General Lee, by Fitzhugh Lee, Chapter 11

General Lee

CHAPTER XI.
CHANCELLORSVILLE.

CHANCELLORSVILLE was the most wonderful of Lee’s battles, and demanded the highest exercise of his military ability. The Army of Northern Virginia amounted to 53,303 present for duty at Chancellorsville, with one hundred and seventy pieces of artillery.[1]

The Federals numbered, according to the return of April 30th, an aggregate of officers and men present of 138,378, and, under the head of “present for duty equipped,” which embraces those actually available for the line of battle at the date of the report, the army numbered 133,708. Hooker had by these returns, therefore, a numerical superiority on the field of 80,000.

The Southern commander, penetrating the Federal plan of operations, placed one of the only two cavalry brigades with his army in the vicinity of Culpeper Court House, and had the Rappahannock picketed for twenty-five miles above the left of his infantry. Hooker determined to break up this observation cavalry, for they would be too near his flanking route, and on the 16th dispatched three thousand cavalry under Averell to attack them. The Southern brigade was small at the time. The cavalrymen owned their horses, and many of them had been detailed to go home to get fresh horses for the spring campaign. Owing to that fact, and the absence of many squadrons on detached service, only eight hundred men could be placed in the saddle. Butterfield, Hooker’s chief of staff, reported the combat that followed as the best cavalry fight of the war, lasting five hours, charging and recharging on both sides, and that the Confederate cavalry were driven back three miles into cover of earthworks and heavy guns. Stanton, the Federal Secretary of War, congratulated Hooker on the success of the expedition. “You have drawn the first blood, and I hope now to see the boys up and at them.” It was Sir Walter Raleigh who said that human testimony was so unreliable that no two men could see the same occurrence and give the same report of it. The Confederate official reports state that Averell was defeated and driven back across the river. Major John Pelham, who was accidentally present, being summoned to Culpeper Court House as a witness in a court-martial, borrowed a horse and rode out on the field, where he acted temporarily as aid-de-camp, and was killed. He was Stuart’s chief of horse artillery, and a graduate of West Point of the class of 1861. The death of this blue-eyed Alabama boy was a great loss. His superb courage and dash had been immortalized by Jackson’s expression, after seeing him handle his guns at Sharpsburg, that “an army should have a Pelham on each flank,” while General Lee called him, at Fredericksburg, “the gallant Pelham”; and Stuart in General Orders wrote: “The memory of the gallant Pelham, his many virtues, his noble nature, his purity of character, is enshrined as a sacred legacy in the hearts of all who knew him.”

On the arrival of spring the two armies were still in sight of each other occupying the old lines. Hooker must now assume the offensive. In addition to his twelve corps of infantry—three divisions to a corps, except Slocum’s, who had two—he had a large, finely appointed cavalry corps under Stoneman, numbering thirteen thousand three hundred and ninety-eight sabers, and three hundred and seventy-five cannon. The Confederate force consisted of McLaws and Anderson’s divisions of Longstreet’s corps (Hood and Pickett’s divisions of that corps being absent in the vicinity of Suffolk, south of James River), and Jackson’s corps, composed of the divisions of A. P. Hill, Early, and D. H. Hill under Rodes, and Trimble under Colston.

The Federal general’s designs were well conceived. He proposed to march three of his corps up the Rappahannock twenty-seven miles, cross them at Kelly’s Ford, add to them one corps which should cross below at United States Ford, and with these four corps make a great turning column, which should move down on Lee’s left rear, while the remaining three corps, constituting his left wing, should cross à la Burnside in Lee’s front at Fredericksburg, hold him steady by the menace of a direct attack, and when he was manœuvred out of his intrenchments, pursue him. In order to make the blow more effective, Stoneman was directed to make a wide detour well around the Southern left and rear, throw ten thousand sabers between Lee and Richmond, breaking up his communications, stopping his supplies, and be in a position to obstruct the Confederate retreat until Hooker could deliver a final blow.

The Union cavalry were put in motion as early as the 13th of April to cross the upper fords of the Rappahannock. Mr. Lincoln, who was alive to all that was going on, telegraphed Hooker: “The rain and mud were, of course, to be calculated upon. General Stoneman is not moving rapidly enough to make the expedition come to anything. He has now been out three days, two of which were unusually fair weather, and all free from hindrance by his enemy, and yet he is not twenty-five miles from where he started. To reach his point he has still sixty to go. By arithmetic how many days will it take him to do it?” The general impatience for a move was prevalent everywhere. Even the Union General Peck, at Suffolk, hoping to be relieved from Longstreet’s presence, wired urging it, to which Hooker replied on April 21st: “You must be patient with me. I must play with these devils before I can spring.”

On the 27th Hooker’s turning column of the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Fifth Corps began its march, while two divisions of Couch’s Second Corps were sent to United States Ford, between Kelly’s and Fredericksburg. On the night of the 28th and the morning of the 29th the right wing crossed the Rappahannock River, marched under Hooker’s immediate command in two columns for the Rapidan, crossing that stream at Germania and Ely’s Fords. Having brought Couch to him, Hooker was concentrated on the night of the 30th at Chancellorsville, ten miles west of Fredericksburg, but had consumed four days in getting this far on Lee’s left.

The day before Hooker moved, Sedgwick, proceeding to carry out his part of the plan, crossed the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg with the First, Third, and Sixth Corps, numbering fifty-two thousand four hundred and one. This imposing demonstration on Lee’s front, it was expected, would make him arrange for another defensive battle, and while doing so, Hooker’s right wing would overwhelm his left and attack in reverse his fortified lines. The next day Sickles’s Third Corps, having assisted Sedgwick to demonstrate, went to Hooker at Chancellorsville to join in the contemplated crushing; but Sedgwick still had for his feint thirty-seven thousand six hundred and seventy-three troops.

Hooker was greatly elated at the situation on the night of the 30th. The next day he would advance with “the finest army on the planet,” as he called it, uncover Banks’s Ford six miles below, and thus have direct communication by a short route with Sedgwick. He congratulated in General Orders the right wing at the great success attending their operations, telling them that his enemy “must ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him.” On May 1st Hooker started for Fredericksburg. The four corps with him, less Gibbon’s division of the Second at Falmouth, and exclusive of a cavalry brigade, amounted to seventy- three thousand one hundred and twenty-four. What a grand army to hurl on an enemy’s flank!

If the Union general’s tactics had kept pace with his strategy, his numbers might have given him a great victory. His well-devised plans were divined by his alert antagonist. Stuart’s cavalry pickets, which were driven away from Kelly’s Ford on the 28th, reported infantry crossing there that night; their line of march was quickly ascertained next day and reported to General Lee by telegraph from Culpeper Court House. Stuart made a detour with one of his two brigades of cavalry, after throwing a regiment in front of the Federa1 advance, and reaching Todd’s Tavern on the 30th, placed his cavalry across the routes leading to Lee’s lines of communication. Jackson, whose right stretched fourteen miles below Fredericksburg, was brought up to Hamilton’s Crossing the same day Hooker’s right wing was crossing the river at Kelly’s, and then Lee waited for his enemy’s plans to be more fully developed, believing the war maxim, “When your enemy is making a mistake he must not be interrupted.” He readily perceived that with Hooker at Chancellorsville and Sedgwick three miles below Fredericksburg, the two wings were thirteen miles apart, and that his army was directly between them. He understood the military problem—drive the wedge in and keep them separate, hold one still by a feint or retard his march by fighting, concentrate on and overwhelm the other. Sedgwick lay quiet while Hooker was massing at Chancellorsville.

“Jackson at first,” says Lee, “preferred to attack Sedgwick’s force in the plain of Fredericksburg, but I told him I feared it was as impracticable as it was at the first battle of Fredericksburg. It was hard to get at the enemy, and harder to get away, if we drove him into the river, but if he thought it could be done, I would give orders for it.” Jackson asked to be allowed to examine the ground, and did so during the afternoon, and at night came to Lee and said he thought he [Lee] was right. It would be inexpedient to attack there. “Move, then,” said Lee, “up to Anderson,” who had been previously ordered to proceed to Chancellorsville. “And the next time I saw Jackson,” says General Lee, “was the next day—May 1st—when he was on our skirmish line, driving in the enemy’s skirmishers around Chancellorsville.”

McLaws reached Anderson’s position before sunrise on the 1st, and Jackson at 8 A.M. It was determined to hammer Hooker while Sedgwick was held at arm’s length. Lee wisely selected Early to keep, if possible, Sedgwick out of the difficulty he proposed to have with Hooker, and, in addition to his own division, gave him Barksdale’s brigade of McLaws’s division and the reserve artillery under General Pendleton. Jackson found Anderson some six miles from Chancellorsville, intrenching. He ordered the work discontinued, for, as usual, he wanted at once to find his enemy. At 11 A.M. the Confederates, in two columns under Anderson and McLaws, with Jackson closely following, moved on Chancellorsville.

The same morning Hooker put his troops in motion in three columns on the roads Lee was marching, thinking the latter was held at Fredericksburg by his demonstration there, and ordered his headquarters to be established at Tabernacle Church, half-way between Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, at 2 P.M.; but the church was not destined to be so marked. As the head of his columns debouched from the forest a few miles from Chancellorsville, they encountered the Army of Northern Virginia advancing in line of battle, which so surprised Hooker that he lost for the first time his self-confidence. He had not dreamed that Lee would assume the offensive. It embarrassed him so much that he decided on defensive tactics—a decision fatal to him. Fearing he could not throw his troops through the forest fast enough, and apprehensive of being whipped in detail, he ordered his army to retire to their lines around Chancellorsville. Lee, with brilliant daring worthy of the hero of Malakoff, followed him and established a line of battle in front of him, at some points within a mile of Chancellorsville. “Here,” says he, “the enemy had assumed a position of great natural strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest filled with tangled undergrowth, in the midst of which breastworks of logs had been constructed with trees felled in front so as to form an almost impenetrable abatis. His artillery swept the few narrow roads by which his position could be approached from the front, and commanded the adjacent works.” The left of Hooker’s line extended from Chancellorsville to the Rappahannock River, covering the United States Ford, while on the other side it reached west as far as Wilderness Church. His left flank was unassailable, as Lee found from a personal reconnoissance that afternoon, and his front impregnable. Of the five miles of battle line, his right alone could be considered. That night Stuart brought the Rev. Dr. B. T. Lacy to Lee, who told him a circuit could be made around by Wilderness Tavern, andGenera1 Lee directed Jackson to make his arrangements to move early next day around the Federal right flank.

The sun rose on this eventful 2d of May unclouded and brilliant, gilding the hill tops and penetrating the vapors of the valley—as gorgeous as was the sun of Austerlitz, which produced such an impression upon the imagination of Napoleon. Its rays fell upon the last meeting in this world of Lee and Jackson. The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said: “A man of fine Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for the position of a soldier”; but here were two great soldiers who faithfully performed all their duties as Christians.

Lee, erect and soldierly, emerged from the little pine thicket where he had bivouacked during the night, and stood on its edge at sunrise to see Jackson’s troops file by. When Jackson came along he stopped and the two conversed for a few moments, after which Jackson speedily rejoined his troops, now making their famous flank march. Bold, but dangerous, was Lee’s strategy. He had decided to keep some 14,000 men, under Anderson and McLaws, in front of Hooker’s 73,000, while Jackson marched by a wide circuit with less than 30,000, to gain the Union right rear. Reynolds’s First Corps on that day was marching from Sedgwick to Hooker. It numbered 19,595, and reached Hooker at daylight on the 3d. General Hooker then had around Chancellorsville 92,719 men.

At Austerlitz, when the Russians made the flank movement around the French right, Napoleon moved at once upon the weakened line of the allies in his front and burst through it. Leaving some battalions to hold the right wing, he wheeled the remainder upon the left and destroyed it, and then, turning toward the right wing, he directed upon it a terrible onset, and it too was no more. In some places the men in Lee’s thin gray line in front of Hooker were six feet apart. Jackson marched rapidly diagonally across the front of Hooker’s line of battle, screened from view by the forest and by three regiments of cavalry which had been ordered to mask the movement as well as to precede it.

As early as 8 A.M. Birney, of Sickles’s corps, reported a continuous column of infantry trains and ambulances passing his front. His division was on Howard’s left, whose corps formed the right of the Union army. Sickles sent a battery forward to a commanding position on his front and fired at the moving column, and at 12 M. moved with two of his divisions and Barlow’s brigade of Howard’s corps and gained the road Jackson was moving on, capturing a few hundred of his men. Howard did not fear an attack on his right, for his brigade, in reserve at that point, was selected to assist in Sickles’s pursuit.

At 9.30 A.M. Hooker notified Slocum and Howard that the right of their line did not appear to be strong enough. “We have good reason to suppose the enemy is moving to our right.” Howard does not admit that he ever received the notification—Slocum says he read it; but at 10.50 A.M. Hooker received a dispatch from Howard that a column of infantry had been observed moving west, and that he had taken measures to resist an attack from the west. Later he became convinced it was a retreat, not an attack. At 2 P.M. Couch, next in command, was told by Hooker that Lee was in full retreat toward Gordonsville, and that he had sent out Sickles to capture his artillery; and at 4.10 P.M., the hour Jackson was forming his column of attack behind his right, Hooker sent a dispatch to Sedgwick: “We know the enemy is flying, trying to save his trains. Two of Sickles’s divisions are among them.”

About 3 P.M. Jackson’s van reached the plank road, three miles west of Chancellorsville. The commander of the cavalry accompanying him had made a personal reconnoissance while waiting for Jackson to come up, and had located the exact position of the Union right. When Jackson arrived, at his request, he accompanied him through a concealed wooded road to a hill overlooking the rear of the Federal right. Below and but a few hundred yards’ distant ran their line of battle, with abatis in front and long lines of stacked arms in the rear. Cannon in position were visible, and the soldiers were in groups, chatting, smoking, and playing cards, while others in the rear were driving up and butchering beeves. Stonewall’s face bore an expression of intense interest during the five minutes he was on the hill, and the Federal position was pointed out to him. His eyes had a brilliant glow. The paint of approaching battle was coloring his cheeks, and he was radiant to find no preparation had been made to guard against a flank attack. He made no reply to the officer with him; his lips were, however, moving, for, sitting on his horse in sight of and close to Howard’s troops, he was engaged in an appeal to the God of Battles. He quickly perceived what had been suggested—that by moving to the old turnpike, a little farther to the rear, and not turning down the plank road as proposed, he would take Howard’s line in reverse and not in front. “Tell General Rodes,” said he, suddenly wheeling his horse to a courier, “to move across the plank road and halt when he gets to the old turnpike. I will join him there.” And then he rode rapidly back.

The cavalry, supported by Paxton’s brigade of infantry, was placed a short distance down the plank road to mask the march of the remaining troops across it. Jackson’s troops reached the old turnpike at 4 P.M. Two hours were consumed in getting the command up and organizing for the attack. At this point Jackson wrote his last note to General Lee:

Near 3 P.M., May 2, 1863.

GENERAL: The enemy has made a stand at Chancellors,[2] which is about two miles from Chancellorsville. I hope as soon as practicable to attack. I trust that an ever-kind Providence will bless us with great success.

Respectfully,
T. J. JACKSON, Lieutenant General.

The leading division is up, and the next two appear to be well closed.

T.J.J.

General R. E. LEE.

As the different divisions arrived they were formed at right angles to the road, Rodes’s in front, Trimble’s division, under Colston, in the second line two yards in the fear, and A. P. Hill’s in supporting distance in column. At 6 P.M., all being ready, Jackson ordered the advance. His men burst with a cheer upon the startled enemy, and, like a disciplined thunderbolt, swept down the line and captured cannon before they could be reversed to fire on them. Howard had two regiments and two guns, under Von Gilsen, at right angles to his main line. The Confederate rush first struck him, and he called for re-enforcements. Howard told him he must “hold his post with the men he had and trust to God!” His command of fourteen hundred did not hold on long, as they only lost one hundred and thirty-three killed, wounded, and missing. Rabbits and squirrels ran and flocks of birds flew in front of the advance of these twenty-six thousand men who had dropped so suddenly into their forest haunts, giving in some instances the first notice of an unusual disturbance there.

The Union commander, whose surprised troops were about to be overwhelmed, was recalled to the period when, as a youth, he says, he watched the appearance of contending winds, when the clouds, black and blacker, swift and swifter, rose high and higher as they pushed forward their angry front. He heard the low rumbling from afar, and, as the storm came nearer, the woods bent forward and shook furiously their thick branches. The lightning zigzagged in flashes. The deep-bassed thunder echoed more loudly, till there was scarcely an interval between its ominous crashing discharges.

One half of the eleven thousand five hundred of Howard’s corps were Germans, and occupied the exposed flank. Devens’s, Steinwehrs’s, Schurz’s, Schimmelfennig’s, and Kryzancerski’s troops were rolled over and under by this rapid “rolling reconnaissance.” Quickly there was a blind panic and great confusion. Sickles, who had moved to the front from his place in line to attack Jackson’s marching flank, and to whom Howard had sent re-enforcements “to make a grand attack with brilliant results,” was near the furnace, and came near being severed from his army. The air was filled with noise and smoke; the mighty current of panic-stricken men grew momentarily deeper and wider. Dickinson, one of Hooker’s staff, implored Howard to fire on his own men to stop their flight. The surging, seething sea swept away all barriers. Many of the officers attempted to turn back the human tide, but as well might Pharaoh have tried to resist the walls of the Red Sea. Riderless horses and men without arms were everywhere, and guns, caissons, forges, ambulances, battery wagons rolled and tumbled like runaway wagons in a thronged city. Mules tied in couples (a device of Hooker’s to carry ammunition) added unearthly brays to the uproar and scattered the ammunition. One pair of them entangled around a tree, was struck by a shell which exploded their load and blew them to pieces. Into all Jackson’s ranks blazed a ceaseless fire. Lee’s brilliant tactics had succeeded, and Hooker’s left had been fairly turned and rolled in a sheet of flame upon his center.

Rodes, who led with so much spirit, says: “The enemy, taken in flank and rear, did not wait for an attack.” Colston’s division followed so rapidly that it went over the enemy’s works at Dowdall’s with Rodes’s troops, and both divisions fought with mixed ranks until dark. In a piece of woods the line was then halted to reform. There was no apparent line of battle between them and Chancellorsville, and Crutchfield’s guns were turned on Chancellorsville. They were immediately responded to by a terrific fire from twenty-two guns on the plank road, loaded with double canister. Jackson was most impatient to work to Hooker’s rear and cut him off from the United States Ford, his line of retreat, and drive him on the lines of McLaws and Anderson, where Lee was. These lines, from the nature of the country, had been greatly strengthened with axe and spade. To “huddle” in confusion Hooker’s army in the tangled wilderness and surround it seemed possible.

A. P. Hill was now ordered to the front to take charge of the pursuit. While he was engaged in forming his lines, Jackson, who was a little in advance, sent a staff officer to order Hill to move forward as soon as possible, and then, accompanied by Captain Wilbourn, of the Signal Corps, Captain Boswell, and some of his signal men and couriers, rode slowly along the road toward the enemy to reconnoiter for Hill’s advance, thinking perhaps a skirmish line was in his front. He had not proceeded far before he came upon a line of Federal infantry lying on their arms. Fired at, he turned his horse, but unfortunately rode a little outside of the route toward the front of some of his own troops, who, ignorant that Jackson had passed out of the lines and mistaking his party for a squad of Union cavalry, fired upon it, killing his engineer officer, Captain Boswell, and Sergeant Cunliff, of the Signal Corps. Jackson immediately crossed the road to avoid the fire and enter his lines at another point, when, again mistaken by his troops, he received at a few paces another volley from the right company of Pender’s North Carolina Brigade. Three balls penetrated him at the same time. A round ball from a smooth-bore Springfield musket passed through his right hand, and was cut out that night under the skin. Another entered the outside of his left forearm near the elbow, coming out near the wrist, while still another struck him three inches below the left shoulder joint, divided the artery, and fractured the bone. Reeling in his saddle and losing hold of his bridle rein, he was caught by Captain Wilbourn and placed on the ground. A. P. Hill was soon at his side, as well as his two aids, Smith and Morrison. The two latter placed him in a litter, and then in an ambulance he was carried from the field amid the shrieks of the shells, the whistling of the bullets, and the groans of the wounded and dying. His last order, after being so fearfully wounded, was to tell General Pender to hold his ground. “You must hold your ground, sir,” said he.

The ambulance which carried to the field hospital at Wilderness Tavern this great soldier contained his chief of artillery, Crutchfield, also dangerously wounded, and each seemed more concerned about the other’s injuries than his own. Here Jackson’s left arm was amputated two inches below the shoulder, and three days afterward he was taken to the Chandler House, near Guinea Station, on the railroad from Fredericksburg to Richmond, where he died on the following Sunday. “Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action,” he cried in the delirium just before death. “Pass the infantry to the front rapidly. Tell Major Hawkes—” He stopped, and then with a feeling of relief he said: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” The sword which carved his name upon the shield of fame had returned forever to its scabbard. His wish was fulfilled. “I have always desired to die on Sunday,” he had said. When Lee received a notification of his being wounded he wrote to Jackson that, could he have directed the course of events, he would have chosen for the good of his country to have been disabled in his stead. “I congratulate you,” he added, “upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy.” Howard thought his death was providential, “for in bold planning, in energy of execution, in indefatigable activity and moral ascendency, he was head and shoulders above his confrères.

During the flank march of his great lieutenant, Lee reminded the troops in his front of his position by frequent taps on different points of their lines, and when the sound of cannon gave notice of Jackson’s attack, Lee ordered that Hooker’s left be strongly pressed to prevent his sending re-enforcements to the point assailed. Sunday, May 3d, was an eventful day. Jackson’s corps must complete its work; but who should lead it? A. P. Hill, the next in rank, had been disabled shortly after Jackson was struck down. Rodes, as modest as he was daring, was next in rank to Hill, but in a conference with Major Pendleton, Jackson’s chief of staff, and some of the general officers, quickly acquiesced in a suggestion that General J. E. B. Stuart be sent for, because he was satisfied the good of the service demanded it. Stuart was at Ely’s Ford with the cavalry and Sixteenth North Carolina Infantry, having gone there to watch Averell, who, having returned from his raid, was reported to be at that point. At 10.30 P.M. Captain Adams, of Hill’s staff, summoned him to the command of Jackson’s corps. Upon Stuart’s arrival upon the battlefield, Jackson had been taken to the rear, but A. P. Hill, still there, turned over the command to him. With the assistance of Colonel E. P. Alexander, of the artillery, he was engaged all night in preparations for the morrow. At early dawn on the 3d Stuart pressed the corps forward—Hill’s division in the first line, Trimble’s in the second, and Rodes’s in the rear.

As the sun lifted the mist, the hill to the right was found to be a commanding position for artillery. Quickly thirty pieces, under Colonels T. H. Carter and Hillary P. Jones, were firing from it, and their fire was very effective. Hooker was standing on the steps of the portico of the Chancellor House, giving directions about the battle, which was now raging with great fury, when a solid shot struck the pillar near him, splitting it in two, and throwing one half longitudinally against him. He says for a few moments he was senseless, and the report spread that he had been killed. To correct the impression, as soon as he revived he insisted on mounting his horse and riding back toward a white house, which subsequently became the center of his new position. Just before reaching it the pain from the wound became so intense that he was obliged to dismount, and was laid upon a blanket spread out upon the ground. He was revived by brandy and assisted to remount. He had hardly risen from the blanket when a solid shot struck in the very center of it, where a moment before he had been lying, and tore up the earth in a savage way. Pleasonton says, when he saw him, about 10 A.M., he was lying on the ground, usually in a doze, except when awakened to attend to some important dispatch. General Couch was temporarily called to the command of the army.

In the meanwhile Stuart was pressing the attack. At one time his left was so strongly resisted that his three lines were merged into one. To a notice sent him that the men were out of ammunition, he replied that they must hold their ground with the bayonet. About this time Stuart’s right connected with Anderson’s left, uniting thus the detached portions of General Lee’s army. He then massed infantry on his left and stormed the Federal works. Twice he was repulsed, but the third time Stuart placed himself on horseback at the head of the troops, ordered the charge, carried the intrenchments, and held them, singing with ringing voice, “Old Joe Hooker, won’t you come out of the wilderness?” An eye-witness says he could not get rid of the impression that Harry of Navarre led the charge, except that Stuart’s plume was black, for everywhere the men followed his feather. Anderson at the same time moved rapidly upon Chancellorsville, while McLaws made a strong demonstration in his front. At 10 A.M. the position at Chancellorsville was won, and Hooker had withdrawn to another line nearer the Rappahannock. Preparations were at once made by Lee to attack again, when further operations were arrested by intelligence received from Fredericksburg.

Sedgwick, after the departure of the First and Third Corps from his position below Fredericksburg, was still left with twenty-nine thousand three hundred and forty-two troops, which included Gibbon’s division of five thousand, but excluded his reserve artillery. On May 2d, at 9.55 A.M., Hooker telegraphed him: “You are all right. You have but Early’s division in your front—balance all up here.” To oppose Sedgwick, Early had his division of seventy-five hundred officers and men, and Barksdale’s brigade of fifteen hundred, making nine thousand. In addition, Early had Anderson’s battalion of artillery of twelve guns, Graham’s four guns, a Whitworth gun posted below the Massaponax, and portions of Walton’s, Cabell’s, and Cutts’s battalions of artillery, under General Pendleton, making in all some forty-five or fifty guns. At 9 P.M. on the 2d Hooker telegraphed Sedgwick to cross the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg and move toward Chancellorsville until he connected with him, destroying Early in his front. He tells him that he “will probably fall upon the rear, of the troops commanded by General Lee, and between us Lee must be used up.” This order was issued under the impression that Sedgwick was on the north side of the river, but it found him below Fredericksburg on the south side. He moved up during the night, and on the morning of the 3d, after three assaults, carried Marye’s Hill, capturing eight pieces of artillery upon that and the adjacent heights. Wilcox, who was at Banks’s Ford, threw himself in front of Sedgwick’s advance up the plank road and gallantly disputed it, falling slowly back until he reached Salem Church, five miles from Fredericksburg. When Lee heard that Sedgwick, with thirty thousand men, was marching on his rear, he stopped his projected attack on Hooker and dispatched McLaws with his division and one of Anderson’s brigades to re-enforce Wilcox, that Sedgwick might be kept back. McLaws arrived in time to assist Wilcox to repulse Sedgwick’s further advance. On the morning of the 4th Early advanced along the telegraph road and regained Marye’s and the adjacent hills.

General Lee now determined to crush Sedgwick if possible; so leaving Stuart with Jackson’s corps in Hooker’s front, he marched to McLaws and Early’s assistance with Anderson’s division. Anderson reached Salem Church about noon, but the attack did not begin until about six, owing, General Lee says, to the difficulty of getting the troops in position. When the signal was given, Anderson and Early moved forward at once in gallant style, driving Sedgwick across the plank road in the direction of the Rappahannock. The approaching darkness, we are told by General Lee, prevented McLaws from perceiving the success of the attack, until the enemy began to cross the river below Banks’s Ford. When the morning of the 5th dawned, Sedgwick had made good his escape and removed his bridges. Fredericksburg was also evacuated. Early was left to hold the lines as before, while Anderson and McLaws returned to Chancellorsville, which place they reached on the afternoon of the 5th in a violent thunderstorm. At daylight on the 6th these two divisions were ordered to assail the enemy’s works in conjunction with Jackson’s corps, but during the storm of the night before, Hooker retired over the river. One, can hardly conceive a greater risk than that taken by General Lee in these operations. For two days Hooker’s immense army was kept in place by Jackson’s corps, while General Lee assaulted Sedgwick.

The Confederate cavalry operations, from smallness of numbers, were much circumscribed. Stuart only had five regiments at Chancellorsville, three of them being on Lee’s left and two on his right, while two more had been left to contend as best they could with Stoneman’s ten thousand troopers. Stoneman accomplished nothing. Hooker’s official report says that no officer ever made a greater mistake in construing his orders, and no one ever accomplished less in so doing. He returned to the army on the 4th, the day Sedgwick was disposed of General Lee’s official report said that “the conduct of the troops can not be too highly praised. Attacking largely superior numbers in strongly intrenched positions, their heroic courage overcame every obstacle of Nature and of art, and achieved a triumph most honorable to our arms.”

Hooker’s General Order No. 49, of May 6th, congratulates his army on its achievements, saying that, in withdrawing from the south bank of the Rappahannock before delivering a general battle, the army has given renewed evidence of its confidence in itself and its fidelity to the principles it represents. That the Army of the Potomac was profoundly loyal, and confident of its strength, and would give or decline battle when its interests or its honor might demand. “The events of last week,” said he, “might well swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army.” And then in a letter to Mr. Lincoln, dated May 13th, 1863, Hooker says: “Is it asking too much to inquire your opinion of my Order No. 49? If so, do not answer me. Jackson is dead, and Lee beats McClellan with his untruthful bulletins.” It is not known whether Mr. Lincoln ever answered this question. The truth is, the Army of the Potomac was woefully mismanaged. Its commander guided it into the mazes of the Wilderness and got it so mixed and tangled that no chance was afforded for a display of its mettle. General Paxton was killed while leading his brigade with conspicuous courage in the assault of the 3d. Generals A. P. Hill, Nichols, McGowan, Heth, Hoke, and Pender were wounded.

Chancellorsville is inseparably connected in its glory and gloom with Stonewall Jackson. General Lee officially writes: “I do not propose to speak here of the character of this illustrious man, since removed from the scene of his eminent usefulness by the hand of an inscrutable but all-wise Providence. I nevertheless desire to pay the tribute of my admiration to the matchless energy and skill that marked this last act of his life, forming, as it did, a worthy conclusion of that long series of splendid achievements which won for him the lasting gratitude and love of his country.”

Jackson’s purely military genius resembled Cæsar’s and Napoleon’s. Like the latter, his success must be attributed to the rapid audacity of his movements and to his masterly control of the confidence and will of his men. He had the daring temper and fiery spirit of Cæsar in battle. Cæsar fell at the base of Pompey’s statue, which had been restored by his magnanimity, pierced by twenty-three wounds at the hands of those he had done most for. Jackson fell at the hands of those who would have cheerfully joined their comrades in the dismal, silent bivouacks, if his life could have been spared. With Wolfe, Nelson, and Havelock he takes his place in the hearts of English-speaking people.

General Lee wrote Mrs. Lee from camp near Fredericksburg, May 11, 1863: “In addition to the death of friends and officers consequent upon the late battle, you will see we have to mourn the loss of the good and great Jackson. Any victory would be dear at such a price. His remains go to Richmond to-day. I know not how to replace him, but God’s will be done. I trust He will raise some one in his place.”

The battle of Chancellorsville increased immensely General Lee’s fame. The difference in the numbers of the contestants was very marked. The three corps originally crossed to Lee’s front at Fredericksburg were about equal in numbers to the whole of his army, so that Hooker’s right flanking wing of four corps represented his numerical superiority.

The tactical and strategical operations of Chancellorsville is a remarkably interesting military study. Two armies seek, like the knight La Mancha, a foe to combat. One is much stronger than the other, and in quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance supplies is vastly superior. The larger army assumes the offensive, and plans to hold the smaller in place with one of its wings, while making a three or four days’ detour with the other and greater portion to attack it in reverse. The flanking movement is arrested, while the identical tactics proposed are adopted by the other army, which in turn successfully assails their flank and rear, and holds them in the close embrace of a portion of the assailing troops, while two divisions which had been in their original front are countermarched and added to the division left at Fredericksburg. The three then attack and drive over the river the troops which were attempting to get in their rear at Chancellorsville, after which they are marched back, to join in the expected battle around Chancellorsville next day, which did not take place because their opponents retreated across the river during the night. The bold conception of Lee was faultlessly executed by officers and men. It is true the wretched terrene assisted him in holding the lines in front of Hooker, for his axes could quickly make it defensible; that the forest concealed Jackson’s march, and that an unpardonable negligence permitted twenty-five or thirty thousand troops to pass near a line of battle for many hours and mass for attack a short distance behind one of its flanks.

Had Hooker kept the ten thousand sabers of Stoneman, which he sent away on a fruitless mission, and placed them on the right or in front of his flank, his infantry would not have been surprised; or had he continued his advance on Fredericksburg when first moving out of Chancellorsville, and, pushed his cavalry along the route toward Todd’s Tavern and Spottsylvania Court House, the chances of success would have been in his favor. General Lee fought the battle in the only way it could have been won, but the risks assumed were very great. To say that he committed faults is only to say that he made war. Once more the armies surveyed each other from their old camps; twice had one of them attempted the offensive. It was but fair that the Confederates should make the next move.

Lee devoted the few weeks of rest and recuperation which now followed in placing his army in better condition and reorganizing it. He now divided it into three corps instead of two—three divisions to the corps—commanded respectively by Longstreet, Ewell, and A. P. Hill. Ewell had been next in command to Jackson, participating in the glories of his Valley campaign, and maintaining his reputation as an excellent assistant to his great chief. He graduated at West Point in 1840, and served twenty-one years in the United States Army; was in Mexico, and brevetted for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco; served on the frontier in the dragoons; was forty-three years old; had lost a leg at second Manassas, and was just able to rejoin the army. He succeeded to much of Jackson’s spirit and the quickness and ardor of his strokes in battle, was kind-hearted, eccentric, and absent-minded. It has been said this last trait came very near being fatal to him, for, forgetting he had lost his leg, he suddenly started one day to walk and came down on the stump, imperfectly healed, which produced a violent hæmorrhage. “Virginia never had a truer gentleman, a braver soldier, nor an odder, more lovable fellow.”

A. P. Hill’s promotion to a corps commander was bestowed on account of meritorious service. He had graduated at West Point seven years later than Ewell, and was an artillery officer in the United States Army. His bravery at the first Manassas, around Richmond—where he drew the first blood—at second Manassas, Harper’s Ferry, and at Sharpsburg, had been conspicuous, and drew to him the attention of his commanding general.[3]

The artillery arm consisted of fifteen battalions of four batteries each, besides the batteries of horse artillery, and to each infantry corps was assigned its own battalions of artillery, commanded by its own chief, while the reserve artillery of the whole army was in charge of General Pendleton, Lee’s chief of artillery. This arm of the service was well commanded, and was rapidly asserting its claim to the front rank of the artillery armament of an army. Parrott, Napoleon, Whitworth, and Armstrong guns, acquired by capture and foreign purchase, were replacing the 6- and 12-pound howitzers. Longstreet’s two absent divisions had returned under their distinguished commander. The cavalry had again been brought together, and was more numerous and effective than ever. At the end of May, Lee commanded a splendid army, numbering; present for duty, by the returns of May 31, 1863, 54,356 infantry, 9,536 cavalry, and 4,460 artillery, or a total of 68,352, with over two hundred guns. Its efficiency, confidence, and morale made it worthy of being led by a great chief.

The time for active operations to be resumed had arrived. Lee would have preferred that Hooker should assume the offensive, but as he showed no disposition to do it, the financial condition of the South and the scarcity of supplies made time too precious to wait longer for such action on his part.

Moltke, with his impassive student face, his bent figure, and his periodic pinches of snuff, directing operations as if they were certain calculations, was not more diligent than Lee, as under his canvas shelter he planned the Pennsylvania campaign, and designated, it is said, Gettysburg or its vicinity as the place of battle. It is certain that at that time he foretold his enemy’s movements, knew his own, and predicted a meeting in Pennsylvania east of the mountains. Among the results to be reached by a march to Pennsylvania was the relief of the Confederate commissariat. Indeed, when making requisition for a supply of rations, the commissary general is reported to have said, “If General Lee wants rations let him seek them in Pennsylvania.” Among other results of a decisive successful battle on Northern soil, might be a recognition of the Confederacy by foreign powers and a lasting peace.

General Lee had been accustomed to expose himself unnecessarily on the field of battle, and about this time his son W. H. F. Lee wrote to him: “I hear from every one of your exposing yourself. You must recollect, if anything should happen to you the cause would be very much jeopardized. I want very much to see you. May God preserve you, my dear father, is the earnest prayer of your devoted son.” Lee remarked upon one occasion, when remonstrated with about endangering his life: “I wish some one would tell me my proper place in battle. I am always told I should not be where I am.” On May 20, 1863, from camp near Fredericksburg, the general writes to Mrs. Lee in Richmond: “I learn that our poor wounded are doing very well. General Hooker is airing himself north of the Rappahannock and again threatening us with a crossing. It was reported last night that he had brought his pontoons to the river, but I hear nothing of him this morning. I think he will consider it a few days. He has published a gratulatory order to his troops, telling them they have covered themselves with new laurels, have destroyed our stores, communications, thousands of our choice troops, captured prisoners in their fortifications, filling the country with fear and consternation. ‘Profoundly loyal and conscious of its own strength, the Army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interests or honor may demand. It will also be the guardian of its own history and its own honor.’ All of which is signed by our old friend S. Williams, A.A.G. It shows at least he is so far unhurt, and is so far good, but as to the truth of history I will not speak. May the great God have you all in his holy keeping and soon unite us again!” On the 31st of May, two days before he began his campaign, he writes: “Camp Fredericksburg, May 31, 1863.—General Hooker has been very daring the past week, and quite active. He has not said what he intends to do, but is giving out by his movements that he designs crossing the Rappahannock. I hope we may be able to frustrate his plans in part if not in whole. He has General Heintzelman’s corps now, on whom the Northern papers seem to place great reliance. I pray that our merciful Father in Heaven may protect and direct us! In that case I fear no odds and no numbers.”

Three days before, Hooker had dispatched to Secretary Stanton that he was certain important movements were being made, and that he was in doubt as to the direction Lee would take, “but probably the one of last year, however desperate it may appear.” As Hooker could not be attacked except at a disadvantage, General Lee determined to draw him from his position and transfer the scene of hostilities beyond the Potomac.

This embraced the expulsion from the Valley of Virginia of the Federal force under General Milroy. On the 2d of June Ewell’s Corps marched for Culpeper Court House, and a day or two afterward Lee followed with Longstreet’s Corps. Hill’s Corps was left to watch Hooker and follow as soon as he should retire. A daring commencement of a campaign! Hill, with less than twenty thousand troops, was between Hooker and Richmond, sixty miles away, while Lee, with the other two corps, was at Culpeper Court House, some thirty miles distant in another direction.

Mr. Lincoln and Halleck would not let Hooker attack Hill, as General Lee supposed, because it was “perilous to allow Lee to move on the Potomac while your army is attacking an intrenched position on the other side of the Rappahannock,” wrote Halleck. “If left to me,” said Mr. Lincoln, “I would not go south of the Rappahannock upon Lee’s moving north of it. Lee’s army, not Richmond, is your true objective point. Fight him when opportunity offers; if he stays where he is, fret him and fret him.”

Hill would have retarded Hooker’s progress, falling back toward the defenses of Richmond, while Lee would have taken Washington before Hooker could have countermarched arid interposed; or he could have placed his troops in Richmond from Culpeper by railroad in time to support Hill. “No,” reiterated the Union President to Hooker, “I would not take any risk of being entangled upon the river like an ox jumped half over the fence and liable to be torn by dogs front and rear without a fair chance to gore one way or kick the other.”

Lee’s two infantry and his cavalry corps were concentrated around Culpeper by the 7th of June. Hooker knew Stuart was at Culpeper and thought he meant mischief, so determined to break him up, if possible, by sending all of his cavalry against him, stiffened by three thousand infantry.

General Lee reports that on the 9th of June the cavalry under General Stuart was attacked by a large force of Federal cavalry, supported by infantry, which crossed the Rappahannock at Beverly’s and Kelly’s Fords. After a severe engagement from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, “the enemy was compelled to recross the river with heavy’ loss, leaving about five hundred prisoners, three pieces of artillery, and several colors in our hands.” On the other hand, Hooker dispatched that “Pleasonton pressed Stuart three miles, capturing two hundred prisoners and a battle flag. Our cavalry made many hand-to-hand combats, always driving the enemy before them.”

General Lee wrote Mrs. Lee the day of the battle at Culpeper, June 9, 1863: “I reviewed the cavalry in this section yesterday. It was a splendid sight. The men and horses looked well. They had recuperated since last fall. Stuart was in all his glory. Your sons and nephews are well and flourishing. The country here looks very green and pretty, notwithstanding the ravages of war. What a beautiful world God in his loving kindness to his creatures has given us! What a shame that men endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar his gifts!”

And again on the 11th of the month, from the same place, he wrote: “My supplications continue to ascend for you, my children, and my country. When I last wrote I did not suppose that Fitzhugh (his son) would so soon be sent to the rear disabled, and I hope it will be but for a short time. I saw him the night after the battle—indeed, met him on the field as they were bringing him from the front. He is young and healthy, and I trust will soon be up again. He seemed to be more concerned about his brave men and officers who had fallen in the battle than himself.”

The day after the conflict between Pleasonton and Stuart, Ewell left Culpeper, and crossed the Shenandoah near Front Royal, where Jenkins’s cavalry brigade joined him, while at the same time Imboden’s cavalry was moved to Romney to keep the troops guarding the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from re-enforcing Milroy. On the 13th Ewell was in line of battle in front of Winchester, and next day he stormed and carried the works there, Milroy, the Union commander, and a few of his men alone escaping. Four thousand prisoners, twenty-eight pieces of superior artillery, wagons, horses, small arms, ordnance, commissary and quartermaster stores were captured. Ewell then entered Maryland. How very daring these movements were! On June 12th, when Ewell was at Winchester, Longstreet was at Culpeper and Hill at Fredericksburg, while Hooker was still, with the larger part of his army, in front of Hill.

Hooker, having at last found that General Lee had left, determined to move too, and issued orders on the 13th for four corps to rendezvous at Manassas Junction. At five o’clock next afternoon Hooker was at Dumfries, some twenty miles north of Fredericksburg, on the road to Washington, and Mr. Lincoln asked him by telegraph if he thought it “possible that fifteen thousand of Ewell’s men can now be at Winchester?” and later tells him that the enemy have Milroy surrounded at Winchester, and Tyler at Martinsburg, and asks him if he could help them if they could hold out a few days, and then with habitual humor said: “If the head of Lee’s army is at Martinsburg, and the tail of it on the plank road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere. Could you not break him?”

There was nothing now for the Union commander to do except to keep interposed between his enemy and Washington, and Hooker therefore concentrated his troops along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The movement of the Army of the Potomac depended on that of the Army of Northern Virginia. As Lee proceeded north, so did Hooker, on parallel lines. Five days after Ewell’s departure from Culpeper Court House Longstreet left. His route was east of the Blue Ridge with Stuart’s cavalry in his front and on his right flank to mask his position. Hill, who had joined Lee again. was then passed into the Valley behind Longstreet’s lines. Hooker was mystified, and pushed his cavalry on Stuart to see what was going on. He thought Stuart was preparing for a raid, “which may be a cover to Lee’s re-enforcing Bragg or moving troops to the west.” Stuart and Pleasonton had frequent encounters for three days, but the cavalry mask was not torn away, and no information gained by Hooker.

General Lee wrote Stuart, June 22d, that he thought Pleasonton’s efforts were made to arrest the progress of his army and ascertain its location, and that “perhaps he is satisfied” that he was afraid the Federals would “get across the Potomac before we are aware”; and that if he found Hooker moving northward, and “two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland and take position on General Ewell’s right.” The same day Ewell was ordered toward the Susquehanna and told “if Harrisburg comes within your means, capture it.” Stuart was to go to Ewell’s right flank on the Susquehanna, provided (Lee wrote Longstreet) he could be spared from his front, and that he could move across the Potomac if Longstreet thought he could do so without disclosing Lee’s plans. He was then guarding Longstreet’s front and flank, which brought him under that officer’s command. General Lee suggested that Stuart move through Hopewell Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, pass in rear of Hooker, and then cross the Potomac. Longstreet wrote Stuart that if he “crossed by our rear at Shepherdstown it would in a measure disclose our plans,” and that he “had better not leave us unless you can take the proposed route in rear of the enemy.” The next day Stuart received from Lee an order to cross the Potomac with three brigades, either at Shepherdstown or “east of the mountains in rear of the enemy,” and that he must “move on and feel the right of Ewell’s troops,” then marching toward the Susquehanna. Stuart marched through Hopewell Gap, as suggested by General Lee, and took the route in rear of the enemy as directed by Longstreet. He crossed the Potomac at Seneca, thirteen miles above Washington, the day Lee was at Chambersburg and Ewell at Carlisle. This officer has been unjustly criticised for not being in front of Lee’s army at Gettysburg, but Lee and Longstreet must be held responsible for his route. Lee crossed the Potomac west of the Blue Ridge, Hooker east of it, and Stuart between him and Washington.

General Lee continued to march his columns over the river into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Ewell, the first of the invaders, with Jenkins’s cavalry brigade and White’s battalion under its fine commander, was in advance. His march was directed by Hagerstown to Chambersburg, Pa., and Carlisle, where he arrived on June 27th with two of his divisions. His remaining division, under Early, was sent to York to break the railroad between Harrisburg, Pa., and Baltimore, and seize the bridge over the Susquehanna at Wrightsville. Longstreet and Hill encamped near Chambersburg the day Ewell reached Carlisle. Lee was spreading over Northern territory in order to collect as large an amount of supplies as possible, as well as to draw the Army of the Potomac away from Washington before delivering battle. Under the supposition that the Union army was still in Virginia guarding the approaches to Washington, Lee had issued orders to move upon Harrisburg. Stuart captured a wagon train at Rockville, on the direct road from Washington to Hooker’s army, the nearest wagon being taken four miles from Washington city, burned a large number, and marched away with two hundred wagons and their teams, burned the railroad bridge at Sykesville, cut the telegraph wires, drove the Delaware cavalry in confusion out of Westminster, fought Kilpatrick’s cavalry at Hanover, Pa., prevented two infantry corps from reaching Meade until the second day at Gettysburg, and drew in pursuit of his three cavalry brigades two Federal cavalry divisions, and after ceaseless combats and night marches reached Dover, Pa., on July 1st. Whole regiments slept in their saddles, their faithful animals keeping the road unguided. Without rations for men, and with horses exhausted, Stuart arrived at Carlisle the day Hill and Ewell were engaged at Gettysburg. He wanted to levy a contribution for rations on Carlisle, but the Federal General “Baldy” Smith, with his Pennsylvania reserves, would not surrender the place. Its probable capture the next day was prevented by news received for the first time of General Lee’s position and intentions. Stuart did not know until he received a dispatch from General Lee on the night of July 1st where he was, for the Union army had been between his march and his own army. Leaving Carlisle, he marched at once for Gettysburg, prevented a movement of the enemy’s cavalry on Lee’s rear by way of Hunterstown, and took his position on the York and Heidelburg roads on the left of his army late on the evening of July 2d.

Cavalry raids are dazzling, but do not generally accomplish enough to compensate for the number of broken-down horses and men. The cavalry chief could not tell Lee when and where Hooker’s army crossed the Potomac, because, when it was crossing, he was in its rear, moving to cross the day afterward lower down the same stream, and after that he had no opportunity. It was left to an adventurous scout to report to General Lee, on the night of June 28th, that Hooker had crossed the Potomac and was approaching the south mountains. The information obliged him to draw in his advance and concentrate his army east of the mountain, to prevent his communications from being intercepted. Had Lee had all of his cavalry in Pennsylvania, the irrepressible conflict would not have taken place at Gettysburg, but possibly on Pipe Creek; and had Hooker not detached his cavalry out of his reach, the battle fought at Chancellorsville would possibly have taken place on the confines of Fredericksburg.

On the 29th Hill’s corps was directed to move toward Cashtown and Longstreet to follow next day, leaving Pickett’s division at Greenwood as a rear guard until Imboden should get up with his cavalry brigade, while Ewell was recalled from Carlisle to Cashtown or Gettysburg, as circumstances might require. As the Army of Northern Virginia was ordered to concentrate in a southerly direction, while Hooker slowly advanced his columns north, it was manifest the two armies must meet. Topographically, Gettysburg was a strategic point, available for concentration by both armies. Roads from Washington, Baltimore, and all points in the section south of it, where the Union army lay in its fan-shaped position, entered it, as well as the roads from Chambersburg, twenty miles off, via Cashtown, and from Carlisle and York.

Lee was coming south to guard his communications and fight if opportunity presented. Hooker was going north to prevent the occupation of so much territory by the detached parts of Lee’s army and to deliver battle when opportunity offered. Each army was manœuvring for defensive combat, but each was prepared to assume the offensive if occasion required, and neither intended to decline an encounter. There was a cry too for blood from noncombatants everywhere—as strong as once resounded in the Roman Coliseum.

The night that Lee heard of the Federal advance crossing the Potomac, a new commander was in the saddle. “Fighting Joe Hooker” had fought his last battle as an army commander. Halleck, after the battle of Chancellorsville, did not want to trust Hooker with the management of another battle, and had been sustained in his opinion by Mr. Lincoln and Secretary Stanton at a council held between them. It was even said that politics was dragged into the subject, and that the friends of Mr. Chase, a prospective presidential candidate, were bound up in the fortunes of Hooker, and that they interposed to prevent his removal, for “the general who should conquer the rebellion would have the disposal of the next presidency.” The friends of presidential aspirants were on the lookout for the right military alliance, and it was stated that if it should be Hooker’s fortune to bring the war to a successful close nothing would induce him to accept other than military honors in recognition of his services. At any rate, it is certain Hooker naturally resented interference in the field from a general safely shut up in his office in Washington, and properly contended that one man should command all the troops whose operations could be combined against Lee. Halleck not consenting, the difficulty culminated when Hooker requested that Maryland Heights, the gate to Harper’s Ferry, be evacuated, that he might mobilize the ten thousand troops there. Halleck refused, and Hooker, now at Frederick, Maryland, finding he was not allowed to manœuvre his army in the presence of the enemy, asked to be relieved from command, which, being in accordance with the views of the Washington authorities, was promptly done.

[Notes]

[1] The returns make the numbers 57,112. This included Hampton’s and Jones’s cavalry brigades, which, though included in the returns, were absent, making the cavalry at Chancellorsville 2,700 instead of 6,500, as in the returns.

[2] Also known as Dowdall’s Tavern.

[3] In October, 1862, eight months before the army was reorganized, General Lee wrote Mr. Davis, recommending that Generals Longstreet and Jackson be made corps commanders, and saying: “Next to these two officers I consider A. P. Hill the best commander with me; he fights his troops well and takes good care of them, but two corps are enough for the present.” In a published article since the war, General Longstreet has stated that General Lee would not recommend General D. H. Hill or McLaws, both of whom ranked A. P. Hill for the Third Corps, because they were not Virginians, which is not true, and does General Lee very great injustice.

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