War of the Rebellion: Serial 040 Page 0438 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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Stoneman's operations have been a brilliant success. A part of his force advanced to within 2 miles of Richmond, and the enemy's communications have been cut in every direction. The Army of the Potomac will speedily resume offensive operations.


Secretary of War.


May 7, 1863.

Major-General HOOKER:

MY DEAR SIR: The recent movement of your army is ended without effecting its object, except, perhaps, some important breakings of the enemy's communications. What next? If possible, I would be very glad of another movement early enough to give us some benefit from the fact of the enemy's communication being broken; but neither for this reason or any other do I wish anything done in desperation or rashness. An early movement would also help to supersede the bad moral effect of the recent one, which is said to be considerably injurious. Have you already in your mind a plan wholly or partially formed? If you have, prosecute it without interference from me. If you have not, please inform me, so that I, incompetent as I may be, can try and assist in the formation of some plan for the army.

Yours, as ever,



May 7, 1863.


I have the honor to acknowledge your communication of this date, and in answer have to state that I do not deem it expedient to suspend operations on this line, from the reserve we have experienced in endeavoring to extricate the army from its present position. If in the first effort we failed, it was not for want of strength or conduct of the small number of the troops actually engaged, but from a cause which could not be foreseen, and could not be provided against. After its occurrence, the chances of success were so much lessened that I felt another plan might be adopted in place of that we were engaged in, which would be more certain in its results. At all events, a failure would not involve a disaster, while in the other case it was certain to follow the absence of success. I may ass that this consideration almost wholly determined me in ordering the army to return to its old camp. As to the best time for renewing our advance upon the enemy, I can only decide after an opportunity has been afforded to learn the feeling of the troops. They should not be discouraged or depressed, for it is no fault of their (if I may except one corps) that our last efforts were not crowned with glorious victory. I suppose details are not wanted of me at this time. I have decided in my own mind the plan to be adopted in our next effort, if it should be your wish to have one made. It has this to recommend it: it be one in which the operations of all the corps, unless it be a part of the cavalry, will be within my personal supervision.

Very respectfully, &c.,


Major-General, Commanding.