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The Campaign of Chancellorsville.
It is astonishing to learn from the official reports, that the movement was perceived from its beginning; and known to Birney and to the three corps commanders on that front, as well as to General Hooker. As early as nine o'clock Birney informed Hooker by couriers that a column of the enemy with guns and trains and ambulances was moving across his front to the right. In consequence at 9:30 Hooker directed Howard to examine the ground upon his flank in case an attack should be made from that quarter, "and be prepared for him in whatever direction he advances." Howard was also directed to advance his pickets for the purpose of observation as far as was safe to obtain timely information of any approach; at the same time he sent word through Butterfield to Sedgwick to attack in his front if there was any reasonable expectation of success, leaving it to his discretion. About 11 A. M. Sickles received several reports from Birney that a column of the enemy was moving across his front, and with Hooker's approval he joined Birney at Hazel Grove. Sickles seems to have been impressed by the movement, and reporting it to Hooker, proposed to launch his whole corps against the column, inviting Howard and Slocum to join in the attack if Hooker approved. Hooker's reply was to advance cautiously with two divisions, Birney's and Whipple's, and harass the movement as much as possible. More remarkable still, at 10:50 A. M., Howard sent the following dispatch to Hooker from General Devens' headquarters at Talley's, "We can observe a column of infantry moving westward on a road parallel with this on the ridge about a mile and a half to two miles south of this. I am taking measures to resist an attack from the west." What these "measures" amounted to, does not appear, except that signal stations were established at Dowdall's tavern and on the extreme right, and some of the reserve artillery placed so as to face west. Later in the day Sickles again sent word to Hooker that he could break the enemy's column, but bearing in mind Hooker's warning to move cautiously he wished support from Slocum and Howard of what he proposed to do. Howard replied he had no troops to spare, and Slocum referred the matter to Hooker. About 4 P. M. Pleasanton's cavalry was