Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 19, 1863 (Friday): "The movements of General Hooker's army are not yet ascertained."

Castleman's (Snicker's) Ferry (usgwararchives.net)

June 19, 1863---7 a.m.

Lieut. Gen. R. S. EWELL
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: Your two letters of the 18th instant (one from 4 miles north of Winchester and one from 4 miles north of Martinsburg) have been received.
   Hood's division was sent yesterday from Upperville to replace Early's, in order that you might have with you your whole corps to operate with in Maryland and Pennsylvania, but later in the day the reprts from General Stuart indicated that the enemy were moving up the roads concentrating at  Snickersville, with the view of forcing a passage through the mountains to ge into your rear, and Hood was directed to cross Snicker's Ferry, and hold Snicker's Gap, as we had only cavalry on that route.  Longstreets corp has been operating with a view to embarrass the enemy as to our movements, so as to detain his forces east of the mountains, until A. P. Hill could get up to your support.  But should the enemy force a passage through the mountains, you would be separated, which it is the object of Longstreet to prevent, if possible.  Anderson's division ought to be within reach to-day, and I will move him toward Berryville, so as either to relieve Early or support Hood, as circumstances may require.  I very much regret that you have not the benefit of your whole corps, for, with that north of the Potomac, should we be able to detain General Hooker's army from following you, you would be able to accomplish as much, unmolested, as the whole army could perform with General Hooker in its front.  Not knowing what force there is at Harper's Ferry, or what can be collected to oppose your progress, I cannot give definite instructions, especially as the movements of General Hooker's army are not yet ascertained.  You must, therefore, be guided in your movements by controlling circumstances around you, endeavor to keep yourself supplied with provisions, so far as your judgment may seem fit.  If your advance causes Hooker to cross the Potomac, or separate his army in any way, Longsteet can follow you.  The last of Hill's divisions had, on the evening of the 18th, advanced a few miles this side of Culpeper Court-House, en route to the Valley.  I hope all are now well on their way.  As soon as I can get definite information as to the movements of General Hooker and the approach of General Hill, I will write to you again.
   I am, very respectfully, and truly,

   R. E. LEE,

Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 905.

Hooker did not know where Lee was, but Lee also did not know the exact disposition of Hooker's forces.  The fear was that, by forcing a passage of the mountains, Union forces could interpose between the Confederate corps and defeat them in detail.  Once Lee knew for sure Hooker was north of the Potomac, a more rapid advance north could occur.  Meantime, Ewell was free to press northward, Longstreet would gaurd the gaps, and Hill would continue to march from Culpeper to the Valley.

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