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[276] of retreat open to Lee, Hooker already laid hold of that by Gordonsville, and threatened that by Richmond. The former he could not take up; and, if he chose the latter, he would have Hooker with five corps on his flank, and Sedgwick with two corps pressing his rear. The bright promise of these initial operations was beclouded by but one fact—the column which was to cross the Rappahannock on the right of the infantry, and cut Lee's communications at the same time that the infantry was operating on his army, had been so delayed by the rise of the river that it did not cross the Rappahannock till the morning of the 29th, and had thus far made very insufficient progress.

But, instead of ‘ingloriously flying,’ Lee preferred to ‘come out of his defences’ and give battle to Hooker; and, unhappily for that general, the circumstances under which he chose to receive battle, in place of insuring Lee's ‘certain destruction,’ as he had vaunted, resulted in the disastrous termination of a campaign thus brilliantly opened. Now, as these circumstances furnish the key to the right appreciation of the whole action, I shall, in the succeeding chapter, set them forth with some fulness of detail.

Iii. At Chancellorsville--Friday.

When, on Thursday night, Hooker had concentrated his four corps at Chancellorsville, the real character of the movement, which, up to that point, had been so admirably concealed from his antagonist, became fully disclosed. The Confederate leader saw that the demonstrations near Fredericksburg that had engaged his attention were but a mask, and that the turn of affairs called for the promptest action. Lee, with instant perception of the situation, now seized the masses of his force, and with the grasp of a Titan swung them into position as a giant might fling a mighty stone from

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