Thursday, November 15, 2012

General Burnside's Pivotal Decision

Saturday, November 15, 1862

On the same day that General Sumner began his advance toward Falmouth, General Ambrose Burnside received a telegraph from Washington informing him that the pontoon bridges necessary to cross the Rappahannock River from Falmouth to Fredericksburg would not be ready for transport until Sunday or Monday, and that only one pontoon bridge would be sent. Other bridges would be transported at a later time upon request by General Burnside. Although General Burnside realized that his army would arrive at Falmouth before the pontoon bridges would be available, and that the arrival of the Army of the Potomac on the Falmouth side of the Rappahannock River would telegraph his intentions to the Confederate Army, he made a pivotal decision to allow his army to continue their advance to Falmouth.1

1George A. Bruce, The Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1861 - 1865 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1906), 185-6.

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