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Hood: Advance and Retreat
Chapter 3a


THE latter part of October McClellan's movements determined General Lee to withdraw from the Valley of the Shenandoah, leaving his cavalry in rear, and to return to the Valley of the Rappahannock. Accordingly, my division took its place, about the 26th, in the marching columns of Longstreet's Corps, which moved in the direction of the latter point. During the previous month of quiet and rest, the troops had received a supply of shoes and clothing, and had improved in drill and discipline. This splendid corps, therefore, exhibited a very different appearance from that which it presented in its ragged and bare-footed condition, a short period before in Maryland.

We halted in the vicinity of Culpepper Court House, where shortly afterwards intelligence was received that McClellan had been superseded by the appointment of Burnside. This General promptly made a demonstration on the Upper Rappahannock, as he moved towards Fredericksburg. General Lee crossed to the south side of the Rapidan, and, by the latter part of November, the Federal and Confederate Armies again confronted one another at Fredericksburg, where we quietly awaited the development of events.

On the 11th of January, 1863, General Burnside having completed all necessary preparation, began to lay pontoons above and below the railroad bridge which had been destroyed. That entire day and night he consumed in crossing his forces to the southern bank of the river, under cover of, at least, one hundred pieces of artillery. During the 12th he formed his line below and above Deep Run, whilst upon the range of hills overlooking the valley, Lee's forces lay in readiness to receive the attack. General Jackson had, meantime, moved up to form line on our right, and that day, if I remember correctly, as we were riding together in direction of General Lee's headquarters, the conversation turned upon the future and he asked me if I expected to live to see the end of the war. I replied that I did not know, but was inclined to think I would survive; at the same time, I considered it most likely I would be badly shattered before the termination of the struggle. I naturally addressed him the same question, and, without hesitation, he answered that he did not expect to live through to the close of the contest. Moreover, that he could not say that he desired to do so. With this sad turn in the conversation, the subject dropped. Often since have I thought upon these words, spoken casually by each of us, and which seem to have contained the prophecy of his untimely death and of my own fate.

My division was again the center of the Confederate Army, as it rested in line of battle opposite Deep Run, full of spirit and impatient for action. The following morning, after the fog had disappeared, and at about 10 o'clock, the heavy lines of the enemy advanced upon our right and against Jackson's forces, but were driven back beneath the fire of our guns posted on that part of the line. Again, at about 1 p.m., the attack was renewed, and the Federals penetrated into a gap left in Jackson's front line. They were, however, speedily repulsed by his brigades held in reserve. My troops repelled with ease the feeble attack made on their immediate front, whilst Longstreet's remaining forces on the left drove the enemy back repeatedly with great slaughter near Marye's Hill.

I was directed in this battle, as at Second Manassas, to obey the orders either of Generals Lee, Jackson, or Longstreet. About sunset, after the musketry fire had nigh ceased, I received instructions through an officer of Jackson's staff to join in a movement on my right as soon as A. P. Hill's division advanced. The order was accompanied with a message from General Jackson that he intended to drive the enemy into the river. I responded that I was in readiness to act, but, for some reason unknown to me, these orders were countermanded.

About 10 o'clock that night I rode back to my encampment to procure a cup of coffee, and, General Lee's quarters being within a few hundred yards, I walked up the ridge and presented myself at his tent. He immediately asked me what I thought of the attack by the enemy during the day. I expressed my opinion that Burnside was whipped; that no good general would ever make an assault similar to that upon my right and left, without intending it as his main effort, and that the heavy roll of musketry I had heard clearly convinced me that the hardest part of the battle had been fought. He then remarked that he did not think Burnside had made his principal attempt, but would attack again the next day, and that we would drive him back and follow him up to the river. After conversing a few moments longer, during which time he was in the highest spirits, I returned to my line, where I continued the remainder of the night.

The morning of the 14th both Armies still lay face to face, no aggressive movement having been initiated by either side, when about noon Generals Lee and Jackson rode by my position, and invited me to accompany them on a reconnoissance towards our right. We soon reached an eminence, not far distant from Hamilton's Crossing on the railroad, and upon which some of our batteries were posted. From this point we had a magnificent view of the Federal lines on their left, some seven in number, and each, seemingly, a mile in length. General Jackson here turned to me, and asked my estimate of the strength of the enemy then in sight and in our immediate front. I answered fifty thousand, and he remarked that he had estimated their numbers at fifty-five thousand.

Strange to say, amid this immense assemblage of Federal troops not a standard was to be seen; the colors were all lowered, which circumstance induced me to abide by the opinion I had expressed to General Lee the night previous. The two Armies stood still during this entire day, and the following morning we awoke to find the enemy on the north side of the Rappahannock.

In this vicinity my division was quartered for the Winter, and my tent remained near that of General Lee. It was my privilege to often visit him during his leisure hours, and converse with the freedom of yore upon the frontier. In one of our agreeable chats, in company with General Chilton, his chief of staff, he complained of his Army for burning fence rails, killing pigs, and committing sundry delinquencies of this character. I spoke up warmly in defence of my division, declaring that it was not guilty of these misdemeanors, and desired him to send Chilton to inspect the fences in the neighborhood of my troops. General Lee, who was walking up and down near his camp fire, turned toward me and laughingly said, " Ah, General Hood, when you Texans come about the chickens have to roost mighty high." His raillery excited great merriment, and I felt I was somewhat at a stand; nevertheless, I urged that General Chilton be sent at least to inspect the fences.

Time passed pleasantly till the early Spring, when General Longstreet marched back to Petersburg, and thence towards Suffolk—a movement I never could satisfactorily account for, and which proved unfortunate, since it allowed General Hooker, who had superseded Burnside the latter part of April, to cross the Rappahannock and attack General Lee in the absence of one-half of his Army. The transcendent genius of "Stonewall," by which he executed one of his most brilliant moves to the rear of the assailants, once more thwarted the Federal Commander, who was hurled back beyond the Rappahannock to seek refuge upon Stafford Heights. But alas! at a terrible sacrifice, an irreparable loss to the Confederacy: the immortal Jackson.

I had received information of Hooker's anticipated advance, and was most anxious to rejoin my old chief, General Lee. Never did I so long to be with him as in this instance, and I even proceeded so far as to apply for permission to move with my division to his support. The request, however, was not granted.

Longstreet, after receiving the order to join General Lee, made every effort to accomplish this great end, but his wagons were, unfortunately, out in search of forage, and the march was consequently delayed; for which reason we failed to reach Chancellorsville in time to participate in the battle.

Nothing was achieved against the enemy on the expedition to Suffolk, at which point he possessed a safe place of refuge within his strong fortifications, protected by an impenetrable abatis. During our sojourn in this vicinity, quite a spirited affair occurred between our troops and the Federal gunboats, on the Nansemond river, and in which I suffered a grave misfortune in the loss of Captain Turner, of the Fifth Texas. As an outpost officer, he was gifted with the same pre-eminent qualities which distinguished the gallant Upton.

On the march from Suffolk to Chancellorsville, intelligence reached us of the Confederate victory and of the death of Jackson. This latter event occasioned me deep distress. I was hereupon prompted to write to General Lee, giving expression to my sorrow, and, at the same time, to my regret at our failure to join him before the great battle he had just fought and won. In reply to my brief note, he addressed me as follows:

"CAMP FREDS, 21st May, 1863.

"MY DEAR GENERAL:- Upon my return from Richmond, I found your letter of the 13th awaiting me. Although separated from me, I have always had you in my eye and thoughts. I wished for you much in the last battle, and believe had I had the whole Army with me, General Hooker would have been demolished. But God ordered otherwise. 'I grieve much over the death of General Jackson—for our sakes, not for his. He is happy and at peace. But his spirit lives with us, and I hope it will raise up many Jacksons in our ranks. We must all do more than formerly. We must endeavor to follow the unselfish, devoted, intrepid course he pursued, and we shall be strengthened rather than weakened by his loss. I rely much upon you. You must so inspire and lead your brave division, as that it may accomplish the work of a corps. I agree with you as to the size of the corps of this Army. They are too large for the country we have to operate in for one man to handle. I saw it all last campaign. I have endeavored to remedy it—this in a measure at least—but do not know whether I shall succeed. I am much obliged to you always for your opinion. I know you give it from pure motives. If I am not always convinced, you must bear with me. I agree with you also in believing that our Army would be invincible if it could be properly organized and officered. There never were such men in an Army before. They will go anywhere and do anything if properly led. But there is the difficulty—proper commanders—where can they be obtained ? But they are improving—constantly improving. Rome was not built in a day, nor can we expect miracles in our favor.

" Wishing you every health and happiness, and committing you to the care of a kind Providence,

" I am now and always your friend,

" (Signed) R. E. LEE.

" General J. B. HOOD, " Commanding Division."

Again early in May we were in bivouac in the Rapidan, and preparations were initiated for another campaign. The artillery and transportation were carefully inspected, and whatever was found unserviceable was sent to the rear. At this period my division was in splendid condition, its four brigades being under the direction of Law, Benning, Anderson and Robertson. Past service had created with each command a feeling of perfect confidence in its associate whenever brought under fire. The artillery had again been increased by the addition of a number of pieces, as will be seen by the following report of Colonel Owen:

"Headquarters Battalion Washington Artillery, New Orleans, February 15th, 1879.
"Copy of Report of Major Henry's Battalion of Artillery, July 19th, 1863, attached to Hood's Division, First (Longstreet's) Corps, Army of Northern Virginia:

BATTERY COMMANDERS 12 Napoleons 10 Parrots 3 inch Rifle

Captain Buckman, 4
Captain Garden, 3 1
Captain Reiley, 2 3 1
Captain Latham, 2 2

"Official copy from original return, 18.
"(signed) W.M. OWEN,
"Late Adjutant to Chief Artillery First Corps. "

This battalion completed the organization of as brave and heroic a division, numbering, approximately, eight thousand effectives, as was ever made ready for active service. So highwrought was the pride and self-reliance of the troops that they believed they could carve their way through almost any number of the enemy's lines, formed in the open field in their front.

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