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History of Cambria County, V.2

enemy had the advantage in its continual line of success, excepting those battles won in the west by Gen. Grant, and Antietam.
    It is also true that the Union cause suffered temporary defeats and repulses, but they were not substantial victories to the Confederates; for instance, Gen. Lee had a formidable defense in the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor, but Gen. Grant did not stop his movements, nor did he give Lee time to prepare for the next contest. Finding that he could not succeed by a direct attack he gave that ever-living command: “Forward by the Left Flank.”
    The battle of Chancellorsville may be properly regarded as a second effort to dislodge Lee at Fredericksburg. The distance between these places is about eleven miles. After the Fredericksburg battle Burnside was, of course, much depressed and with the unrest among the northern people he sought to recover and gain a victory. He conceived a plan to cross the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg and attack Lee, who was entrenched at that point. On January 20 and 21, 1863, he started his army in that direction but a severe rain storm caused his wagons and teams to stick in the mud, which resulted in another failure known as the “Mud March.”
    On January 25, Gen. Hooker succeeded Gen. Burnside in command of the Army of the Potomac; that is, he was the nominal commander, but in fact, Mr. Lincoln was the actual military official from January 25 to June 16, 1863. This is the first instance of any president ever taking the actual command of the army, although he is by virtue of the constitution the formal commander of the Army and Navy. Mr. Lincoln directed the campaign and to him Gen. Hooker reported; neither Secretary Stanton, Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck, the commander-in-chief of the army, nor the War Department took any part in the movements during this period.
    Hooker's plans were to deceive Lee. He directed Sedgwick to cross the Rappahannock river below Fredericksburg with the First (Capt. W. B. Lowman), Third (Capt. Fite) and the Sixth Corps, number 59,000 men, and hold Lee while he would take the Fifth. (Capts. Stackhouse, Butland and Flanagan), Eleventh and Twelfth Corps (Capt. Gardner) with 42,000 men up the river and cross it and concentrate at Chancellorsville, northwest of Fredericksburg, and come down on Lee's left flank and rear. On April 30, Hooker crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford and was safe at Chancellorsville, which was so far

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Created: 24 Mar 2003, Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors