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[218] advance of his column; and he found it necessary to look after the new opponent. Sedgwick had moved up the Plank road held by Wilcox's brigade, which gradually retired, and finally made a stand at Salem Church on the Plank road, about five miles from Fredericksburg, when, by a gallant resistance, the head of the column was held at bay until the arrival of McLaws with four brigades, and the further advance of the enemy was effectually opposed. 1

It will be thus seen of what importance to General Lee's own movements were those below at Fredericksburg, and how the capture of the heights in rear of the two affected him. A force of at least 30,000 men had been detained from Hooker's army by considerably less than 10,000 on our side. It is true that Sedgwick had finally broken through the force opposed to him and commenced an advance up towards the rear of General Lee's army, but he had not done so until the latter had had time to gain a brilliant victory, and drive Hooker to a position of defence from which he could not advance except under great disadvantages.

Sedgwick's column had thus been detained by Wilcox until a force was brought down to arrest its progress entirely, and time was given to make arrangements to fall upon Sedgwick while separated from the rest of Hooker's army. Barksdale's brigade and the artillery posted with it had resisted all assaults upon their position for at least six hours, thus giving General Lee the requisite time to gain his victory, and in being finally

1 In this condition of things, Lincoln telegraphed to General Hooker's Chief of Staff, who was on the north bank near Falmouth, as follows:

War Department, Washington City, May 3, 1863.
Major General Butterfield:
Where is General Hooker? Where is Sedgwick? Where is Stoneman?

A. Lincoln. Sent 4.35 P. M.

[See report Committee on the War.]

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