Burnside was not to enjoy a full month of uninterrupted relaxation. He had no sooner arrived in Providence, shed of most of his staff officers, than William Sprague asked the Rhode Island legislature to honor him with the hospitality of the state, including an invitation to address the joint houses of the general court. The representatives of a state short on prominent men lost no time: they adopted the official resolution within twenty-four hours, much to the discomfort of the shy fellow they meant to honor. 1

Nor was the general's leisure encumbered solely by such public plaudits. His railroad paperwork had been piling up (in fact, this had been the nominal purpose of his leave of absence), and the Committee on the Conduct of the War wanted to hear more from him. Accompanied by Molly, Burnside returned to Washington and appeared in the committee chambers on February 7.

This time the congressmen were specifically interested in the difficulties Burnside had encountered with subordinates after Fredericksburg--particularly any who might have gone to the president behind his back. Burnside hesitated to blame or criticize individuals, not so much for the damage it might do to their reputations as to avoid further erosion of public confidence in men who still served in the army. Chairman Ben Wade assured him the committee would make nothing public that might have such a negative effect; Burnside therefore went into the matter of General Order Number 8 and its causes, a subject he still con


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