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Doc. 31.-battle of Chancellorsville.

Report of General R. E. Lee.

headquarters army of Northern Virginia, September 21, 1863.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, C. S. A., Richmond, Va.:
General: After the battle of Fredericksburg, the army remained encamped on the south side of the Rappahannock until the latter part of April. The Federal army occupied the north side of the river, opposite Fredericksburg, extending to the Potomac. Two brigades of Anderson's division, those of Generals Mahone and Posey, were stationed near the United States Mine or Bark Mill Ford; and a third, under command of General Wilcox, guarded Banks's Ford. The cavalry was distributed on both flanks — Fitzhugh Lee's brigade picketing the Rappahannock above the mouth of the Rapidan, and W. H. F. Lee's near Port Royal. Hampton's brigade had been sent into the interior to recruit. General Longstreet, with two divisions of his corps, was detached for service south of James River, in February, and did not rejoin the army until after the battle of Chancellorsville. With the exception of the engagement between Fitz Lee's brigade and the enemy's cavalry near Kelley's Ford, on the seventeenth of March, 1863, of which a brief report has been already forwarded to the Department, nothing of interest transpired during this period of inactivity.

On the fourteenth of April intelligence was received that the enemy's cavalry was concentrating on the upper Rappahannock. Their efforts to establish themselves on the south side of the river were successfully resisted by Fitz Lee's brigade and two regiments of W. H. F. Lee's, the whole under the immediate command of General Stuart. About the twenty-first, small bodies of infantry appeared at Kelley's Ford and the Rappahannock Bridge, [254] and almost at the same time a demonstration was made opposite Port Royal, where a party of infantry crossed the river about the twenty-third. These movements were evidently intended to conceal the designs of the enemy; but, taken in connection with the reports of scouts, indicated that the Federal army, now commanded by Major-General Hooker, was about to resume active operations. At half-past 5 o'clock A. M., the twenty-eighth of April, the enemy crossed the Rappahannock in boats, near Fredericksburg, and, driving off the pickets on the river, proceeded to lay down a pontoon bridge, a short distance below the mouth of Deep Run. Later in the forenoon another bridge was constructed about a mile below the first. A considerable force crossed on these bridges during the day, and was massed out of view under the high banks of the river. The bridges, as well as the troops, were effectually protected from our artillery by the depth of the river's bed and the narrowness of the stream, while the batteries on the opposite heights completely commanded the wide plain between our lines and the river.

As in the first battle of Fredericksburg, it was thought best to select positions with a view to resist the advance of the enemy, rather than incur the heavy loss that would attend any attempt to prevent his crossing. Our dispositions were accordingly made as on the former occasion. No demonstration was made opposite any other point of our lines at Fredericksburg; and the strength of the force that had crossed, and its apparent indisposition to attack, indicated that the principal effort of the enemy would be made in some other quarter. This impression was confirmed by intelligence received from General Stuart, that a large body of infantry and artillery was passing up the river. During the forenoon of the twenty-ninth that officer reported that the enemy had crossed in force near Kelley's Ford, on the preceding evening. Later in the day he announced that a heavy column was moving from Kelley's towards Germana Ford, on the Rapidan, and another towards Ely's Ford, on that river. The routes they were pursuing, after crossing the Rapidan, converge near Chancellorsville, whence several roads lead to the rear of our position at Fredericksburg.

On the night of the twenty-ninth, General Anderson was directed to proceed towards Chancellorsville, and dispose Wright's brigade and the troops from the Bark Mill Ford to cover these roads. Arriving at Chancellorsville about midnight, he found the commands of Generals Mahone and Posey already there, having been withdrawn from the Bark Mill Ford, with the exception of a small guard. Learning that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan, and were approaching in strong force, General Anderson retired early on the morning of the thirtieth to the intersection of the mine and plank roads, near Tabernacle Church, and began to intrench himself. The enemy's cavalry skirmished with his rear guard as he left Chancellorsville; but being vigorously repulsed by Mahone's brigade, offered no further opposition to his march. Mahone was placed on the old turnpike, Wright and Posey on the plank road. In the mean time General Stuart had been directed to endeavor to impede the progress of the column marching by way of Germana Ford. Detaching W. H. F. Lee, with his two regiments, the Ninth and Thirteenth Virginia, to oppose the main body of the enemy's cavalry, General Stuart crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, with Fitz Lee's brigade, on the night of the twenty-ninth. Halting to give his men a few hours' repose, he ordered Colonel Owens, with the Third Virginia cavalry, to throw himself in front of the enemy, while the rest of the brigade attacked his right flank, at the Wilderness tavern, between Germana Ford and Chancellorsville. By this means the march of this column was delayed until twelve M., when, learning that the one from Ely's Ford had already reached Chancellorsville, General Stuart marched by Todd's tavern towards Spottsylvania Court-House, to put himself in communication with the main body of the army, and Colonel Owens fell back upon General Anderson.

The enemy in our front, near Fredericksburg, continued inactive, and it was now apparent that the main attack would be made upon our flank and rear. It was therefore determined to leave sufficient troops to hold our lines, and with the main body of the army to give battle to the approaching column. Early's division of Jackson's corps, and Barksdale's brigade of McLaws's division, with part of the reserve artillery, under General Pendleton, were intrusted with the defence of our position at Fredericksburg, and at midnight, on the thirtieth, General McLaws marched with the rest of his command towards Chancellorsville. General Jackson followed at dawn next morning, with the remaining divisions of his corps. He reached the position occupied by General Anderson at eight A. M., and immediately began preparations to advance. At eleven A. M., the troops moved forward upon the plank and old turnpike roads, Anderson, with the brigades of Wright and Posey, leading on the former; McLaws, with his three brigades, preceded by Mahone's, on the latter. Generals Wilcox and Perry, of Anderson's division, cooperated with McLaws; Jackson's troops followed Anderson on the plank road.

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