Although McClellan had received orders to follow Lee and meet him in another battle, there was considerable delay. The Northern people, who eagerly read the war news published in the newspapers, grew very impatient, and now asked that another, less cautious, general should be put in command of the Army of the Potomac. General Burnside was therefore chosen, and he immediately attacked the Confederates who were entrenched at Fredericksburg. Here, in spite of the great courage they showed, the Union troops were beaten with great slaughter.
During this battle the Union army tried to storm the hill where a battery stood, and were mowed down like ripe grain by the deadly fire poured upon them by the Confederates entrenched behind a big stone wall. Six times the Union soldiers tried to dislodge their foes, but all in vain. The news of this awful battle, and of the loss of life it occasioned, caused great mourning throughout the country. When it reached Washington, Lincoln, who suffered keenly whenever he heard of loss of life and defeat, bitterly cried: “If there is any man out of perdition that suffers more than I do, I pity him.”