Great uneasiness and uncertainty prevail in regard to army movements. I think the War Department is really poorly advised of operations. I could learn nothing from them yesterday or to-day. Such information as I have is picked up from correspondents and news-gatherers, and from naval officers who arrive from below.
I this P.M. met the President at the War Department. He said he had a feverish anxiety to get facts; was constantly up and down, for nothing reliable came from the front. There is an impression, which is very general, that our army has been successful, but that there has been great slaughter and that still fiercer and more terrible fights are impending.
I am not satisfied. If we have success, the tidings would come to us in volumes. We may not be beaten. Stoneman1 with 13,000 cavalry and six days' supply has cut his way into the enemy's country, but we know not his fate, farther than we hear nothing from him or of him. If overwhelmed, we should know it from the Rebels. There are rumors that the Rebels again reoccupy the intrenchments on the heights in the rear of Fredericksburg, but the rumor is traceable to no reliable source.
1 General George Stoneman was conducting an extensive cavalry operation intended to cut off Lee's army after its expected defeat. The unlooked-for discomfiture of the Federal forces placed Stoneman in considerable danger, but he succeeded in rejoining Hooker's main army on May 1st.
SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 291-2