Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy
By Henry Alexander White



THE year 1863 began with the proclamation of the policy of military emancipation on the part of the Federal government. President Lincoln announced his purpose to destroy the institution of slavery by force of arms, and this purpose was presented to the Northern people as the chief motive for a more zealous prosecution of the war against the South. He proposed to change, through the power of the sword, the entire social and political basis of the Federal Constitution, under the guise of alleged military necessity. This social war was now to be waged by larger armies than those previously mustered. Joseph Hooker was placed in charge of the Army of the Potomac, and in April, with a force of about one hundred and thirty-four thousand men, he prepared to advance across the Rappahannock against Lee’s army of fifty-three thousand. From Hamilton’s Crossing downstream as far as Port Royal, Jackson kept watch with thirty-three thousand men. From Jackson’s left as far as Banks’s Ford stood McLaws with eight thousand muskets; the fords of the river above were guarded by Stuart’s two thousand, seven hundred horsemen supported by Anderson’s eight thousand infantrymen. The hill-tops along this extended line were crowned with artillery. The remaining brigades of Longstreet’s corps were in winter quarters near Suffolk, south of the James River.

Hooker’s scheme ran as follows: A great pretence of crossing the river below the town will be made by Sedgwick with three corps d’armée; at the same time the other four corps must steal up the river to Kelly’s Ford. Suddenly these will cross and fall upon the Confederate left flank and rout the Confederate army from the heights in front of Fredericksburg. Two weeks in advance of the infantry movements, Stoneman was ordered to lead ten thousand horsemen across the upper Rappahannock against Gordonsville and the Fredericksburg railroad. On the southern bank of the Pamunkey River, Stoneman was expected to intrench himself in order to capture the Army of Northern Virginia as Hooker should drive it into the toils!

The days that followed April 13 brought the descending rains, and upon the northern bank of the Rappahannock, Stoneman waited until the river should flow more gently, and Stuart should cease to keep close watch. Lee’s letter to Jackson, April 23, shows that he already divined Hooker’s purpose:

I think from the account given me by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith of the Engineers, who was at Port Royal yesterday, of the enemy’s operations there, the day and night previous, that his present purpose is to draw our troops in that direction while he attempts a passage elsewhere. I would not, then, send down more troops than are actually necessary. I will notify Generals McLaws and Anderson to be on the alert, for I think that if a real attempt is made to cross the river it will be above Fredericksburg.

April 27 saw the abatement of the flood and three Federal corps under Slocum began to move up the stream. The morning of the 29th found this force across the Rappahannock in swift march toward the Ely and Germanna fords of the Rapidan. The same day marked the advance of Stoneman upon Culpeper, where Stuart stood on guard. Hooker’s flanking column had thrust itself between Lee and his cavalry.

At the dawn of April 29, Lee was roused from his cot by J. P. Smith, Jackson’s aide, with the news that Sedgwick was crossing the river near Hamilton’s, below Fredericksburg. Lee playfully said to Smith: “Well, I thought I heard firing and was beginning to think it was time some of you young fellows were coming to tell me what it was all about. Tell your good general that I am sure he knows what to do. I will meet him at the front very soon.” Such was Lee’s message to Jackson. During the forenoon of the 29th, Stuart’s message informed Lee of Hooker’s passage at Kelly’s Ford. Later in the day Stuart sent news of the two Federal columns approaching the Rapidan. It was evident that Hooker was aiming a blow at Lee’s rear. The close of the day, therefore, found Lee sending Anderson westward to meet Hooker and ordering Stuart to resist the Federal column near the Germanna Ford. At midnight, Anderson found Mahone and Posey at Chancellorsville falling back before Hooker’s advance. His head of column had crossed the Rapidan. Anderson made intrenchments at the junction of the mine and plank roads near the Tabernacle Church on the morning of April 30.

On the night of April 29 Stuart was sending W. H. F. Lee with two regiments to oppose Stoneman’s movement against Gordonsville, while he led Fitz Lee’s brigade southward across the Raccoon Ford to keep in touch with the Confederate infantry. The next morning found him between Hooker and Fredericksburg, skirmishing with the vanguard of the Germanna column. The Fifth Corps under Meade was in bivouac at Chancellorsville. During the night of the 30th Stuart fought his way through the Federal cavalry, and rode via Todd’s Tavern to join Lee. April 30 closed upon Hooker at Chancellorsville with fifty thousand men ready for battle. Eighteen thousand more were near at hand under Sickles. Over forty thousand under Sedgwick were threatening Lee’s right wing on the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg. Hooker’s thirteen thousand horsemen at the same time were advancing against Lee’s railway communications. When Hooker thus discovered himself occupying the coveted position in the rear of Lee’s army, he made proclamation to his soldiers, April 30, that “our enemy must ingloriously fly or come out from behind his defences and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him.“ Lee acted with despatch. The midnight hour of April 30 found Jackson on the march from Hamilton’s Crossing, and eight o’clock the following morning, May 1, brought a part of his corps to Anderson’s support in front of Hooker near ChancellorsviUe. Early’s division of Jackson’s corps, Barksdale’s brigade of McLaws’s division, and Pendleton’s reserve artillery, remained in front of Fredericksburg to oppose Sedgwick. Lee’s army was between Hooker’s divided wings, and Hooker’s cavalry was swinging off in the distance. Lee faced both ways and prepared to deliver a double battle. He moved the mass of his army within four miles of ChancellorsviUe and left Early to oppose Sedgwick with eight thousand five hundred muskets and thirty guns. Jackson, Anderson, and McLaws with forty-one thousand men at 11 A.M., May 1, were moving upon Hooker. At that hour, Lee was on Lee’s Hill giving orders to Early and Pendleton “not to be deceived by pretended movements of the enemy—and when his real movements came, to meet him with the utmost energy and determination.”

Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy By Henry Alexander White CHAPTER XI.


At the Tabernacle Church, Jackson ordered Anderson’s men to lay aside their spades and at once moved westward to attack the Federal army in the dense jungle of the wilderness. McLaws marched on the turnpike and Anderson on the plank road; Jackson supported Anderson on the left. At the same time. Hooker was pushing out his forces on the same highways toward Fredericksburg. The hostile columns met face to face in the tangled forest and the clash of arms began. Alexander’s battalion of artillery accompanied the Confederate advance. One battery moved in front with the infantry on the turnpike, and fourteen guns at the head of the infantry column on the plank road—one howitzer with the line of skirmishers. The Confederate line marched steadily forward through the unfenced fields and woodlands. Cheer after cheer rolled up from the grey jackets as Lee and Jackson both rode abreast of the line on the Confederate left. McLaws repulsed Sykes on the turnpike, after the latter was flanked by Jackson. Anderson turned the right flank of Slocum and both of Hooker’s columns retreated to Chancellorsville. There they were comforted by the presence of eighteen thousand under Sickles. The Confederates advanced until they discovered Hooker in “a position“ says Lee, “of great natural strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest filled with a 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 woods.”

Hooker’s position was the following: The Fifth Corps (Meade) looked eastward from strong intrenchments two miles in length, extending from the Rappahannock to the White House near Chancellorsville. The Second Corps (Couch) lay behind fortifications that ran southward from the White House to Chancellorsville and thence eastward along the turnpike to Mott’s Run. The Twelfth Corps (Slocum) dwelt in a fortress that looked southward between Fairview and Hazel Grove; the divisions of Berry and Whipple lay just north of Chancellorsville; Birney’s division of the Third Corps (Sickles) supported by Williams and his log-works defended the woods north of Hazel Grove. The Eleventh Corps (Howard), forming Hooker’s right wing, was extended for more than a mile along the turnpike west of Dowdall’s Tavern. On the road leading to the Ely Ford, Hooker’s rear was guarded bySykes’s division of the Fifth Corps. More than seventy-five thousand men with many heavy guns were thus mustered under Hooker’s banner in his lair of strength at Chancellorsville.

In the forest of scrub-oak and pine, east and south of Hooker’s fortifications, Lee drew up his forty-one thousand men in a line across the two roadways, extending as far to the left as the Wellford furnace where Stuart held the flank. Wilcox stationed his brigade on Lee’s extreme right to guard Banks’s Ford. After sunset, Lee and Jackson met at the edge of the plank road, where another road turned south-westward to the furnace. The slight elevation upon which they stood was carpeted with dry pine-needles from the trees that towered above them. Talcott and Boswell were despatched from this point to make a moonlight reconnaissance of Hooker’s fortress where it faced eastward. At 10 P.M. these officers returned to report the Federal line as presenting no favourable point for attack in front. Lee then said to Jackson, “We must attack on our left as soon as practicable,” and he bade Jackson prepare to execute this movement. Afterwards the two chieftains made ready their bivouac for the night. At the foot of a pine tree, wrapped in army blankets, with the head pillowed on a saddle, they stretched themselves upon the ground. Later in the night, J. P. Smith returned from an errand and aroused General Lee. “Come here and tell me what you have learned on the right,” said Lee. “Laying his hand on me,” writes Smith, “he drew me down by his side, and, passing his arm around my shoulder, drew me near to him in a fatherly way that told of his warm and kindly heart,” After expressing his thanks for the service rendered, Lee began to jest with the young officer about an incident of the advance during the afternoon. As the latter broke away, he was followed by General Lee’s hearty laugh that broke again and again upon the stillness of the night.

Meanwhile the cavalry had brought news of the extended position of Hooker’s right wing. Before the dawn of May 2, Jackson sent Jed. Hotchkiss and Rev. B. T. Lacy to search for a roadway leading westward from the furnace. In the early morning twilight Hotchkiss returned from the reconnaissance to find Lee and Jackson seated on cracker-boxes over a fire of twigs. He indicated on a map the position of the desired pathway. The general plan of a flank movement under Jackson had been already ordered by Lee. When the aide reported a feasible route across Hooker’s front, Jackson pointed out the possibility of leading a force in circuit around Hooker’s flank against the rear of the Federal right wing. After some discussion, Lee gave Jackson permission to lead his entire corps around the Federal right, while Lee held the two divisions of McLaws and Anderson between Hooker and Fredericksburg.

On January 25, 1866, in a letter to the wife of General Jackson, General Lee thus described the origin of the great flank march:

. . . I decided against it [an attack upon Hooker’s central works] and stated to General Jackson, we must attack on our left as soon as practicable, and the necessary movement of the troops began immediately. In consequence of a report received about that time from General Fitz Lee, describing the position of the Federal army, and the roads which he held with his cavalry leading to its rear, General Jackson, after some inquiry concerning the roads leading to the furnace, undertook to throw his command entirely in Hooker’s rear, which he accomplished with equal skill and boldness; the rest of the army being moved to the left flank to connect with him as he advanced.

With the rising of the sun, Rodes began to lead D. H. Hill’s old division past the furnace in the advance westward through the dense forest. Colston and A. P. Hill followed next in order in the march made by the twenty-six thousand ragged and sturdy infantrymen, flanked by four regiments of horsemen under Stuart and Fitz Lee. When Jackson was in full progress directly across Hooker’s front, General Lee inaugurated fierce demonstrations against the Federal left and centre. Artillery was moved forward against Meade, and strong bands of skirmishers assailed Couch and Slocum. Sickles caught sight of the column moving past the Wellford furnace, and his rifled cannon induced Jackson’s veterans to seek another course farther south. Sickles then hastened a force beyond the furnace to the unfinished railroad where he made prey of a part of the 23d Georgia regiment, Jackson’s rearguard. When this news ran through the Federal camp, most of the Federal officers were seized with the idea that Lee’s entire army was in retreat toward Richmond. Sickles organised a strong pursuing column. At first, Birney, and then Whipple, of his own corps, and then Williams of the Twelfth Corps, led their divisions southward from the furnace in pursuit of Jackson! Lee turned the guns of Anderson upon Sickles, and the latter called for reinforcements. After 4 P.M., Barlow’s brigade of Howard’s corps was sent to the furnace. Twenty thousand men from Hooker’s centre were thus astray in the wilderness seeking Jackson at the very hour when the latter was preparing to launch a thunderbolt of war against Hooker’s right flank.

Noonday marked Jackson’s arrival at a point upon the plank road two miles south-west of Howard’s position. He left the “Stonewall” brigade with Fitz Lee’s horsemen on this road, and pushed the main column to the Orange turnpike. At 3 P.M. Jackson was sending from a point in Hooker’s rear this last message to Lee: “I hope as soon as practicable to attack. I trust that an ever-kind Providence will bless us with great success.” He was then arraying Rodes in line of battle across the turnpike at the Luckett Farm, two miles west of Dowdall’s Tavern. Jackson’s left wing was directly in Howard’s rear. Colston formed the second line; A. P. Hill followed in column. At 5.15 P.M., Jackson’s bugles rang out, and the fierce Confederate yell startled the deer from their lair into Howard’s camp, and sent terror throughout the Eleventh Corps, composed chiefly of Germans. Six guns of Stuart’s horse artillery under Beckham moved at a gallop along the
turnpike, with the riflemen, in sections of two guns each, and poured canister into Howard’s regiments. A concentric fire was directed against every band of Federal soldiers that dared to stand, and multitudes were made prisoners. The roadway was soon blocked with the dense mass of fugitives that fled in panic and wild rout toward the Chancellor House two miles away. Jackson’s men dashed forward with fierce eagerness. Colquitt, commanding Rodes’s right brigade supposed that he saw a Federal force on his flank; he halted, faced southward, and retarded the advance of Jackson’s right wing for one hour. This delay allowed Schurz’s division to escape. But Howard’s corps was an utter wreck and the fragments were carrying dismay and terror into the very heart of Hooker’s army. The lines of Rodes and Colston became mingled in the pursuit, and all together leaped over the Federal works at
Dowdall’s Tavern. Still onward Jackson pressed the routed corps until he captured the log-works north of Hazel Grove, and drove Howard’s battered regiments behind the divisions of Berry and Williams. Darkness had descended upon the field. Rodes and Colston declared that their lines had lost formation in the forest, and Jackson reluctantly ordered a halt and
prepared for a night attack by bringing A. P. Hill to the front. He had reached a point within one mile of Hooker’s headquarters, and held control of the Bullock road leading to the White House directly in rear of the Federal army and only two thousand yards distant. The entire Federal army was just within his grasp. At 9 P.M. Jackson rode forward to reconnoitre, remaining behind his own pickets. He had just given Hill the order: “Press them; cut them off from the United States Ford, Hill; press them!” As he listened to the ringing of axes that told of the construction of Federal defences the pickets began firing, and Jackson rode back with his staff toward Hill’s line of battle. Hill’s 18th North Carolina regiment fired upon the party, supposing them to be Federal cavalry. Two fell dead and Jackson was severely wounded and borne from the field. Soon afterward, Hill was stricken down, and Jackson sent for Stuart to take command of his corps. Stuart spent the hours after midnight in arranging the artillery for the assault.

At midnight Sickles reached Hazel Grove on the return march from the furnace. Neither Sickles nor Anderson, nor McLaws, had heard, at first, the sound of Jackson’s battle. This was due to the peculiar condition of the atmosphere. The attack ordered by Lee was, therefore, not made until Jackson’s pyrotechnic display after nightfall brought McLaws into a heavy skirmish against Hooker’s left. Anderson suffered Sickles to march back again to Hazel Grove. That point had witnessed a tragic comedy about the time when Jackson was ordering his front divisions to halt. Two hundred Georgians from Rodes’s line found their way as far as Hazel Grove, one mile to the right of Jackson’s position and there met the fire of some Federal guns under the eye of Pleasanton, leader of Hooker’s cavalry. Pleasanton reported that Keenan led four hundred Federal horsemen into the midst of the Confederate line of battle, and that the Federal artillery at Hazel Grove swept back the advance of five thousand riflemen and checked Jackson’s assault! At midnight, came Sickles from the furnace to repeat the drama. Some of his skirmishers entered the forest north of Hazel Grove and were easily repulsed by the pickets of Hill’s regiments. The larger part of Sickles’s force then moved against the flank of Hooker’s Twelfth Corps and entered into conflict with Slocum’s men. Out of this battle against his Federal associates. Sickles manufactured the report that his men recaptured the plank road and inflicted the fatal wound upon Jackson!*

[Note] * The Battle of Chancellorsville, by Augustus Choate Hamlin, Historian, Eleventh Army Corps.

During the night Wilbourne and Hotchkiss made a wide detour around the corps of Sickles and brought the news of Jackson’s success to General Lee. They found him beneath the same pine-trees whence he had despatched Jackson to assault Hooker’s rear. By the light of a candle, these officers saw the shadow of deep grief pass over Lee’s countenance when they told of Jackson’s injury in the hour of victory. After a pause occasioned by the struggle to suppress his emotion, Lee said, “Any victory is dearly bought which deprives us of the services of General Jackson, even for a short time.”

Lee at once sent orders to Stuart to drive Hooker from the Chancellor House by direct assault; at the same time he bade Stuart to press toward his right in order to unite his force with the division under Anderson. He then dictated the following letter to Jackson:

I have just received your note informing me that you were
wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I
have directed events, I should have chosen for the good of the coun-
try to be disabled in your stead.

I congratulate you upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

This message was read to Jackson while the battle of May 3 was in progress. The suffering hero turned away his face and said, “General Lee is very kind, but he should give the praise to God.” At an earlier time during the war, Jackson said of Lee: “General Lee is a phenomenon. He is the only man whom I would be willing to follow blindfold.”

The fall of his lieutenant aroused all the fierceness of Lee’s combative ardour. “Those people shall be pressed immediately,” he said to his staff-officers, and the early dawn of May 3 found him in the saddle making ready his divisions for the battle. The sun arose upon Lee’s two wings advancing against the central part of Hooker’s position at Chancellorsville. Between Stuart and Anderson there was at first a gap of one mile. Stuart moved eastward, for the most part south of the plank road, with Hill’s division led by Heth in the front line. From his position Lee moved McLaws westward along the plank road and Anderson northward over the space between that road and the furnace.

Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy By Henry Alexander White CHAPTER XI.


Hooker had been strengthened by Reynolds’s First Corps of seventeen thousand men. Exclusive of losses, he had now a force of nearly eighty thousand. These were arranged in the form of the letter V; the sharp angle on the high ground at Fairview, south of Chancellor’s house, was defended by a park of forty-three guns. In the line facing westward were Sickles and Williams with twenty-three thousand men. Opposed to these were Stuart’s twenty thousand. In the Federal line facing eastward stood Geary, Hancock, and a fragment of Howard’s corps, twenty thousand effectives. McLaws and Anderson were directing fourteen thousand against them. Meade, Reynolds, and Couch with thirty-seven thousand, stood within ready call of both these Federal lines.

Stuart began the battle by sending Jackson’s corps against Hooker’s westward ramparts. An abatis of sharpened stakes and brushwood defended the approach to the heavy works constructed of felled trees. Over the entire defence rushed Stuart’s left wing, north of the plank road. Stuart himself rode behind the line like another Henry of Navarre, his black hat-plume waving and his merry voice singing at the highest pitch, “Old Joe Hooker, come out of the wilderness!” Stuart’s right wing captured four Federal guns at Hazel Grove and held that plateau. As the sun lifted the mist that enshrouded the field, Stuart saw the advantage of this elevation on his right, and he there concentrated thirty guns under Walker. These secured an enfilade fire northward along the two Federal lines. A similar enfilade was poured in from the direction of the furnace by Hardaway’s guns of Anderson’s division. This fierce crossfire of artillery in little more than one hour rendered Hooker’s entire position untenable.

McLaws was assailing Hooker’s left from the direction of Fredericksburg; Anderson was pressing his centre from the furnace road, and Stuart was sending line after line against the Federal right. Eight o’clock marked the junction of Lee’s two wings. The fighting on both sides was stubborn and desperate. Over tremendous barriers the Confederate infantrymen rushed, only to be driven back by the Federal reserves. Three times the Federal defences were captured and lost again. But the guns of Walker and Hardaway gradually broke the strength of the Federal artillery. A shell rendered Hooker himself unfit to direct the battle, and Couch was left in command without a plan of defence. At 10 A.M. Hooker’s key-point, Fairview, was in the hands of the Confederates, and his troops were retreating past the flames of Chancellor’s house. Hooker was literally driven from strong intrenchments into new fortifications nearer the Rappahannock.

Lee rode with his troops as they pressed forward in pursuit. The air was filled with Confederate shells passing over the infantry in search of Hooker’s rear. The surrounding forest was in flames. Charles Marshall, Lee’s aide, thus describes the scene when Lee spurred Traveller up to the burning house from which Hooker had fled:

His presence was the signal for one of those uncontrollable outbursts of enthusiasm which none can appreciate who have not witnessed them. The fierce soldiers, with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle, the wounded crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed posssed with a common impulse. One long unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle and hailed the presence of the victorious chief. He sat in the full realisation of all that soldiers dream of—triumph; and as I looked on him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army had won, I thought that it must have been from some such scene that men in ancient days ascended to the dignity of the gods.

This witness affirms that Lee’s first thought was in behalf of the wounded who were endangered by the fire that raged around them. At the same time a message was brought from Jackson congratulating Lee upon the great victory. “I shall never forget the look of pain and anguish that passed over his face as he listened,” says Marshall. “With a voice broken with emotion he bade me say to General Jackson that the victory was his and that the congratulations were due to him. . . . I forgot the genius that won the day in my reverence for the generosity that refused its glory.”

While Lee was urging forward the preparations for a renewed attack against Hooker, a courier turned his attention toward Fredericksburg. On the previous day, a member of Lee’s staff misinterpreted his commands and ordered Early to march from Hamilton’s crossing to Chancellorsville. Early’s withdrawal permitted Sedgwick, then on the southern bank of the Rappahannock, to move up the river against Barksdale on the Marye Heights, On Sunday morning, May 3, Early returned to his former position, only in time to see twenty thousand Federal troops assailing Barksdale’s front and right flank. Sedgwick’s success against Barksdale’s artillery and his one thousand muskets was won with difficulty and at a great cost; but it enabled the corps of thirty thousand Federal soldiers to move past Early’s left flank to the westward, and to threaten Lee’s rear on the plank road. Wilcox marched at once from Banks’s ford, threw his brigade across the path of Sedgwick at the Salem Church and sent news of the situation to General Lee. With the same quiet courage that always marked him, Lee immediately despatched McLaws with four brigades to assist Wilcox in the battle against Sedgwick. The remaining Confederate brigades were retained in front of Hooker. Thus for the second time Lee took measures to withstand the advance of a numerous foe against the rear of his main army. He then wrote to President Davis as follows: “We have again to thank Almighty God for a great victory.”

McLaws moved toward Fredericksburg with all speed, arrayed his regiments across the roadway at the Salem Church, and at once began the fierce conflict which forced Sedgwick backward one mile toward Fredericksburg. On the morning of May 4, Early marched along the Telegraph road and recaptured the heights near the town. He now stood in Sedgwick’s rear. Noonday brought Lee with Anderson’s brigades to the Salem Church. By 6 P.M. Anderson had extended his line eastward until he joined hands with Early. Their advance forced Sedgwick northward across the plank road as far as the Rappahannock, but McLaws was slow to perceive his retreat and did not attack. A pontoon bridge near Banks’s ford enabled Sedgwick to save his entire force from capture.

Lee returned at once to Chancellorsville to assail Hooker with his entire army. But the early dawn of May 6 revealed to Lee the deserted Federal trenches, and the rising sun found Hooker on the northern bank of the Rappahannock issuing the order, “General headquarters to-night will be at the old camp near Falmouth.” Before night. Hooker himself was in camp at Falmouth tendering “congratulations” to his army! He had abandoned beyond the Rappahannock rnore than seventeen thousand of his men killed, wounded, and captured, fourteen heavy guns, twenty thousand stand of arms, and thirty-one thousand knapsacks, and yet in the order of May 6 he said, “The events of the last week may swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army”! Moreover, he made this declaration: “Profoundly loyal and conscious of its strength, the Army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interest or honour may demand”!

Lee’s casualties numbered thirteen thousand. Many of his brigadiers were wounded, and the brave Paxton was slain at the head of the “Stonewall” brigade. The flower of Lee’s matchless army was, in part, destroyed at Chancellorsville, and the South was unable to send others to fill the vacancies. In his official report Lee spoke of

the dangers and difficulties which under God’s blessing, were surmounted by the fortitude and valour of our army. The conduct of the troops cannot be too highly praised. Attacking largely superior numbers in strongly intrenched positions, their heroic courage overcame every obstacle of nature and art and achieved a triumph most honourable to our arms.

In mentioning individual instances of gallantry, he wrote:

Among them will be found some who have passed by a glorious death beyond the reach of praise, but the memory of whose virtues and devoted patriotism will ever be cherished by their grateful countrymen. . . . To the skilful and efficient management of the artillery the successful issue of the contest is in great measure due.

On May 7, the commander summoned his soldiers to return “grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory for the signal deliverance He has wrought.”

Lee’s personal affection for Jackson was exceedingly strong. Immediately after the battle, sanguine hopes were entertained that Jackson would recover from his wounds. Lee’s messages to his lieutenant were many, and they all indicated the tender love and sincere generosity of the Southern chieftain.

“Give him my affectionate regards,” said Lee to a messenger, “and tell him to make haste and get well, and come back to me as soon as he can. He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” When it was announced that Jackson’s wounds were serious and might prove fatal, Lee manifested strong emotion and said: “Surely, General Jackson must recover. God will not take him from us, now that we need him so much. Surely he will be spared to us, in answer to the many prayers which are offered for him.” Then, after a moment’s silence, spent in evident anguish of spirit, Lee sent this message: “When you return I trust you will find him better. When a suitable occasion offers, give him my love, and tell him that I wrestled in prayer for him last night, as I never prayed, I believe, for myself.”

The death of his great colleague and beloved friend brought to Lee the keenest personal sorrow and a sense of irreparable loss to his country. General Order No. 61, issued on May 11, ran as follows:

With deep grief, the Commanding-General announces to the army the death of Lieutenant-Genend T. J. Jackson, who expired on the 10th instant, at 3.15 p.m. The daring, skill and energy of this great and good soldier, by the decree of an all-wise Providence, are now lost to us. But while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit still lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God as our hope and our strength. Let his name be a watchword to his corps, who have followed him to victory on so many fields. Let officers and soldiers emulate his invincible determination to do everything in the defence of our beloved country.

R. E. Lee, General.

Lee’s right arm was removed when the noble Christian hero passed beyond the river. From this time onward Lee’s mind dwelt almost continually upon the sore calamity of Jackson’s departure. After the experiences of the summer of 1863, Lee wrote in September his official report of the Chancellorsville campaign, wherein he made the following reference to Jackson:

The movement by which the enemy’s position was turned and the fortune of the day decided, was conducted by the lamented Lieutenant-General Jackson, who, as has already been stated, jvas severely wounded near the close of the engagement on Saturday evening. I do not propose here to speak 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 love and gratitude of his country.

Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy By Henry Alexander White CHAPTER XI.


As Lee turned to face the new situation, on May 11 he wrote to his wife concerning “the loss of the good and great Jackson.” To this he added: “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.”


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