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The current issue of America’s Civil War magazine features a cover story co-authored by St. Bonaventure University journalism professor Chris Mackowski.
“Burnside’s Bleak Midwinter” discusses the poor state of the Union Army of the Potomac during 1862-63.
“General Ambrose Burnside led the Union army to disaster at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862,” Mackowski says. “The month that followed saw desertions reach an all-time high and the morale of the soldiers reach an all-time low. Burnside nearly destroyed the army not on the battlefield but by not taking care of them in the camps.”
Mackowski and co-author Albert Conner Jr. call that period the “Valley Forge winter” of the Army of the Potomac. Their forthcoming book, “Seizing Destiny “(Savas Beatie, 2013), details the story of the army as it struggled to survive.
“Valley Forge winter” is a reference to the Revolutionary War. In 1777, the Continental Army faced a similar nadir in fortunes during its stay in Valley Forge, Pa., outside Philadelphia. Army commander George Washington turned around the army’s fortunes that winter, and the army finally emerged, in the springtime, a reinvented fighting unit.
The Army of the Potomac faced a similar crisis during the Civil War. Only after Burnside was replaced by Major General Joseph Hooker was the army able to survive its “Valley Forge.” Hooker led successful efforts to recuperate and reenergize the army.
America’s Civil War magazine is one of the most widely read publications on the Civil War, with a circulation of nearly 80,000.
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