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[269] habit he had of self-assertion, which, however, proved little, since it may be either the manifestation of impotent conceit, or the proud utterance of conscious power. Hooker had shown himself a pitiless critic of his predecessors in command: he was now to be tried in an ordeal whence no man had yet escaped unscathed.

The new commander judiciously resolved to defer all grand military operations during the wet season, and the first three months after he assumed command were well spent in rehabilitating the army. The ranks were filled up by the return of absentees; the discipline and instruction of the troops were energetically continued, and the close of April found the Army of the Potomac in a high degree of efficiency in all arms.1 It numbered one hundred and twenty thousand men2 (infantry and artillery), with a body of twelve thousand well-equipped cavalry,3 and a powerful artillery force of above four hundred guns.4 It was divided into seven corps—the First Corps under General Reynolds; the Second under General Couch; the Third under General Sickles; the Fifth under General Meade; the Sixth under General Sedgwick; the Eleventh under General Howard; and the Twelfth under General Slocum.5

Lee's force was greatly inferior to that of his opponent; for

1 It was not without truth that Hooker, at this time, in his grandiose style, named it ‘the finest army on the planet.’

2 This estimate is approximate; the data are as follows: The effective of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps was put by General Hooker, just before Chancellorsville, at forty-four thousand six hundred and sixty-one.—Report on the Conduct of the War, second series, vol. i., p. 120. The effective of the Sixth Corps is given by General Sedgwick (ibid., p. 95) as twenty-two thousand; and the effective of the First and Third corps, by the same authority, was thirty-five thousand. There remains the Second Corps, to which, if we give a minimum of eighteen thousand, there will result the aggregate of one hundred and nineteen thousand six hundred and sixty-one.

3 Pleasonton: Official Returns, May 27th.

4 Hunt: Report of Artillery Operations.

5 Generals Franklin and Sumner both retired from the Army of the Potomac after the change of commander. The latter was assigned to a command in the West, but died soon afterwards at his home in New York, lamented by the army and the country as the bravest of soldiers and purest of men.

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