But in the spirit of revisionism, I'd like to present the following excerpt from a series of essays on the Fredericksburg Campaign, entitled (appropriately enough) The Fredericksburg Campaign: Decision on the Rappahannock, edited by Gary Gallagher.
Chew on this for a while:
When Robert E. Lee spends more than five hours hammering the Federal position at Gaines's Mill, assaulting uphill on a constricted front against a strong, entrenched enemy who is well supported by artillery, losing nearly 8,000 men in the process,he is called bold and ferocious. When Ambrose Burnside spends more than five hours hammering [the Rebel position at] Marye's Heights, assaulting uphill on a constricted front against a strong, entrenched enemy who is well supported by artillery,losing nearly 8,000 men in the process, he is called stubborn and stupid. In each case, the army commander operated in anticipation of a left-flank movement that never came. The only real difference is that when John Bell Hood told his Texans to rush at the enemy without firing and get in among them with the bayonet, they succeeded,whereas when Andrew Humphreys gave the same instructions to his division of untried [Pennsylvania] militiamen, they failed (p.23).*
I guess the only way you could reconcile the above two situations
is with that old adage, "Nothing succeeds like success." It covers
over a multitude of errors. Likewise, lack of success will obscure
a multitude of good deeds and best intentions.
* For the ill-informed, here are some
links to the above-mentioned battles:
Gaines's Mill - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaines%27_Mill
Fredericksburg - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fredericksburg