McLaws, less than fourteen thousand men, should hold the enemy in his front, he would hurl Jackson upon his flank and rear, and crush and crumble him as between the upper and nether millstone.
The very boldness of the movement contributed much to insure its success.
General Fitzhugh Lee
, in his address at the Ninth Annual Re-union of the Virginia Division
of the Army of Northern Virginia Association, in 1879, says:
The problem presented to General Lee's mind on Friday night, May 1st, was to decide how best to attack Hooker's army on the morning of May 2nd.
Time was an important element; for near Fredericksburg, in his rear, was Sedgwick, largely outnumbering the Confederate force in front under Early.
During the afternoon General Lee wished to attack from his right, and cut Hooker off from the United States Ford, severing his communications with Sedgwick, and rode down himself and examined the line all the way to the river, but found no place where he could do so. Returning at night, he found Jackson, and asked if he knew of any place to attack.
Jackson said, “No.”
Lee said, “Then we must get around on the Federal right.”
Jackson said he had been enquiring about roads by the furnace.
Stuart came up then, and said he would go down to the furnace, and see what he could learn about roads.
He soon returned with Rev. B. T. Lacy, who said, “A circuit could be made around by Wilderness Tavern;” and a young man living in the county, and then in the cavalry, was sent for to act as guide.
Ah! what an earnest talk Lee
had on the night of May the 1st.
At sunset they took their seats on a log on the right, or north side, of the Plank Road
, and a little distance in the woods.
, the well-known aidede-camp of General Lee
, was the only other person present, having been ordered to come to the spot for the purpose of writing a letter to Mr. Davis
, dictated by General Lee
sat on the end of a fallen tree, within three feet of the two generals, and heard every word that passed between them, and this is what he tells me Lee
talked about on that eventful night: