Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 19, 1862 (Wednesday): Lee on the Move

Clark's Mountain (Google Earth) Culpepper would be in Upper Left of Picture

AUGUST 19, 1862 - 4.45 p. m.
    GENERAL: I have just returned from Clarke's Mountain. The enemy, as far as I can discover, is retreating on the road to Fredericksburg. His route is certainly north of Stevensburg, and is thought to be through Brandy Station over the Rappahannock by Kelly's Ford. You will therefore have to bear well to your right after crossing the Rapidan, unless you can get other information. I propose to start the troops at the rising of the moon to-morrow morning, which will give the men and horses a little rest, and I believe we shall make more than by starting at night. It is so late now that they could not get off before. The order for to-morrow you will consider modified as above. If you can get information of the route of the enemy you will endeavor to cut him off, otherwise make for Kelly's Ford, over the Rappahannock. Send back all information you can gather. If shall cross at Somerville Ford and follow in the route of the troops toward Brandy Station. If you can get off earlier than the time I have appointed to advantage do so.
    Very respectfully, & c.,

    R. E. LEE,
    General J. E. B. STUART,
    Commanding Cavalry.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 2, Page 729.

Lee was on the move, looking to steal a march on Pope and move across the path between him and Washington.  You will notice the word "if" a number of times in Lee's communication.  One of his strengths, which some would portray as weakness after the fact in regard to the Gettysburg Campaign, was that in his orders he gave his subordinates flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. 

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