January 25

This Day in History

Civil War

Jan 25, 1863:

Union General Burnside relieved of command

On this day in 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside is removed as commander of the Army of the Potomac after serving in the role for two months.

Burnside assumed command of the army after President Abraham Lincoln removed General George B. McClellan from command in November 1862. Lincoln had a difficult relationship with McClellan, who built the army admirably but was a sluggish and overly cautious field commander.

Lincoln wanted an attack on the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, which was commanded by Robert E. Lee. Burnside drafted a plan to move south towards Richmond, Virginia. The plan was sound, but delays in its execution alerted Lee to the danger. Lee headed Burnside off at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13. Burnside attacked repeatedly against entrenched Confederates along Marye's Heights above Fredericksburg with tragic results for the Union. More than 13,000 Yankees fell; Lee lost just 5,000 troops. Northern morale sunk in the winter of 1862-1863.

Lincoln allowed Burnside one more chance. In January 1863, Burnside attempted another campaign against Lee. Four days of rain turned the Union offensive into the ignominious "Mud March," during which the Yankees floundered on mud roads while Lee's men jeered at them from across the Rappahannock River. Lincoln had seen enough--General Joseph Hooker took over command of the army from Burnside.

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This Week in History, Jan 25 - Jan 31

Jan 25, 1863
Burnside relieved of command
Jan 26, 1863
Joseph Hooker takes over the Army of the Potomac
Jan 27, 1862
Lincoln orders armies to advance
Jan 28, 1828
Thomas Hindman born
Jan 29, 1861
Kansas enters the Union
Jan 30, 1816
Nathaniel Banks born
Jan 31, 1865
House passes the 13th Amendment

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