There were some people, my son, unkind enough to say, and say boldly, that the government did this strange act more to show its appreciation of insubordination than out of respect to his capacity to discharge successfully the duties of his high position. When, however, the general had talked himself into the very best opinion of himself, he went to work nursing his grand army into good order. Yes, my son, the old army of the Potomac was a grand army, and General Hooker declared it was the finest on the face of the globe. And he nursed it into good order on the left bank of the Rappahannock, from December, 1862, to early April, 1863. The general could get up of a morning, and enjoy a look at his old friend Lee, quietly domiciled on the opposite bank. And General Lee could get up of a morning, and do the same. Both generals regarded this as a very harmless and pleasant way of spending the winter, while carrying on the war. They would, at times, it is true, exchange compliments of a belligerent nature. But this was only to give a lively turn to the state of affairs around Fredericksburg. They were, I can assure you, my son, not intended to harm any one.
Chancellorville, and the curious fight we had there.
I am sure my friends will all be anxious to see a portrait of the great general who fought the great battle of Chancellorville. And my artist has been particularly careful to present them with a good one.
Chancellorville was a strangely fought battle, my son; I have various good reasons for saying this, but, perhaps, it is best that as little as possible be said concerning them.
When spring came, and the roads were dry, and the robins had begun to sing in the trees, and the buds to put forth, General Hooker began to feel strong, and full of battle. He said to his officers that they must get their courage up, and be ready for a big fight, every one in his own way. And to his men he said, that they must have plenty of powder in their pouches, and not be afraid to use it. A general to be successful, my son, must have confidence in himself. General Hooker had confidence in himself, and felt that he could whip the rebels out of their boots any fine morning. Hence it was, that feeling in a fighting humor one morning in early April, he picked up his army, and, crossing the stream, went in pursuit of the enemy. He found the enemy posted in the woods near Chancellorville, where he engaged him in a fierce and desperate battle. But the general’s plan, if he had any, soon got out of his head, and it became apparent that he was fighting the battle in so strange a manner that no one could understand it. In truth, the general set aside the established rules of war early in the battle, and went back to first principles. These give every man the right to fight in his own way,