Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/379

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dier-General William F. Smith. The army and the grand-division and army-corps headquarters were all in prominent positions and were readily recognized by flags and other signs, so that it was easy for me to make my way to them. I first proceeded to General Burnside's headquarters, which consisted of a group of tents next to a large dwelling called, I believe, the Lacy house, the home of a planter of that name. The Commanding-general had shunned it, and was setting the good example of camping. General Parke received me politely and readily countersigned my pass, but put me under strict injunction not to write anything about the position, strength, and condition of the army. I learned that, two days before, a meeting of the President and General Burnside had taken place at Acquia Creek, in the afternoon, on the boat in which the President had come from Washington, and lasted several hours, Mr. Lincoln returning immediately afterwards to Washington. I ascertained the purport of his flying visit after my return to Washington, and may as well mention here that it was to dissuade Burnside from a direct attack on the enemy in his obviously very strong position on the heights of Fredericksburg. But the President found the General stolidly bent on making the attempt to defeat Lee where he was. Nicolay and Hay relate that, on his way back to Washington, Lincoln prepared a memorandum for a flanking movement, which he allowed Halleck and Burnside, however, to overrule.

I next sought General Hooker. I had never met him and was, of course, eager to see and take my own measure of “Fighting Joe,” which sobriquet the press had already affixed to him. His exterior was certainly most attractive and commanding. He was fully six feet high, finely proportioned, with a soldierly, erect carriage, handsome and noble features, a slight fringe of side-whiskers, a rosy complexion, abundant blond hair, a fine and expressive mouth, and — most striking of all — great, speaking gray-blue eyes; he looked, indeed, like the ideal soldier and captain, fit for