On January 1, 1863, Burnside told the President that neither Stanton nor Halleck had the confidence of the officers and soldiers and in effect urged their removal, saying at the same time that he himself ought to retire to private life. Four days afterward by letter from his headquarters, he offered his resignation as Major-General, to which the President replied, I do not yet see how I could profit by changing the command of the Army of the Potomac.
Shortly after midnight of January 23, Burnside had an interview with the President, in which he asked him to approve an order dismissing Hooker from the military service of the United States on account of having been guilty of unjust and unnecessary criticisms of the action of his superior officers and of having made reports and statements which were calculated to create incorrect impressions and in short being a man unfit to hold an important commission during a crisis like the present. The order further punished by dismissal three brigadier-generals and relieved from duty Generals Franklin, W. F. Smith and a number of others. Approve this order, said Burnside, or accept my resignation as major-general. On the morning of January 25, the President summoned Stanton and Halleck to the White House and told them that he had decided to relieve Burnside and place Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac. He asked no advice from either and none was offered.1
Note 1. O. R., XXI, 941, 944, 954, 998, 1004, 1009; C. W., Pt. 1, 718. Burnside was persuaded to withdraw his resignation and the order therefore ran that he was relieved at his own request from the command of the Army of the Potomac. [back]