by Greg Bayne
(From his article 'A Wild Walpurgus Night', which appeared in Crossfire No 92, Spring 2010)
The Christmas of 1862 would not have been full of cheer for Ambrose Burnside. His grand strategy of outflanking Lee at Fredericksburg was in tatters and the flower of the Army of the Potomac lay dead on the fields below Mayres Heights. 1 The mood of the Army was not difficult to gauge. Union soldiers in Hancock's division used a Christmas Eve review to show their displeasure. Burnside and Sumner joined the parade at 5:00PM. As the Irish Brigade paraded by, they hailed Sumner enthusiastically but "not so with Genl. Burnside." They met him with stony silence. An embarrassed Sumner appealed to the brigade to cheer - for his own sake.