Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 9, 1862 (Tuesday): Burnside Prepares

Fredericksburg to Port Royal (Google Earth)

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, December 9, 1862-11.30 p.m.     GENERAL: All the orders have been issued to the several commanders of grand divisions and heads of departments for an attempt to cross the river on Thursday morning. The plans of the movement are somewhat modified by the movements of the enemy, who have been concentrating in large force opposite the point at which we originally intended to cross. I think now that the enemy will be more surprised by a crossing immediately in our front than in any other part of the river. The commanders of grand divisions coincide with me in this opinion, and I have accordingly ordered the movement, which will enable us to keep the force well concentrated, at the same time covering our communications in the rear. I am convinced that a large force of the enemy is now concentrated in the vicinity of Port Royal, its left resting near Fredericksburg, which we hope to turn. We have an abundance of artillery, and have made very elaborate preparations to protect the crossings. The importance of the movement and the details of the plan seem to be well understood by the grand division commanders, and we hope to succeed.
     If the General-in-Chief desires it, I will send a minute statement by telegraph in cipher to-morrow morning. The movement is so important that I feel anxious to be fortified by his approval. Please answer.*

    Major-General, Commanding.

*This dispatch, except the last two words, was also sent to General Halleck. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 64.

Halleck's response to this message was succinct, "I beg of you not to telegraph details of your plans, nor the times of your intended movements. No secret can be kept which passes through so many hands."  The point referred to at which the Union forces originally intended to cross was at Skinker's Neck

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