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then, to humble ourselves, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.'' Thursday, April 30th, was appointed as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer, and the people gave due heed to the president's earnest recommendation.
The narrative of the proceedings of the Army of the Potomac was suspended at the point where Gen. Burnside, after his ill-success at Fredericksburg and his misfortunes subsequently, had been succeeded by Gen. Hooker (p. 244), as the next man on whom the government thought it best to rely for carrying on operations successfully in Virginia. We resume the narrative at this point, and propose to give an account of what was done by " Fighting Joe Hooker," as he was commonly called in the army. On taking command, he issued an address to the army, January 26th, 1863, in which he said, speaking of himself:-—" The undersigned enters upon the discharge of the duties imposed by this trust with a just appreciation of their responsibility. Since the formation of the army, he has been identified with its history. He has shared with you its glories and reverses, with no other desire than that these relations misrht remain unchanged until its des
tiny should be accomplished Let
ns never hesitate to give the enemy battle wherever we can find him. The undersigned only gives expression to | the feelings of this army when he conveys to our late commander, MajorGeneral Burnside, the most cordial good wishes for his future.
Various measures of improvement
were introduced by Hooker into the army. The system of Grand Divisions was done away with, and the army was divided into seven corps. The first corps was commanded by Reynolds; the second by Couch; the third by Sickles; the fifth by Meade; the sixth by Sedgwick; the eleventh by Howard; and the twelfth by Slocum. The cavalry was consolidated into a single corps, and was placed under command of Stoneman.* Other 180a judicious reforms were also carried into effect. Desertion and its causes were stopped; distinctive badges were given to the different corps; a system of furloughs was instituted; and as Hooker, despite his extra selfsufficiency, was highly popular with the troops, and an able administrative officer, important results were confidently looked for under his guidance.
During the wet season, i. e., the first three months of Hooker's command, he wisely abstained from undertaking any grand military movement; but spent the time in filling up the ranks by the return of absentees, and in thoroughly disciplining the army, so that, at the close of the month of April, the Army of the Potomac was in a state of admirable preparation for active operations against the rebels. It numbered, ac
• By tho changes above noted both Franklin and Sumner were relieved of their commands in the Army of the Potomac. The latter was soon after assigned tc tho command of the Department of Missouri; but while preparing to enter upon duty, ho was suddenly taken ill at his soH-in-law's house, in Syracuse, New York. After only a few days' illness, ho died on the 21st of March, 1863, having just completed his sixtyseventh year. Gen. Sumner was universally lamented by the army and tho country as one of the bravest of soldiers and best of men.
cording to Swinton's calculations, 125,000 men. (infantry and artillery), with a body of 12,000 well-equipped cavalry, and a powerful artillery force of about 400 guns.*
The rebel general was strongly entrenched on the heights south of the Rappahannock, from Skenker's Creek to U. S. Ford, a distance of about twenty-five miles, and had his troops so arranged that he could readily concentrate them on any given point. In this position Lee had only two main lines of retreat, one towards Richmond by railroad, aud the other towards Gordonsville. It was a matter of importance, therefore, for Hooker to make a movement of such a kind as to compel Lee to come out of his fortifications and fight, or to fall back on Richmond. To assist in this movement, Stoneman, with a large cavalry force, was to hasten forward, some time in advance of the army movement, and cut the railroad communications of the enemy at important points in their roads. As a direct attack on Fredericksburg was every way inexpedient, especially after former experiences, Hooker adopted a bold plan of operation against Lee's left, and on Monday morning, April 27th, began the carrying of it out.
A strong, well-appointed column, consisting of the 5th, 11th, and 12th corps, set out for Kelly's Ford, some twenty-seven miles above Fredericks
* Lee's army, according to tho same authority, was greatly inferior to that of his opponent; for, relying on tho strength of the line of the Rappahannock, he had, in February, detached two divisions under Longstreet, to operate south of the James River, and the remainder did not exceed an effective force of 55,000 men; although the rolls of Lee's army showed, March 31st, a force of 60508.—"ATiny of the Potomac," p. 269.
burg, intending by this wide detour to j cross the Rappahannock and the Rapi- j dan, and pass round Lee's flank to Chancellorsville. Marching on Man- j day, this force reached the neighborhood of Kelly's Ford on Tuesday, April 28th, and during the night and next morning, crossed at Kelly's Ford, on pontoon bridges. Early on Wednesday morning, an advance was made to Germania Ford, on the Rapidan—twelve miles distant—by the 11th and 12th corps, and to Ely's Ford, on the same stream, by the 5th corps. At Germania Ford a force of about 150 rebel pioneers was discovered rebuilding the bridge. Most of these, by a well-executed manoeuvre, were captured. Celerity of , movement being the chief desideratum, it was resolved immediately to put the troops over the Rapidan. Ac- maon
Tii i -i • JIS63.
cordingly, the men plunged m,
I Ch. XXVI.] HOOKER'S ADVANCE TO CHANCELLORSVILLE.
pah an nock by a pontoon bridge, on Thursday, without any opposition. This force also converged toward Chancellorsville, and on Thursday night four army corps, namely, Howard's, Stevens', Meade's and Couch's, were massed at this point. That same night Hooker reached Chancellorsville, and established his headquarters at a large brick house, formerly an inn, which, in fact, constituted the entire place. The position thus secured was important, as taking in reverse Lee's entire fortified line, and by its being in direct communication with Fredericksburg by a plank road, and with Orange Court House and Gordonsville by a road through the Wilderness—a desolate region of tangled woods—in its vicinity. The ability displayed in this movement by Hooker has been highly praised by military critics.
Meanwhile, the remaining three corps had rendered essential aid in masking the flank march just noted. The 1st, 3d and Gth corps were ordered, after the flanking column was well under way, to cross the river near Fredericksburg, for the purpose of making a direct demonstration, and giving the rebels reason to suppose that the attack was about to be made asrain at this point. This was done on the 29th of April, and excited the attention of the rebels. The feint having answered its purpose, the 3d corps, under Sickles, was ordered to cross at United States Kord, and join Hooker at Chancellorsville, while the 3d and 6th corps, under Sedgwick, were directed to remain below, and await developments on the right.
The complete success of Hookers strategy, thus far, seems to have roused both him and the army to the highest point of expectation. On the 30th of April, Hooker issued an order, announcing "to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined j 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. j The operations of the 5th, 11th, and 12th corps have been a succession of splendid achievements." Hooker also —according to Swinton, who heard him—talked in a magniloquent manner, e. ff., "the rebel army is now the legitimate propertj' of the Army of the Potomac. They may as well pack up their haversacks and make for Rich mond, and I shall be after them," etc.
Immediately on Lee's becoming acquainted with the true state of affairs, instead of running away, as Hooker thought he must and would do, he made his preparations to advance and give battle* Leaving a small force to hold the heights of Fredericksburg, at midnight of Thursday, the 30th of April, he put his troops in motion towards Chancellorsville, and, in some unexplained way, was allowed by Hooker to advance so far without opposition, as to prevent our seizing the direct communications with Richmond. Hooker, it seems, did not originally intend to remain in the tangled thicket of the Wilderness, an exceedingly bad
* According to the statements of southern writers, like Esten Cooke, Pollard, and others, Lee was aware of Hooker's movements and plans much earlier than we have said in our narrative. It may be so, although we prefer to adhero to the view given in the text
place for the movements of a large army. On Friday morning, May 1st, several columns were pushed forward to gain the open country beyond the bounds of the Wilderness, and affording every facility for fighting to advantage. The idea was to take up a line
! of battle some two and a half miles in front, and advance the whole line at
| two o'clock in the afternoon. The left of the advancing columns moved on the river road for five miles, to within sight of Banks' Ford, without meeting any opposition. The centre column advanced on the turnpike, and having gained one of the heights about a mile from Chancellorsville, met the enemy. After severe skirmishing, our troops drove the rebels back and gained the position assigned them. The right column pushed forward well in advance, without encountering opposition.
The importance of these advance movements, and of holding the position already secured, seems plain enough; but Hooker thought otherwise. He ordered the columns to fall back to Chancellorsville, and instead of marching up with his whole force, and taking the initiative in delivering battle, he strangely threw away precious advantages, and despite the remonstrances of his officers, he determined to remain on the defensive at Chancellorsville. Military men have severely censured Hooker, and have been puzzled to account for his sudden lack of nerve and generalship, since, up to this time, he had displayed vigor and talent of a high order. "Till he met the enemy, Hooker showed a master grasp of the elements of war,
I but the moment he confronted his an
tagonist, he seemed to suffer collapse of all his powers, and after this his conduct, with the exception of one or two momentary flashes of talent, was marked by an incomprehensible feebleness and faultiness; for, in each crisis, his action was not only bad—it was, with a fatal infelicity, the worst that could have
been adopted When he'
found his antagonist making a rapid change of front, and hurrying forward to accept the gage of battle in the Wilderness, the general, whose first stride had been that of a giant, shrunk to the proportions of a dwarf."*
During Friday and Saturday, May 2d, Lee made various demonstrations against the front of Hookeris line of entrenchments; but he had no serious intention of fighting a battle just then, his numbers being much inferior to Hooker's, and he having another mat-! ter of moment in hand. Lee was only seeking to gain time, by this means, for the carrying out a very bold plan which Jackson had suggested and had been sent to execute. This was to assail Hooker's right and rear by a flank march, and by seizing our com munications with United States Ford. Jackson, from his intimate knowledge of the ground and his peculiar ability for work of this kind, was the very man to make this bold dash against Hooker's army, and he lost not a moment in entering upon it. All through the night the sound of the axe was heard, in preparation for the morrow's movement.
Taking with him about 22,000 men, Jackson, on Saturday morning, May
• Swinton's "Army of the Potomac," ji. 280.
-d, set out on his rather perilous expedition, and worked his way with great diligence through the thickets by a path some two miles south of and parallel to the Orange plank road, where Hooker's troops were planted. Late in the afternoon, in spite of all difficulties, he reached the position aimed at for the terrible and crushing blow which he was about to inflict on Hooker's flank. Secret, however, as was his march, his troops were observed, in part at least, about three o'clock iu the afternoon, to be moving in a I westerly direction. Hooker and others thought that this was a retreat, or the beginning of a retreat, on the part of j the rebels, and that a fine opening was j now given for attacking them. Accordingly, Sickles was ordered to take two divisions, and to push into the woods to find and attack the enemy. Our troops moved with alacrity, and soon after came up with the rebels. From the statements of some prisoners
. which were taken, it was inferred that Jackson was not retreating, by any
1 means, but on his way to execute one of those movements which possessed for him a peculiar charm. Under an impression that the astute rebel commander could be prevented from accomplishing his purpose, Sickles was ordered to move on rapidly, other troops being sent to co-operate with
1 him. In a short time, by the aid of Randolph's battery and the energetic action of our troops, there were sent to
i the rear over 400 prisoners, officers and men; and the opinion was held, that the rebel1? would be compelled to fly
i or be captured.
At five o'clock, i M., Jackson had gained the position where he could deal the deadly blow for which he had been seeking the opportunity at so great risk. A terrific crash of musketry on Hooker's extreme right announced that the rebel general had begun his destructive operations. The preparation to meet this onslaught was very imperfect. It was supposed that the corps of Howard (formerly Sigel's), with its supports, would be able to resist the enemy's attack, but every such supposition was utterly futile. Between five and six o'clock, Jackson burst forth with resistless impetuosity upon the unprepared 11th corps. Panic stricken, taken wholly by surprise, the troops rushed forward, a disorganized mass, without arms, and anxious only to escape the rebel assault. Entreaties, threats, orders of commanders, were of no avail; they fled down the road towards headquarters, and overran the next division to the left, whioh was compelled to give way before the enemy even reached its position. Col. Bushbeck, on the extreme left of the 11th corps, made a good fight and held his ground as long as possible; but both his flanks being turned, he too gave way, and the whole corps was soon in utter rout. It was now seven o'clock, and darkness was fast approaching; but Jackson had seized the breastworks, and had pushed forward to within half a mile of headquarters.
It was a critical moment; a new line had to be formed; and as Lee was pressing his attack on Hooker's left and centre, it was a w ork of difficulty