- 22 Jan 2021 13:22
January 23, Friday
Another severe winter storm continues to buffet Virginia as General Burnside’s Federal army pulls back to Fredericksburg, the famed “mud march” a miserable failure. Predictably, Burnside’s officers condemn their commander for the fiasco. General Hooker outdoes them all, telling a newspaper correspondent that Burnside is incompetent and the Administration feeble. The country needs a dictator, Hooker says, and the sooner the better. Burnside feels, with some justification, that his subordinates have betrayed him, and Hooker’s outburst is more than he can stand. The enraged general writes out General Order No. 8, one of the most remarkable and intemperate documents in the annals of the US Army.
Burnside opens with a bitter indictment of Hooker. In nonstop legalistic language, Burnside charges the general with “unjust and unnecessary criticisms of the actions of his superior officers, and of the authorities, and having, by the general tone of his conversation, endeavored to create distrust in the minds of officers who have associated with him, and having, by omissions and otherwise, made reports and statements which were calculated to create incorrect impressions, and for habitually speaking in disparaging terms of other officers.” Burnside recommends that Hooker be dismissed from the service, “as a man unfit to hold an important commission during a crisis like the present, when so much patience, charity, confidence, consideration and patriotism are due from every soldier in the field.” Moreover, Burnside writes, Generals Franklin and Smith, and various other officers critical of his leadership—in particular Newton and Cochrane, whom Burnside has by now identified as the generals who had gone to Lincoln and stopped his initial beginning of this campaign—should be relieved, or dismissed from the service.
Of course, Burnside doesn’t have the authority to dismiss anyone from the Army without a court-martial—only the President does. An aide suggests to Burnside that Lincoln should see the inflammatory document before it is published.
There is skirmishing at Carthage, and on Bradyville Pike near Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and a scout by Federals January 23-27 from Fayetteville to Van Buren, Arkansas. Meanwhile, a Union expedition moves until February 1 from Beaufort, South Carolina, up the St. Mary’s River, in Georgia and Florida.
President Lincoln begins to draw up orders returning General Butler to New Orleans in place of General Banks. They will never be completed, and the action never taken.
Governments—and corporations—believe free speech is a marvelous thing, so long as “free” is defined as “responsible” and “responsible” is defined by them.
In the United States we privatize everything, including censorship.