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THE ORGANIZATION OF THE NINTH CORPS.
ENERAL BURNSIDE'S first care after landing his troops, and seeing them comfortably bestowed, was to ascertain the condition of the Army of the Potomac, and to consult with General McClellan in regard to future operations. He found the army at Harrison's Landing in a somewhat broken condition after the severities of the campaign. He found the officers almost unanimous for the evacuation of the Peninsula, and the concentration of all the forces operating in Virginia in the neighborhood of Washington. He also found, that the best of feeling did not prevail at headquarters between General McClellan and General Halleck who had been appointed to the chief command of all the armies of the United States on the 11th of July. The correspondence between General McClellan and the Secretary of War was not conducted in the most friendly spirit, though there was no open breach. Of course, in such a state of affairs, a certain degree of partizanship prevailed in the army itself. The officers and men took sides-some for, some against their commanding gen
eral. The policy of the campaign had been somewhat freely discussed around the camp fires and at the Corps and Division headquarters. While some were enthusiastic in their support of their general, others were ready to go as far as the rules of the service would permit in condemnation of the plans and methods of the campaign. Coming from the harmony and concord of the Department of North Caroliua, General Burnside was as much pained as surprised, to perceive the existence of this spirit of petty jealousy and discord. He still indulged the hope, that the differences between General McClellan and the Secretary of War might be composed, that better counsels might prevail and that a blow might be struck against General Lee and his army, if not in the direction of Petersburg, then immediately towards Richmond itself. He did not wholly agree with the policy of evacuation. But, after long and anxious consultation with General McClellan at his headquarters, in company with Generals Halleck and Meigs, he found that General Halleck had determined upon the measure and was not to be moved from it. In the early part of August the step was finally resolved upon. It was about this time, that the offer of the command of the army of the Potomac was made to General Burnside, and was by him declined. He thought that General McClellan had hardly had a fair chance. The season had been one of extraordinary severity, as regarded the movements of troops. The heat had been intense, the rains almost constant. Terrible battles had been fought, and great losses had been suffered by disease. The plans of the campaign had been very seriously deranged by the diversion of General McDowell's corps in pursuit of General Jackson. The armies in Virginia had thus been separated, and General Lee taking advantage of the fact, attacked the right and rear of the Army of the Potomac with such violence as to force it from its base to the James river. Had General McDowell, instead of marching to Front Royal and its neighborhood, left General Fremont to take care of General Jackson, and hastened to Richmond, forming a junction with General McClellan and attacking
General Lee, the result might have been different. The place to defeat Jackson was not among the Bull Run mountains but in front of Richmond. Had the Secretary of War, who was then acting as general-in-chief, taken advantage of Jackson's diversion, and vigorously pushed McDowell forward, there can be but little question, that the raid down the Shenandoah would have been a most serious misfortune to the rebel army. As it happened, it was the defeat of all the plans and operations of our own generals. To give General McClellan his due, it certainly was not his fault, that General McDowell was not forced into the gap, and the rebel lines pierced, broken and destroyed. Thus reasoning, General Burnside pleaded that another opportunity might be given to the unfortunate commander of the Army of the Potomac, and General McClellan was accordingly retained.
But General Lee's movements now began to make the evacuation of the Peninsula a necessity. Major General John Pope on the 14th of July was put in command of our forces in Virginia north of General McClellan's position. He concentrated his army, to which was given the name of the Army of Virginia, and pushed boldly southward, declaring his intention to subsist upon the country through which he marched. He reached as far as Cedar Mountain, in Culpepper County, on the 9th of August, and had a sharp engagement with General Jackson without decisive results. General Lee was feeling our position. Contented to have forced General McClellan to the James, and leaving a small force in the intrenchments around Richmond, the commander of the Rebel army began a counter movement against Washington, which was now defended only by General Pope's Army of Virginia. To save that army and the capital itself, a junction must somehow be formed between the separate forces. It was decided to move General Burnside's command to Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg, and the Army of the Potomac to Aquia Creek and Alexandria, as seemed most convenient at the time. As soon as the forces joined, all the troops south of the Potomac were to be
placed under the command of General Pope. The consolidation would in effect, deprive General McClellan of a command in the field, and place General Burnside under the orders of his inferior in rank. But General Burnside knew no duty but obedience to the Government when his country was in peril, and cheerfully waived his own rank to assist General Pope in the extremely arduous campaign that was now opening before him.
Congress, in the last days of the session of 1861-'62, had passed a law authorizing the President "to establish and organize army corps at his discretion," and prescribing that the staff of the commander of each army corps should be "one assistant adjutant general, one quartermaster, one commissary of subsistence, and one assistant inspector general who should bear respectively the rank of lieutenant colonel; also three aides de camp-one to bear the rank of major and two to bear the rank of captain." This act was approved by the President and became a law, July 17, 1862. General Burnside on the 18th of July received authority to organize his command upon such a basis, and on the 22nd the organization was made and the NINTH ARMY CORPS took its place in the history of the war-a place unsullied by a single act of dishonor! Of the staff, Captain already promoted to Major Richmond, Captains Goodrich and Biggs were advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Captain Loring was appointed Assistant Inspector General with the same rank, and Captain Cutting was appointed Aide de Camp, with the rank of Major, their commissions dating from the day of the organization of the Corps. Three divisions were formed, under the command respectively of Generals Reno, Parke and Stevens. On the 26th General Burnside again visited General McClellan in company with General Halleck, and on his return made a flying journey to New York, where he remained for a single day and received a most cordial and enthusiastic reception. On the 30th he was at Washington, and on the next day he returned to Newport News, prepared to carry out his part of the contemplated move
ments with all needful promptitude. On the 2d of August, the Ninth Corps, numbering now nearly thirteen thousand men, embarked at Newport News, and on the night of the 3d landed at Aquia Creek, and proceeded immediately to Fredericksburg. General King's division of General McDowell's corps, that had been stationed there, was at once relieved and joined the Army of Virginia in the field. The Ninth Corps was engaged in holding Fredericksburg, and guarding the line of the Rappahannock, while General Pope was operating in the neighborhood of Culpepper Court House, and in the direction of Gordonsville. General Burnside's transports were immediately returned to the James River, to facilitate the removal of the Army of the Potomac. In the course of the ensuing week, five batteries of artillery and one regiment of cavalry were sent to Aquia Creek, as reënforcements to the troops on the Rappahannock, where the enemy was beginning to appear in force.
On the 3d of August, General Halleck ordered General McClellan to withdraw from the Peninsula. But the latter officer now began to make excuses and protests and to find occasions for delay. At one time there was no sufficient transportation. At another time there were great difficulties in removing the sick and wounded. Again, the army was not in condition to General Halleck became impatient, and at the same time somewhat alarmed. His dispatches breathed an acrimonious spirit, which vexed General McClellan and did not certainly dispose him to any extraordinary exertions. Meanwhile General Pope was embarrassed by the rapid movement General Jackson's corps, and pressed by the constantly accumulating forces of the enemy. The timely arrival of the Ninth Corps at Fredericksburg doubtless saved his left flank from being turned and his entire army from being cut off from its communications with the Potomac.
General Burnside returned to the Peninsula to assist General McClellan in expediting matters, and, by the night of the 15th, two corps were on the march for Yorktown, while other troops were embarking at Harrison's Landing. On the afternoon of