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Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9


The American Conflict in 1863 - Hooker takes the Command of the Army of the Potomac: Turns the Left Flank of Lee's, Army - Battle of Chancellorsville - Death of Stonewall Jackson - Defeat of the Federals - Hooker's Congratulatory Order - Lee resolves to Invade Pennsylvania: His Motives - Hooker is Superseded by Meade - Battles of Gettysburg - Grand Confederate Charge: Repulsed with fearful Slaughter - Lee retires into Virginia - Description of Vicksburg: Its great Strength - Grant resolves to Reduce it: Failure of the First Attempts - Fighting on the Mississippi - A " Yankee Trick " - Grant occupies Jackson - Siege and Capitulation of Vicksburg - 1The Position of Chattanooga: Its Importance to the Confederates - Battle of Murfreesboro - Bragg retires - Advance of Rosecrans - Bragg Abandons Chattanooga: Battle of Chickamanga - Burnside occupies East Tennessee - Grant Supersedes Rosecrans: Defeats Bragg near Chattanooga - Waning Prospects of the Confederacy - Operations in Virginia - Affair of Mine Run - Termination of the Campaign - Coast Warfare - Defeat of the Federals at Galveston: At Sabine Pass - Fall of Fort Pulaski and of Pensacola - Siege of Charleston - Attack by Iron-clads on Fort Sumter: Its Failure - Gillmore's Plan of Attack: Occupies Morris Island: Bombards Fort Wagner - Death of Colonel Shaw at the Head of a Negro Regiment - Employment of Negroes on Both Sides - The " Swamp Angel " - Charleston Bombarded - Wanton Destruction - Fort Wagner Taken - Affairs of Mexico: Origin of the Joint Expedition of England, France, and Spain: Difference of View among the Allied Powers: The French Pamphlet: General Almonte: England and Spain abandon the Expedition: French repulsed at Puebla: Arrival of Reinforcements under General K Forey: Capture of Puebla: The French enter Mexico: Assembly of Notables offer the Imperial Crown to Maximilian; He hesitates to accept it - Captain Speke's Discoveries in Central Africa: His Death.
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The campaign of 1863 in Virginia and Pennsylvania possesses the highest interest. After the bloody repulse at Fredericksburg, the hopes of the Confederates were greatly raised, while the spirits of the friends of the Union were correspondingly depressed. All through the spring, Stuart and other Confederate cavaliers were executing audacious raids, attended with general impunity, against the communications, magazines, and scattered posts of the Federal armies. In one of these General Stoughton, from Vermont, was taken in his bed, near Fairfax Court House, and with his guards and five horses hurried off across the Rappahannock. The incident struck a spark of grim humour from the President. Some one spoke of the loss to Mr. Lincoln next morning. "Yes," said the President; "that of the horses is bad; but I can make another general in five minutes."

Burnside had been superseded in the command of the Army of Virginia by General Hooker, an active and vigorous man, but far too deeply convinced of his own surpassing genius for war. The army had again been brought up to a formidable strength, numbering, in April, more than 120,000 men of all arms. To force the position of Fredericksburg by a direct attack had been shown by a dear-bought experience to be well-nigh impossible; but might it not be turned? Hooker came to the conclusion that it might, and ordered a series of movements with that object. Below Fredericksburg a show was made by his orders of forcing the passage of the Rappahannock, in order to perplex the enemy; but his real effort was made upon the Federal right, higher up the river. Several corps, the movements of which were skilfully veiled from the enemy, were thrown first across the Rappahannock, and then across the Rapidan, and established themselves firmly at Chancellorsville, well on Lee's left, and threatening his communications with Richmond. This was in the last days of April. " I have Lee's army in one hand and Richmond in the other," was the "thrasonical brag" of the exultant Hooker, as he rode up to the large stone house - at once mansion and tavern - which then constituted Chancellorsville. A general order, couched in boastful and exaggerated language, invited the army to sing a paean over their successes - somewhat prematurely, as the event proved. In fact, the wooded and intricate nature of the country made the proximity of the two armies a source of greater danger to Hooker than to Lee, for the one was intimately acquainted with every inch of the ground, while the other knew nothing about it. Mr. Greeley truly says that never did the old proverb receive a more striking confirmation of its wisdom: " Never halloo till you are out of the woods."

Lee was taken by surprise: he had not looked for an attack in force on his left; but he lost not a moment in taking the necessary measures to foil the strategy of Hooker. Orders were sent to Jackson, who with his division was guarding the banks of the river below Fredericksburg, to march at once upon Chancellorsville. Jackson, with his wonted rapidity, put his troops in motion, and marching through the woods across the Federal front, at a distance sufficient to screen, though not entirely to conceal, the movement, fell like a thunderbolt upon the Federal right. This was towards six in the evening of the 2nd May. A fire of artillery had been going on during the best part of the day between Lee's main army, posted on wooded hills to the right and left of the road leading from Fredericksburg, and Hooker's centre and left, massed in and around the cleared space surrounding Chancellorsville. But for a long time, there were no indications of a severe conflict; and although the Federals became aware of Jackson's movement, and in the afternoon attacked his columns with effect, routing the rearguard and taking 500 prisoners, they seem to have been at a loss to conjecture what was his object. The 11th Corps, commanded by General Howard, and forming the right wing of Hooker's army, was therefore taken completely by surprise when Jackson burst upon them out of the woods, at the head of 25,000 men. It was the last victory of this great captain, and perhaps it was the most complete and brilliant of them all. Howard's corps, being overpowered, fell back towards Chancellorsville, and, as the Confederates pressed on incessantly, the retreat soon degenerated into a rout; other divisions, other corps, were drawn into the vortex of confusion and disaster, and the disordered mass was rolled backward towards the stone house. Sickles, however, with two divisions of the 3rd Corps, and General Pleasanton's cavalry and horse artillery, who had held the position next to the routed 11th Corps, caused his men to face about and take the pursuing Confederates in Hank. By this time it was dark, and the fighting was nearly at an end. Forming a new front, the Confederates advanced upon Pleasanton's guns, but were repulsed with loss. It was in front of these guns that Stonewall Jackson fell, shot down by his own men. His "Life," by a Virginian (quoted by Mr. Greeley), gives the following account of the matter. It seems that, after having ordered General A. P. Hill to advance with his division, reserving his fire unless cavalry approached from the direction of the enemy, he had ridden forward into the darkness, in order to ascertain the position and penetrate the movements of the Federals. " So great was the danger which he thus ran, that one of his staff said, ' General, don't you think this is the wrong place for you P ' He replied quickly, ' The danger is all over; the enemy is routed. Go back, and tell A. P. Hill to press right on.' Soon after giving this order, General Jackson turned, and, accompanied by his staff and escort, rode back at a trot, on his well-known 'Old Sorrel,' towards his own men. Unhappily, in the darkness - it was now nine or ten o'clock at night - the little body of horsemen was mistaken for Federal cavalry charging, and the regiments on the right and left of the road fired a sudden volley into them with the most lamentable results. Captain Boswell, of General Jackson's staff, was killed, and borne into our lines by his horse; Colonel Crutchfield, Chief of Artillery, was wounded; and two couriers were killed. General Jackson received one ball in his left arm, two inches below the shoulder-joint, shattering the bone and severing the chief artery; a second passed through the same arm, between the elbow and wrist, making its exit through the palm of the hand; a third ball entered the palm of his right hand, about the middle, and, passing through, broke two of the bones.

" He fell from his horse, and was caught by Captain Wormby, to whom he said, 'All my wounds are by my own men.'

" The firing was responded to by the enemy, who made a sudden advance; and, the Confederates falling back, their foes actually charged over Jackson's body. He was not discovered, however; and the Federals being driven back in turn, he was rescued. Ready hands placed him upon a litter, and he was borne to the rear, amid a heavy fire from the enemy. One of the litter bearers was shot down, and the General fell from the shoulders of the men, receiving a severe contusion, adding to the injury of the arm, and injuring the side severely. The enemy's fire of artillery on the point was terrible. General Jackson was left for five minutes until the fire slackened, then placed in an ambulance, and carried to the field hospital at Wilderness Run." He died eight days afterwards, and his remains rest at Lexington in Virginia, his native place.

So died - by such a miserable accident - the most daring and skilful leader of men whom this civil war had yet produced - a man whose magnanimous character and splendid genius for war, and the eager loving confidence which these inspired in his soldiers, were worth to the Confederate cause an army of 50,000 men. Besides his indefatigable energy, his extraordinary skill in timing and co-ordinating movements, and his coolness and decision in executing them, Jackson must be credited with that intuitive comprehension of the moral conditions which contribute to success or failure in war, which is one of the highest; qualities of great commanders. He knew his own men thoroughly, their strong and their weak points; he knew exactly what could be got out of them, and what would discourage them; again, he thoroughly and exactly appraised the psychological as well as military qualities of the Federal commanders opposed to him, and regulated his strategy accordingly. Against the circumspect he knew how to be cautious; against the rash and heedless he was enterprising and audacious. Though sometimes checked, he was never beaten in the field; and Lee might well write to him, before yet he knew that the wounds were fatal, " If I could have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to be disabled in your stead."

When the war broke out, Jackson was a professor in a military college; his appearance to the last had more about it of the scholar than the soldier; he used to ride at the head of his troops with head bent down, in a shabby uniform, on an ill-groomed horse, and with stirrups absurdly short. His death appears to us to have been the real turning point of the war. The subsequent Confederate advance into Pennsylvania was only due to the unexhausted impetus which their, army still derived from his victory at Chancellorsville; and the irremediable character of his loss was seen at Gettysburg, where Lee shattered and demoralised his army by direct attacks upon the Federal lines, which Jackson, had he been alive, would probably never have consented to. For that he did assume the responsibility of disobeying an order of Lee's which he thought ill-judged, is a fact which stands on record; at Antietam, for instance, he refused compliance with Lee's order to attack the Federal right, after he had ascertained by a reconnaissance that the enemy were too numerous and strongly posted to permit of the attack being made with a reasonable hope of success.

But for a time the tide of Confederate success was not stopped by Jackson's death. On the following day, May 3rd, Lee pursued his advantage, driving the Federals out of and beyond Chancellorsville, towards the Rappahannock. Sedgwick with the 6th Corps had, under orders from Hooker, crossed that river near Fredericksburg and advanced towards Chancellorsville, in order to inclose Lee's army between two fires. But Hooker's defeat left Lee at liberty to send a large force, commanded by M'Laws, against Sedgwick, who was heavily defeated, thrown off his line of retreat and supply, and driven across the river. Hooker also, in pursuance of the decision of a council of war, transported his beaten army across the Rappahannock, on the night of May 5th, unmolested by the Confederates, whose losses were no doubt extremely serious. Arrived at the place whence he had set out, Hooker issued a congratulatory order to his troops of a truly amazing character. If it is a good trait in a general not to know when he is beaten, none ever had it in greater perfection than General Hooker. He says, " By our celerity and secrecy of movement, our advance and passage of the rivers was undisputed, and, on our withdrawal, not a rebel ventured to follow. The events of last week may swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army."

The loss in killed and wounded on the Federal side in the battles round Chancellorsville exceeded 17,000 men. That of the Confederates is not accurately known; it was certainly very heavy.

By this time General Grant was getting the upper hand on the Mississippi, and was taking those measures which, as we shall see when we come to describe the campaign in the West, resulted in the fall of Vicksburg. Why did not Lee, at this critical moment, send one of his ablest lieutenants to reinforce General Johnston on the Mississippi, so enabling him to make head against Grant, instead of committing himself to the doubtful enterprise oŁ an invasion of Pennsylvania P Had military considerations alone influenced him, this is the course which lie would have doubtless taken; but, in fact, the grounds of the advance to Gettysburg were chiefly political. The democratic party at the North, who had not liked the war from the first, were getting weary of the continued ill-success of the Federal generals, and one crushing victory gained On Federal ground might probably have emboldened this party to raise again, and effectually, the cry for peace and recognition of the Confederacy. With these views and hopes, Lee, who had been joined since the battle by Longstreet's division, and had, perhaps, for the time an actual superiority of numbers, led his army into the Shenandoah valley, in the first days of June, and marched on steadily towards the frontier. At Winchester, the principal place in the valley, a force of 10,000 Federals was posted, under General Milroy. This force was attacked by Early, one of Lee's best generals, on the 14th and 15th June, and utterly crushed, the entire command being either killed, captured, or dispersed. Jenkins, the commander of a brigade of Confederate cavalry, crossed the Potomac without opposition, and entered Chambersburg, in Pennsylvania, on the 15th June; Lee and Longstreet, with the main body, crossed the frontier on the 24th and 25th. By this time Hooker had become aware of the Confederate march through the valley, and of its object. Falling back in the direction of Washington, he crossed the Potomac at Edward's Ferry, and moved upon Frederick. Not deeming his forces sufficient to cope with Lee's army, he asked permission of the Commander- in-Chief, General Halleck, to withdraw from Maryland Heights (near Harper's Ferry), and unite to his own army the force of 11,000 men under General French which was guarding that important post. General Halleck refused; whereupon Hooker (June 27) begged to be relieved; and Halleck, who was evidently glad of the opportunity, at once acceded to the request, and appointed General Meade to the chief command. A hazardous measure this! to change generals in the presence of a bold and skilful enemy, who was actually on Federal soil; and one that seems inconsistent with Mr. Lincoln's famous dictum, that "when you're in the middle of a ford, it's not the proper time to swop, horses." Yet the substitution answered admirably; for Meade, though not an enterprising general, was modest and sensible, and not at all likely to ruin his army by folly and precipitation. That Halleck felt the full danger of the crisis, and also trusted his new man, is evident from the fact, that he all owed Meade to incorporate French's troops with his army, though he had refused it to Hooker.

Lee now advanced upon Gettysburg, a small town of 3,000 inhabitants, the capital of Adams county, and the focus of a well-cultivated, hilly, and, in parts, thickly- wooded region. The battles which were fought here on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd July, taken together with the surrender of Vicksburg to Grant, which took place at the same time, were decisive of the fate of the Confederacy. Chance brought on the terrible struggle, at any rate on the Federal side, for Meade had not at first thought Gettysburg a desirable battle-ground. But, on the 1st, bodies of Federal cavalry, advancing upon Gettysburg, had got into action, with indecisive result, with part of the Confederate army; supports came up on both sides, and by degrees the combat with which the day began swelled into a battle. General Reynolds, in command of the 1st Corps, drove the Confederate advance through Gettysburg to the hills which lie north and west of the town; but, advancing too far, he was in his turn repulsed and killed. Fortunately, there was a steep range of hills, overlooking Gettysburg from the south, then curving round and trending away in a southerly direction on the left, which afforded to the beaten Federals a position from which they could not easily be driven. General Howard had taken the command, and sent urgent messages to Meade, announcing the events of the day. Meade was at Taneytown, a place some twelve or fifteen miles from Gettysburg, but without a moment's delay ho sent orders to all his corps and divisional commanders to concentrate on Gettysburg. Thus, at the close of the first day's battle, though the Federals had suffered heavily and been driven back, they were massed in great force on Cemetery Hill, the curvilinear ridge south of Gettysburg above described, and awaited with hope the conflict of the morrow. The Confederates were posted on the ranges north and west of Gettysburg. Each side had summoned up its reserves and outlying brigades; Meade arrived on the ground in the middle of the night and assumed the command; Leo had also come up and examined the field.

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Pictures for Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9

Archbishop Whately
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Puebla
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Charleston harbour
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Captain Speke
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