James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
at the United States ford, marching to Chancellorsville, and next day Sickles with the Third Corps followed. By the morning of May 1, Hooker, had assembled five corps under his immediate command.1 We are across the river and have out-manuvred the enemy, wrote Meade to his wife, but we are not yet out of the woods.2 Hooker, however, was full of confidence3 and issued a boastful order. The operations of the last three days, he said, have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly or come out from behind his defences and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him. Hooker had said to the President, I have under my command the finest army on the planet4; and on May 1 he began to use it by attacking the Confederates, of whose strength he had a pretty correct idea.5
Lee was nowise perturbed at the successful crossing of the Rappahannock by the Union troops, although he wished that he had Longstreet and his two divisions back; he had Jackson, however, and the two wrought together in perfect accord. They feared Hooker no more than they had feared McClellan and, if they knew of his boastful order, must have felt that they had a braggart to deal with like Pope. The story of May 1 is a simple one. Hooker attacked. Lee made a counter-attack. Hooker lost his nerve and ordered his men to fall back. Meade wrote of his own corps, Just as we reached the enemy we were recalled. Had Hooker rested on his first order for an advance and left it to be carried out by his corps and division commanders,
Note 1. Sedgwick with the Sixth Corps was about 111/2 miles away. Reynolds with the First Corps about 13, but the enemy was between. Their marching distance was probably 23 miles. [back]