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This part of my site will be dedicated to the lives and brilliance of General Robert E. Lee and his Lieutenants, General Thomas (Stonewall) J. Jackson, General James Longstreet, and General J.E.B. Stuart.

R.E.Lee General Robert E. Lee, Commander, Army of Northern Virginia: General Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, after General Joseph E. Johnston was severely wounded during the Peninsula Campaign, 1862.

After an inconclusive battle at Fair Oaks, and General Johnston receiving a bullet in the shoulder as well as shell fragments to the chest, President Davis appointed General Lee to take General Johnston's place. General Johnston, upon hearing of his replacement, was heard to say,"The shot that struck me down is the very best that has been fired for the Southern cause yet."

After observing the field of battle, and learning of General Johnston's fate, Confederate President Jefferson Davis who had been in the company of General Lee, informed him "he would be assigned to the command of the army... and that he could make his preparations as soon as he reached his quarters..." General Gustavus Smith was still in command on the battlefield, but as the battle continued on the second day, he showed signs of nervous collapse and turned over the Army to General Lee. Lee immediately put his new Army to work, digging trenches and building defensive works around Richmond. His first priority was to defend Richmond, draw General McClellan out, and reinforce General Jackson in the Shennandoah. At long last, the South had finally gained a leader, one who could see an overall picture of the predicament, as well as one who could make offensive plans. However, all the odds were heavily against any quick successes.
President Jefferson Davis
General James Ewell Brown Stuart As General Lee assumed command, he issued Special Orders #22. This was the first official use of the name "Army of Northern Virginia". On 11 June 1862, General Lee ordered the gallant General J.E.B. Stuart to reconnoiter the Union positions. This he did, in one of his most daring rides. With 1,000 cavalry troopers, he rode 150 miles around McClellan's army, capturing many prisoners and destroying Union property as they went. Upon returning to report his findings to General Lee, on 15 June 1862... he had created a legend of daring and cavalier, that would follow him throughout the war. The next morning, General Lee sent orders to General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, to bring his 18,000 troops from the Shennandoah Valley and aid in a massive assult on Union General Fitz-John Porters exposed troops along the Chickahominy River. An assult that would begin the Battle of Seven Days at Gaines Mill, Cold Harbor and finally at Malvern Hill.
General Lee and General "Stonewall" Jackson were inexperienced at handling large numbers of troops. Their army was mostly untrained, maps were poor, and mistakes were made. Nevertheless, the Union troops were forced to the southern side of the Chickahominy. The fighting continued, at Savage's Station, Frayser's Farm and Malvern Hill. It was only the naval guns from Union Naval Gun Boats, that were able to stop the Confederate advance. The Seven Days Battles were very costly, but resulted in braking Union General McClellan's hold on Richmond, the Confederate capital.
General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson
After these costly battles, the highest priority in both the Confederate and Union armies, was to rest, mend, train and reoutfit their troops. The Union had a nearly inexhaustable supply of manpower. However, General Lee had no such benefit. He had to manage with what he had and he knew the already strained army was quickly being outnumbered and that time was against him.

His decision, take the offensive. This he would do, choosing General Jackson to spearhead the assult. Union General Pope was building his forces north of Culpepper, Virginia. General Jackson marched towards Gordonsville with nearly 24,000 men. General Burnside was to reinforce the already building Union army, with 12,000 additional troops, from Fredericksburg. Learning that General McClellan was abandoning his Peninsula Campaign, General Lee ordered General James Longstreet to go to the aid of General Jackson.

General Longstreet took his ten brigades north to reinforce Jackson's army, who had already had a brief engagement against the Union forces at Cedar Mountain, on 09 August 1862. An engagement that the Confederates easily won, startling the North. Not long after this battle, General Lee met with his Lieutenants... Generals Jasckson, Stuart, and Longstreet, to plan what is now known as Second Mananssas, because it was fought over the same ground as the first.


General James Longstreet It was during this battle, that the differences between Lee's Generals, Jackson and Longstreet became so evident. General Longstreet proved to be reluctant to move until he was certain that the time was ripe for the attack. Whereas, General Jackson was a firestorm eager to force the issue. This should not be misunderstood... General Longstreet was a brave and dauntless fighter. However, he was slow and cautious, unwilling to place his troops in harms way unless he knew the odds and the outcome was surely calculated.


Even so, the brilliant fighting team of Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet... one which would startle the world with a series of brilliant campaigns, were victorious at Second Manassas. The Confederate armies moved on to Chantilly, where Union Gernerals Phil Kearney and I.I. Stevens, were both killed on 01 Sept 1862. This ended the battle, Union General Halleck retreating to Alexandria and the defensive positions around Washington. Union General Pope was removed from command amd once again the Confederate forces had caused another change in the Army of the Potomac.


Ruins of Stone Bridge
The ruins of the Stone Bridge across Bull Run Creek.
A British officer remarked of General Pope, "As a tactician...he was incapable. As a strategist he lacked imagination, except in his dispatches. His horizon was limited and he measured the capacities of his adversaries by his own.... He had no conception that his adversaries would cheerfully accept great risks to achieve great ends; he had never dreamt of a General who would deliberately divide his army, or of one who would make 56 miles in two days.


Once again, General McClellan was placed in command of the Union Army of the Potomac. He immediately began to prepare for the defense of Washington. General Lee knew that his troops were in no condition for such a move. Instead, he needed to feed them, resupply them, and nurture them back to a fighting condition.

It was then, in early September, 1862 that General Lee decided to move his army into the state of Maryland. It was his hope to take advantage of the rich farm country, subsisting off the abundant corn and other harvestable fields. It was also believed that Maryland, a southern state, was held to the Union by force. General Lee thought that his army would be liberating the state and that the Marylanders would rise to his support.

Upon arriving in the state, Lee found no welcoming population. His army was not met by hordes of Marylanders, assisting their fellow southerners in any way. He wrote to President Davis, "individual expressions of kindness...and general sympathy" he did not expect the Marylanders to rise to support the cause.

Knowing that his army would need ammunition and other supplies to be sent by way of the Shennandoah Valley, he must deal with the 12,000 Union troops at Harpersferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). He devised a daring plan, issued in Special Order #191, that would devide his armies into four parts. General Longstreet and General D.H. Hill were sent with their troops to move on Hagerstown; General Jackson was to move on Harpersferry while Generals McClaws and Walker were to take the heights overlooking Harpersferry. General Stuart and his cavalry was to screen these well coordinated movements, fooling the Union forces into believing the entire army was still moving north.

Like accidents that occured at Manassas, a copy of Special Order #191 fell into the hands of the Union commander, detailing the Confederates army maneuvering. However, General McClellan failed to act on this information... believing it to be false. Even so, he still moved rapidly enough to cause problems for General Lee. The three passes through South Mountain had to be kept open. Intensive attacks, in the narrow gaps, by the Union troops nearly caused General Lee to cancel his planned campaign.

After conferring with Generals Longstreet, D.H. Hill and John Hood, he countermanded his orders for retreat, and moved on Sharpsburg. General Jackson sent word that Harpersferry was about to surrender and he would move to support General Lee.

On 16 Sept 1862, the two opposing armies were to do battle near Antietam Creek and around the small town of Sharpsburg.


Antietam Battlefield Antietam Battlefield as it appeared during the battle, near Union General McClellan's headquarters. The cannon to the left are not engaged and troops may be seen to the right, probably in reserve.
The battle was fast and furious. It has been acclaimed as the "Bloodiest Day" of the war. Generals Hood and D.H. Hill bore much of the fighting. General Hood's Texas Brigade fought a terrible fight near a corn field at Dunkers Church, suffering heavy casualties but stopping the Union advance. General Hood was heard to report, his "Division is dead on the field." General D.H. Hill's troops fought at a place now known as "Bloody Lane", because the Confederate corpses were piled so deeply as they fell, covering the soil beneath them.


General John B. Hood
Dunker Church and Cornfield
The Dunker Church and cornfield as they appear today.
The casualties in this battle were very very heavy. In one days fighting, more than 25,000 had been killed, wounded or were missing. That night, General Lee met with his Lieutenants to confer on what the next action musat be. In the Union camp, General McClellan, ever concerned for the well being of his troops more than beating the enemy, had had enough.

The Confederates quietly but quickly returned to Virginia. General McClellan failed to pursue them, once again the Command of the Army of the Potomac changed hands. This time to General Ambrose Burnside. Even so, both armies were in horrific shape, neither able to fight the other.

Once back in Virginia, stragglers began to return to the Army of Northern Virginia. Conscription laws had been passed by the Confederate legislature, and eventually General Lee was commanding 78,000 troops. More than he had when he invaded the North in Maryland. By this time, winter was beginning and it seemed that the best thing to do was to go into camp, rebuilding, reorganizing and training for the fighting which was sure to come in the Spring.

General Ambrose E. Burnside, trained at West Point but reluctant to accept the command given him, was being pressured to take action against the Confederates. Usually, winter meant bad weather, bad roads and difficulty in moving armies. He planned to renmew the attack aginst Richmond, this time from the North through Fredericksburg. A sleepy town south of the Rappahannock River.

General Lee had encamped his troops along the North Anna River, between Frefericksburg and Richmond. Once he learned that the Union army was on the move, he split his army again. This time sending General Jackson to protect the Shennandoah Valley. As his scouts reported that the Union troops were moving on Fredericksburg, he ordered his army into action towards the Rappahannock River.

Upon reaching Fredreicksburg, 20 November 1862, General Lee found the Union army forward elements to alredy be encamped on the heights across the river from the town. General Burnside was waiting for pontoon boats to arrive so his army could cross the river. In the mean time, there was little to no action between the opposing forces. While strengthening his position, General Lee sent for General Jackson and his troops. On 29 November 1862, General Jackson arrived. At the time of his arrival, a snow storm marked the beginning of the only major Civil War battle to be fought in the dead of winter.

By 13 December 1862, General Burnside had forged the river and had 80,000 troops ready to attack the 78,000 Confederates entrenched on the heights above the town. The Confederate defenses were impenetrable, nearly seven miles long, with more than 300 pieces of artillery ready to assist in repelling the invading troops of the Army of the Potomac.


General Cobb General Longstreet's Corp was at Mayre Heights, entrenched in a sunken road behind a stonewall. A position that would prove to be the breaking point of the Union army. Here General Cobb's Legion was among the troops of Mcclaws Division. The Confederate soldiers were four deep and through rotating files of infantry, were able to keep up an almost continuous fire into the advancing troops. During this seige, not one Union attacker was able to get within 100 feet of the wall. More than 12,000 Union troops were casualties that day. That number was more than twice that of Confederate losses.


General Lafayette McClaws
Sunken Road and Stone Wall
The Sunken Road, shortly after the battle on 13 December 1862.
The opposing armies went back to their encampments at the end of this battle. Union General Burnside was to make another ill conceived troop movent, known as the "Mud March", but to no avail. This fiasco was the final straw and General Burnside was relieved of his command and replaced by General Joseph Hooker.

Now, late in April 1863, General Hooker placed his army in motion. He too, started to cross the Rappahannock River, towards Richmond. This time, however, the crossings were made to either side of the town of Fredericksburg. The quiet town would once again see some of the fighting, but most of the battle would be about eight miles west near the large country home of the Chancellor family.

General Hooker separated his army into two parts, the larger part went west of Fredericksburg, to later turn east towards General Lee's army. The smaller part, under the command of General Sedgwick was to go east of Fredericksburg, forging the river and moving west against the Confederates. He was not going to make the same mistakes of the previous winter, no frontal assult against a well entrenched enemy.

His plans were found out by General Stuart's scouts and once General Lee learned of these movements, he sent word to General Jackson for a war council that evening. The conference that Generals Lee and Jackson had the night of 01 May 1863, to plan their troop movements against the Union forces, was their last. General Lee was to hold the entrenched positions in front of the Union army, while General Jackson made his flanking movement with 26,000 troops. The assult on the Union army was to take place at Chancellorsville.

At about 5:00 PM, the evening of 02 May 1863, General Lee heard firing from the west that told him General Jackson had begun his assult. He put his troops in motion to keep the Union troops busy on their front. The fighting was heavy until around midnight.

It was near 2:00 AM, 03 May 1863...when General Lee was awakened with the terrible news of General Jackson being wounded, returning from a reconnoiter of the Union positions. Lee learned that his "Right Arm", General Jackson, was still alive but had been shot three times. General Jackson's left arm was amputated, and his condition was grave.

That evenings battle had been a great victory for the Confederate army, but at what a terrible cost. General Lee wrote to General Stuart, "it is necessary that the glorious victory thus far achieved be prosecuted with the utmost vigor, and the enemy be given no time to rally...Endeavor, therefore, to dispossess them of Chancellorsville, which will permit the union of the whole Confederate army."


Hazel Grove, the site of General Lee's and General Stuart's reuniting the two parts of the Confederate army. At dawn, the Confederate troops pressed the attack. The two parts of General Lee's army were reunited, defeating General Hooker's Union forces and causing them to withdraw from the field. The Confederate forces still at Fredericksburg had withstood a pounding, at one point losing ground, but their dogged determination would win the day, there as well. Union General Sedgwick's troops were forced back across the Rappahannock River. General Lee's victory was complete, but General Jackson's condition was worsening every hour.


House at Guiney's Station where General Jackson was at the time of his death.
On 04 May 1863, General Jackson was taken by ambulance to Guiney's Station, about 25 miles from Chancellorsville. General Lee sent him a message later that day, "Give him my affectionate regards, and tell him to make haste and get well, and come back to me as soon as he can. He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right arm."

During the early evening of 10 May 1863, General Jackson, incoherent much of the time, was heard to mumble, "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front! Tell Major Hawks....", apparently refighting old battles in his delirrium. At a quarter after three he said, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." Those were his last words.

General Lee was devistated by the loss of his devoted Lieutenant, General Thiomas J. Jackson. However, he realized the war would not pause for his mourning, he had to prepare for the next campaign. He realized that he must reorganize the command structure of his army. It is hard to believe that the loss of one man could change things so drastically, but the indomnitable Stonewall Jackson, was not just any ordinary man.


General Lee decided to organize his army into three Corps, with three divisions each. The First Corps was to be commanded by his "Old Warhorse", General James Longstreet. The Second Corps was to be commanded by General Ewell and the Third Corps, by General A.P. Hill. When General Jackson was wounded at Chancellorsville, it was General Hill that took command of the Corps, but he too was wounded while carrying his commander to the rear. It was also General Ambrose Powell Hill that General Jackson called out to, in his delirium before passing away.


General A.P. Hill
General Ewell formally took command of General Jackson's old divisions on 01 June 1863. The wounds of earlier fighting had left him with only one leg. Though General Ewell was attempting an unsurmountable task, filling the shoes of a Southern military legend, his subordinates had confidence in his abilities. As his artillery commander, General Sandy Pendleton wrote of the new Second Corps commander, "I look forward to great things from him, and am glad to say that our troops have for him a good deal of the same feeling they had towards General Jackson."


General Richard S.(Old Baldy)Ewell General Ewell was given nearly 22,000 troops divided into three divisions. His division commanders were: General Jubal Early, a fiery, bearded, popular major general , commanding a division of about 5,800 men; Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson led the second division with a strength of approximately 6,900; and Major General Robert Rodes headed the largest division of the II Corps with about 8,500 effectives.


The war was not going well for the Confederacy in the west, Union General Ulysses Grant was laying seige to Vicksburg, a major port city on the Mississippi River. Loss of the River would be a great tragedy for the Southern states, as it was a major link to the heart of the southern food basket, as well as dividing the Confederacy in two.

For three days in May, 1863...General Lee was in Richmond, the Confederate capital, conferring with Confederate President Davis, discussing the strategy necessary to repulse the Northern invader from the South. It was proposed by General Lee, that his army prepare for a second invasion of the North. If he were successful, he could move on Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and even New York. This would relieve pressure from Vicksburg, pulling resources from that seige campaign. It would also further demoralize the already war weary Northern population, maybe bringing the war to a close. Also, it was believed it may bring recognition of the Confederacy by the European governments, who had to this date cautiously been observing from the side lines.

In late May, 1863...General Lee's army was on the move. First they moved westward and than to the north, through the Shennandoah and towards Maryland and Pennsylvania. Just outside of Brandy Station, Virginia, General J.E.B. Stuart and his 10,000 cavalry troopers were encamped. They were to screen the movements of General Lee's army as it moved northward. Here at Brandy Station, General Stuart's cavalry was attacked by the Union cavalry uder the command of General Pleasonton.

It was to be the largest and last major cavalry battle on the North American continent. During this battle, the son of General Lee, Rooney Lee, was seriously wounded. Observing his son being removed from the field, General Lee was later to write to his wife, "neither the bone or artery is injured....he is young and healthy and I trust will soon be up again."

The Confederate army continued their drive north, first into Maryland and than into Pennsylvania, stopping near Chambersburg, just outside of the Cashtown Gap. Just to the other side of that gap, laid a sleepy Pennsylvania crossroads town called Gettysburg. A town that would forever be remembered in the many years following the war, as the place the "tide turned".

That night a Southern scout reported that the Army of the Potomac had crossed the Potomac River and were in pursuit of General Lee's Confederates. He also reported of rumors that General Hooker had been replaced by General George Meade as Commanding General. General Lee had no way of substantiating this news, as he had not heard from his "eyes", General J.E.B. Stuart, in quite some time.

General Stuart and his cavalry had made a wide swing around the Union army and had been further drawn away by the chance to capture a 125 wagon supply train. General Stuart's abscence frustrated General Lee's efforts to know of his enemy's whereabouts.

General Lee decided to act, based on the information he did have, and issued orders for his army to regroup at Cashtown. Many of his troops were spread around the countryside of Pennsylvania. It took most of the day on 29 June 1863, for these orders to be put in motion.

On 30 June 1863, a brigade of Confederate troops was marching toward Gettysburg, when they observed Union troops in and around the town. Now known to be the cavalry of Union General Buford. The Confederates returned to Cashtown, but not before being observed themselves and placing the Union troops on alert.

On 01 July 1863, the Confederate troops returned through the gap, towards Gettysburg, but were fired upon at approximately three miles outside of town. The battle that ensued that day was to continue all morning. The Union cavalry was armed with the new Spencer repeating rifles and were able to hold their positions for a time. Later that afternoon, however, the Confederate troops were beginning to concentrate, and the Union troops were forced back...through the town and south to Cemetery Ridge.

General Lee, upon observing the field of battle, realized that he had a chance for a decisive victory. He ordered General Ewell to take the hill, but General Ewell did not act. He was awaiting the arrival of more troops. By the dawn of 02 July 1863, the Union army was firmly in position and well entrenched on Cemetery Ridge and Culp's Hill.

General Lee, confounded by the inaction of General Ewell and disagreement with General Longstreet on how to pursue the battle, finally ordered his two Generals to attack the "giant fishhook" positions of the Union army....from both ends. General Ewell was to wait until he heard the firing of General Longstreet's guns. Than, attack!

For many reasons, General Longstreet did not start the attack until late in the afternoon. This day was to include the many fights for the now famous areas of the battle, known as the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield and the Little Round Top. As well as these bloody exhibitions, the fights for Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill carried on well into the night. Unfortunatrely for General Lee's fine army, none of these were conclusive or victorious.

It was during the night of 02 July 1863, that General Stuart and his cavalry finally rejoined his Commander. However, too late to be of any use to the fight.

General Lee sent orders to General Ewell and General Longstreet to press the attacks in the morning, 03 July 1863. General Ewell was on the move at dawn, General Longstreet...still in disagreement with his Commander, waited...hoping to convince General Lee to allow him to move around the Union force and place his Corps between them and Washington, forcing General Meade to attack. General Longstreet, convinced that defensive fighting such as he had done at Fredericksburg, would produce victory.

General Lee, conferring with General Longstreet, pointing at Cemetery Ridge was heard to say, "the enemy is there and I am going to strike him there".


General Pickett General Lee told General Longstreet that he would have General Pickett's fresh divisions along with units from Generals Heth and Pender's divisions to combine for a full frontal attack on the Union troops at the center of the line. Again, General Longstreet disagreed with his Commander's decision, but what was he to do? He voiced his opinion to General Lee, "General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments and armies, and should know as anyone should know, as anyone, what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no 15,000 men...can take that position.


As history often does, it proved who was right. Although these two great men had disagreed, there was no ill feelings between the two. General Lee overruled his trusted friend and placed into action what to that date, would be the largest single attack on a well entrenched enemy position.

Confederate guns, over 100, were positioned to fire on the Union position to soften it before the Infantry was to be sent in. Today we know that most of the firing was long and did little to no damage on the Union troops. General Longstreet reluctantly ordered General Pickett's men forward. Now known as Picketts Charge, it resulted in what has been called the "High Water Mark" of the Condederacy. Some of the Confederates made it to and across the stone wall and debris at the top of the ridge, only to forced back or be killed, wounded or captured.

The Confederates withdrew across the same ground that they had just charged across. Many of their comrades were left behind. As he rallied his broken forces, General Lee was heard to say, "This is all my fault...It is I who have lost this fight and you must help me out of it the best way you can." Even so, his soldiers were prepared to try again, try again for their beloved General Lee.

The next day, General Lee's army began a retreat back to Virginia. General Meade, his mauled army too badly hurt to pursue the Confederates, remained in place. In a driving rainstorm, the Confederate columns of infantry, wagons, cavalry and cannon, slowly moved back to relative safety, home ground, Virginia.



SOURCES:

  1. Battle of Antietam; The Official history by the Antitam Battlefield Board, George R. Large and Joe A. Swisher, c. 1998.
  2. Battle of Gettysburg, A Guided Tour, Edward J. Stackpole and Wilbur Nye c. 1998.
  3. Blood and Sacrifice, The Civil War Journal of a Confederate Soldier, Richard A. Baumgartner; Editor c.1998.
  4. The Century War Book, reprint edition of 1978 by Arno Press, Inc., ISBN 0-405-11123-1, "A condensation of The Century War Series, published from Nov. 1884 to Nov. 1887 in The Century Magazine".
  5. The Civil War Source Book,Philip Katcher c. 1992.
  6. Lee's Lieutenenats; A Study in Command, Douglas Southall Freeman c. 1980.
  7. Never Call Retreat, Bruce Catton, c. 1965 Doubelday and Company, Inc.
  8. Gettysburg: The Final Fury, Bruce Catton, c. 1974 Doubleday and Company, Inc.
  9. A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War, Craig Symonds, c. 1983 Nautical and Aviation Publishing Co. of America, ISBN 0-933852-49-5
  10. Capsule History of the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry, The Harold B. Simpson Hill College Confederate Research Center and Museum, Hillsboro, Texas
  11. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861 - 1865, Index, Brightwell, pg. 425 (also see Vol 2, pg. 678)
  12. The Battle of Fredericksburg Civil War Series, William Marvel, c. 1993 Eastern National Park and Monument Association
  13. The Battles for Richmond Civil War Series, William J. Miller, c. 1996 Eastern National Park and Monument Association
  14. The Battle of Gettysburg Civil War Series, Harry W. Pfanz, c. 1994 Eastern National Park and Monument Association
  15. Richmond Battlefields, A history and Guide to Richmond National Battlefield Park, Joseph P. Cullen, c. 1992 Division of Publications, National Park Service


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