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CAMPAIGN ON THE POTOMAC: LEE'S INVASION: BATTLE OP GETTYSBURG.
Army of the Potomac inactive.— Rebel defensive policy — Change — Resolve to invade the North — Lee's army moves—Hooker's course — Cavalry engagement — Hooker follows Lee — Enemy in Shenandoah Valley
— Winchester and Martinsburg — Our losses — Government preparations — Call for 100,000 militia — Gov. Curtin's efforts — Pleasan ton's encounter with Stuart — Rebel cavalry in Pennsylvania — Lee's order as to supplies, etc. — Ewell's corps crosses the Potomac — Rebel army's arrangements — Early levies on Get. tysburg and York — Early's self-laudation — Army of the Potomac advances to Frederick, Maryland — Hooker relieved of command — Gen. Meade appointed — His address to tho army — Lee's course — Marches toward Gettysburg — A battle near at hand — Meade moves in direction of Gettysburg — Buford's cavalry encounter Hill's troops near the town — Reynold's comes to his support — Battle of July 1st — Rebel success — Meade's army comes up — Arrangements for the battle —Thursday, July 2d — Bat-' tie fought in the afternoon — Fierce assault on our left — Little Round Top secured — Ewell on our right
— Partial success — Heavy loss during the day — Ewell driven back next morning — Battle of July 3d — Terrible cannonade—Pickett's charge unsuccessful — Rebels defeated — Pursuit of Lee—Severe losses — Meade's address to the army — President Lincoln appoints a day of thanksgiving— Prof. Jacobs's remarks.
We left the Army of the Potomac, after the ill success at Chancellorsville, returned to its former quarters on the Rappahannock. This was early in May, 1863. (Seep. 288.) We resume the
1863 narra^ve at th*s Pomt, aQd shall prosecute it with the more pleasure because, after the mortifying issues of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, under Burnside and Hooker, this brave army was enabled to crown its career of gallantry and endurance, under Meade, with the most important victory of the war. The government authorities at Washington, as we have seen, (p. 288), promised that the army should speedily resume offensive operations in Virginia; but as it turned out, delays interposed, and nothing was attempted for several weeks. The rebel general took the initiative, and prepared to strike a blow which, if it
should be successful, would give the "Confederacy" a position and consequence which it had never at any time been able to attaip, and would require additional efforts and sacrifices in order to crush the wicked plans and purposes of traitors to their native land.
The policy of defence, as the only really safe one, had been uniformly acted upon by the heads of the rebellion, except in the one instance of Lee's invasion of Maryland, in September, 1862. It was a policy exceedingly distasteful to large numbers in the army and elsewhere; Jackson had always longed to invade the North (p. 150); and there were frequent murmurings and complainings that victories, such as those at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, brought none of the fruits of victory. They only left matters as they were; whereas, it was urged, the conquerors
ought to receive the just rewards of their brave deeds, and despoil the enemy whom they had beaten on the field. "Carry the war into Africa" was the cry; "carry fire and sword into the northern states; let the people there have a taste of what war is, in the destruction of their cities, and towns, and homes, and fertile fields; it must be done; and one great success would soon drive them to give up the contest and yield to our demands." Thus the discontented and hot-headed "chivalry" fretted and fumed; and they succeeded finally in having their own way in this matter. Invasion was approved at Richmond; invasion was resolved upon; and Gen. Lee had, or thought he had, good practical reasons for making the attempt, just at this time. First, there were not only heavy losses in battle, and more or less of demoralization in the Army of the Potomac, but the various regiments whose term of service now expired insisted on returning home, which very largely depleted Hooker's force, to the extent altogether of some 30,000 men. Next, there were in the loyal states many expressions, in certain quarters, of sympathy with secession, and venomous denunciation of the government at Washington, and it was confidently thought that Lee and his men would be welcomed by numbers, as fighting in a just cause. Again, Lee was very greatly in need, especially of horses and mules, and supplies of all kinds, which, it would seem, he had only to advance into Pennsylvania and Maryland in order to obtain to any amount. Added to all this, the rebel army was in the
highest spirits, considering itself equal to any undertaking, and as it had been reinforced and thoroughly reorganised, it was in a better condition than at any previous time in its history for a bold, forward movement; it looked with a , sort of contemptuous feeling upon the I army which had failed at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville; it was full of enthusiasm in view of the rich rewards consequent upon a successful invasion of the hated North. *
On the 3d of June, Lee began certain movements with reference to carrying out his main design. His army having been organized into three corps, under Longstreet, Ewell, and Hill, Longstreet's corps left Fredericksburg for Culpepper Court House on that day; it -was followed by Swell's corps the day after; while Hill, with his corps, occupied the lines at Fredericksburg. By the 8th of June, Longstreet and Ewell were at Culpepper, where they' found Stuart with his cavalry, which had been concentrated there some time before the main movement had been undertaken. Hooker was not inatten- | tive to what was going on. On the 6th of June, he sent Sedgwick's corps across 1 the Rappahannock on a reconnaissance, the result of which was, that the enemy were still at Fredericksburg in force Lee's plan was not yet discerned by I Hooker. As, however, the rebel press
* " Gen. Lee resolved to manoeuvre Hooker out of Virginia, to clear the Shenandoah Valley of the troops of the enemy, and to renew the experiment of the transfer of hostilities north of the Potomac. It was a blow to the summer campaign of the enemy, caleulated to disarrange it and relieve other parts of the Confederacy, but above all, aimed at the prize of a great victory on northern soil, long the aspiratipn of the southern public."—Pollard's " Third Year of tiuWar," p. 16.
indulged freely in significant intimations of events near at hand,* and as the gathering of Stuart's cavalry at Culpepper clearly indicated some purpose of evil which ought to be looked after, Hooker resolved to send a strong force against Stuart and break up his encampment. Accordingly, on the 9th of June, early in the morning, Pleasanton, with Buford's and Gregg's divisions of cavalry, and tvro brigades of infantry under Russell and Ames, crossed the Rappahannock at Beverley's and Kelly's Fords. Buford first encountered the enemy a short distance south of Beverley Ford, when a sharp conflict occurred. Gregg having crossed at Kelly's Ford, pushed on towards Brandy Station, and carried the heights. Stuart brought up a large force, and a determined fight ensued. Gregg, finding that Buford was not able to unite with him, fell back after a time and joined his troops with the other division; whereupon Pleasanton retired his force across the Rappahannock. His loss was about 500; the rebel loss was fully equal to ours. It was a noted engagement on this occasion, for the cavalry of both armies were not only in full force, but they fought in legitimate cavalry style, gallantly dashing to the charge and using their sabres with tremendous effect. In other respects, the movement of Pleasanton was of great mo
* " So hopeful were the leaders of the rebellion in the success of this their project, that they did not deem it necessary to keep their intentions a secret. Many weeks before their attempted invasion, their newspapers freely referred to it as an event that would surely happen, and boasted loudly of the manner in which they would fatten on the spoils they would take from the rich farmers and well-filled storehouses of the North."—Jacobs's " Notes on the Rebel Intasion," p. 6. VOL. IV.—41.
ment, for it not only proved Lee's presence at Culpepper, but, by the capture of some rebel correspondence, disclosed clearly Lee's purpose of invading the North.
Hooker, on the 11th of June, advanced his right up the Rappahannock, and sent his cavalry to watch the ig63 upper forks of the river; but Lee, while Hooker was doing this, pushed forward his left into the Shenandoah Valley. Ewell's corps, on the 10th, passed the Blue Ridge at Chester Gap, crossed the Shenandoah, and marching rapidly, arrived before Winchester on the evening of the 13th, after an advance, from Culpepper, of seventy miles in three days. "A glance at the map will reveal the extraordinary situation of the Confederate forces at this time. On the 13 th of June, with the Army of the Potomac yet lying on the Rappahannock, Lee's line of battle was stretched out over an interval of upwards of a hundred miles; for his right (Hill's corps) still held the lines of Fredericksburg; his centre (Longstreet's corps) lay at Culpepper; and his left (Ewell's corps) was at the mouth of the Shenandoah Valley!"* In this state of things, Hooker's course seemed to be plain; he must regulate his movements so as to defend the approaches to the capital, and also advance as rapidly as possible on Lee's
* "Army of the Potomac," p. 314. Mr. Swinton, noting Lee's implied contempt of his opponent, criticizes the neglect of Hooker in not striking the exposed rear of this long line, and either destroying Hill or compelling Lee to hasten back to his support. This would have put an end to the invasion. But Halleck, at Washington, did not favor any steps of tho kind; Hooker, therefore, ought probably to be held excused for not taking an initiative which promised so excellent results.
flank, awaiting the further development of that general's designs. He accordingly broke up camp on the Rappahannock, June 13th, moved on the direct route towards Washington, by way of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and reached Fairfax Court House on the evening of the 15th of June.
The enemy's earliest demonstration was in the Valley of the Shenandoah, upon the outposts at Winchester and Berryville. Jenkins, with his cavalry brigade, was sent forward toward Winchester, while Imboden was
sent towards Romney, to cover the movement. Both of these officers were in position when Ewell left Culpepper, on the 10th of June. Ewell, having crossed the Shenandoah, with his corps, near Front Royal, detached Rodes's division to Berryville, with instructions, after dislodging the force stationed there, to cut off communication between Winchester and the Potomac; while, with the divisions of Early and Johnson, he advanced directly upon Winchester.
Gen. Milroy was in command at Winchester at this time, with a force of about 10,000 men; McReynolds was at Berryville, with his brigade; and Martinsburg was held by Tyler, as an outpost of Harper's Ferry. Neither Winchester nor Martinsburg was susceptible of a good defence; and the withdrawal of the garrisons had been advised, though not ordered, as early as the 11th of June, by Halleck, at Washington. On the 13th, Rodes's division of the rebel force appeared before Berryville, when Col. McReynolds, with his command, fell back to Winchester, pur
sued by the enemy, a portion of the rear guard escaping in the direction of Harper's Ferry. On arriving at Winchester in the evening, he found Milroy closely pressed by the enemy. On the evening of the next day, June 14th, Early carried the outer works of the town by storm. That night Milroy, li after spiking hia guns, left with the whole of his command on his retreat to Harper's Ferry, taking with bim his artillery horses and wagon s . Four miles from the town, on the Martinsburg road, he was intercepted by rebel troops, and had to fight his way, as best he could, through their midst, his loss being very great. Rodes, meanwhile, proceeded from Berryville to Martins- | burg, where he took 700 prisoners and a quantity of stores. Tyler, with the main body of his command, after a i sharp fight, made good his retreat to Harper's Ferry. Thus, the lower part of the Valley was swept of the Union forces, and the rebels captured over 4,000 prisoners, 29 pieces of artillery, 270 wagons and ambulances,.and 400 horses, together with a large amount of military stores.*
In view of the threatened invasion. preparations were at once made for the defence of Pennsylvania. Gen. Couch, on the 9th of June, was assigned to the department of the Susquehanna, having his headquarters at Harrisburg; and Gen. Brooks, at the same time, |
* Milroy'b defence of the post intrusted to his care, Mr. Swinton tells us, was infamously feeble, and the worst of that long train of misconduct that made the Valley of the Shenandoah to be called the " Valley of Humiliation." A court of inquiry was ordered, on the report of which the president decided against court-mar tialing Milroy.