Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 185
James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
Page 185
heavy but, with regard to the army’s fighting power, this was a small matter in comparison with the loss in morale. Officers and soldiers, feeling that they had been put to a useless sacrifice, lost confidence in their commander. At a review of the Second Corps, Couch 1 and the division commanders called upon the men to give a cheer for their general; they rode along the lines waving their caps or swords but failed to elicit a single encouraging response. Some soldiers even gave vent to derisive cries. Indeed the demoralization of the army was complete. Officers resigned and great numbers of men deserted. 2  15
  The President was exceedingly perturbed 3 and depressed at the repulse before Fredericksburg, the responsibility for which he must share with his general since he had placed him in command. Nearly three months earlier, he had confessed to his Cabinet that he was losing his hold on the Northern people, which he knew, as we all now know, was the prime requisite of success. Since then he had suffered defeat at the ballot-box and in the field; and the defeat of his army was aggravated in the popular estimation by his mistaken change of generals. Had McClellan appeared to take command once more, those soldiers who had received Burnside so coldly would have rent the air with joyful shouts.  16
  When the full story of Fredericksburg became known, grief wrung the hearts of the Northern people at the useless sacrifice of so many noble lives. Gloom and despondency ensued, taking the religious tinge so common during our Civil War. An Ohio congressman spoke for many people in his diary, “It would almost seem that God works for the rebels and keeps alive their cause.” Some time earlier,
Note 1. Now commander of the Second Corps. [back]
Note 2. Contrariwise. General Meade, I,348. [back]
Note 3. Forbes, I,343. [back]


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