A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE.
BY JOHN ESTEN COOKE.
"Duty is the sublimest word in our language."
"Human virtue should be equal to human calamity." LEE. 1876
THE WAR ADVANCES NORTHWARD.
II. Lee's Manoeuvres
General Pope had promptly advanced, and his army lay in Culpepper, the right reaching toward the Blue Ridge, and the left extending nearly to the Rapidan.
The campaign now became a contest of brains between Lee and the Federal authorities. Their obvious aim was to leave him in doubt whether a new advance was intended under McClellan from James River, or the real movement was to be against Richmond from the North. Under these circumstances, General Lee remained with the bulk of his army in front of Richmond; but, on the 13th of July, sent Jackson with two divisions in the direction of Gordonsville. The game of wits had thus begun, and General Lee moved cautiously, looking in both directions, toward James River and the Upper Rappahannock. As yet the real design of the enemy was undeveloped. The movement of General Pope might or might not be a real advance. But General McClellan remained inactive, and, on the 27th of July, A.P. Hill's division was sent up to reenforce Jackson--while, at the same time, General D.H. Hill, commanding a force on the south bank of the James River, was directed to make demonstrations against McClellan's communications by opening fire on his transports.
The moment approached now when the game between the two adversaries was to be decided. On the 2d of August, Jackson assumed the offensive, by attacking the enemy at Orange Court-House; and, on the 5th, General McClellan made a prompt demonstration to prevent Lee from sending him further reinforcements. A large Federal force advanced to Malvern Hill, and was drawn up there in line of battle, with every indication on the part of General McClellan of an intention to advance anew upon Richmond. Lee promptly went to meet him, and a slight engagement ensued on Curl's Neck. But, on the next morning, the Federal army had disappeared, and the whole movement was seen to have been a feint.
This state of indecision continued until nearly the middle of August. An incident then occurred which clearly indicated the enemy's intentions.
General Burnside was known to have reached Hampton Roads from the Southern coast with a considerable force, and the direction which his flotilla now took would show the design of the Federal authorities. If a new advance was intended from the James, the flotilla would ascend that river; if General Pope's army was looked to for the real movement, General Burnside would go in that direction. The secret was discovered by the afterward celebrated Colonel John S. Mosby, then a private, and just returned, by way of
Fortress Monroe, from prison in Washington. He ascertained, when he disembarked, that Burnside's flotilla was about to move toward the Rappahannock, and, aware of the importance of the information, hastened to communicate it to General Lee. He was admitted, at the headquarters of the latter near Richmond, to a private interview, and when General Lee had finished his conversation with the plain-looking individual, then almost unknown, he was in possession of the information necessary to determine his plans. The Rappahannock, and not the James, was seen to be the theatre of the coming campaign, and General Lee's whole attention was now directed to that quarter.
Jackson had already struck an important blow there, cooeperating vigorously, as was habitual with him, in the general plan of action. General McClellan had endeavored by a feint to hold Lee at Richmond. By a battle now, Jackson hastened the retreat of the army under McClellan from James River. With his three divisions, Jackson crossed the Rapidan, and, on the 9th of August, attacked the advance force of General Pope at Cedar Mountain. The struggle was obstinate, and at one time Jackson's left was driven back, but the action terminated at nightfall in the retreat of the Federal forces, and the Confederate commander remained in possession of the field. He was too weak, however, to hold his position against the main body of the Federal army, which was known to be approaching; he accordingly recrossed the Rapidan to the vicinity of Gordonsville, and here he was soon afterward joined by General Lee, with the great bulk of the Confederate army.
Such were the events which succeeded the battles of the Chickahominy, transferring hostilities to a new theatre, and inaugurating the great campaigns of the summer and autumn of 1862 in Northern Virginia and Maryland.