Explain soldiers' feeling towards Burnside in Across Five Aprils.Chapter 8

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The soldiers' feeling towards Burnside is captured clearly in the understated ending of Shadrach's letter in Chapter 8.  Shadrach says,

"I should not like to live with Ambrose Burnside's thoughts - though one wonders if his conscience is not protected by a thick covering of stubborn self-righteousness.  Need I say that the men in the Army of the Potomac do not cheer General Burnside?"

Perhaps because of a determination "to show action and confidence where McClellan (whom he replaced) had shown hesitancy and uncertainty", Burnside stubbornly sent "wave after wave of men...up the slopes of a chain of hills from the tops of which...entrenched Confederates mowed the Federals down until the ground was piled high with blue-clad bodies".  According to rumor, the General would have rashly sent even more soldiers to a certain and futile death had he not been talked out of it by wiser subordinates.  Shadrach himself was a member of the countless ranks sent "scrambling up the innocent-looking wooded hills", and was one of the few who lived to tell about it, unlike the

"thousands of young men whose dreams and hopes were snuffed out in a second and who will be remembered only as simple soldiers who fell in a cruel, futile battle directed by men who can hardly be called less than murderers".

I don't think it would be too strong to say that the men hated Burnside; their feelings of bitterness were obviously more than justified by the action of the man who treated their lives with such utter disregard (Chapter 8).

Read the study guide:
Across Five Aprils

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question