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New leaders and New plans General Joseph Hooker and his Staff. These were the men whose work it was, during the winter after Fredericksburg, to restore the esprit du corps of the Army of the Potomac. The tireless energy and magnetic personality of Hooker soon won officers from their disaffection and put an end to desertions — which had been going on at the rate of two hundred per day before he took command. By spring everything seemed propitious for an aggressive campaign, the plans for which were brilliantly drawn and at first vigorously carried out, giving truth to Lincoln's expressed belief that Hooker was “a trained and skilful soldier.” In that remarkable letter of admonition to Hooker upon assuming command, Lincoln added: “But beware of rashness, beware of rashness; with energy and with sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.” By some strange fate it was not rashness but quite the contrary which compassed the failure of “Fighting Joe” Hooker at Chancellorsville. His first forward advance was executed with his usual bold initiative. Before Lee could fully divine his purpose, Hooker with thirty-six thousand men was across his left flank in a favorable position, with the main body of his army at hand ready to give battle. Then came Hooker's inexplicable order to fall back upon Chancellorsville. That very night, consulting in the abandoned Federal position, Lee and Jackson formed the plan which drove Hooker back across the Rappahannock in ignominious defeat.

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