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[368] and the Antietam? Grant was beginning to be triumphant in Mississippi, and would soon be thundering at the gates of Vicksburg; Dick Taylor, chased almost out of Louisiana by Banks, could do little toward the rescue of threatened Port Hudson: why not spare Longstreet to needy, beseeching Jo. Johnston, enabling him to overwhelm Grant and then to crush out Banks, restoring the Confederate ascendency on the Mississippi, while simply holding on along the Rappahannock, trusting to the great advantages afforded to the defensive by the rugged topography of that region, and to the terrors inspired by the memories of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville?

In fact, Lee's invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania at that juncture was justifiable on political grounds alone. The Confederate chiefs must have acted on the strength of trusted assurances that the Northern Peace Democracy, detesting the Emancipation policy now steadfastly ascendant at Washington, and weary of high taxes, dear fabrics, a disordered currency, and an enormous yet swelling National Debt, were ripe for revolt: so that a Rebel victory on Northern soil would enable the devotees of Slavery in the loyal States to seize upon the pending Conscription and wield it as an engine of revolution. Lee hints this obscurely where, in the opening of his report on this campaign, after trying to give military reasons for his movement, and failing to satisfy himself of their plausibility, he says:

In addition to these results, it was hoped that other valuable results might be attained by military success.

A month had barely elapsed since Hooker recrossed the Rappahannock, when Lee put his columns in motion up the southern bank of that river. McLaws's division of Longstreet's corps led1 the march from Fredericksburg, followed2 by Ewell's corps; while Hood moved up from the Rapidan; all concentrating, with the cavalry under J. E. B. Stuart, on Culpepper Court House. These movements were of course carefully screened from observation on our side; A. P. Hill's corps being left to make as much display as possible in and around Fredericksburg: but Hooker was soon aware that something unusual was in progress, and threw3 over Gen. Howe's division of the 6th corps a little below the city, to ascertain if the enemy were still in force there. Hill soon convinced him that they were; creating an impression that there had been no material reduction of the Rebel strength in that quarter; but, as it was not his policy to fight, and Howe did not care to attack the entire Rebel army, there was no serious conflict. Howe, after some careful skirmishing, desisted, and ultimately withdrew without loss.

It being at length clear that the enemy were operating on our right, Hooker massed his cavalry near Catlett's Station, giving its command to Pleasanton, who speedily prepared to look across the Rappahannock and see what was going on there. He was backed by two small but choice brigades of infantry under Gen. Ames, of the 11th, and Gen. Russell, of the 6th corps, each taking a battery; and the whole moved quietly down to Kelly's and to Beverly

1 June 3.

2 June 4-5.

3 June 5.

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