on the 13th, he could not have discharged his duty to the country without preferring charges against me to that effect.
It was during the period of time last referred to that the General Order, Numbers 8,* to which the committee have made ference in their report, was directed to be issued by General Burnside. The committee state that this order dismissed some officers from the service, subject to the approval of the President, and relieved others from duty with the Army of the Potomac; that General Burnside asked the President to sanction the order, or accept his resignation as major-general; that the President acknowledged that General Burnside was right, but declined to decide without consulting with some of his advisers. As I was relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac almost immediately after this interview with the President, I shall assume that I was one of the officers thus relieved in the order; an assumption I could not make from any evidence derived from General Burnside's conduct to me when we were together, but which I am compelled to make, because I have been so informed by two gentlemen of high character who have seen and read the order. It further appears from the report that the committee had that order before them; and as they have seen fit to visit upon me solely the responsibility for the loss of the battle of Fredericksburg, without referring in any manner to the repulse on the right, or stating its fearful loss in killed and wounded, I feel at liberty to state, on the authority of these same gentlemen who have seen Order Numbers 8, that under that order General Hooker was one of the officers dismissed from service, subject to the approval of the President. If, therefore, that order is invoked as a record of conviction, and by it General Hooker is dismissed while I am only relieved, I have the right to state the fact, and leave the public to judge of the motives of the committee in stating that they have not considered it essential to report upon the operations of the right wing in this battle. Not only so, but I have the right to challenge the verity of the statement "that the President acknowledged General Burnside was right," when it was known to the committee that in the same order in which the President relieved General Burnside from the command of the Army of the Potomac he made General Hooker his succesor.
But I shall not accept it as conclusive against my conduct that General Burnside did recommend that I should be relieved. It is a part of the history of the times that after the failure of his attempt upon the rebel army behind the heiksburg, he addressed a letter to General Halleck relieving the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief from all responsibility for that movement; and it is equally true, though not so publicly known, that shortly after that letter was published General Burnside made quite as formal and earnest a request to the President to remove the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief from the positions severelly occupied by them as he did to dismiss certain of his officers in the Army of the Potomac. If it was true that the movement was his own, it was but an act of common justice to assume its responsibility. Without intending to reflect upon that kind of magnanimity that takes the responsibility of a failure from the shoulders of those above us and places it upon those below us, I will prove by documentary evidence from General Burnside's hand that his plan as given to the committeee was not the plan on which he conducted the operations of the battle. The committee have printed General Burnside's plan of attack as given by him. By the side of this, I print an extract from the letter of
*See VOL. XXI, p. 998.