Hooker’s resume of the campaign.
Nearly two years after this campaign, in his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, Hooker thus speaks about the general result of the movement:—
“I may say here, the battle of Chancellorsville has been associated with the battle of Fredericksburg, and has been called a disaster. My whole loss in the battle of Chancellorsville was a little over seventeen thousand.”
“I said that Chancellorsville had been called a disaster. I lost under those operations, one piece artillery, I think five or six wagons, and one ambulance.” “In my opinion, there is nothing to regret in regard to Chancellorsville, except to accomplish all I moved to accomplish. The troops lost no honor, except one corps, and we lost no more men than the enemy; but expectation was high, the army in splendid condition, and great results were expected from it. It was at a time, too, when the nation required a victory.” “I would like to speak somewhat further of this matter of Chancellorsville. It has been the desire and aim of some of Gen. McClellan’s admirers, and I do not know but of others, to circulate erroneous impressions in regard to it. When I returned from Chancellorsville, I felt that I had fought no battle; in fact, I had more men than I could use; and I fought no general battle, for the reason that I could not get my men in position to do so; probably not more than three or three and a half corps, on the right, were engaged in that fight.”
And he repeats his understanding of his manoeuvring as follows: “My impression was, that Lee would have been compelled to move out on the same road that Jackson had moved on, and pass over to my right. I should add in my testimony that before leaving Falmouth, to make this move, I had a million and a half of rations on board lighters, and had gunboats in readiness to tow them up to points on the Pamunkey River, in order to replenish my provisions, to enable me to reach Richmond before the enemy could, in case I succeeded in throwing him off that line of retreat. When I gave the order to Gen. Sedgwick, I expected that Lee would be whipped by manoeuvre. I supposed that he would be compelled to march off on the same line that Jackson had. He would have been thrown on the Culpeper and Gordonsville road, placing me fifty or sixty miles nearer Richmond than himself.”
Criticism upon such an eccentric summing-up of the results of the campaign of Chancellorsville, is too unprofitable a task to reward the attempt. But assuredly the commander of the gallant Army of the Potomac stands alone in his measure of the importance of the movement, or of the disastrous nature of the defeat.
Some resulting correspondence.