He did not move out towards Fredericksburg
until 11 A. M., Friday, thus wasting nearly a day. He had not proceeded over two miles when he met the advancing Confederates, who had marched ten miles to meet him since the night before.
's attack was vigorous, but Hooker
knew well his adversary's inferiority in numbers, and without any fair trial of strength, he deliberately abandoned his aggressive movement, and with 70,000 men, fell back before less than 45,000.
Much is said by General Hooker
, and other Federal officers, of the unfavorable ground, covered as it was for the most part with dense woods, and of the difficulty of bringing troops into action in such a wilderness.
The difficulty was, no doubt, great, but it was no greater for Federals than for Confederates; and yet, Lee
, in the next two days, attacked and defeated forces vastly superior to their own, in this very wilderness.
followed close upon the Federal
retreat, and during the afternoon felt Hooker
's lines in his front, to see if they presented any favorable point of attack.
He found the Federal
centre and left flank too strongly posted to invite assault, and on Friday night directed Jackson
to move the next day around the Federal
army, and attack its right flank and rear.
began this manoeuvre in the early morning, taking some 26,000 infantry, while General Lee
's and McLaw
's divisions, amounting to 16,000 or 17,000 men, opposite Hooker
's center and left wing.
All day was consumed by Jackson
in moving around the front of the Federal
army, and in getting into position beyond and to the rear of its right flank.
The distance was twelve or fifteen miles, and the route a narrow defile through a dense wilderness.
Though conducted with all possible rapidity, secrecy and skill, this movement was discovered early in the day by Sickles
, whose corps (Third) was next to Howards
(Eleventh), the latter constituting the extreme Federal right flank.
Soon after 8 A. M., Sickles
was aware of the movement of a strong column across his front.
At half-past 9 Hooker
to look well to the right flank, as the enemy was moving in that direction.
was authorized to push two divisions of his corps to the front, and cut the Confederate
He did so, captured part of a regiment, and knew with certainty, at 2 P. M., that Jackson
, with a large force, was moving towards the right flank of the Federal
He proposed to attack the rear of this force, and was supported by one of Slocum
's divisions and a brigade from Howard
, who was himself present.
's movements were feeble in the extreme, for Jackson
's rear, composed of a few batteries and two small brigades (subsequently replaced by two brigades