James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
into account the great ability of the commander whom they opposed. By the last week of November, Burnside, with his army 113,000 strong, was on the north bank of the Rappahannock river opposite Fredericksburg where Lee had 72,000. Burnside proposed to cross the river and strike at the enemy in his chosen, strong position. No movement could have given Lee greater satisfaction. The night before the battle, Burnside was bewildered as he found himself committed to a greater undertaking than he had the ability and the nerve to carry through. Contrary to his habit of mind, he became headstrong, irritable, and rash; in a muddled sort of way, he thought out the semblance of a plan and gave a confused order for an attack by his left which, in the manner of its execution was certain to fail. His right with even greater madness he sent forward to a useless butchery. These regiments retiring slowly and in good order, many of the soldiers singing and hurrahing, ended the battle. The Confederate loss was 5309, the Union 12,653.
Next day Burnside was wild with grief. Oh, those men! those men over there! he wailed, pointing across the river where lay the dead and wounded. I am thinking of them all the time. In his frenzy he conceived a desperate plan. He thought of putting himself at the head of his old corps, the Ninth, and leading them in person in an assault on the Confederates behind the stone wall, from which they had done such deadly execution on the soldiers of his right. Generals Sumner, Franklin and a number of corps and division commanders dissuaded him from this undertaking, and, on the night of December 15, during a violent storm of rain and wind, he successfully withdrew his army to the north side of the river.