- Gen. Burnside in command in Virginia -- crosses the Rappahannock -- attacks Lee's army, strongly posted on the Southern Heights -- is repulsed with heavy loss -- recrosses the river -- a fresh advance arrested by the President -- the mud March -- Rebel raids in Virginia -- Burnside gives place to Hooker -- Stoneman's raid on Lee's rear -- Hooker crosses the Rappahannock, and advances to Chancellorsville -- his right wing turned and shattered by Jackson -- Pleasanton checks the enemy -- Jackson mortally wounded -- desperate fighting around Chancellorsville -- Hooker stunned -- our army recoils -- Sedgwick storms Marye's Heights -- strikes Lee's rear -- is driven across the river -- Hooker recrosses also -- Stoneman's raid a failure -- Longstreet assails Peck at Suffolk -- is beaten off with loss.
Gen. Burnside reluctantly, and with unfeigned self-distrust, succeeded1 to the command of the Army of the Potomac. The devotion to McClellan of its principal officers, and of many of their subordinates, was so ardent that any other commander must have had a poor chance of hearty, unquestioning support; and Burnside would gladly have shrunk from the ordeal. Having no alternative, however, but disobedience of orders, he accepted the trust, and immediately commenced preparations for a movement of his forces down the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg, which he had selected as on the proper as well as the direct line of operations from Washington against Richmond: masking his purpose, for a few days, by menacing an advance on Gordonsville. Lee soon2 penetrated his real design, and commenced a parallel movement down the south bank of the river; while J. E. B. Stuart, raiding3 across at Warrenton Springs, entered Warrenton just after our rear-guard had left it, obtaining ample confirmation of his chief's conclusions; whereupon, the residue of Longstreet's corps was moved rapidly eastward. Meantime, Gen. Sumner's advance had reached4 Falnouth, and attempted to cross to Fredericksburg, but been easily repulsed; the bridges being burned and our pontoons — owing to a misunderstanding between Gens. Halleck and Burnside, each of whom conceived that the other was to impel their dispatch from Washington — did not start so early as they should have done, and then experienced detention from bad roads. and grounded vessels on the way: so that they did not reach Falmouth till after most of Lee's army had been concentrated on the heights across the river, ready to dispute its passage. Fredericksburg was summoned5 by Gen. Sumner: the authorities replying that, while it would not be used to assail us, its occupation by our troops would be resisted to the utmost. Most of the inhabitants thereupon abandoned the place, which was occupied by Barksdale's Mississippi brigade, sharp-shooting from behind houses; while Lee's engineers pressed the fortification of the heights behind it, and Wade Hampton dashed6 across the river above, raiding up to Dumfries and the Occoquan, capturing 200 cavalry and a number of wagons; and a like dash across was made below Port Royal, in boats, by part of Beale's regiment; taking some prisoners. Our gunboats having steamed up the river so far as Port Royal, D. H. Hill assailed7 them with cannon, and compelled them to retire; when he proceeded to fortify the right bank, so as to prevent their return. The Rappahannock, above Port Royal, being generally narrow, with high bluffs often approaching it, now on one side, then on the other, Lee decided that he could not prevent its