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valley and across the Potomac disturbed the plans of General McClellan to such an extent, as to make the Peninsula campaign a decided and manifest failure. General Jackson's movements threatened Washington, caused considerable consternation at the War Office, shook General McDowell's position at Fredericksburg, and, at a later period, recoiled on General McClellan with disastrous effect. Our officers in North Carolina awaited the course of events-since they could do nothing more--with as much patience as was compatible with the circumstances of the case.
Another month of inaction followed. The monotony of life in North Carolina was somewhat varied by a smart engagement which took place at Tranter's Creek about ten miles from Washington on the 5th of June. Eight companies of the 24th Massachusetts under Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Osborn, a squadron of Colonel Mix's cavalry and a battery of two steel Wiard guns under Lieutenant William B. Avery, manned by twenty-five men of the Marines, constituted our force. The enemy had cavalry and infantry, was attacked boldly and received a severe punishment. The affair was of short duration but was very creditable to the officers and men engaged in it. On the 10th, General Burnside visited General McClellan at his headquarters in front of Richmond. This visit gave to General Burnside some explanation of the inactivity of the Army of the Potomac. One cause at least existed in the condition of that section of the country. The roads were found to be in horrible condition. The almost continuous rains of the preceding months had made almost the entire Peninsula like a vast morass. Even an enterprising general would have found it difficult, amid such circumstances, to satisfy the hopes of the country.
Another event of more personal than general interest was the presentation of the sword, voted by the General Assembly of Rhode Island, to General Burnside in recognition of the services rendered by him at the commencement of his campaign. The weapon and its appurtenances were exceedingly
elegant in design and finish, and happily illustrated the good taste of the manufacturer and the generosity of the State. Adjutant General E. C. Mauran was designated by the Governor of Rhode Island to present the sword, and he, in company with Captain Henry Bedlow, left Providence on the 2d day of June for Newbern. The presentation was made on the 20th, and the pageant is described by those who witnessed it in enthusiastic terms. The garrison of Newbern, all the Rhode Island troops in the Department and others that could readily be spared from their posts, were concentrated at Newbern. About eight thousand were in attendance. A grand review took place; and amidst the waving of banners, the inspiriting notes of martial music, and in the presence of a large multitude of spectators, the ceremony of presentation was performed. Congratulatory and very felicitous addresses were gracefully and eloquently pronounced on both sides, and a banquet, attended by all the officers present in the city, closed the festivities of the day. The honor, thus worthily conferred and modestly received, found readiest response in the hearts of the officers and men of the army in North Carolina, who attested, by long continued cheering and other demonstrations of joy, their appreciation of the compliment thus paid to their beloved commander.
But this concentration and review of troops had other purposes than those of display and compliment. General Burnside, weary of his long enforced quiet, had determined upon a movement into the interior. His supplies had been collected, his means of transportation prepared, his cavalry well trained for service, and his troops eager for marching orders. He proposed to strike at Goldsboro'. The most encouraging accounts had been received of General McClellan's operations towards Richmond, and hopes were entertained of the triumphant close of the campaign—and the war. With the communications cut, and the line of retreat obstructed, it was expected that the rebel Army of Northern Virginia would fall an easy prey to the victorious Army of the Potomac. The last days of June therefore
were devoted to the work of final preparation, and, on the 30th, orders were issued for the immediate movement of the troops. But the next morning, an order was received to reënforce General McClellan without delay. The order occasioned some surprise and considerable apprehension for the safety of the Army of the Potomac. It was immediately obeyed, and the troops were embarked. But now came another sudden turn of affairs. Colonel Hawkins at Roanoke Island had heard, through certain sources of information which he deemed trustworthy, that General McClellan had achieved a magnificent success, had driven out the enemy from Richmond and had occupied that city with his army. On the 2d of July, this information was transmitted from Colonel Hawkins to General Burnside, who at once stopped his contemplated voyage to the James River, expecting to receive orders to resume his land movements.
The information received, however, had no foundation in fact.. Colonel Hawkins had been deceived. What was really true was, that General Lee's entire army had fallen upon General McClellan with great fury, and had forced him from his position in front of Richmond. The army of the Potomac was struggling in the memorable and disastrous “ seven days' fight," and at last succeeded, on the night of the 3d of July, in reaching Harrison's Landing. Vague reports of these disastrous days reached General Burnside on the 4th. The enemy was careful to put them in exaggerated and discouraging forms. But General Burnside, still hopeful, was not willing to believe that the brave Army of the Potomac was yet annihilated. He knew that that could not be, and he did not entirely credit the intelligence even of the enemy's decisive victory. What he did believe is best expressed in the language which he used, in addressing the Secretary of War, on the 5th : “ We have Richmond papers giving information, or rather their version of the events up to ten o'clock of the night of the 1st. After making due allowance for the exaggerations, we are led to believe that General McClellan has made a successful retreat to
some point on the James River nearly opposite City Point, thereby securing a new and better base of operations, in which case he can, I imagine, after resting his army and receiving proper reënforcements, work his way up the James to Richmond.” In this communication to the Secretary, General Burnside submits three propositions for the disposal of his own command, which sufficiently indicate his ideas of the situation : “ First, we can move with 7,000 Infantry (which were started the other day for the James River) at once ;-at the same time holding with tolerable security all the points now in our possession, together with the railroad from this place to Beaufort. Second, or we can send 8,000 Infantry and hold all these points, but cannot protect either the railroad or Beaufort. The latter, huwever, can be protected by the navy, while we hold Fort Macon. This move will require two days' notice. Third, or we can move from here with from three to five days' notice with the entire command, except the garrisons for Hatteras Inlet, Fort Macon and Roanoke Island, placing our sick at the latter place and leaving this place to be protected by the navy. This would involve the dismantling of the two very strong forts on the outskirts of the city. We can thus add to the Army of the Potomac a force of 11,500 Infantry, one regiment of Cavalry, 20 pieces of light Artillery, and, if necessary one hundred wagons and a supply of ambulances, all in good condition. All these propositions presuppose that the rebel army at Richmond is still occupied at that place by the establishment of the Army of the Potomac at some point on James River near City Point. If such is the case, General McClellan would, I imagine, cut off the enemy's communications with North Carolina by taking Petersburg, thus rendering it unnecessary for the present to cut the two lines in the interior of the State."
The first proposition was evidently that which seemed most feasible to General Burnside himself, and also to the Secretary of War; for on the very day upon which the communication above referred to was dated, the troops-eight thousand in number—began to leave Newbern for the James River. They
all arrived and were landed at Newport News on the 8th. In the course of the next two weeks, this force was joined by a small division from Hilton Head and its neighborhood, under the command of Brigadier General Isaac I. Stevens. Not far from twelve thousand men were thus collected at Newport News, available for a reënforcement of the Army of the Potomac, and for further operations against Richmond, if such were deemed advisable by the Government. But this force was without cavalry, artillery, wagons, or teams, and had for means of transportation by land only a few ambulances and the officers' horses. General Burnside's headquarters were board the small steamer Alice Price.
This departure from Newbern terminated, in effect, General Burnside's connection with military operations in North Carolina. He still retained a nominal authority there, but he never returned to a personal supervision of affairs in that quarter. He finally relinquished all jurisdiction in the Department on the 26th of August, and General Foster succeeded to the vacant command. General Burnside's farewell order was dated from Fredericksburg, and bore witness to the harmony and reciprocal good will which had so eminently characterized the conduct of affairs in North Carolina, and which had contributed so fully to the brilliant successes which had been there achieved.
Major General John G. Foster, who succeeded General Burnside in the command of the Department of North Carolina, had already won for himself a brilliant reputation. He had been for a considerable time in the service of the country, and had always been found to be a faithful and skilful officer. He was born in New Hampshire, in the year 1824, and was appointed from that State to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from the Academy in 1816, the fourth in rank in a class of fifty-nine. Among his classmates were McClellan, Reno, Seymour, Sturgis and Stoneman, of the loyal service, and “Stonewall" Jackson, Wilcox and Pickett, of the rebel army. He was commissioned as brevet