A Change at the Top

The men of the Fourteenth Connecticut marched through the town of Warrenton, Virginia on Saturday, November 8th. The day before they had seen the first snow of the season. It was also on the 8th the men learned that President Lincoln had relieved Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of duty and elevated Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside to command of the Army of the Potomac.

Gen. McClellan reviewed the troops at Warrenton for a final time. Sgt. Benjamin Hirst reported, “I saw warriors weep as he rode by, while hats and caps were thrown high in the air by the men and officers.” Their beloved general was gone and few of the men had any confidence in his replacement. Gen. Burnside himself protested to President Lincoln that he was not the right man for the job.

The men camped near Warrenton until November 15th. Two days of marching brought them to Falmouth, directly across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, where Sgt. Hirst penned this interesting entry in his journal: “I had a talk with a native Butternut. He told me there were not over 300 Rebels over the river at Fredericksburg and there was a good ford just below the dam. Our division of the 2nd Corps was in the advance and we fully expected to be ordered across and secure the city. Gen. Sumner and his staff had a talk at the head of the column, which resulted in our camping where we were.”

Once again, failure of commanders to sieze the initiative would cost the army dearly, and many, many more men would lose their lives or be greivously wounded.

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