James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
his own until dark and three hours later his confidence was only a little shaken; but by midnight he had reached a state of demoralization, which revealed itself in his famous Savage Station despatch to the Secretary of War. I now know the full history of the day, he wrote. On this side of the river (the right bank) we repulsed several strong attacks. On the left bank our men did all that men could do, all that soldiers could accomplish but they were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, even after I brought my last reserves into action. The loss on both sides is terrible. The sad remnants of my men behave as men. I have lost this battle because my force was too small. I feel too earnestly to-night. I have seen too many dead and wounded comrades to feel otherwise than that the government has not sustained this army. If you do not do so now the game is lost. If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or to any other persons in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this army.
The news was a terrible blow to the President. His finely equipped army costing such a tale of treasure and labor, had gone forth with high hope of conquest and bearing, so it seemed, the fate of the Union, on its shoulders; now it was defeated and in serious danger of destruction or capture. This calamity the head of the nation must face, and he failed not. Overlooking the spirit of insubordination in his generals despatch, he sent him a reply as wise as it was gentle. With equal forbearance and circumspection he offered the most charitable explanation possible of the disaster. Save your army at all events, he wrote. Will send reinforcements as fast as we can. I feel any misfortune to you and your army quite as keenly as you feel it yourself. If you have had a drawn battle or a repulse, it is the price we pay for the enemy not being in Washington. We protected