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