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creditable thing; and I also consider the retreat, under the circumstances, as very creditable. There was not a gun or anything else lost. The entire army returned without an accident.
I would like to add here, because it was almost the only occasion where the general commanding and myself have differed in regard to any point, that I did not wish to relinquish Fredericksburg. I thought we could have held it with a single division by posting our batteries right. It would not have been giving up an expedition, but simply a change of tactics. That is the way in which I viewed it; that we would just be drawing back a little in order to try it again. I was therefore strongly in favor of holding Fredericksburg; others were not. Perhaps I was the only general officer of rank who was of that opinion. I thought it would present a better and a different appearance if we continued to hold the town. We could have commanded it at any time with our artillery, and we can do so now. I do not think there was any danger or difficulty in holding it. But I may have been mistaken.
Question. Do you know any reason why the pontoon bridges did not arrive earlier ?
Answer. I do not. Question. You know nothing upon that subject? Answer. I do not. I expected, as a matter of course, to find them here when I came, or very soon afterwards.
Question. If you had found them here, as you expected, what would, in your opinion, have been the result?
Answer. I should have taken the crest in rear of the town on that night or the following day. Not considering Fredericksburg as being of any consequence, except as being on the road to Richmond. I should have passed through the town and taken possession of the crest.
Question. Are there any fords above here which might have been crossed ?
Answer. There are several fords on this river, and in the summer time two or three of them would be practicable, perhaps.
Question. I mean were there any practicable fords at the time you did cross; and if so, where were they?
Answer. There is a rough cavalry ford down by the upper bridge at Falmouth, where horsemen sometimes go over. But that ford depends upon the tide, which rises above this town. The tide was in when I arrived here, which was in the afternoon. The tide was then receding, and a citizen told me that it would not be possible to get anything over the ford until after dark. That ford is represented to me as being a deep ford, with deep holes in it. Men can skip from rock to rock-a few men at the time. But there are occasionally deep holes, from six to eight feet deep. Such a ford would never be considered practicable for marching troops over.
Question. What reasons do you assign for not crossing either above or below where the enemy have fortified ?
Answer. The reason was this: we did not attempt to turn their left flank, because there is there a slack-water navigation taken out of the river some two miles above here, and brought into the basin at the upper end of the town. That runs along at a considerable distance from the Rappahannock. In making a movement to turn the enemy's left flank, if a force had been sent up between the river and the canal, the canal would have to be crossed, and to do so it would be necessary to bridge it. The only way to have made that movement would have been to have gone entirely on the left of that canal, and that would have exposed the troops all the way up to a fire upon their flank from the batteries, which had been erected all along up there, without ours being able to return the fire at all.
Question. In regard to the condition of the army since the battle, is it demoralized any more than by the loss of that number of men ?
Answer. I think it is.
Answer. It is difficult to describe it any other way than by saying there is a great deal too much croaking ; there is not sufficient confidence.
Question. What number of men, or about what number, do you suppose were engaged on our side on the day of battle?
The witness : Under fire, do you mean?
Answer. I should think there were hardly 50,000 men under fire. When I say that 50,000 men were all that were under fire, I would say that I do not consider the reserves beyond musketry fire as being exactly troops under fire.
Question. What was the whole number of our forces over the river ?
Answer. I should suppose there must have been about men; and the difference between that number and the number actually under fire was held in reserve.
Question. From the best light that you have, what do you estimate to have been the force of the enemy?
Answer. I thought that our forces were about equal.
Question, At what do you estimate our loss to be, in killed, wounded, and missing?
Answer. I think 10,000 will cover our whole loss. It has been stated as over that number ; but those things are always exaggerated.
Question. At what do you estimate the loss of the enemy?
Answer. A great deal less than our own, from the fact that they were covered by their works.
Question. In your judgment, as a military man, were there any faults or mistakes in bringing on or conducting that attack?
Answer. I think not. The general commanding conferred a great deal with me about it. If he made a mistake, I made one too ; for I certainly approved the steps, one by one, that he took. As regards the responsibility for ordering the attack, I do not know what orders the general commanding may have received from Washington. He, however, told me that he had received a telegram from the President that he did not wish the army sacrificed. I think myself I would have made but a single attack. Instead of making two attacks I would have made but one, massing everything upon that. But that is a point upon which military men may differ.
By Mr. Gooch : Question. Did the commanders of the grand division concur, all of them, so far as you know, in the movement that was made? Answer. I do not know ; but I presume they did.
By the chairman : Question. What is your opinion of the general condition and efficiency of the army since the battle?
Answer. I consider that within a few days, with sufficient exertion, this army will be in excellent order again.
DECEMBER 19, 1862. Major General William B. FRANKLIN sworn and examined.
By the chairman : Question. You have seen the resolution of the Senate under which this committee are now acting. Will you go on and state, in your own way, what you deem it necessary to state?
Answer. I do not recollect the precise time, but it was just before we moved from Warrenton, General Halleck and General Meigs came down there and had a conference with General Burnside. The result of that conference, as I understood it, was that General Burnside was to move this army from Warrenton and that vicinity to Fredericksburg, and so across the river here. As an important part of that movement, I understood from General Burnside that when the advance of his army arrived in front of Fredericksburg, a pontoon train, enough to build two bridges, was to meet him there. I know the advance of the army did arrive at Fredericksburg at the proper time, but there was no pontoon train to meet it there, and in consequence of that the army could not cross at the time we expected to cross. We were therefore delayed several days in consequence of the delay in the arrival of the pontoon train.
After arriving here we accumulated provisions for twelve days ; then General Burnside called a council, in which it was the unanimous opinion, I think, of all the generals present, that if this river could be crossed it ought to be crossed, no matter what might happen afterwards. The point of crossing was not then definitely determined upon; but I thought at the time that we were to cross several miles further down.
Afterwards General Burnside called us together again, and informed us that he had determined to cross at the two points at which we finally did cross. I had no objection to that, but thought they were as good as the point further down. I knew nothing at all, in fact, about the defences on the other side; it was not my business to know anything about them. I think the arrangements for the crossing were all well made. At the same time, I always doubted our power to cross ; and I do not believe we could have crossed had the enemy chosen to prevent it. And I know, from what I have seen since and what I before suspected, that they could have prevented our crossing at those two points if they had chosen.
However, as the committee know, the crossing was successfully made under cover of a fog, and, as far as my wing was concerned, we got into position safely, with the loss of a very few men. Still we were in such a position that if the enemy had at any moment opened upon us with the guns they had bearing upon us, I think that in the course of an hour our men would have been so scattered that it would have been impossible to rally them. For some unaccountable reason they did not open their batteries.
On the morning of the 13th instant I made the attack, according to the order of General Burnside. I put in all the troops that I thought it proper and prudent to put in. I fought the whole strength of my command as far as I could, and at the same time keep my connexion with the river open. The reason that we failed was, that we had not troops enough to carry the points where the attack was made under the orders that were given. After we were pressed back, I directed that a position should be held as far in advance as it was possible to hold it, and I brought up all the troops I had in reserve to hold that position. I held that position until I was ordered to recross the river. And from what I knew of our want of success on the right, and the demoralized condition of the troops on the right and centre, as represented to me by their commanders, I confess that I believe the order
to recross was a very proper one.
We recrossed on the night of the 15th, without the loss of a man, and with no trouble at all at our wing.
By Mr. Gooch : Question. Had the pontrons been here at the time of the arrival of the army what would probably have been the result?
Answer. The probable result would have been that the army-as much of it as General Burnside supposed necessary-would have immediately crossed the river, driving away the enemy here, perhaps 500 or 1,000 men; and they would have occupied those very heights which we have since been obliged to attack; and that crossing would have been permanent and successful.
Question. Do you know on whom rests the responsibility of the delay in the arrival of the pontoons?
Answer. I do not, officially.
Question. What, in your opinion, is the number of your killed, wounded, and missing:
Answer. I think it will amount to about ten thousand altogether.
Question. Do I understand you to say that you concurred in the movement to cross the river ?
Answer. It was not my opinion that we could cross at any of the points indicated.
Question. Will you state whether or not it is your opinion that if the movement of the army from Warrenton had been delayed until the time the pontoons arrived here the army could have then come here, and with those pontoons have made a crossing here and occupied the heights before the enemy could have reached here in sufficient force to have prevented it?
Answer. Yes, sir; that is my opinion,
Question. Then it is your opinion that if it had been ascertained that the pontoons could not possibly be here at the time General Burnside expected them to be here, he should have been notified of the time when they could be here, so that he might make the movements of his army correspond with the time when the pontoons could be here?
Answer. That is my opinion.
Question. What is the condition of the army now as to its efficiency? Is its efficiency impaired other than by the loss of so many men, or is it demoralized by the recent disasters?
Answer. I think it is not demoralized at all—that is, so far as my own wing is concerned, I know it is not.
Question. After the crossing had been made, was it possible, in your opinion, for our troops to have carried the heights, or to have held our position upon the other side so as to have derived any advantage from it?
Answer. It is my opinion that if, instead of making two real attacks, our whole force had been concentrated on our left—that is, our available forceand the real attack had been made there, and merely a feint made upon the right, we might have carried the heights. I think we could have carried them. Whether the army would have achieved a success by that I cannot say. I do not mean to say that the mere carrying of the heights would have secured our success. I do not know what was behind them, or how much of a force the enemy had there. I know that wherever we appeared we found a great many more men than we had. I would like to impress as firmly upon the committee as firmly as it is impressed upon my mind the fact that this whole disaster has resulted from the delay in the arrival of the pontoon bridges. Whoever is responsible for that delay is responsible for all the disasters which have followed. We were utterly astonished when
we came down here to find that Sumner had been here for some days, and had not received the pontoon bridges. I think that is the main cause for this disaster.
Question. Do you know what the expectation was as to the pontoons being here on the arrival of the first army corps that should get here? Was it expected that the pontoons would be here?
Answer. Certainly it was expected that they would be here.
Question. What was that corps to have done if the pontoons had been here?
Answer. That corps was to have crossed at once and taken possession of the heights. If the pontoons had been here there would have been very little difficulty in doing that.
DECEMBER 19, 1862. Brigadier General D. P. WOODBURY sworn and examined.
By Mr. Gooch:
Answer. I am brigadier general, and have charge of the engineer brigade, consisting of the 15th and 50th regiments of New York volunteers.
Question. Uad you any connexion with the forwarding of the pontoons to be used in crossing the river from Falmouth to Fredericksburg ? If so, state all the knowledge you have on that subject, what orders you received, what you did, and any conversations you had, if any, with General Halleck, Burnside, or any other officer your superior.
Answer. On the morning of November 13 I received the following telegram from General Halleck:
“ WARRENTON, November 12—7.10 p. m. “Call upon the chief quartermaster, Colonel Rucker, to transport all your pontoons and bridge materials to Aquia creek. Colonel Belger has been ordered to charter and send one hundred barges to Alexandria.
“H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief. "Brigadier General WOODBURY,
“Engineer Brigade, 19th and F streets, Washington.” At that time there were only twelve serviceable pontoons in Washington, all the others being in bridges at Harper's Ferry and Berlin, about six miles below Harper's Ferry.
I immediately ordered Major Spaulding, 50th New York, detached from my command, and in charge of the bridges above referred to, "to take up all the bridges and return all the pontoon property immediately to the Eastern Branch."
Major Spaulding himself arrived in Washington on the night of the 13th, in pursuance of another order, as will appear below.
On the 14th I received the two following telegrams from General Burnside, through Lieutenant Comstock, chief engineer:
“WARRENTON, VA., November 14, 1862. “On November 6 Captain Spaulding was directed to move bridge material from Berlin to Washington, and mount at once one complete bridge train in Washington. Is that train ready to move, with horses and everything needed supplied ? If not, how long before it will be ready?
“C. B. COMSTOCK,
"Lieutenant of Engineers."