Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 26, 1862 (Wednesday): Jackson Called to Fredericksburg

General Thomas J. Jackson

Lieutenant General THOMAS J. JACKSON,
Commanding Corps:
    GENERAL: In previous letters I suggested the advantages that might be derived by your taking position at Warrenton or Culpeper, with a view to threaten the rear of the enemy now massed at Fredericksburg. When this movement was first proposed, I thought your route would be by Chester Gap, and its effect upon the enemy would be tested, without imposing additional labor on your corps, leaving you still free to join me, should circumstances render it advisable. As your route has been south of that line, it may now be too late to deviate from your course in time to try the effect upon the enemy, and still enable you to join me before the roads and weather might become so bad as to expose your troops to suffering.
As my previous suggestions to you were left to be executed or not at your discretion, you are still at liberty to follow or reject them; and if you think that no beneficial results can be now attained, as I myself now think probable, I desire you to pursue the best route, by easy marches, to this place, advising me of your approach, that your march may be hastened, if necessary. The enemy is still quiescent in our front, thought, for the last day or two, he has been constructing covers for his batteries, and I think the probability is that he will attempt to cross either here or at some other point on the river; in which case it would be desirable that the whole army should be united.
    I have the honor to be,&c.,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 1033.

There can be no doubt in the confidence Lee had in Jackson.  Lee allowed him to use his discretion in moving his army, even when he was in a threatened position at Fredericksburg.  However, he tactfully phrased his thoughts in such a way Jackson must surely have read his desires clearly.  It should also be noted Jackson had not acted on Lee's suggestion to move by Chester Gap to Warrenton or Culpepper to see if it had the effect of stalling Burnside's advance.  Instead, Jackson chose to cross the Columbia bridge and move to Madison Court House, too far south to try the question.


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