General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker's military experience made him an ideal candidate to lead one of the Union's best-known regiments, but his reputation was sullied by stories of his drinking and cavorting with women.

seven children, six of whom were unmarried daughters. Part of the family house was used as a tavern. The mansion was situated in the idle of a farm clearing, and it was virtually surrounded by thick woods. As recalled by historian Geoffrey Ward, one Iowa private described the Chancellor house as:

. . . of the Southern type, belonging to a well-known family of the neighborhood, still occupied by the women. Upon the upper porch was quite a bevy of ladies in light, dressy, attractive spring costumes. They scolded [us] audibly and reviled [us] bitterly. [Before] another day was over they would pitifully plead to be carried to a place of safety.

Hooker and his staff occupied the main floor of the house, certain they would complete their plan in another two days, bag Lee's army, and began their march to Richmond.

Even as Hooker's plan was unfolding during these final days of April, the key was whether Lee was falling for it all. Since the Battle of Fredericksburg months earlier, Lee had broken off three of his divisions from the main army and sent them to southern Virginia and North Carolina to fight. As to his remaining forces, Stonewall Jackson was encamped near Fredericksburg with four divisions, including A.P. Hill's Light Division, and three others commanded by General Raleigh Colston, a former French teacher at Virginia Military Institute; Jubal Anderson Early; and Robert Rodes. General James Longstreet was in command of two divisions, down from the five he had led at Fredericksburg. Hooker was aware of the three missing divisions and knew they would not have time to be summoned and return to Lee before the battle opened. This meant Lee had 60,000 soldiers available to him, about half the number Hooker was delivering across the region in and around Fredericksburg. As to the question of whether Lee was fooled by all the maneuvering of Hooker's forces, he was not.

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