity and doubt, and I am naturally much gratified. My vindication at your hands is the more gratifying because my own testimony before the Congressional committee was construed in some of the newspapers as imputing fault to you. When I first met Burnside at Fredericksburg, and was asked to explain why pontoons were not at hand when the army arrived, I told him that he commenced his movement before he was ready; that he ought to have remained at Warrenton some five days longer; and I added, to show that the idea was not new to me, "I told Halleck so." It never occurred to me to say anything about this conversation to the committee, nor did I do so, or even think of it, until one of them drew it out by a direct question. I then seemed, to a careless reader of the record, to desire to throw some blame upon you.
Changing the subject, it seems to me that the rebels have not made, during the past season, all the use of their interior lines which they might have made. In June they undertook two principal operations; First, to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania; second, to oppose Rosecrans with an army nearly equal to his own. Had the army of Bragg been added to that of Lee, the latter might, perhaps, have gained the battle of Gettysburg, and that would have compelled us to withdraw the army of Rosecrans for the defense of Washington. On the other hand, had the army of Lee been added to that of Bragg, Rosecrans might, perhaps, have been overwhelmed far from his base. Too late they attempted the right thing. After losing the use of the railroad connecting Virginia with Chattanooga, after Rosecrans had secured an impregnable position (Chattanooga to fall back upon in case of defeat, they began to re-enforce Bragg by the very circuitous route of Atlanta, and then gained a battle with very little advantage to themselves.
If the enemy has sometimes been superior in tactics, I think he has been beaten in strategy throughout the year, and it will be hard to rob the General-in-Chief of a principal share of the credit.
D. P. WOODBURY.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.
Numbers 18. Report of Captain Henry W. Bowers, Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
Near Fredericksburg, Va., December 17, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 16th instant, an order having been received from Headquarters Army of the Potomac, at 3.45 a.m., to dismantle and remove the pontoon bridges opposite Fredericksburg when all the troops had recrossed the river, in company with yourself, I visited the middle pontoon bridge at 4.30 a.m. After an examination by yourself of the river bank on this side for more than half a mile below the bridge, it was decided impracticable to land the pontoons successfully below the locality of the bridge, unless at the