Hooker was ignorant of the true situation of Lee's army, and so were Lincoln and Halleck. In a letter to General Dix, of the 12th instant, Hooker says, "All of Lee's army, so far as I know, is extended along the immediate bank of the Rappahannock from Hamilton's Crossing to Culpeper. A. P. Hill's corps is on his right, below Fredericksburg; Ewell's corps joins his left, reaching to the Rapidan and beyond that river is Longstreet's corps."
At the date of that letter, Ewell was crossing the Blue Ridge, more than two days march from Culpeper, and Longstreet in a direct line was thirty miles or more from Hill.
Any disposition felt by Hooker to advance, does not seem to have been seconded by his corps commanders.
General Sedgwick had given it as his opinion, that it was not safe to mass troops south of the river below Fredericksburg, and General Sykes expressed himself as opposed to any movement across the river with his forces at Banks' and United States Fords. Baffled and perplexed, and weighed down by his instructions from Washington, Hooker informed Halleck on the 13th, that he was about to transfer the operations of the army from the line of the Aquia to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and as daylight dawned on the morning of the 14th, the last division of the Army of the Potomac could be seen filing over Staffords Heights on its way to Aquia.
A. P. Hill had been instructed that when the enemy evacuated his position, he should, if he deemed it practicable, cross the river and attack his rear, but this he did not see fit to attempt, and setting out at once on the march, he reached Culpeper in the evening of the 16th, from whence he proceeded to cross the Blue Ridge at Chester Gap, reaching Shepherdstown on the 23d, and relieving the division of Ewell's left there to watch Harper's Ferry.
The first point in General Lee's game of strategy was now won. He had succeeded in drawing out his adversary from behind his intrenched -works, to a position where he could be assailed on equal terms, and this without a hostile shot, except on the part of the cavalry. But this was not the only success. On the day before Hill moved, Ewell had Milroy surrounded