By referring to General Hardie's reports, it will be sent that the first dispatch from General Burnside, after that brought by him, is dated 2.25 p. m., in which he states:
DECEMBER 13 - 2.25 p. m.
Dispatch received. Franklin will do his best. New troops gone in. Will report soon again.
This order, so far from being an order to make "a vigorous attack with my whole force," directed me as follows: "Your instructions of this morning are so far modified as to require an advance upon the heights immediately in your front." The response made to this modification of the order is shown by General Hardie's dispatch to his chief just given. The committee then proceed: "Several of the witnesses force under General Franklin's command, it would have been successful." Who these witnesses are is not stated, nor is a word of their testimony given. If any one upon whose opinion the public would place any reliance had been found to express such an opinion, it has been given in ignorance of the orders under which I was acting during the day, or upon the assumption that such an order as the committee state I did receive was issued to me in the early part of the day. I have shown that no such order was issued, and that the second order that was issued was received at 2.25 p. m. In connection with this modified order it is necessary to state, that immediately in front of one of my divisions was a narrow valley, held on both sides by the enemy, and protected by abatis, and troops entering it were necessarily subjected to a fire from both sides. It is patent from an examination of this last roder, that so far from being an order to renew the attack upon the hill at Captain Hamilton's, it was a virtual abandonment of that attempt. I was not allowed the opportunity to examien those witnesses, nor to produce those I named to the committee, who were with me during the day, and who alone were sufficiently acquainted with all the facts to form a respectable opinion on the subject. But witnesses, whose names they have not given, the same committee submitted a report to the Senate on the 23rd of December last, containing the evidence taken by them on the 19th of that month, in which the testimony ode, taken immediately after the battle, is given. This has been printed by order of the Senate. From this document I make the following extract (referring to the battle of Fredericksburg):
Question (by comittee). What causes do you assign for the failure of your attack here?
Answer. It was found to be impossible to get the men up to the works; the enemy's fire was too hot for them; the whole command fought most gallantry; the enemy themselves say they never saw our men fight so hard as on that day.
Question. Were the enemy's works verys trong?
Answer. Their works are not strong works, but they occupy very strong positions. It is possible that the points of attack were wrongly ordered; if such is the case, I can only say I did to the best of my ability.
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Question. Do I understand you to say that you expected General Franklin to carry the point at the extreme left of the ridge in the rear of the town, and thereby enable our troops to storm and carry their fortifications?
Answer. I did expect him to carry that point, which being done would have placed our forces in rear of their extreme left, and which I thought at the time would shake their forces to such an extent that the position in front could be easily stormed and carried.
Question. To what do you attribute his failure to accomplish that?
Answer. To the great strength of the position and the accumulation of the enemy's forces there.