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Throughout the day on May 2, 150 years go today, Jackson's corps pressed along on their move around Hooker's right flank. Jackson's march had begun much later in the morning than had been intended. The roads were good and the march progressed quickly. Jackson rode along the column, urging his men to hurry saying "Press forward, press forward." They did not go entirely unnoticed. Most of the Union cavalry was far away on a raid, but the Confederate column was sighted by infantry pickets. Some reports made it all the way to Hooker's headquarters at the Chancellor House, but the army commander did not act on the information. He was convinced that Lee was moving across his front in a retreat. It didn't even occur to him that the Confederates could be so bold as to attack.
Upon reaching the Plank road ... my command was halted and ... I made a personal reconnaissance to locate the Federal right for Jackson's attack. With one staff officer I rode across and beyond the plank road .... Seeing a wooded hill in the distance, UI determined, if possible, to get upon its top, as it promised a view of the adjacent country. Cautiously I ascended its side, reaching the open spot upon its summit without molestation. What a sight presented itself before me. Below me, and but a few hundred yards distant, ran the Federal line of battle. ... There were lines of defense, with abatis in front, and long lines of stacked armies in rear. Two cannon were visible in the part of the line seen. The soldiers were in groups in the rear, laughing, chatting, smoking and probably engaged here and there in games of cards and other amusements indulged in while feeling safe and comfortable.... So impressed was I with my discovery, that I rode rapidly back to the point of the Plank Road ... until I met Stonewall himself. 'General,' I said, 'if you will ride with me, halting your column here, out of sight, I will show you the enemy's right and you will perceive the great advantage of attacking down the Old Turnpike instead of by the plank road; the enemy's lines will be taken in reverse. ....' Jackson assented, and I rapidly conducted him to the point of observation. ... I watched him closely as he gazed upon Howard's troops. ... His eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up a 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 flank movement.Jackson had to adjust his movement based on this new information, which took more time. It takes a long time for the thousands of men to file in position.
|O. O. Howard's Headquarters|