Hooker still had in line at Chancellorsville, counting out his losses of Saturday, over eighty-five thousand men. Lee had not exceeding half the number. But every musket borne by the Army of Northern Virginia was put to good use; every round of ammunition was made to tell its story. On the other hand, of the effective of the Army of the Potomac, barely a quarter was fought au fond, while at least one-half the force for duty was given no opportunity to burn a cartridge, to aid in checking the onset of the elated champions of the South.
Almost any course would have been preferable to Hooker’s inertness. There was a variety of opportune diversions to make. Reynolds, with his fresh and eager corps, held the new right, protected in his front by Hunting Run. It would have been easy at any time to project a strong column from his front, and take Stuart’s line of battle in reverse. Indeed, a short march of three miles by the Ely’s Ford, Haden’s Ford, and Greenwood Gold Mines roads, none of which were held by the enemy, would have enabled Reynolds to strike Stuart in rear of his left flank, or seize Dowdall’s clearing by a coup de main, and absolutely negative all Stuart’s efforts in front of Fairview. Or an advance through the forest would have accomplished the same end. To be sure, the ground was difficult, and cut up by many brooks and ravines; but such ground had been, in this campaign, no obstacle to the Confederates. Nor would it have been to Reynolds, had he been given orders to execute such a manoeuvre. Gen. Doubleday states in his testimony: “The action raged with the greatest fury near us on our left.” “I thought that the simple advance of our corps would take the enemy in flank, and would be very beneficial in its results. Gen. Reynolds once or twice contemplated making this advance on his own responsibility. Col. Stone made a reconnoissance, showing it to be practicable.”
The same thing applies to the Eleventh and portions of the Fifth Corps on the left. A heavy column could have been despatched by the Mine and River roads to attack McLaws’s right flank. Barely three miles would have sufficed, over good roads, to bring such a column into operating distance of McLaws. It may be said that the Eleventh Corps was not fit for such work, after its defeat of Saturday night. But testimony is abundant to show that the corps was fully able to do good service early on Sunday morning, and eager to wipe off the stain with which its flight from Dowdall’s had blotted its new and cherished colors. But, if Hooker was apprehensive of trusting these men so soon again, he could scarcely deem them incapable of holding the intrenchments; and this left Meade available for the work proposed.