Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/285

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The Battle of Chancellorsville. 279

Meanwhile, the Eleventh and Twelfth corps, followed by the Fifth, with eight days' rations, marched up to Kelley's ford. Here all three corps crossed the Rappahannock on the night of Wednesday the 29th; and on Thursday the two former crossed the Rapidan at Germania ford, and the latter at Ely's, and all three reached Chan- cellorsville Thursday afternoon. Here Slocum assumed command. Gibbon's division, of the Second corps, had been left to guard the Falmouth camps and do provost duty, while French and Hancock, after United States ford had been unmasked, crossed at this point and joined the forces at Chancellorsville. The Third corps was like- wise ordered from the left, by the same route, to the same point.

Thus far, everything had been admirably conceived and executed. Small criticism can be passed upon Hooker's logistics. They were uniformly good. Two of our corps had centred the enemy's atten- tion upon his right flank, below Fredericksburg, while we had massed four corps upon his left flank, with a fifth close by, and had scarcely lost a man. Hooker's vaunting order of this day is all but justified by the situation. But one more immediate and vigorous push, and the Army of Northern Virginia would have been desperately com- promised, practically defeated.

Lee had not been unaware of what the Federals had been doing, but he had been largely misled by the feint below the town, and had so little anticipated Hooker's movement by the right, that less than 3,000 of his cavalry were on hand to observe the crossing of the Rappahannock and Rapidan. Stuart had not, until Thursday, fully gauged the importance of this movement, and only on Thursday night had Lee ascertained the facts, and been able to mature his plans for parrying Hooker's thrust. Anderson had received, on Wednes- day, orders to check at Chancellorsville, as long as possible, our advance, supposed to be partial only, and then to slowly retire to the Mine-Run road. This he had done, and here Lee^s engineers were speedily engaged in drawing up a line of intrenchments. Early was left at Hamilton's crossing, Barksdale remained in the town, and Lee, with the bulk of his forces, hurried out to meet the Army of the Potomac. At an early hour on Friday morning Jackson ar- rived at the Mine-Run line and took command. Hooker's tardiness in advancing had already allowed the erection of a difficult barrier.

The headquarters of the Army of the Potomac had remained at Falmouth till Hooker personally reached •Chancellorsville. After the transfer hither, the chief of staff", for ease of communication between the wings, was kept at the old camp. Hooker now an-