Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 2, 1863 (Saturday): The Night Is Full of Rumors

Lee and Jackson's last meeting (

BALTIMORE, MD., May 2, 1863-3.30 a.m.
Secretary of War:
    In view of my dispositions in the Valley and on the railroad, it is desirable I should know whether you can tell me of General Hooker. The night is full of rumors.

     Major-General, Commanding.

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 2, 1863.
Major-General SCHENCK:
    You may rest assured that General Hooker's operations are progressing successfully and in all respects as desired, unless you are otherwise advised by this Department. Any mishap you will be promptly notified of; but obvious reasons details of his movements and position cannot be given while in successful progress.

      Secretary of War.

Governor CURTIN,
Harrisburg, Pa.:
    General Halleck tells me he has a dispatch from General Schenck this morning informing him that our forces have joined, and that the enemy menacing Pennsylvania will have to fight or run to-day. I hope I am not less anxious to do my duty to Pennsylvania than yourself, but I really do not yet see the justification for incurring the trouble and expense of calling out the militia. I shall keep watch, and try to do my duty.

     A. LINCOLN.
     P. S.-Our forces are exactly between the enemy and Pennsylvania.

EN ROUTE TO UNITED STATES FORD, May 2, 1863-7.20 a.m.
Captain CANDLER,
Aide-de-Camp, &c.:
     Your dispatch of yesterday, stating that the major-general commanding did not understand what I was doing at Rapidan Station, was received at 7.05 a.m. to-day, and I have the honor to state in reply that I have been engaged with the cavalry of the enemy at that point and in destroying communications, and to inclose a copy of an order received from headquarters Cavalry Corps.
     Respectfully, your obedient servant,


SUFFOLK, VA., May 2, 1863.
General S. COOPER:
     I cannot move unless the entire force is moved, and it would then take several days to reach Fredericksburg. I will endeavor to move as soon as possible.

     Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

     (Copy telegraphed to General Lee same date.)

CHANCELLORSVILLE, VA., May 2, 1863-9.30 a.m.
Major-Generals HOWARD and SLOCUM:
     I am directed by the major-general commanding to say that the disposition you have made of your corps has been with a view to a front attack by the enemy. If he should throw himself upon your flank, he wishes you to examine the ground and determine upon the positions you will take in that event, in order that you may be prepared for him in whatever direction he advances. He suggests that you have heavy reserves well in hand to meet this contingency. The right of your line does not appear to be strong enough. No artificial defenses worth naming have been thrown up, and three appears to be a scarcity of troops at that point, and not, in the general's opinion, as favorably posted as might be. We have good reason to suppose that the enemy is moving to our right. Please advance your pickets for purpose of observation as far as may be safe, in order to obtain timely information of their approach.

     J. H. VAN ALEN,
     Brigadier-General and Aide-de-Camp.

CHANCELLORSVILLE, VA., May 2, 1863-10.30 a.m.
Brigadier-General GRIFFIN,
Commanding First Division:
     GENERAL: Major-General Couch's picket officer reports that the enemy is massing his troops in front of Hancock and toward the left. You are directed by the major-general commanding to be vigilant, and throw out pickets to keep a sharp lookout for any approach on the part of the enemy, and, whenever practicable for them to advance in any force, to throw out detachments, instructed to be careful not to allow themselves to be cut off, but at the same time to endeavor to ascertain if the enemy is in their front, and give timely warning of their approach.
      Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

BANK'S FORD, May 2, 1863-3 p.m.
     Everything is quiet in any direction from Banks' Ford. Their earthworks are still manned. They have twenty-three guns, I think, in their earthworks south of the ford.

     E. S. ALLEN,

CHANCELLORSVILLE, May 2, 1863-4.10 p.m.
    The major-general commanding directs that General Sedgwick cross the river as soon as indications will permit; capture Fredericksburg with everything in it, and vigorously pursue the enemy. We know that the enemy is fleeing, trying to save his trains. Two of Sickles' divisions are among them.

      J. H. VAN ALEN,

     Brigadier-General, and Aide-de-Camp.
    (Copy from Butterfield, at Falmouth, to Sedgwick, 5.50 p.m.)

Major-General, Chief of Staff.
MAY 2, 1863-5.30 p.m.
Major-General BUTTERFIELD:
     Nearly all the enemy's force have been withdrawn from the opposite side. I can only see a small force in the neighborhood of their earthworks.
     I cannot at this time get a sufficient elevation to tell what road they take, but should judge, by the appearance of army wagons moving toward Chancellorsville road, that the troops are moving that way also.

     T. S. C. LOWE,

F SIGNAL STATION, May 2, 1863-5.30 p.m.
General GIBBON:
     Twelve regiments infantry, sixty-eight wagons and ambulances, and one squadron cavalry have just passed along the crest of wooded ridge in front of General Sedgwick, moving toward Richmond Telegraph road.

     P. A. TAYLOR,
     First Lieutenant and Signal Officer.

F SIGNAL STATION, May 2, 1863-6 p.m.
General GIBBON:
     There are fifteen guns in position in rear of Fredericksburg. One or two regiments occupy the rifle-pits on Marye's Heights. Sedgwick is advancing and driving the enemy.
     A new battery is just being put in position in rear of the Howison house.

     JAS. S. HALL,
     Captain and Signal Officer.

CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 2, 1863-8.25 p.m.
Brigadier-General GIBBON:
    Everything working well. Sickles is in the enemy's trains. Sedgwick is pursuing here. Be ready to spring with your will supplies whenever you receive the order. Expect it at any moment.

     Major-General, Chief of Staff.

F SIGNAL STATION, May 2, 1863-8.30 p.m.
The enemy is now building fire along the ridge in rear of the Howison house. We see distinctly men carrying fire-brands about, lighting them promiscuously.

      P. A. TAYLOR,
      First Lieutenant and Signal Officer.

Brigadier-General GIBBON:
     Your command must cross the river to Fredericksburg to-night. Pontoon bridge now at the Lacy house. Get under way soon. GeneralSedgwick is ordered to move through Fredericksburg toward Chancellorsville. Look out you do not come in contact with him. You must see to the laying of the bridges.

      Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 351, 352, 356, 358, 360, 363, 367, 368, 373, 465.

Hooker had ordered Reynolds up from Fredericksburg, intending he arrive early in the day, but communications problems delayed his arrival.  Early was left by Lee to keep the cork in the bottle, preventing reinforcements to come up to Hooker from the town.  Meanwhile, Lee had divided his army again and was sending Jackson on a twelve mile march to turn the Union right flank which was, "up in the air".  Had Hooker come out of the Wilderness into more open terrain he might have avoided the disaster which lay ahead.  But he also had the not unsound idea that even should Lee come to him, his strong defensive position would force Lee to dash his men onto the Union position like waves up rocks.  What he did not adequately prepare for was the flank march.  At around 5:30 Jackson's troops emerged from the woods and over ran Howard's divisions of Devens and Schurz.  At the moment of his greatest triumph Jackson, ahead of his own lines with his staff seeking to exploit the damage he had inflicted, was shot by a volley from his own men, a wound which would prove mortal.

Two notes seem in order.  The 0330 message from Stanton to the Governor of Pennsylvania and the subsequent note from Lincoln to him referenced the Confederate Jones-Imboden raid into Western Virginia, which was now underway.  And Lowe's messages are interesting in that for all he saw he was not able to see Jackson's troops make their way around Howard's flank. The position of the balloon was not far enough west and, in any event, high winds made observations difficult.

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