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HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 6, 1863. GENERAL ORDERS No. 49.
The major-general commanding tenders to this army his congratulations on the achievements of the last seven days. If it has not accomplished all that was expected, the reasons are well known to the army. It is sufficient to say that they were of a character not to be foreseen or prevented by human sagacity or resources.
In withdrawing from the south bank of the Rappahannock before delivering a general battle to our adversaries, the army has given renewed evidence of its confidence in itself, and its fidelity to the principles it represents.
By fighting at a disadvantage we would have been recreant to our trust, to ourselves, to our cause, and to our country. Profoundly loyal, and conscious of its strength, the Army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interests or - honor may command it.
By the celerity and secrecy of our movements, our advance and passage of the river were undisputed ; and, on our withdrawal, not a rebel dared to follow us. The events of the last week may well cause the heart of every officer and soldier of the army to swell with pride.
We have added new laurels to our former renown. We have made long marches, crossed rivers, surprised the enemy in his intrenchments; and whenever we have fought, we have inflicted heavier blows than those we have received.
We have taken from the enemy five thousand prisoners, and fifteen colors, captured seven pieces of artillery, and placed hors du combat eighteen thousand of our foe's chosen troops.
We have destroyed his depots filled with vast amounts of stores, damaged his communications, captured prisoners within the fortifications of his capital, and filled his country with fear and consternation.
We have no other regret than that caused by the loss of our brave companions; and in this we are consoled by the conviction that they have fallen in the holiest cause ever submitted to the arbitration of battle. By command of Major-Gen. Hooker.
S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
May 7, 1863. With heartfelt gratification, the general commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged.
Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm, you attacked the enemy, strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and, by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock. While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory, for the signal deliverance He has wrought.
It is therefore earnestly recommended that the troops unite, on Sunday next, in ascribing to the Lord of Hosts the glory due unto His name.
Let us not forget in our rejoicing the brave soldiers who have fallen in defence of their country; and, while we mourn their loss, let us resolve to emulate their noble example.
The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success.
The following letter from the President of the Confederate States is communicated to the army as an expression of his appreciation of their success :
"I have received your despatch, and reverently unite with you in giving praise to God for the success with which he has crowned our arms. In the name of the people, I offer my cordial thanks to yourself and the troops under your command, for this addition to the unprecedented series of great victories which our army has achieved. The universal rejoicing produced by this happy result will be mingled with a general regret for the good and the brave who are numbered among the killed and the wounded.”
R. E. LEE, General.
The following is equally characteristic:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 13, 1863. To his Excellency, President of the United States.
Is it asking too much to inquire your opinion of my Order No. 49? If so, do not answer me.
Jackson is dead, and Lee beats McClellan in his untruthful bulletins. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General Commanding. XXXV.
OPERATIONS OF THE CAVALRY CORPS.
S was briefly related in the early part of this work,
Hooker issued orders to Gen. Stoneman, the commanding-officer of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, on the 12th of April, to move the succeeding day for the purpose of cutting the communications of the enemy. The order read as follows:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., April 12, 1863. Commanding Officer, Cavalry Corps. I am directed by the major-general commanding to inform
you will march at seven o'clock A.M., on the 13th inst., with all your available force, except one brigade, for the purpose of turning the enemy's position on his left, and of throwing your command between him and Richmond, isolating him from his supplies, checking his retreat, and inflicting on him every possible injury which will tend to his discomfiture and defeat.
To accomplish this, the general suggests that you ascend the Rappahannock by the different routes, keeping well out of the view of the enemy, and throwing out well to the front and flank small parties to mask your movement, and to cut off all communication with the enemy, by the people in their interest living on this side of the river. To divert suspicion it may not be amiss to have word given out that you are in pursuit of Jones's guerillas, as they are operating extensively in the Shenandoah Valley, in the direction of Winchester. He further suggests that you select for your place of crossing the Rappahannock, some point to the west of the Alexandria and Orange Railroad, which can only be determined by the circumstances as they are found on the arrival of your advance.
In the vicinity of Culpeper, you will be likely to run against Fitz Hugh Lee's brigade of cavalry, consisting of about two thousand men, which it is expected you will be able to disperse and destroy without delay to your advance, or detriment to any considerable number of your command.
At Gordonsville, the enemy have a small provost-guard of infantry, which it is expected you will destroy, if it can be done without delaying your forward movement. From there it is expected that you will push forward to the Aquia and Richmond Railroad, somewhere in the vicinity of Saxton's Junction, destroying along your whole route the railroad-bridges, trains of cars, depots of provisions, lines of telegraphic communication, etc. The general directs that you go prepared with all the means necessary to accomplish this work effectually.
As the line of the railroad from Aquia to Richmond presents the shortest one for the enemy to retire on, it is most probable that he will avail himself of it, and the usually travelled highways on each side of it, for this purpose ; in which event you will select the strongest positions, such as the banks of streams, commanding heights, etc., in order to check or prevent it; and, if unsuccessful, you will fall upon his flanks, attack his artillery and trains, and harass him until he is exhausted and out of supplies.