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[270] relying on the strength of the line of the Rappahannock, he had, in February, detached two divisions, under Longstreet, to operate south of the James River,1 and the remainder did not exceed an effective of fifty-five thousand men.2 Hooker, therefore, was in a situation to attempt a bold enterprise, and the close of April found him ready to cross the Rappahannock and give battle.

Ii. The passage of the Rappahannock.

The opposing armies had so long faced each other on the banks of the Rappahannock, that it may well be supposed there remained no point in the problem of the attack or defence of that line that had not been thoroughly considered. Since the battle of Fredericksburg and the subsequent attempts to pass the Rappahannock, Lee had extended his purview to the guarding of all the practical crossings of that stream. At the time the operations resulting in the battle of Chancellorsville began, he occupied in force the heights south of the Rappahannock from Skenker's Creek to United States Ford (a distance of about twenty-five miles), having continuous lines of infantry parapets throughout, and his troops so disposed as to be readily concentrated on any given point. Interspersed along these lines of intrenchments were batteryepaulements, advantageously located, for sweeping the hillslopes and bottom-lands over which an assailing force would have to march—the crests of the main hills being from threequarters of a mile to a mile and a half from the river's margin.3

1General Longstreet, with two divisions of his corps, was detached for service south of James River in February, and did not rejoin the army until after the battle of Chancellorsville.’—Lee: Report of Chancellorsville, p. 5.

2 The rolls of Lee's army showed, the 31st of March, 1863, a force of 60,298. But at the battle of Chancellorsville, the reports of the subordinates make it fully ten thousand less.

3 Warren:

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