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[106]
The interval of two months between the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg was for the South--notwithstanding the irreparable loss it sustained in the death of Jackson — the brightest period of the Civil War. But its brightness was that of a false and treacherous light. The overconfidence born of the victory of Chancellorsville carried the Army of Northern Virginia against the impregnable front of the Federal lines at Gettysburg; and it was the victory of Gettysburg that sustained the Army of the Potomac in its desperate wrestling in the Wilderness, and in gaining the point of vantage from which it finally started on the arduous, decisive, and fateful race to Appomattox. --Major John Bigelow, Jr., U. S.A., in The campaign of Chancellorsville.

The Rappahannock River flows out of the hills at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a southeasterly course. Falmouth is on the north bank, about a mile from Fredericks-burg, which lies on the opposite shore. Along the banks of this peaceful river were fought some of the most important battles of the Civil War. This region was the scene of the conflict of Fredericksburg, December 12-13, 1862, and the later battle of May 1-5, 1863. Chancellorsville is a little over two miles south of the river and about ten miles west of Fredericksburg.

After the Fredericksburg campaign the Union forces encamped at Falmouth for the winter, while Lee remained with the Southern army on the site of his successful contest at Fredericksburg. Thus the two armies lay facing each other within hailing distance, across the historic river, waiting for the coming of spring. Major-General Joseph Hooker, popularly known as “Fighting Joe” Hooker, who had succeeded Burnside in command of the Army of the Potomac, soon had

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