The Campaign of Chancellorsville eBook

Theodore Ayrault Dodge
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about The Campaign of Chancellorsville.
it is in all appreciation of Hooker’s splendid qualities as a lieutenant, that his inactivity in this campaign is dwelt upon.  No testimony need be given to sustain Hooker’s courage:  no man ever showed more.  No better general ever commanded an army corps in our service:  this is abundantly vouched for.  But Hooker could not lead an hundred thousand men; and, unlike his predecessor, he was unable to confess it.  Perhaps he did not own it to himself.  Certainly his every explanation of this campaign involved the shifting of the onus of his defeat to the shoulders of his subordinates,—­ principally Howard and Sedgwick.  And the fullest estimation of Hooker’s brilliant conduct on other fields, is in no wise incompatible with the freest censure for the disasters of this unhappy week.  For truth awards praise and blame with equal hand; and truth in this case does ample justice to the brave old army, ample justice to Hooker’s noble aides.

The plan summarized by Warren probably reflected accurately the intentions of his chief, as conceived in his tent on Saturday night.  It was self-evident that Anderson and McLaws could be readily held in check, so long as Jackson’s corps was kept sundered from them.  Indeed, they would have necessarily remained on the defensive so long as isolated.  Instead, then, of leaving the Third Corps, and one division of the Twelfth, to confront Jackson’s magnificent infantry, had Hooker withdrawn an entire additional corps, (he could have taken two,) and thrown these troops in heavy masses at dawn on Stuart, while Birney retained Hazel Grove, and employed his artillery upon the enemy’s flank; even the dauntless men, whose victories had so often caused them to deem themselves invincible, must have been crushed by the blows inflicted.

But there is nothing at all, on this day, in the remotest degree resembling tactical combination.  And, long before the resistance of our brave troops had ceased, all chances of successful parrying of Lee’s skilful thrusts had passed away.

Hooker’s testimony is to the effect that he was merely lighting on Sunday morning to retain possession of the road by which Sedgwick was to join him, and that his retiring to the lines at Bullock’s was predetermined.

The following extract from the records of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, illustrates both this statement, and Hooker’s method of exculpating himself by crimination of subordinates.  “Question to Gen. Hooker.—­Then I understand you to say, that, not hearing from Gen. Sedgwick by eleven o’clock, you withdrew your troops from the position they held at the time you ordered Gen. Sedgwick to join you.

“Answer.—­Yes, sir; not wishing to hold it longer at the disadvantage I was under.  I may add here, that there is a vast difference in corps-commanders, and that it is the commander that gives tone and character to his corps.  Some of our corps-commanders, and also officers of other rank, appear to be unwilling to go into a fight.”

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The Campaign of Chancellorsville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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