Page images


THE subjoined abstracts from reports of the operations of the Union Army of the Potomac will give the reader a general idea of the entire Chancellorsville Campaign, of which the Battles of Fredericksburg to Salem Church are especially written about in the foregoing story.

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C., January 26, 1863. Major-General Hooker.

GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I trust it best for you

to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your pro

fession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories. Yours very truly,



Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 26, 1863. General Orders No. 1.

By direction of the President of the United States, the undersigned assumes command of the Army of the Potomac. He enters upon the discharge of the duties imposed by this trust with a just appreciation of their responsibility.

Since the formation of this army he has been identified with its history. He has shared with you its glories and reverses with

other desire than that these relations might remain unchanged until its destiny should be accomplished. In the record of your achievements there is much to be proud of, and with the blessing of God we will contribute something to the renown of our arms and the success of our cause. To secure these ends, your commander will require the cheerful and zealous co-operation of every officer and soldier in the army.

In equipment, intelligence, and valor the enemy is our inferior; let us never hesitate to give him battle wherever we can find him.

The undersigned only gives expression to the feelings of this army when he conveys to our late commander, Major-General Burnside, the most cordial good wishes for his future.

My staff will be announced as soon as organized.

JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General Commanding Army of the


Washington, D. C., January 31, 1863. Maj.-Gen. Joseph Hooker:

In regard to the operations of your own army, you can best judge when and where it can move to the greatest advantage, keeping in view always the importance of covering Washington and Harper's Ferry directly or by so operating as to be able to punish any force of the enemy sent against them.



Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 11, 1863. His Excellency the President of the United

States :

After giving the subject my best reflection, I have concluded that I will have more chance of afflicting a heavier blow upon the enemy by turning his position to my right, and, if practical, to sever his connections with Richmond with my dragoon force and such light batteries as it may be deemed advisable to send with them. I am apprehensive that he will retire from before me the moment I shall succeed in crossing the river, and over the shortest line to Richmond, and thus escape being seriously crippled. I hope that when the cavalry have established themselves on the line between him and Richmond they will be able to hold him and check his retreat until I can fall on his rear, or, if not that, I will compel him to fall back by the way of

Culpeper and Gordonsville, over a longer line than my own, with his supplies cut off. The cavalry will probably cross the river above the Rappahannock Bridge, thence to Culpeper and Gordonsville and across to the Aquia Railroad, somewhere in the vicinity of Hanover Court House. I have given directions for the cavalry to be in readiness to commence the movement on Monday morning next.

I hope, Mr. President, that this plan will receive your approval.

JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General Commanding.

Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 15, 1863. His Excellency the President of the United


A letter from Major-General Stoneman, dated 1 P. M. yesterday, informs me that his command will be across the river before daylight this morning the 15th). Meanwhile, I shall do what I can to keep the enemy up to their works in my front, and, if they should fall back, shall pursue them with all the vigor practicable.

Up to late last night the enemy appeared to have no suspicions of our designs. I am rejoiced that Stoneman had two good days to go up the river, and was enabled to cross it before it had become too much swollen. If he can reach his position the

« PreviousContinue »