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work in reviving it. He had, indeed, issued one bombastic order of the day in which he called it “the finest on the planet.” But even this might be excused in view of the popular call for encouraging words. What was more to the point was the reëstablishment of Federal morale, which had been terribly shaken after the great Mud March. Hooker's sworn evidence (as given in the official Report of Committee on the Conduct of the War) speaks for itself: “The moment I was placed in command I caused a return to be made of the absentees of the army, and found the number to be 2922 commissioned officers and 81,964 non-commissioned officers and privates. They were scattered all over the country, and the majority were absent from causes unknown.”
On the twenty-eighth of April Stuart saw the redisciplined Federals in motion far up the Rappahannock, while next day Jackson saw others laying pontoons thirty miles lower down, just on the seaward side of Fredericksburg. Lee took this news with genial calm, remarking to the aide: “Well, I heard firing and was beginning to think it was time some of your lazy young fellows were coming to tell me what it was about. Tell your good general he knows what to do with the enemy just as well as I do.” On the thirtieth it became quite clear that Hooker was bent on turning Lee's left and that he had divided his army to do so. Jackson wished to attack Sedgwick's 35,000 Federals still on the plains of Fredericksburg. But Lee convinced him that the better way would be to hold these men with 10,000 Confederates in the fortified position on the confronting heights while the remaining 52,000 should try to catch Hooker himself between the jaws of a trap in the forest round Chancellorsville, where the Federal masses would be far more likely to get out of hand. It was an extremely daring maneuver to be setting this trap when Sedgwick had enough men to storm the heights of Fredericksburg, when Stoneman was on the line of communication with the south, and when Hooker himself, with superior numbers, was gaining Lee's rear. But Lee had Jackson as his lieutenant, not Longstreet, as he was to have at Gettysburg.
Hooker's movements were rapid, well arranged, and admirably executed up to the evening of the first of May, when, finding those of the enemy very puzzling among the dense woods, he chose the worst of three alternatives. The first and best, an immediate counter-attack, would have kept up his army's morale and, if well executed, revealed his own greater strength. The second, a continued advance till he reached clearer ground, might have succeeded or not. The third and worst was to stand on his defense, a plan which, however sound in other places, was fatal here, because it not only depressed the spirits of his army but gave two men of genius the initiative against him in a country where they were at home and he was not. The absence of ten thousand cavalry baffled his efforts to get trustworthy information on the ground, while the dense woods baffled his balloons from above. On the second of May he still thought the initiative was his, that the Confederates were retreating, and that his own jaws were closing on them instead of theirs on him.
Meanwhile, owing to miscalculations of the space that had to be held in force, his right was not only thrown forward too far but presented a flank in the air. This was the flank round which Stonewall Jackson maneuvered with such consummate skill that it was taken on three sides and rolled up in fatal confusion. Its commander, the very capable General 0. O. Howard, who perceived the mistake he could not correct, tried hard to stay the rout. But, as his whole reserve had been withdrawn by Hooker to join an attack elsewhere, his lines simply melted away.
The three days' battle that followed (ending on the fifth of May) was bravely fought by the bewildered Federals. Yet all in vain. Hooker was caught like a bull in a net; and the more he struggled the worse it became. At 6 P.M. on the second the cunning trap was sprung when a single Confederate bugle rang out. Instantly other bugles repeated the call at regular intervals through miles of forest. Then, high and clear on the silent air of that calm May evening, the rebel yell rose like the baying of innumerable hounds, hot on the scent of their quarry, with Jackson leading on. Nothing could stop the eager gray lines, wave after wave of them pressing through the woods; not even the galiant fifty guns that fought with desperation in defense of Hazel Grove, where Hooker was rallying his men.
For two days more the tide of battle ebbed and flowed; but always against the Federals in the end, till, broken, bewildered, and disheartened, they retired as best they could. Lee was unable to pursue. Longstreet's men were still missing; and so were many supplies that should have been forwarded from Richmond. There the Government clung to the fond belief that this mere victory had won the war, and that pursuit was useless. Thus
Lee's last chance of crushing the invaders was taken from him by his friends.
At the same time the Southern cause suffered another irreparable loss; but in this case at the purely accidental hands of Southern men. Jackson's staff, suddenly emerging from a thicket as the first night closed in, was mistaken for Federal cavalry and shot down. Jackson himself was badly wounded in three places and carried from the field. He never heard the rebel yell again. Next Sunday, when the staff-surgeon told him that he could not possibly live through the night, he simply answered: “Very good, very good; it is all right.” Presently he asked Major Pendleton what chaplain was preaching at headquarters. “Mr. Lacy, sir; and the whole army is praying for you. “Thank God,” said Jackson, “they are very kind to me.” A little later, rousing himself as if from sleep, he called out: “Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front! Tell Major Hawks — ” There his strength failed him. But after a pause he said quietly, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the And with these words he died.
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