James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  it rained incessantly, rendering the roads deep with mud and any movement impossible. But the interference of the elements was most undoubtedly to the advantage of the Union side; for an attack of Burnside’s demoralized soldiers on Lee’s compact and devoted army would have been merely a further wanton sacrifice of men. Carl Schurz wrote from the army to the President: “I am convinced the spirit of the men is systematically demoralized and the confidence in their chief systematically broken by several of the commanding-generals. I have heard generals, subordinate officers and men say they expect to be whipped anyhow, ‘that all these fatigues and hardships are for nothing and that they might as well go home.’ Add to this, that the immense army is closely packed together in the mud, that sickness is spreading at a frightful rate, that, in consequence of all these causes of discouragement, desertion increases every day—and you will not be surprised if you see the army melt away with distressing rapidity.” 1  18   The disaster of Fredericksburg brought about a Cabinet crisis as it is called by the contemporary authorities in conformity with English political phraseology. But the procedure when a national calamity calls for prompt administrative action reveals a difference between the English and American constitutions. Lincoln was the head of the Administration, the Commander-in-Chief of the army, and, if anyone other than Burnside was responsible for the defeat on the Rappahannock, it was he. So declared the Democrats without reserve. The Republicans, too, in private conversation and confidential letters, expressed the same conviction, although in public they were cautious and reticent. If the American Government had been like
Note 1. Schurz, Speeches, etc., 1,221. [back]