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HOOKER AND ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
then, to humble ourselves, to confess were introduced by Hooker into the our national sins, and to pray for clem- army. The system of Grand Divisions ency and forgiveness.” Thursday, April was done away with, and the army 30th, was appointed as a day of nation. was divided into seven corps. The al humiliation, fasting and prayer, and first corps was commanded by Rey. the people gave due heed to the presi. nolds; the second by Couch; the third dent's earnest recommendation.
by Sickles; the fifth by Meade; the The narrative of the proceedings of sixth by Sedgwick; the eleventh by the Army of the Potomac was suspend. Howard; and the twelfth by Slocum. ed at the point where Gen. Burnside, The cavalry was consolidated into a after his ill-success at Fredericksburg single corps, and was placed under com. and his misfortunes subsequently, had mand of Stoneman.* Other been succeeded by Gen. Hooker (p. 244), judicious reforms as the next man on whom the govern. carried into effect. Desertion and its ment thought it best to rely for carry. causes were stopped ; distinctive badges ing on operations successfully in Vir- were given to the different corps; a ginia. We resume the narrative at this system of furloughs was instituted; point, and propose to give an account and as Hooker, despite his extra selfof what was done by “ Fighting Joe sufficiency, was highly popular with Hooker,” as he was commonly called in the troops, and an able administrative the army. On taking command, le officer, important results were confidentissued an address to the army, January ly looked for under his guidance. 26th, 1863, in which he said, speaking During the wet season, i. e., the first of himself :-“The undersigned enters three months of Hooker's command, he upon the discharge of the duties imposed wisely abstained from undertaking any by this trust with a just appreciation grand military movement; but spent of their responsibility. Since the for- the time in filling up the ranks by the mation of the army, he has been identi- return of absentees, and in thoroughly fied with its history. He has shared disciplining the army, so that, at the with you its glories and reverses, with close of the month of April, the Army no other desire than that these relations of the Potomac was in a state of admirmight remain unchanged until its des- able preparation for active operations tiny should be accomplished..... Let against the rebels. It numbered, acus never hesitate to give the enemy battle wherever we can find him. The * By the changes above noted both Franklin and undersigned only gives expression to Sumner were relieved of their commands in the Army cording to Swinton's calculations, 125,- burg, intending by this wide detour to 000 men (infantry and artillery), with cross the Rappabannock and the Rapi. a body of 12,000 well-equipped cavalry, dan, and pass round Lee's fank to and a powerful artillery force of about Chancellorsville. Marching on Moy. 400 guns.*
of the Potomac. The latter was soon after assigned to the feelings of this army when he con- the command of the Department of Missouri; but veys to our late commander, Major- while preparing to enter upon duty, he was suddenly
taken ill at his son-in-law's house, in Syracuse, New General Burnside, the most cordial York. After only a few days' illness, he died on the good wishes for his future.
21st of March, 1863, having just completed his sixty. “ JOSEPH HOOKER."
seventh year. Gen. Sumner was universally lamented
by the army and the country as one of the bravest of Various measures of improvement soldiers and best of men.
day, this force reached the neighbor: The rebel general was strongly en-hood of Kelly's Ford on Tuesday, April trenched on the heights south of the 28th, and during the night and next Rappahannock, from Skenker's Creek morning, crossed at Kelly's Ford, on to U. S. Ford, a distance of about pontoon bridges. Early on Wednesday twenty-five miles, and had his troops morning, an advance was made to Gerso arranged that he could readily con- mania Ford, on the Rapidan—twelve centrate them on any given point. In miles distant—hy the 11th and 12th this position Lee had only two main corps, and to Ely's Ford, on the same lines of retreat, one towards Richmond stream, by the 5th corps. At Germania by railroad, and the other towards Gor- Ford a force of about 150 rebel pioneers donsville. It was a matter of import- was discovered rebuilding the bridge. ance, therefore, for Hooker to make a Most of these, by a well-executed mamovement of such a kind as to compel næuvre, were captured. Celerity of Lee to come out of his fortifications and movement being the chief desideratum. fight, or to fall back on Richmond. To it was resolved immediately to put the assist in this movement, Stoneman, with troops over the Rapidan. Aca large cavalry force, was to hasten for- cordingly, the men plunged in, ward, some time in advance of the army many of them stripping and carrying movement, and cut the railroad com. their clothes and cartridge-boxes on munications of the enemy at important their bayonets, and waded over, up to points in their roads. As a direct at- their armpits. During the night buge tack on Fredericksburg was every way bonfires were kindled, and the remaininexpedient, especially after former ex. der of the troops were passed over by periences, Hooker adopted a bold plan the next morning. While this was of operation against Lee's left, and on going on at Germania Ford, Meade's Monday morning, April 27th, began the troops were crossing at Ely's Ford. carrying of it out.
Both columns now moved, as ordered, A strong, well-appointed column, con- for Chancellorsville, at the junction of sisting of the 5th, 11th, and 12th the Gordonsville turnpike with the Culcorps, set out for Kelly's Ford, some pepper and Orange Court House plank twenty-seven miles above Fredericks. road, Pleasanton's cavalry keeping up * Lee's army, according to the same authority, was
the communication and protecting the greatly inferior to that of his opponent; for, relying on right flank from the rebel cavalry at the strength of the line of the Rappahannock, he had, in tacks. This maneuvre having uncov February, detached two divisions under Longstreet, to operate south of the James River, and the remainder ered United States Ford, Couch's
corps, did not exceed an effective force of 55,000 men ; al- which had, for three days, being lying though the rolls of Lee's army showed, March 31st, a force of 60,298.-"Army of the Potomac," p. 269.
at that point, was passed over the Rap
HOOKER'S ADVANCE TO CHANCELLORSVILLE.
pahannock by a pontoon bridge, on The complete success of Hooker's Thursday, without any opposition. This strategy, thus far, seems to have roused force also converged toward Chancel. both him and the army to the highest lorsville, and on Thursday night four point of expectation. On the 39th of army corps, namely, Howard's, Stevens', April, Hooker issued an order, announcMeade's and Couch's, were massed at ing “to the army that the operations this point. That same night Hooker of the last three days have determined reached Chancellorsville, and estab. that our enemy must ingloriously fly lished his headquarters at a large brick or come out from behind his defences, house, formerly an inn, which, in fact, and give us battle on our own ground, constituted the entire place. The posi- where certain destruction awaits him. tion thus secured was important, as The operations of the 5th, 11th, and taking in reverse Lee's entire fortified 12th corps have been a succession of line, and by its being in direct commu- splendid achievements.” Hooker also nication with Fredericksburg by a plank -according to Swinton, who heard road, and with Orange Court House and him—talked in a magniloquent man. Gordonsville by a road through the Wil. ver, e.g., “ the rebel army is now the derness-a desolate region of tangled legitimate property of the Army of the woods—in its vicinity. The ability dis- Potomac. They may as well pack up played in this movement by Hooker their haversacks and make for Rich has been highly praised by military mond, and I shall be after them," etc. critics.
Immediately on Lee's becoming acMeanwhile, the remaining three corps quainted with the true state of affairs, had rendered essential aid in masking instead of running away, as Hooker the flank march just noted. The 1st, thought he must and would do, he 3d and 6th corps were ordered, after made his preparations to advance and the flanking column was well under give battle.* Leaving a small force to way, to cross the river near Fredericks- hold the heights of Fredericksburg, at burg, for the purpose of making a midnight of Thursday, the 30th of direct demonstration, and giving the April
, he put his troops in motion torebels reason to suppose that the attack wards Chancellorsville, and, in some was about to be made again at this unexplained way, was allowed by point. This was done on the 29th of Hooker to advance so far without opApril, and excited the attention of the position, as to prevent our seizing the rebels. The feint having answered its direct communications with Richmond. purpose, the 3d corps, under Sickles, Hooker, it seems, did not originally inwas ordered to cross at United States tend to remain in the tangled thicket Ford, and join Hooker at Chancellors- of the Wilderness, an exceedingly bad yille, while the 3d and 6th corps, under
According to the statements of southern writers, Sedgwick, were directed to remain be like Esten Cooke, Pollard, and others, Lee was aware low, and await developments on the of Hooker's movements and plans much earlier than
we have said in our narrative. It may be so, although right.
we prefer to adhere to the view given in the text
place for the movements of a large tagonist, he seemed to suffer collapse army. On Friday morning, May 1st, of all his powers, and after this his conseveral columns were pushed forward duct, with the exception of one or two to gain the open country beyond the momentary flashes of talent, was marked bounds of the Wilderuess, and afford. by an incomprehensible feebleness and ing every facility for fighting to advan- faultiness; for, in each crisis, his action tage. The idea was to take up a line was not only bad—it was, with a fatal of battle some two and a half miles in infelicity, the worst that could have front, and advance the whole line at been adopted.
When he two o'clock in the afternoon. The left found his antagonist making a rapid of the advancing columns moved on change of front, and hurrying forward the river road for five miles, to within to accept the gage of battle in the Wil. sight of Banks' Ford, without meeting derness, the general, whose first stride any opposition. The centre column ad- had been that of a giant, shrunk to the vanced on the turnpike, and having proportions of a dwarf."* gained one of the heights about a mile During Friday and Saturday, May from Chancellorsville, met the enemy. 2d, Lee made various demonstrations After severe skirmishing, our troops against the front of Hooker's line of drove the rebels back and gained the entrenchments; but he had no serious position assigned them. The right intention of fighting a battle just then, column pushed forward well in advance, his numbers being much inferior to without encountering opposition. Hooker's, and he having another mat
The importance of these advance ter of moment in hand. Lee was only movements, and of holding the position seeking to gain time, by this means, already secured, seems plain enough; for the carrying out a very bold plan but Hooker thought otherwise. He which Jackson had suggested and had ordered the columns to fall back to been sent to execute. This was to Chancellorsville, and instead of march- assail Hooker's right and rear by a ing up with his whole force, and taking flank march, and by seizing our com the initiative in delivering battle, he munications with United States Ford. strangely threw away precious advan- Jackson, from his intimate knowledge tages, and despite the remonstrances of of the ground and his peculiar ability his officers, he determined to remain on for work of this kind, was the very the defensive at Chancellorsville. Mili. man to make this bold dash against tary men have severely censured Hook. Hooker's army, and he lost not a mo. er, and have been puzzled to account ment in entering upon it. All through for his sudden lack of nerve and gener. the night the sound of the axe was alship, since, up to this time, he had dis- heard, in preparation for the morrow's played vigor and talent of a high order. movement. “Till he met the enemy, Hooker showed Taking with him about 22,000 men, a master grasp of the elements of war, Jackson, on Saturday morning, May but the moment he confronted his an.
* Swinton's "Army of the Potomac," p. 280.
JACKSON'S FLANK ATTACK.
d, set out on his rather perilous ex- At five o'clock, F m., Jackson had pedition, and worked his way with gained the position where he could great diligence through the thickets by deal the deadly blow for which he had a path some two miles south of and been seeking the opportunity at so parallel to the Orange plank road, great risk. A terrific crash of muswhere Hooker's troops were planted. ketry on Hooker's extreme right anLate in the afternoon, in spite of all nounced that the rebel general had be. dificulties, he reached the position gun his destructive operations. The aimed at for the terrible and crushing preparation to meet this onslaught was blow which be was about to inflict on very imperfect. It was supposed that Hooker's flank. Secret, however, as the corps of Howard (formerly Sigel's), was his march, his troops were observ. with its supports, would be able to reed, in part at least, about three o'clock sist the enemy's attack, but every such in the afternoon, to be moving in a supposition was utterly futile. Be. westerly direction. Hooker and others tween five and six o'clock, Jackson thought that this was a retreat, or the burst forth with resistless imbeginning of a retreat, on the part of petuosity upon the unprepared the rebels, and that a fine opening was 11th corps. Panic stricken, taken now given for attacking them. Ac wholly by surprise, the troops rushed cordingly, Sickles was ordered to take forward, a disorganized mass, without two divisions, and to push into the arms, and anxious only to escape the woods to find and attack the enemy. rebel assault. Entreaties, threats, or. Our troops moved with alacrity, and ders of commanders, were of no avail; soon after came up with the rebels. they fled down the road towards headFrom the statements of some prisoners quarters, and overran the next division which were taken, it was inferred that to the left, which was compelled to Jackson was not retreating, by any give way before the enemy even reachmeans, but on his way to execute one ed its position. Col. Bushbeck, on the of those movements which possessed extreme left of the 11th corps, made a for him a peculiar charm. Under an good fight and held his ground as long impression that the astute rebel com- as possible; but both his flanks being mander could be prevented from ac turned, he too gave way, and the whole complishing his purpose, Sickles was corps was soon in utter rout. It was ordered to move on rapidly, other now seven o'clock, and darkness was troops being sent to co-operate with fast approaching ; but Jackson had him. In a short time, by the aid of seized the breastworks, and had pushed Randolph's battery and the energetic forward to within half a mile of headaction of our troops, there were sent to quarters. the rear over 400 prisoners, officers and It was a critical moment; a new line laen; and the opinion was held, that had to be formed; and as Lee was the rebele would be compelled to fly pressing his attack on Hooker's left or be captured.
and centre, it was a work of difficulty