One of the most continuously valued eyewitness histories of the Civil War is Military Memoirs of a Confederate by Edward Porter Alexander. After serving stints as a signal officer and chief of ordnance in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, E.P. Porter went on to serve in the artillery where he rose to the rank of Brigadier General. After the war, he wrote his memoirs in a style that achieved historical accuracy and spurned the romanticism of his age. This selection on the battle of Chancellorsville was taken from his famous book.
Each commander planned to take the initiative. Hooker knew that he had double Lee's infantry, and great superiority in artillery, and he desired only to get at Lee away from breastworks. On April 13 he ordered Stoneman's cavalry upon a raid to Lee's rear, which expedition was to be the opening of his campaign. A rain-storm on the 14th, lasting 36 hours, halted the movement, after its leading brigade had forded the Rappahannock. The brigade was recalled, having to swim horses across the fast-rising river, and two weeks elapsed before the movement could be renewed. It was intended that Stoneman should destroy the railroads, which would force Lee to retreat. Stoneman should then harass and delay him as he fell back, pursued by Hooker.
Lee's proposed campaign was another invasion; this time of Pa. He could neither attack Hooker, nor even threaten his rear across the Rappahannock. But he could again sweep the Valley and cross the Potomac; and beyond, both Lee and Jackson imagined great possibilities. Three months later the opportunity offered, and Lee put it to the test; but his great lieutenant, Jackson, was no longer at the head of his 2d corps.
On April 29, Lee found himself anticipated by Hooker's having, the night before, laid pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock, below Deep Run, at the site of Franklin's crossing in Dec. Hooker had commenced his movement, on the 27th, by going with the 5th, 11th, and