At the end of May, the Army of Northern Virginia, rested and strengthened, was ready for active operations. On May 31st General Lee writes to Mrs. Lee:
"...General Hooker has been very daring this past week, and quite active. He has not said what he intends to do, but is giving out by his movements that he designs crossing the Rappahannock. I hope we may be able to frustrate his plans, in part, if not in whole.... I pray that our merciful Father in Heaven may protect and direct us! In that case, I fear no odds and no numbers."
About June 5th most of the army was gathered around Culpeper. Its efficiency, confidence, and MORALE were never better. On June 7th the entire cavalry corps was reviewed on the plain near Brandy Station in Culpeper by General Lee. We had been preparing ourselves for this event for some days, cleaning, mending and polishing, and I remember were very proud of our appearance. In fact, it was a grand sight-- about eight thousand well-mounted men riding by their beloved commander, first passing by him in a walk and then a trot. He writes to my mother next day--June 8, 1863:
"...I reviewed the cavalry in this section yesterday. It was a splendid sight. The men and horses looked well. They have recuperated since last fall. Stuart [J. E. B. Stuart, commanding cavalry corps.] was in all his glory. Your sons and nephews [two sons and three nephews] were well and flourishing. The country here looks very green and pretty, notwithstanding the ravages of war. What a beautiful world God, in His loving kindness to His creatures, has given us! What a shame that men endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar His gifts...."
The next day, June 9th, a large force of the enemy's cavalry, supported by infantry, crossed the Rappahannock and attacked General Stuart. The conflict lasted until dark, when
"The enemy was compelled to recross the river, with heavy loss, leaving about five hundred prisoners, three pieces of artillery, and several colours in our hands."
During the engagement, about 3 P. M., my brother, General W. H. F. Lee, my commanding officer, was severely wounded. In a letter dated the 11th of the month, my father writes to my mother:
"...My supplications continue to ascend for you, my children, and my country. When I last wrote I did not suppose that Fitzhugh would be soon sent to the rear disabled, and I hope it will be for a short time. I saw him the night after the battle--indeed, met him on the field as they were bringing him from the front. He is young and healthy, and I trust will soon be up again. He seemed to be more concerned about his brave men and officers, who had fallen in the battle, than about himself...."