January 16, 1863: Yesterday, Gen. Burnside has formulated a new plan to respond to President Lincoln’s latest urging that the Army of the Potomac should do something. His new plan: to march upstream along the Rappahannock and cross that river and the Rapidan and fall on Lee’s left flank.
---David Lane, a soldier of the 17th Michigan Infantry writes home to his wife:
My poor, wounded, suffering wife; what could have put such thoughts into your mind? Have you not always been the most tender, the most loving, of wives? Have you not always been by my side to advise, assist, uphold and sustain me? Have you not watched over me, in sickness and in health, and nursed me with more than a mother’s tenderness? Have you not borne poverty without a murmur for my sake; and still, as a wife, you are a failure? Oh, banish such thoughts from your mind, for, I do assure you, they come of an over-sensitive imagination. You say you have always been a clog to my feet. No, no! I have been my own clog. . . . But, dear, I have no regrets. My life has been happy beyond the lot of most men, and what, my beloved, has made it so? Certainly not the pleasures of wealth or honors conferred by man. What, then, but the never failing, self-sacrificing power of love which you have always lavished on your husband that has bound him to you with cords stronger than bands of steel? The only things I craved when I was sick were the tender accents of your voice and your dear hand upon my brow.
There seems to be a bond of sympathy between us that knows no bounds—is not confined by space. Many times since I left home have I visited you, or received your visits, and the impression left was that of reality. Last night, after I retired to rest—before 1 went to sleep, for the boys were gathered around the fire and I could hear their jests and laughter—I held your hands in both of mine, trying to comfort and console you, and it was real as reality itself.
---Horatio Nelson Taft, of the U.S. Patent Office, writes in his journal, speculating on the status of the war, and feeling apparently very uncertain about the Union’s progress:
Washington Friday Jan’y 16th 1863
Rumors today of a movement of the Army of the Potomac. It is believed to be a good time for it. The Rebels have undoubtedly been sending off a portion of their Army to Tennessee and N Carolina and I think our army will cross the River above Fredericksburgh, but perhaps below. More Battles and more killed and wounded, more pain and suffering. But perhaps the War is but just begun. We can and will fight for years for the preservation of the Union, if necessary, if our finances are put in a good condition. That is or seems to be now the worst feature of the business. But the Rebels must be much the worst off in that respect. We have at any rate got the most men and the most money and can stand the War the longest time.