From the very necessity of the case, the general theory upon which the war was conducted, on the part of the South
, was one of defense.
The great superiority of the North
in men and material made it indispensable for the South
to husband its resources as much as possible, inasmuch as the hope of ultimate success which the latter entertained, rested rather upon the dissatisfaction and pecuniary distress which a prolonged war would entail upon the former-making the people weary of the struggle-than upon any expectation of conquering a peace by actually subduing so powerful an adversary.
Nevertheless, in the judgment of General Lee
, it was a part of a true defensive policy to take the aggressive when good opportunity offered; and by delivering an effective blow to the enemy, not only to inflict upon him serious loss, but, at the same time, to thwart his designs of invasion, derange the plan of campaign contemplated by him, and thus prolong the conflict.
The Federal army, under General Hooker
, had re-occupied the heights opposite Fredericksburg
, where it could not be attacked except at a disadvantage.
Instead of quietly awaiting the pleasure of the Federal
commander, in designing and putting into execution some new plan of campaign, General Lee
determined to maneuvre to draw him from his impregnable position, and, if possible, to remove the scene of hostilities beyond the Potomac
His design was to free the State of Virginia
, for a time, at least, from the presence of the enemy, to transfer the theatre of war to Northern soil, and, by selecting a favorable time and place in which to receive the attack which his