April 30, 1863: Hooker Arrives at Chancellorsville

Chancellorsville April 30, 1863

 

On April 30, 1863 Hooker arrived at Chancellorsville.  He issued this order:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 30, 1863.

       It is with heartfelt satisfaction the commanding general announces to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him.    The operations of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps have been a succession of splendid achievements.

       By command of Major-General Hooker

Celebratory orders should wait until the end of the campaign, but Hooker had grounds for pride.  He had managed to place Lee between Sedgwick’s force south of Fredericksburg and his own force at Chancellorsville.  Lee had approximately 50,000 men against 70,000 under Hooker and 40,000 under Sedgwick.  All Hooker had to do was launch coordinated assaults against Lee with Sedgwick and numbers should decide the issue.  However, the order issued by Hooker already indicates that something was going wrong in the mind of General Hooker.  He speaks of Lee coming out from his defenses and giving battle on ground of Hooker’s choosing.  Already Hooker was developing a defense mindset in a situation that called for agressive attack.  It is small benefit if an army heavily outnumbers an enemy if the commander will not attack.  By this time Lee had gained a reputation as a battle field master.  Any Union commander coming up against him would be cautious.  However, there is a thin line in military matters between reasonable caution and being paralyzed by fear.  The battle of Chancellorsville would show what side of the line Hooker was on.

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Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on April 30, 1863: Hooker Arrives at Chancellorsville  
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