In the May 9, 1863, Democratic Banner, while Lecky Harper simultaneously crowed about the success of his great Democratic rally and attacked the arrest of Clement Vallandigham, he also published news dispatches from Chancellorsville.
The new commander of the Army of the Potomac had launched a new offensive on April 27. His cavalry, 10,000 men, were sent on a raid toward Richmond to disrupt Confederate communications, most of his infantry was to sweep around Lee’s left and a smaller force crossed the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg to occupy Lee’s attention in front.
The dispatches had to have been confusing to readers. They ranged from reporting success by the cavalry, the Union left under Gen. John Sedgwick at Fredericksburg and the main Union force at Chancellorsville under Gen. Joe Hooker, to reporting Sedgwick’s escape from being overwhelmed and Hooker getting his army safely back over the Rappahannock River. And these were on the same page, although dated two days apart. It was another defeat for the major eastern Union army.
The dispatches describe Hooker’s initial success as Sedgwick brushed past Early’s men on Marye’s Heights, while he led the rest of the army around the Confederate left into the Wilderness. They fail to note, probably because they did not realize, how Gen. Robert E. Lee, badly outnumbered with Gen. Longstreet and two divisions on assignment in southeastern Virginia, audaciously divided his remaining force. Leaving 10,000 men under Gen. Jubal Early to oppose Sedgwick, he sent Gen. Stonewall Jackson and 30,000 men on a looping march to strike the Union right flank.
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