In January 1863 Joseph Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac. By late April he had divided his army in front of Fredericksburg and begun a flanking march that would stretch Lee's generalship-and Confederate manpower-to its limits.
Imagine a weight scale of the type the figure of Justice is often seen holding. If this were morale among the military in the eastern theater in the Civil War, the scale holding the Army of Northern Virginia would just about be at the floor, while the totally empty scale holding the Army of the Potomac would be as high up as the scale would allow. As both sides largely saw it, 1862 had been the year of Lee and his army. They had driven back McClellan from the outskirts of Richmond, totally baffled Pope and almost destroyed his army, driven back an attack they should have lost at Sharpsburg, and stopped Burnside's attack at Fredericksburg as easily as a pit bull can defeat a mouse. Lee's soldiers thought that they were, when led by the master, totally invincible; the blue-clad men of the Army of the Potomac largely agreed with them.
Joseph Hooker, their new commander, understood this, and he asked Lincoln to agree to allow the army to rebuild some of its lost confidence. He did the little things that got soldiers feeling better. He improved rations; he granted furloughs so many of the men could go home for the first time in a while. He got rid of Burnside's cumbersome “grand division” arrangement, and organized the cavalry into a single corps. He even designed special badges for each of the divisions of his corps so a man would feel pride in belonging to a unique organization. He also indulged in many of the displays McClellan had so loved: holding drills, reviews, and parades so the men would see themselves on the field, with burnished weapons and flying flags, as a body of men at war. Back in Washington, on March 3 the government passed “An Act for enrolling and calling out the National Forces, and for other purposes”-a draft for additional manpower. All male citizens between 20 and 45, save for those physically or mentally unfit, with