For once, he did not. As alert as he was—constantly receiving updates on the federal movements—Lee did not attempt to fight in the Wilderness. With 50,000 Federals to his right and 70,000 coming against his left, Lee had to be very circumspect. If a neutral observer had examined the situation—and there were very few real neutrals at that point—he or she would have noted the likelihood of a federal victory. But, as so often occurred, something unexpected intervened. Hooker’s vanguard had actually reached the southeastern part of the Wilderness when it received an order to pull back and assume a defensive position.