Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lee's Serenity of Superhuman Intelligence

The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said that "a man of refined Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for the profession of a soldier," though two devoted Christians, Lee and Jackson faithfully performed their soldierly duties to near-perfection against tremendous odds.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman

North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission

"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"

"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Lee's Serenity of Superhuman Intelligence

"On the Confederate side, the force operating at Chancellorsville consisted of McLaw's and Anderson's divisions of Longstreet's corps (Hood's and Pickett's divisions of that corps, under Longstreet, were in the vicinity of Suffolk, on the south side of the James river), and Jackson's corps, of A.P. Hill's, [Jubal] Early's, D.H. Hill's under [General Robert] Rodes, and [General Isaac] Trimble's under [General Raleigh E.] Colston, and two brigades of cavalry under W.H.F. Lee and Fitzhugh Lee.

Present, then, we find six infantry divisions or twenty-eight brigades, and the cavalry brigades of nine regiments.  The official return of the Army of Northern Virginia nearest to the battle extant – viz: 31st March 1863 . . . you have present at Chancellorsville a Confederate total on 53,303, with some 170 pieces of artillery.

Now let us see what 133,708 fighting men in blue did with 53,303 "boys in gray."

It will be demonstrated that "the finest army on the planet" as Hooker termed it, "was like the waves of the ocean driven upon the beach by some unseen force, and whose white crests we so soon broken into glittering jewels on the sand."

[Three of Hooker's] corps were to constitute the left wing of the army – were to hold and amuse General Lee and prevent him from observing the great flank movement of the right wing, and to pursue him, when maneuvered out of his entrenchments, by the approaching hosts on his left-rear.  Hooker's original left wing was about equal in numbers to General Lee's whole army, and his right wing, or marching column, of four infantry corps and one cavalry corps [57,414], would represent his numerical advantage in strength.

The Confederate commander knew a movement was in progress.  With the serenity of almost superhuman intelligence he waited for it to be developed before his plans were laid to counteract it, for he remembered the maxim of the great Napoleon, that when your enemy is making a mistake he must not be interrupted.

General Lee was to keep 14,000 men in front of Hooker's 73,124 while Jackson moved around his right flank with 26,000. [Upon personally viewing the exposed and undefended enemy flank, Jackson's] eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up his sad face. His expression was one of intense interest, his face was colored slightly with the paint of approaching battle, and radiant at the success of his flanking movement.

From what I have read and heard of Jackson since that day, I know now what he was doing then. Oh! "beware of rashness," General Hooker.  Stonewall Jackson is praying in full view of your right flank!"

(Chancellorsville – Address of General Fitzhugh Lee, Southern Historical Papers, Volume VII, 1879, pp. 558-560; 570-572)