Letter to Karl Marx, December 30, 1862

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 30 December 1862

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 437;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

To Marx in London

Manchester, 30 December 1862 252 Hyde Road[edit source]

Dear Moor,

On Friday I sent you a registered letter containing 10 pounds, £5 in a Bank of England note and £5 in a Country Note of the Boston Bank payable at Masterman & Co., Bankers, London. Having heard nothing from you since, I feel a little uneasy.

Burnside’s defeat is being abominably exaggerated. Clearly it must affect the army’s morale, but by no means so badly as if they had been beaten in the open field. The tactical arrangements appear to have been very poor. The flank attack by the left wing would obviously have had to be developed first before the frontal attack went in under Sumner. But this was completely mismanaged. Sumner was evidently in dire trouble before Franklin even had so much as a chance of becoming properly engaged. Again, Burnside seems to have been incapable of making up his mind about his reserves. The successes on the left wing should have persuaded him to send at least part of them there, since, after all, that was evidently where the affair would have to be decided; instead he employed them on his front, and too late even there, namely, 1. as reliefs rather than reinforcements for Sumner’s beaten troops, and 2. so close to nightfall that it was dark before half of them were actually engaged. This is, of course, what I have gleaned from the indifferent material in the American papers and without arty knowledge of the terrain. However, it seems to me that Burnside would probably have been able to dislodge the rabble merely by means of an outflanking movement, especially since he appears to have had 150,000 men against 100,000. But he was obviously inhibited by the belief that Washington could be protected only so long as the army lay squarely between it and the enemy. However, the stupidity of allowing the Confederates a month in which to consolidate their position and then engaging them in a frontal attack admits of no criticism other than a kick in the arse.

Mary and Lizzy send their regards.

F. E.