The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

By Philip Katcher | Go to book overview

The 1862 Maryland Campaign

Lee made the decision to invade the North in September 1862. The campaign was not two weeks old before overambitious plans and a lost set of orders forced a tired and outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia to fight for its very existence along Antietam Creek.

Within days of Lee's triumph at the Second Manassas on August 30, he had worked out a way to capitalize on his success. He would take the Army of Northern Virginia north, through Maryland, picking up supplies and recruits on the way, into Pennsylvania. This would have the result of encouraging pro-Southern Marylanders, while attracting the Union forces away from Virginia. Farmers in the state would have time to work their fields free from marauding soldiers, while Lee's army made Northern farmers take some of the brunt of the war. Indeed, food was now a major concern, whether he stayed in Virginia waiting to react to another Union blow against Richmond, which was sure to come, or if he moved north to subsist off the land there. Moreover, once on Northern soil, he could maneuver on open ground, something his army excelled at, rather than be held to defensive lines.

There was also another consideration, and that was political. If Union forces were defeated decisively on Northern soil, European powers, especially Britain and France, could well be persuaded to recognize the South's independence. With that kind of international recognition as its base, the South might well be able to negotiate a peace. It was a gamble that Lee felt was worth taking.

On September 4 he started his force of some 55,000 across the Potomac River at White's Ford just above Leesburg, Virginia. The army was not in the best of

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The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Key to Maps 6
  • Foreword 7
  • Introduction 8
  • Part I - Creating the Machine 9
  • Background to War 11
  • Recruitment and Training 27
  • Nature of the War 43
  • Logistics 63
  • Part II - The Years of Attack 81
  • The First Manassas Campaign 83
  • Jackson's Valley Campaign 101
  • The Peninsula Campaign 119
  • The Second Manassas Campaign 139
  • The 1862 Maryland Campaign 155
  • Fredericksburg 173
  • Chancellorsville 191
  • Gettysburg 209
  • Part III - The Nature of the Army 229
  • Robert E. Lee 231
  • The Senior Command Structure 245
  • The Rank and File 259
  • The Army and the State Authorities 273
  • Part IV - The Years of Defense 285
  • The Winter of 1863-64 287
  • The Wilderness to Cold Harbor 301
  • Cold Harbor to Petersburg 315
  • The Final Campaign 329
  • Bibliography 345
  • Index 348
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