The immense army of the enemy completed its preparation for the attack without interruption, and gave battle in its own time, and on ground of its own selection. It was encountered by less than 20,000 of this brave army, and its columns crushed and broken, hurled back at every point with such fearful slaughter that escape from entire destruction became the boast of those who had advanced in full confidence of victory. That this great result was achieved with a loss small in point of numbers, only augments the admiration with which the commanding general regards the prowess of the troops, and increase his gratitude to Him who has given us the victory.
The war is not yet ended. The enemy is still numerous and strong, and the country demands of the army a renewal of its heroic efforts in her behalf. Nobly has it responded to her call in the past, and she will never appeal in vain to its courage and patriotism.
The signal manifestations of Divine mercy that have distinguished the eventful and glorious campaign of the year just closing give assurance of hope that, under the guidance of the same Almighty hand, the coming year will be no less fruitful of events that will insure the safety, peace, and happiness of our beloved country, and add new luster to the already imperishable name of the Army of Northern Virginia.
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 10, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit herewith my report of the operations of this army from the time that it moved from Culpeper Court-House, in November, 1862, and including the battle of Fredericksburg. This report is sent in prior to reports of some of the preceding operations in consequence of the subordinate reports of this period having been first received. I have not yet received all the reports of the division and corps commanders for the intervening period, but hope soon to be able to furnish to the Department complete records of our operations during the last campaign.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
On November 15, , it was known that the enemy was in motion toward the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and one regiment of infantry, with a battery of light artillery, was sent to re-enforce the garrison at Fredericksburg.
On the 17th, it was ascertained that Summer's corps had marched from Catlett's Station in the direction of Falmouth, and information was also received that on the 15th some Federal gunboats and transports had entered Aquia Creek. This looked as if Fredericksburg was again to be occupied, and McLaws' and Ransom's divisions, accompanied by W. H. F. Lee's brigade of cavalry and Lane's battery, were ordered to proceed to that city. To ascertain more fully the movements of the enemy, General Stuart was directed to cross the Rappahannock.