The American Iliad: The Epic Story of the Civil War as Narrated by Eyewitnesses and Contemporaries

By Otto Eisenschiml; Ralph Newman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
Lee Invades Pennsylvania

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG

For several weeks after the Battle of Chancellorsville both armies rested. But the summer of 1863 was approaching, and with it the time for fresh campaigning. Which side would take the offensive?

Jefferson Davis explained why it was essential that Lee beat Hooker to the move.

In the spring of 1863 the enemy occupied his former position before Fredericksburg. He was in great strength and was preparing on the grandest scale for another advance against Richmond, which in political if not military circles was regarded as the objective point of the war.

The defense of our country's cause had already brought nearly all of the population fit for military service into the various armies then in the field, so that but little increase could be hoped for by the Army of Northern Virginia. To wait until the enemy should advance was to take the desperate hazard of his great superiority of numbers, as well as his ability to reinforce.

It was decided by a bold movement to transfer hostilities to the north by marching into Maryland and Pennsylvania, simultaneously driving the foe out of the Shenandoah Valley. Thus, it was hoped, General Hooker would be called from Virginia to meet our advance.

If, beyond the Potomac, some opportunity should be offered to enable us to defeat the enemy, the measure of our success would be full; but if the movement only resulted in freeing Virginia from the hostile army, it was more than could fairly be expected.

The details of Lee's plans were a secret known to only a few. Nevertheless, reports of an impending change in the status quo

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