1 The days of the latter half of the month of December were the darkest we had seen up to that time and, as it proved, they were the darkest days of the entire Union army during the whole four years of war. Our armies, all along the line, East and West, had not been successful. The second 600,000 men had been called for during the summer, and the loyal men of the North responded nobly, most of them being on the field by December, ready for action. But there was an element in the North holding nightly meetings and declaring that the war was a failure; there was also talk of England's recognizing the Confederacy; then there were discouraging letters from the home folks to the men In the field, for the times were hard and the situation looked very bad to them. They would, in writing to us, ask what we thought of the outlook, and almost to a man, the reply would be that we would push ahead until we were successful, for our loss already had been too great to give up the struggle short of going to the bitter end. — A. G. D.
Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 89