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Whittaker, Frederick, 1838-1889 / A complete life of Gen. George A. Custer: Major-General of Volunteers; Brevet Major-General, U.S. Army; and Lieutenant-Colonel, Seventh U.S. Calvery

Chapter III. The cavalry corps,   pp. [141]-152

Page [141]

                 THBECAVALRY CORPS.
T   HE winter of 1862-3 was a period of great gloom for the
     -whole of the U-nited States, and perhaps for none more
than young Captain; Custer, "awaiting orders" that did not
come, and kept, like his chiefs in forced retirement. At no
period of the- war were the national spirits so low, for the year
had closed on the crowning disaster of Fredericksburg, where
thousands of brave soldiers had been uselessly slaughtered. At
that time too, the opposition party, in and out of Congress, was
exceedingly strong, and this party at once took up McClellan
as their representative, and exulted over every new disaster to
the Army of the Potomac, as an evidence that no one but its
first leader could ever conduct it to victory.
   Every city of the north was full of deserters, who at that
time numbered over a hundred thousand, and a very large pro-
portion of these were from the Army of the Potomac. Num-
bers of officers who belonged to the McClellan faction resigned
their commissions in disgust, and went home to spread dissatis-
faction, so that, when Hooker was finally appointed third com-
mander of the much abused army, he found it a jarring mass
of discontented bodies, instead of the homogeneous whole it
had once been, under McClellan.
    It was, however, to the hard work and enthusiasm of this,
"its third commander, that the Army of the Potomac was yet to
owe the first victory of a series that was never afterwards
broken by positive disaster. Hooker reorganized it effectivelyr.
A very different army it was from that which triumphed at

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