[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
previous
Chapter
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
R. E. Lee: A Biography

by Douglas Southall Freeman

published by Charles Scribner's Sons,
New York and London, 1934

The text, and illustrations except as noted, are in the public domain.


[image ALT: link to next section]
next
Chapter
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. II
p508
Chapter XXXIII

Jackson Disappears in the Forest

When Lee rode through the fog to the front early in the morning of April 29, 1863, he found that the Federals had very quietly pushed their boats over the Rappahannock just below the mouth of Deep Run, close to the point where the second bridge had been placed on December 11. The Confederate pickets there had seen nothing and had heard nothing until the boats were actually grounding. Retreating before superior forces, the outposts had no information except that the enemy was on the Confederate side of the river and had already completed a pontoon bridge. Farther downstream, opposite the Pratt homestead, Smithfield,1 another Union column had attempted to cross but had been fired upon by the guards and had been delayed. The Federals were clearing the ground at this point and were throwing their bridge, which, however, they did not complete until after 11 o'clock.2 The troops that reached the Confederate side did not attempt to advance immediately but sheltered themselves under the bank of the river, covered by the artillery that lined the Stafford Heights. A very large supporting force was in sight on the other shore, as if waiting its turn to move forward. Everything indicated that the Federals were launching a general offensive. This view was confirmed by reports that heavy columns had been seen marching up the Rappahannock toward the Confederate left.3

The reasons that had prompted Lee in December not to attempt to resist the enemy in the plain along the river applied with equal weight now. Orders were given to prepare on the ridges to meet the attack, as in the first battle on that terrain.4 For the moment, Lee could do no more. There was no way of telling where the p509 main blow would fall.5 Observing that there were no signs of any effort to place pontoons directly opposite Fredericksburg,6 Lee rode up the Rappahannock to see what was afoot there, but as he found no definite evidences of an attempt to force a crossing, he soon returned and conferred with Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jackson on the proper dispositions.7Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class. President Davis was notified and was asked to send forward any available reinforcements from the south side of the James,8 though Lee had no expectation that Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Longstreet could return to him in time for the coming battle, or that any other help on a large scale could reach him speedily.9 Jackson's own command was ordered up from Port Royal;10 the artillery in the rear, around Guiney's,11 was put on the alert and, a little later, was directed to move forward.12

Before noon on the 29th, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stuart reported that a force of about 14,000 infantry with six guns and some cavalry had crossed below Kelly's Ford on the upper Rappahannock and apparently was moving towards Gordonsville. Lee reasoned, from other reports, that Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stoneman's cavalry would cross in the vicinity of the Warrenton Springs. These forces might readily destroy the Virginia Central and might perhaps reach Lee's supply line, the R. F. and P. Railroad,13 yet Lee determined not to attempt to detach any infantry from the Army of Northern Virginia to oppose them. Convinced that he must not release any part of his small army for lengthy operations at a distance from him, he had to content himself with informing the President of the new development, with the suggestion that if troops could be found in southside Virginia and in North Carolina, they be sent to Gordonsville.14

During the afternoon, a telegram arrived from Stuart15 announcing that he had engaged the enemy at Maddens, nine miles east of Culpeper and had captured prisoners from the V, XI, p510 and XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac. More than that, Stuart stated that these columns of the enemy were headed for Germanna and for Ely's Ford on the Rapidan.16 This was news of the greatest moment. It indicated, in the first place, that the Federals had a very large force of infantry twenty-one miles northwest of Fredericksburg; it meant, secondly, that some or all of these men were moving to turn the left flank of the Confederate army. For if the entire force encountered by Stuart had been making for Gordonsville, it would have been marching to the southwest and not to the southeast, into the angle between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan.


[image ALT: zzz]
Sketches of the approaches to Gordonsville and to Chancellorsville
from the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers.º

Aside from the threat thus presented of a turning-movement against Lee's position at Fredericksburg, there was immediate danger that if the Federals crossed at Ely's and Germanna Ford, they might throw themselves between Lee and Stuart and thereby deprive the army of its cavalry at a time when every road should p511 be watched. Lee wished to prevent this, if he could. He deliberately took the chance that the enemy's horse might prey upon the railroads in his rear, and ordered Stuart to rejoin the main army as soon as possible, delaying the Federals on their march.17

Shortly after 6:30 that afternoon, April 29, a courier arrived with a report that the Federals had crossed at Germanna Ford. On the heels of this messenger arrived another with the intelligence that the enemy was also over the Rapidan at Ely's Ford.18 This removed all doubt as to the direction of the advance: the roads from Ely's and from Germanna met at Chancellorsville, fourteen miles west of Fredericksburg. The Federals evidently were seeking to turn the flank from that direction and, presumably, to get in the rear of the Army of Northern Virginia.19 But in what strength? That was a question the reports from the Rapidan did not answer.20 If it was a small column, it could be dealt with readily, but if it was the main force of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hooker, all the troops at Fredericksburg might have to retire in order to re-establish contact with the cavalry, now presumably separated from Lee by the force marching on Chancellorsville.21 The larger question of where the major engagement was to be fought when the enemy had developed his plan could wait on the immediate necessity of securing the flank and getting in touch with the cavalry. The morning, Lee believed, would almost certainly find the whole of the Army of the Potomac on the south side of the Rappahannock.22

R. H. Anderson, commanding one of the two divisions left behind by Longstreet, had three of his brigades above Fredericksburg, guarding two of the fords. Another brigade was near at hand. The fourth had been ordered up.23 Lee decided to pivot the right of this division on the Rappahannock, above Fredericksburg, and to swing it back roughly at right angles to the river. This would cover his left, and would enable him to hold Chancellorsville, where the two routes of the enemy came together.

This movement began at 9 P.M. on the 29th, through a drenching rain.24 Anderson, to whom it was entrusted, was an able officer p512 of high courage but indolent and difficult to arouse.25 Lee accordingly took the precaution specifically to order Anderson to go to the front and to direct the troop-movement in person.26 Midnight found Anderson at Chancellorsville, where he met the two brigades that had been on the extreme left at United States Ford.27 Meantime, Lee had ordered Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McLaws, commanding the other division of Longstreet, to put his troops in condition to move the next day with cooked rations, if he should be needed to support Anderson.28 Lee did not place these two under McLaws, the senior. Instead, he took their movement in his own hands, leaving to Jackson the management of the Second Corps.

The scattered condition of the army, in Lee's opinion, favored the operations of the enemy,29 but his disposition at the end of the day protected him against a surprise as fully as his limited strength permitted. Although he did not have all his cavalry at hand, he had not been caught wholly off his guard. The advance had come from the quarter where he had expected it. While he had as yet no adequate knowledge of the number of troops moving from the left, he held the roads of direct approach and had most of his disposable cavalry on his threatened flank. Should his expectations be at fault, and the main assault be delivered against his right, Jackson was there on good ground to oppose it with the whole of his corps.

Morning of the 30th saw little change on the front below Fredericksburg. Bridgeheads had been constructed during the night, and the Federals were busy digging a line of trenches to connect them, but the enemy showed no disposition to attack.30 So quiet was he that a deer, trapped between the opposing forces, was chased by the men of both armies and was finally captured by the Federals without the firing of a single shot.31 Lee himself had a touch of the malady from which he had recently suffered and he prudently counselled with Jackson in his tent.32 Later in the morning he rode out with "Stonewall" and examined the Federal lines from p513 the ridge. Jackson was all for attacking. Lee's judgment was against it. He told Jackson he feared it was as impracticable to move against the enemy on the plain as it had been in December. The Union positions could be assaulted only at heavy loss. If the attack were not successful, it would be difficult to break off the battle under the fire of the Federal guns. However, Lee continued, with the deference he always showed in tactical matters when he had entrusted an operation to a subordinate, if Jackson thought it could be done, he would give the order. Jackson pondered and asked for time in which to study the situation. Lee consented.33

As Jackson went about his examination of the ground, with only a little long-range artillery practice to interrupt him, Lee turned to measures for aiding Anderson. Engineers were hurried to him to draw entrenchments34 and Alexander's battalion of artillery, which had come up from the rear, was sent him.35 President Davis was advised of the situation and was told that the enemy's object evidently was to turn the Confederate left.36 Nothing was heard from Anderson during the morning, but between noon and 1 P.M. a courier arrived from the 3d Virginia Cavalry, announcing that the Federal infantry, who had crossed at Germanna Ford, were advancing. A wagon and artillery train with heavy infantry escort was said to be across at Ely's Ford. These columns were moving on Chancellorsville.37 A little later, Anderson reported that he had been as far as Chancellorsville, and had been joined by the brigades from the United States Ford.38 He had withdrawn to a good position east of Chancellorsville, Anderson said, and up to the time of writing had encountered only cavalry, moving from the direction of Chancellorsville, but he needed reinforcements.39

Lee promptly sent Anderson careful and detailed orders: He was to dig in at once and, if he could do so in time, prepare a line adequate for the additional troops that Lee hoped to be able to send him. Anderson was to advise whether he desired additional p514 artillery. In particular, he was to have his men keep two days' cooked rations on their persons and was to be prepared to remove his trains at any time should the occasion demand. Cavalry was coming up, Lee explained, and must be employed in apprizing Anderson of the enemy's movements, while retarding as much as possible the advance of the Federals.40 To insure the ready dispatch of more guns to Anderson, should they be needed, Lee halted the artillery moving up from the rear.41

These orders to Anderson, which were dispatched at 2:30 P.M.,42 were of historical importance. It was the first time, in open operations, that Lee had ordered the construction of field fortifications. He had thrown up works at Fredericksburg when he thought that he might wish to hold the heights with a small force, while keeping the rest of his troops for manoeuvre, and now he reasoned that he could increase his defensive power on the left by putting his men under cover. There was suspicion on the Fredericksburg sector that the Federals were diminishing force.43 Jackson, moreover, reported that he concurred in Lee's belief that an offensive on the troops below the town was impracticable.44

With only this scant information in hand, Lee had now to decide on his general plan. Opinion among his officers was much divided,45 but he studied his intelligence reports with great care and made a long-range but careful examination of the strength and movements of the Federals on the Stafford Heights. At length he shut up his glasses. "The main attack will come from above," he said. And from that moment there was no doubt in his mind. He believed the Federals on the left were in large force, and that they had advanced almost as far as he could permit them to come without getting between him and Richmond. If, as he had concluded, it was not possible to drive back the Federals below p515 Fredericksburg and then turn with his full strength on the enemy moving against his flank, only two courses were open to him: Either he must retreat southward, or else he must hold his position at Fredericksburg and strike at once with the greater part of his army at the columns marching on Chancellorsville. A retreat was the easier and safer course, so far as the immediate situation was concerned. General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pope, somewhat similarly placed by Jackson's march on Manassas, had not hesitated to retire precipitately. The alternative policy — to divide the army now and to give battle on the left — was to take great risks of destruction. Defeat on the left would necessitate the evacuation of Fredericksburg; disaster at Fredericksburg would bring the Federals on that sector to his right flank and rear. Late in March Lee had argued against the evacuation of the line of the Rappahannock because, as he said, "It throws open a broad margin of our frontier, and renders our railroad communications more hazardous and more difficult to secure."46 This consideration weighed heavily with him now, and inclined him to hazard a battle to hold the front on which he then stood. Besides, only 20,000 men had been employed to repulse the assaults of Burnside's whole army at Fredericksburg in December. A lesser force might suffice to beat off the attacks of the divisions huddled under the river-bank. He probably reasoned, also, that a retreat was what Hooker might reasonably anticipate. An immediate offensive against the columns advancing down the south bank of the Rappahannock might disconcert his adversary and give the Confederates the advantage of a surprise in a broken, wooded country.

Lee's decision, therefore, was to prepare the army for a retreat, if that became necessary, but to retain a limited force at Fredericksburg and to strike swiftly on his left. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Early's division, with one brigade from McLaws, supported by a strong force of artillery, would be held on the heights overlooking the plain where waited the Federal units now identified as under command of Major General John Sedgwick. McLaws was to move at midnight to reinforce Anderson, and Jackson was to follow at daybreak, with his entire corps, less Early.47 McLaws had already been instructed to make ready for a move,48 and both he and Jackson were now p516 directed to send all the wagon-trains to the rear and to provide the men with two days' rations.49 Jackson's mission, as set forth in orders, was to "make arrangements to repulse the enemy," but Lee's purpose was, if possible, to "drive the enemy back to the Rapidan."50

McLaws marched at midnight on April 30-May 1. The forehanded Jackson had his men aroused soon after that hour and was on the road, by the light of a brilliant moon, before dawn covered the earth with a thick fog.51 About daybreak, also, Stuart arrived at headquarters, accompanied by Major von Borcke, and reported that the cavalry, after some romantic moonlight fighting, was on the flank of Anderson's column. The force of cavalry was small — only five thin regiments,52 for he had detached two regiments under Rooney Lee to watch Stoneman. Two regiments were a petty force with which to oppose the thundering Federal columns, riding hard toward the railroad; yet the main army had its "eyes," and Lee no longer had to consider any difficult rearward manoeuvres simply to re-establish contact with the cavalry.53

Instead of riding forthwith to the left, Lee prudently went back on the morning of May 1 to the old lines on the heights behind Fredericksburg. The fog was very heavy54 — fortunately, this time, for it limited the vision of the crew of the Federal observation balloon that rode high above it.55 Finding that the Federals were not preparing an immediate advance, Lee directed that more artillery be brought up and that no additional batteries be sent to Jackson, who would be fighting in a country where there would be little opportunity for the employment of guns.56 From Lee's Hill, he approved the disposition already made of the artillery and sent a battery down the Rappahannock to deal with two gunboats that were reported to be shelling Port Royal.57 To General Early, who was left in charge, he gave precise instructions: Early was to conceal the weakness of his numbers and was to endeavor to hold his position against attack. In case he was compelled to retreat p517 before an overwhelming force, Early was to retire southward and was to protect the trains already moving in that direction. Should he discover that the enemy had sent away any large part of his troops, Early was to dispatch to the left as many troops as he could possibly spare; and if the enemy disappeared, Early was to move at once to rejoin the main army.58

With these directions and a final look at the lines, Lee started during the afternoon of May 1 to the threatened sector. He was playing a desperate game, and he knew it.59 He was leaving Early with only about 10,000 men, including the personnel of forty-five guns,60 and he was about to lead 51,000, of all arms, against a foe who, if he were making his major offensive, might have nearly twice that number in and around the gloomy Wilderness of Spotsylvania.61 There was no news of any Confederate reinforcements.62 In a word, the weakened Army of Northern Virginia would have to rely upon itself, and itself only, to escape the jaws of the gigantic pincers that seemed to be closing upon it.

Riding down the Plank road, which led west from Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville, Lee joined Jackson just as the Confederate skirmishers were engaging the Federals.63 Together with Jackson, who was dressed in full uniform,64 Lee rode along the road to Zoar65 church amid the cheering of the troops, who saw in the presence of their favorite commanders the augury of victory.66

In a short time, the Federals began to give way before McLaws and Anderson, who were advancing along the Orange Turnpike and the Plank roads. As Jackson had the situation well in hand, Lee soon rode off to the right to reconnoitre. He found that the enemy's left, which had not been attacked, was being drawn in along with the rest of the line. It was retiring to a front that rested p518 on the Rappahannock close to Scott's Ford and ran thence south and southwestward. The approaches were well picketed and the troops were spread out in a tangled country of close, second-growth timber, in very truth a wilderness, broken with small streams, cut by only a few roads and almost devoid of open ground. Every road seemed swept by batteries. The terrain resembled the Chickahominy Valley, where the Seven Days' Battles had been fought, except that the timber was not so large, while the swamps were small and widely scattered. Still more did it resemble, save in the absence of hills, a country that Lee never saw, but one that was to have a still more sinister name as the graveyard of tens of thousands — the Meuse-Argonne. An attack through the sombre thickets, where vision was limited to a few score yards, was out of the question. To enter the woods, in the face of an enemy who had selected and fortified his position, was to invite destruction. That was plain to Lee as he rode back to the Plank road.

There was something suspicious about the situation. The advance of Anderson and McLaws, which was still under way, was much too easy. The Federals seemed merely to be fighting a slow, rearguard action. Prisoners affirmed that they belonged to Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Meade's V Corps and that they had followed Howard's strong XI Corps across the Rapidan. The XII Corps was likewise known to have passed the river: what had happened to it, and where was Howard? Had the XI and the XII Corps taken some other road? Was it possible that Hooker, from the abundance of his man-power, was employing the V Corps to screen a great movement farther around the flank toward the R. F. and P., or westward toward Gordonsville, whither early reports had led Lee to believe that Howard was moving? Stuart should know; Lee, at 4 P.M., sent him a message to ask what had become of the other Federal columns.67

After sunset Jackson sent word that the enemy had stopped his withdrawal and had checked the Confederate advance. As far as could be ascertained, the Federals were on a line extending southwestward from the front Lee had reconnoitred to a clearing in the Wilderness that bore the pretentious name of Chancellorsville, though it consisted of only one residence and its outhouses.68 p519 Were these dispositions the answer to Lee's questionings? Had the Federals simply drawn back to a prepared position to await attack with their whole force?69

To ascertain more of the ground, Lee went forward a mile and more to the southeast angle of the crossing of the Plank road and the road that led southwestward to the Catherine Iron Furnace.70 It was still daylight when he joined Jackson there, and they had to retire a short distance to escape the fire of a Federal sharpshooter, who, from the top of a distant tree, was trying to pick off the gunners of a Confederate battery that had halted nearby on the Plank road.71

The two walked back under the cover of the pine woods and sat down on a log.72 Lee's first question was whether Jackson had discovered the strength and position of the enemy on Confederate left. Jackson replied that Stuart's horse artillery had just been engaged in an artillery duel in that direction and had encountered a very heavy fire.73 General Wright, co-operating with the horse artillery, had also found the enemy in strength in the woods.74

Jackson went on to explain how promptly the enemy had abandoned his advance and how easily he had been driven back to Chancellorsville. The movement was a feint or a failure, he said. The enemy would soon recross the Rappahannock. "By tomorrow morning," he insisted, "there will not be any of them this side of the river."

Lee could not believe that this would happen. He hoped that Jackson's prediction might be realized, he said, but he thought that the main army of Hooker was in their front, and he could not persuade himself that the Federal commander would abandon his attempt so readily.75 Calling for Major T. M. R. Talcott and Captain J. K. Boswell, Jackson's chief engineer, he instructed them p520 to make a careful reconnaissance of the ground.76 If their report was against an attack, as Lee expected it would be, then there was no alternative except to move by the left flank and to try to get in Hooker's rear, for Lee was satisfied from his reconnaissance that there were no openings on the Confederate right.

While the two were speculating on this, General Stuart rode up with a report from General Fitz Lee, who was operating beyond the Confederate left. Fitz Lee had discovered that the enemy's right flank, extended west beyond Chancellorsville, was "in the air," resting on no natural barrier, and therefore could be turned if it could be reached.77 Very little Federal horse had been encountered. The main force of cavalry had evidently gone off under Stoneman. This news, of course, improved the prospect of a turning movement beyond the Confederate left wing. Secrecy and celerity were necessary for such a bold operation: both would be promoted if no considerable force of Federal cavalry was on the flank to delay the advance or to warn the Federal infantry.

But who would give information as to whether there were roads to the westward that led beyond the Union outposts, roads that were, if possible, entirely out of the enemy's sight? Stuart undertook to examine the ground and to find a guide. He soon rode off for that purpose.

Before midnight, Talcott and Boswell returned to the bivouac, where Lee and Jackson were still discussing what should be done. The two engineers had reconnoitred with care and reported unequivocally against an attack in front.78 The enemy's position, they said, was strong, well protected by the woods and covered with an abundance of artillery.79

That settled the question in Lee's mind. He decided immediately against a frontal attack and resumed his conference with Jackson. "How," he asked, half to himself, "can we get at these people?" Jackson answered, in substance, that it was for Lee to say. He would endeavor to do whatever Lee directed.

Lee took his map, which showed most of the roads and, after a few minutes' study, pointed out the general direction of a movement p521 around the Federals' right flank and to their rear. An attack must be made from the west, to turn the strong Union positions around Chancellorsville, so that the two wings of the army could make a united assault.80 Jackson at once acquiesced.

"General Stuart," Lee went on, "will cover your movement with his cavalry." Jackson rose, smiling, and touched his cap: "My troops will move at 4 o'clock," he said.81

Remembering Jackson's repeated declaration that the enemy would recross the river that night, Lee added, in effect, that if Jackson had any doubt whether the enemy was still in position the next morning, he could send a couple of guns to the point where Stuart's horse artillery had been engaged that evening and could open fire on the enemy's position. That would soon settle the question.82

Jackson was thus entrusted with the execution of the plan that Lee had determined upon. Caution and speed were urged upon him. The council then ended. Jackson retired promptly to get a few hours' rest, as he would have to be up early to procure detailed information about the roads, before he set his column in motion.

Before Lee followed Jackson to the cold comfort of a bed on the ground, Reverend B. T. Lacy, a well-known chaplain in Jackson's corps, reported by order of Stuart, who had learned that Lacy had formerly had charge of a church in the neighborhood and had often travelled its byways.83 The minister's description of the roads satisfied Lee that the movement he had ordered Jackson to make in the morning was not beyond the endurance of the troops and the horses. Relieved in mind, Lee spread out his saddle-blanket at the foot of a tree, put his saddle at one end of it for a pillow, covered himself with his overcoat and lay down.84

He was asleep when Captain J. P. Smith, of Jackson's staff, a young man whom Lee was fond of teasing, waked him with a report of the situation on the right, whither Lee had sent him earlier in the evening. Lee slowly sat up. "Ah, Captain," he said, "you have returned, have you? Come here and tell me what you have learned on the right." And putting his arm around the shoulder of the bending young officer, he drew him by his side. p522 Smith told him what he had found. Lee thanked him and then added that he regretted the young men around General Jackson had not saved him from annoyance by locating a Federal battery that had been causing trouble. You young men, he said in substance, are not equal to the young men of my youth. Smith saw that the General was rallying him and he broke away from the hold Lee tried to retain on his shoulder. The General laughed heartily — a strange sound in those grim woods and among those sleeping men marked for death — and then stretched out again.85

Silence fell once more over the pine thicket, silence and darkness, except for the faint light of a feeble fire that a waiting courier had lighted. An hour or so passed, and then the gaunt form of Jackson stirred. He rose, spread his borrowed cape over a brother officer who lay uncovered on the ground, and went to the fire. There, in a short time, he was joined by Mr. Lacy. Jackson made place for the chaplain on a cracker-box where he had found a seat, and quizzed him regarding the roads. Jackson concluded that those with which Lacy was most familiar lay too close to the enemy's lines. Telling the minister to seek a more covered route, Jackson sent him off with Major Hotchkiss, his topographical engineer.86

After Lacy and Hotchkiss had gone off, Colonel Long of Lee's staff woke up and found Jackson alone by the fire, shivering from the chill of the morning, against which he had no overcoat to protect him. Long slipped away and contrived to get Jackson a cup of coffee from an adjacent cook-camp. As the two stood talking, Jackson's sword, which was leaning against a nearby tree, fell with a clatter to the ground. Long picked it up and gave it to Jackson, who buckled it on. There was ill omen in this, as Long remembered the incident afterwards.87

Now the camp began to stir in the darkness. Lee woke up and joined Jackson.88 They discussed the roads to the left and speculated, doubtless, on what the reconnaissance of Lacy and Hotchkiss would show. Whatever was done must be done at once, because even a careless enemy could not be expected to keep his right flank uncovered long when he had no cavalry to guard it. At Fredericksburg, Sedgwick surely would attack, also, if the Federals p523 discovered that the right flank of the Confederate army was weakened. The two generals did not have long to wait, for Lacy and Hotchkiss soon rode up. Hotchkiss picked up another cracker-box, set it between Lee and Jackson and placed his map before them. He explained that a crude trail, which he had drawn on the sheet, had been cut through the woods, well to the southwest and out of sight of the enemy. This ran into a better road that led northward and beyond the enemy's right flank. The proprietor of the iron furnace, who had opened the byway through the woods, would act as guide over it, in case his services were needed.

Lee had left the execution of the movement to Jackson, and had not prescribed a definite route or designated how many troops were to follow it. He now turned to "Stonewall," who was still studying the map. "General Jackson," said he, "what do you propose to do?"

"Go around here," Jackson said, and traced the route that Hotchkiss had marked.

"What do you propose to make this movement with?"

"With my whole corps," Jackson answered.

That was Jackson's own conception, his major contribution to the plan. He would not attempt a simple turning movement that would merely confuse the enemy and give an opening for a general assault. In moving to the enemy's rear, as Lee had planned, he would march with all his 28,000 men and would attack in such force as to crumple up the enemy and throw the whole right wing back against the fords. It was a proposal Lee had not expected, and it floored him. "What will you leave me?" he said, in some surprise.

"The divisions of Anderson and McLaws," Jackson answered, unabashed.

Two divisions to face an enemy who might easily have 50,000 men in a strong position! In case the enemy should learn that Jackson had been detached and should then resume the offensive at Chancellorsville and at Fredericksburg . . . However, the movement around the left flank to the rear of the Federals was the only means of retaining the initiative. If it were to be attempted at all, it should be undertaken in sufficient strength to roll up the enemy's rear. The boldness of the proposal stirred Lee's fighting p524 blood; the benefit to be gained from the operation appealed to his military judgment. The thing could be done; it should be done. If Jackson could turn the flank, he would hold the line. "Well," said he, calmly, "go on." And as Jackson sketched his march, Lee jotted down notes for his own dispositions.89

It was now nearly daylight, and the dimming stars gave promise of a clear day.90 In the bivouacs around headquarters, the troops were eating. The hungry horses were devouring such scanty forage as the quartermasters had been able to find. The skirmishers were beginning their fire. Orders for Jackson's movement were fashioned quickly. Lee soon rode off to cover with his scant force that part of the line on the left that Jackson was about to abandon.91 Lee directed Posey to extend his brigade to the left, and established headquarters temporarily on the side of the road to the Catherine Furnace.

He was there, about 7 A.M., when the head of Jackson's column began swinging to the southwest. A short distance behind the leading regiments rode "Stonewall" and his staff. Jackson drew rein for a minute or two and said a few words to Lee that nobody overheard. "Stonewall" pointed significantly ahead. Lee nodded. Jackson rode on.92 Doubtless Lee's eyes followed the erect figure of Jackson. "Stonewall's" face was a bit flushed under the visor of the cap that was pulled far over his blue eyes. He disappeared like a Norse god in the forest. As Lee looked, it must have been with confidence, with personal affection, and with admiration. "Such an executive officer," he said not many days thereafter, "the sun never shone on. I have but to show him my design, and I know that if it can be done, it will be done. No need for me to send or watch him. Straight as the needle to the pole he advanced to the execution of my purpose."93


The Author's Notes:

1 Now (1933) part of the property of the Mannsfield Hall Country Club.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Early, 193.

[decorative delimiter]

3 O. R., 25, part 1, p796.

[decorative delimiter]

4 O. R., 25, part 1, p796. A typographical error in the report gives April 28 as the date for this crossing.

[decorative delimiter]

5 O. R., 25, part 2, p757.

[decorative delimiter]

6 O. R., 25, part 1, p796.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Cooke, 257.

[decorative delimiter]

8 O. R., 25, part 2, p757.

[decorative delimiter]

9 O. R., 18, 1028, 1029, 1049; ibid., 25, part 2, p765. Davis promptly ordered the return of such part of Longstreet's command as could be brought together.

[decorative delimiter]

10 O. R., 51, part 2, p699.

[decorative delimiter]

11 Subsequently styled Guiney's Station and later Guinea. Doctor J. A. C. Chandler, whose father lived nearby, wrote the author, Aug. 9, 1926, that he had been told in childhood that the place had been named Guiney's after a family that resided a mile and a half away.

[decorative delimiter]

12 O. R., 51, part 2, p698, ibid., 25, part 1, p809.

[decorative delimiter]

13 O. R., 25, part 1, p796; ibid., part 2, pp757‑58.

[decorative delimiter]

14 O. R., 25, part 2, p758; 1 R. W. C. D., 302.

[decorative delimiter]

15 Probably via Culpeper.

[decorative delimiter]

16 O. R., 25, part 1, pp796, 1046. Stuart stated that he advised Lee of the advance toward Germanna Ford; Lee mentioned both fords.

[decorative delimiter]

17 O. R., 25, part 1, pp796, 1046.

[decorative delimiter]

18 O. R., 25, part 2, p759; cf. ibid., part 1, pp862, 870.

[decorative delimiter]

19 O. R., 25, part 2, p756; ibid., part 1, p796.

[decorative delimiter]

20 O. R., 25, part 2, p756.

[decorative delimiter]

21 O. R., 25, part 2, p759.

[decorative delimiter]

22 O. R., 25, part 2, p756.

[decorative delimiter]

23 O. R., 25, part 2, p849.

[decorative delimiter]

24 O. R., 25, part 1, pp809, 865.

[decorative delimiter]

25 Sorrel, 135.

[decorative delimiter]

26 O. R., 25, part 2, p759.

[decorative delimiter]

27 O. R., 25, part 1, pp796, 849.

[decorative delimiter]

28 O. R., 25, part 2, p759.

[decorative delimiter]

29 O. R., 25, part 2, p757.

[decorative delimiter]

30 Early, 195‑96.

[decorative delimiter]

31 Major H. E. Young: "Lee the Soldier," in Robert E. Lee; Centennial Celebration of His Birth Held Under the Auspices of the University of South Carolina, on the 19th Day of January, 1907, pp14‑15. Major Young dated this and other incidents on May 1, but all the evidence shows he was in error by one day.

[decorative delimiter]

32 Ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

33 Fitz Lee, Chancellorsville, 22, quoting Lee directly. Long, op. cit., 251, described the two generals on an eminence, examining the ground, but he mistakenly dated the interview on May 1, when Jackson had already left for Chancellorsville.

[decorative delimiter]

34 O. R., 25, part 1, p850.

[decorative delimiter]

35 O. R., 25, part 1, p809.

[decorative delimiter]

36 O. R., 25, part 2, p761; Lee's Dispatches, 85‑86.

[decorative delimiter]

37S. H. S. P., 253.

[decorative delimiter]

38 Mahone's and Posey's.

[decorative delimiter]

39 Anderson's dispatch has been lost, but its contents can be reconstructed from his report, O. R., 25, part 1, p850, and from Lee's reply to his letter, ibid., part 2, p761.

[decorative delimiter]

40 O. R., 25, part 2, p761.

[decorative delimiter]

41 O. R., 25, part 1, p810.

[decorative delimiter]

42 General Alfred Pleasanton, commanding the cavalry attached to the advancing columns, subsequently stated that he captured a courier about 1 P.M., bearing a message from Lee to Anderson, complaining that he had heard nothing from him (4 Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 27). In 3 B. and L., 174, General Pleasanton gave a different version of this alleged capture and said the dispatch was to McLaws. John Bigelow, Jr., in his Campaign of Chancellorsville (cited hereafter as Bigelow), 128n, called attention to these discrepancies, noted the absence of the dispatch from the records of the War Department, and left the reader to infer that, in his opinion, General Pleasanton's memory was at fault.

[decorative delimiter]

43 Early, 196.

[decorative delimiter]

44 Fitz Lee, Chancellorsville, 22.

[decorative delimiter]

45 Fitz Lee, Chancellorsville, 27.

[decorative delimiter]

46 O. R., 18, 944.

[decorative delimiter]

47 O. R., 25, part 1, p797; ibid., part 2, p762.

[decorative delimiter]

48 O. R., 25, part 2, p759.

[decorative delimiter]

49 O. R., 25, part 2, p762.

[decorative delimiter]

50 Lee's Dispatches, 86. The telegram to Davis, quoted here, was dated "April 30?" by the editor, but he is now satisfied that it was sent May 1.

[decorative delimiter]

51B. and L., 203.

[decorative delimiter]

52 Fitz Lee, 255.

[decorative delimiter]

53 2 von Borcke, 208; 2 Henderson, 418; O. R., 25, part 1, pp796‑97, 1046‑47.

[decorative delimiter]

54 Malone, 32.

[decorative delimiter]

55 W. W. Chamberlaine, 57.

[decorative delimiter]

56 O. R., 25, part 1, pp810, 820.

[decorative delimiter]

57 O. R., 25, part 1, p810.

[decorative delimiter]

58 O. R., 25, part 1, p800; Early, 197.

[decorative delimiter]

59 Cf. Lee to Davis, May 2, 1863, O. R., 25, part 1, p765.

[decorative delimiter]

60 Early, op. cit., 198,º put his force at 9000, but after deducting his losses of 150 on April 29, the closest estimate the writer can make of his strength is 10,400.

[decorative delimiter]

61 Deducting Early's casualties and the 1150 detached with W. H. F. Lee, the estimate of 51,000 plus Early's 10,000 at Fredericksburg checks closely with the previous figure of Lee's total strength, viz., 62,500. Most Southern writers put the total from 3000 to 5000 lower.

[decorative delimiter]

62 Lee's Dispatches, 86.

[decorative delimiter]

63 R. E. Lee to Doctor A. T. Bledsoe, Oct. 28, 1867; Jones, 159.

[decorative delimiter]

64 Grimes, 29.

[decorative delimiter]

65 Sometimes called Zion church.

[decorative delimiter]

66B. and L., 204; Long, 252; 3 C. M. H., 379; W. H. Stewart: A Pair of Blankets, 81. Colonel Stewart, it should be added, was mistaken as to the time of this incident, which he placed in the early morning.

[decorative delimiter]

67 O. R., 25, part 2, p764.

[decorative delimiter]

68 Long, 254.

[decorative delimiter]

69 For a summary of the fighting on the Turnpike and Plank roads from Zoar or Zion church to the vicinity of Chancellorsville, see Lee's report, O. R., 25, part 1, p797, Anderson's, ibid., p850, McLaws's, ibid., p825; Wright's, ibid., p866. The full details, with admirable illustrative maps, are given in Bigelow, 243 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

70 Long, 254.

[decorative delimiter]

71 T. M. R. Talcott in 34 S. H. S. P., (cited hereafter as Talcott), 17.

[decorative delimiter]

72 Marshall in Talcott, 12.

[decorative delimiter]

73 Talcott, 16. For the report of this action, which Talcott did not give in detail, see the report of Major R. F. Beckham, O. R., 25, part 1, p1048.

[decorative delimiter]

74 See his report, O. R., 25, part 1, p866.

[decorative delimiter]

75 Marshall, in Talcott, 13.

[decorative delimiter]

76 Talcott, 16.

[decorative delimiter]

77 Fitz Lee, Chancellorsville, 26; R. E. Lee to Mrs. Jackson, Jan. 25, 1866, 2 Henderson, 472.

[decorative delimiter]

78 Talcott, 16.

[decorative delimiter]

79 Talcott, 16.

[decorative delimiter]

80 O. R., 25, part 2, p769.

[decorative delimiter]

81 Talcott, 16‑17.

[decorative delimiter]

82 Marshall, in Talcott, 13.

[decorative delimiter]

83 Long, 252.

[decorative delimiter]

84 Long, 255; Smith, in 3 B. and L., 205.

[decorative delimiter]

85B. and L., 205.

[decorative delimiter]

86 Dabney, 675‑76.

[decorative delimiter]

87 Long, 258.

[decorative delimiter]

88B. and L., 205.

[decorative delimiter]

89 Hotchkiss in 2 Henderson, 432.

[decorative delimiter]

90 Malone, 32.

[decorative delimiter]

91 Captain W. F. Randolph, commanding Jackson's bodyguard, in Southern Churchman, April 11, 1931, is authority for the statement that Lee left the bivouac before Jackson did.

[decorative delimiter]

92 2 Henderson, 433; Alexander, 333.

[decorative delimiter]

93 Lee to Francis Lawley, quoted in 2 Henderson, 477. The incidents of the night of May 1‑2, which have here been put together without interrupting the story, have been the subject of a controversy that is analyzed briefly in Appendix II-5.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 1 Oct 13