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Three days after the fall of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75, volunteers to suppress the Southern rebellion. By early May, troops were pouring into the state from throughout the South.

As Lee labored to organize the influx of recruits, he placed Philip St. George Cocke, brigadier-general of Virginia forces, in charge of all state troops along the Potomac River. Beauregard , the hero of the occupation of Fort Sumter. The meeting took place at the new Confederate capital, which had moved from Montgomery, Alabama on the day before. No doubt intent on protecting the new capital, Davis informed Beauregard that he would replace Bonham as commander of the troops constructing defensive works along the Potomac River.

After the meeting, Davis instructed Robert E. Lee to issue Special Orders, No. On the opposite side of the Alexandria Line, President Lincoln and other federal officials were urging Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell , commander of the volunteer army amassing around Washington, to launch an offensive against the Confederate capital and to bring the rebellion to a swift end.

Unsure of the readiness of his troops, McDowell reluctantly relented to political pressure and marched a force of nearly 35, soldiers commonly, but not officially, known as the Army of Northeastern Virginia out of Washington, toward Virginia on July 16, Initially, things went well for the Federals, as they drove the Confederates back from their defensive position.

By late afternoon, the Confederates mounted a counterattack, driving the Union soldiers from the battlefield. Benjamin issued General Orders, No. Soon thereafter, Confederate officials began referring to the troops in the new department as the Army of Northern Virginia.

In a letter dated March 5, , Robert E. Smith Reserve Wing. Facing constant political pressure to avenge the Federal loss at Bull Run, McClellan spent the next several months molding the Army of the Potomac into a disciplined fighting force.

With most of the Rebel forces encamped near Manassas, McClellan planned to march his army up the Virginia Peninsula and capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Although he enjoyed a numerical advantage of nearly three-to-one, McClellan advanced cautiously towards Richmond. Still, the Army of the Potomac successfully fought its way up the Peninsula to within sight of Richmond by May.

Lee, to save Richmond. Lee spent the next few weeks building defensive works outside of the Confederate capital and then went on the offensive.

Halleck recalled it to the Washington area on August 3, Lee marched the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland. Assuming that the Federal forces near Washington were still in disarray following their stinging defeat at Bull Run, Lee believed that it was safe to divide temporarily his army.

On September 17, , McClellan attacked Lee. The engagement was the bloodiest single day of combat during the American Civil War. The Army of the Potomac suffered 12, reported casualties, including 2, killed. The Army of Northern Virginia suffered 10, casualties, including 1, killed. Following a day of truce, during which both sides recovered and exchanged their wounded and dead, Lee began withdrawing his army back across the Potomac River, but McClellan did not press the issue.

Although the Army of the Potomac had halted Robert E. On November 9, Burnside submitted a proposal to cross the Rappahannock River at the town of Fredericksburg, to gain control of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, and then to use the railroad to support a rapid invasion of Richmond. By the time Burnside could put his plan into action, his intentions were clear to Lee, who used the delay to fortify the area around Fredericksburg. Throughout the day, the Army of Northern Virginia weathered many attacks by the Federals.

Determined to win the battle, Burnside planned another assault for the next morning but his junior officers dissuaded him during the night.

Instead, Lee granted Burnside a truce to care for the Union wounded and dead on December On the following day, Burnside and his defeated army limped back across the river, and the Fredericksburg Campaign ended. By spring, the army was ready for another offensive. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Facing an enemy twice his size, Lee boldly divided his army and attacked Hooker near Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 1.

Despite the Confederate success, the Army of Northern Virginia suffered a crushing blow during the Battle of Chancellorsville. As Jackson returned to his lines, Rebel sentries mistakenly identified his party as Federals and accidentally shot him.

Although the wound was not initially mortal, Jackson died from complications eight days later, costing the Confederacy one of its greatest generals. Despite the Rebel victory at Chancellorsville, the Army of Northern Virginia needed food, horses, and equipment after the battle.

With northern Virginia ravaged by two years of combat, Lee took the war to the North. Lee planned to disengage from Union forces near Fredericksburg, to move the Army of Northern Virginia northwest across the Blue Ridge Mountains, and then to push northeast through the Shenandoah Valley into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Lee began gathering his army near Culpeper, Virginia, and troop movements began on June 3, Throughout the month of June, Lee and Hooker parried for position.

When a dispute arose regarding the disposition of troops at Harpers Ferry, Hooker impulsively offered to resign his command. Lincoln quickly accepted the resignation and placed Major General George G. Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac. On June 30, , elements of both armies were unwittingly approaching each other at Gettysburg. On the next day, skirmishing erupted that eventually developed into one of the pivotal engagements of the Civil War. At approximately 3 p.

Trimble, began a frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge. The Rebels suffered nearly fifty percent casualties during the ill-fated assault. On the following day, Lee ended his northern offensive and began marching his army back to Virginia. On July 5, Meade learned that Lee had left Gettysburg. Despite prodding from his superiors in Washington, Meade chose not to pursue the Army of Northern Virginia aggressively. The Gettysburg Campaign produced mixed results.

Lee relieved the pressure on war-ravaged Virginia during the summer of He also captured vast amounts of much-needed food and other supplies. Nonetheless, Lee failed to demoralize the North or erode support for the Lincoln administration. Moreover, after the Federal victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia generally assumed a defensive character for the rest of the Civil War.

Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland. When Meade learned that Lee had weakened his army, he renewed his pursuit. Meade countered by beginning a withdrawal to secure his supply depot at Centerville. A futile charge into murderous fire failed to dislodge the stubborn Yankees. By the time that the Rebels escaped, Hill had lost nearly 1, soldiers and a battery of artillery.

Western Maryland was no hotbed of secession and never had been. Maryland was historically and culturally a Southern state, but slavery was never terribly popular in Washington County. In , 14 percent, or about 3, of its residents were enslaved, about half the state average and far below figures for states in the Deep South. By the time of the war, there were more free blacks in the county than slaves. The German Protestant religions of western Maryland tended to shun slavery, and some free black residents were more popular than the prowling slave catchers who itched to send them into bondage.

Slavery was legal, however, and people of Washington County abided by the law. Slave auctions were held in the Hagerstown Public Square.

Runaway slaves were jailed. A notice in the Torch Ligh t advised that the slaves including a couple of children of a Hampshire County, Va. This was ho-hum stuff—an adjoining notice urged readers to be on the lookout for a stray cow, black, with white feet. Numerous fine farmhouses dot the valley in every direction—some standing out plainly and boldly on the hilltops, others half-hidden down the little slopes; and, with the large comfortable barns about them, and their orchards of fruit trees, these hitherto happy and quiet homes greatly enrich the view, at least to the eyes of old campaigners.

Nearly every part of the valley is under cultivation, and the scene is thus varied into squares of the light green of nearly ripened corn, the deeper green of clover, and the dull brown of newly ploughed fields.

Toward the north, where our right lay, are some dense woods. With harvest time coming, dealers were touting greatly improved reapers, hullers and thrashers in the pages of the Torch Light. On Franklin Street, Samuel Yeakle produced cane-seated chairs of mahogany and walnut. At a stand near the Lutheran church, Emanuel Levy hawked racks of newly arrived clothing, as well as bolts of tweed, linen and velvet. A pair of merchants had just returned from Baltimore with a wagon loaded with household goods such as clocks, mirrors, brooms, brushes, washboards, table settings and Japanese tinwear.

Miller was unfortunate enough to sell something the Confederates had a real need of—shoes. Those under the weather could down a swig of Dr. Bushnell would teach you to sing. Some ads even played off a battlefield motif, like the one for Bombshell Hats. Washington County, Md. Citizens spent a few white-knuckled days watching Confederate columns pass by—and pass, and pass. It seemed there was no end to the wagon trains.

Quartermasters hungry for goods of any type mobbed stores, only to find many merchants had already packed up and, like the newspaper editors, headed out of town.

Some merchants stayed on, hoping all this unpleasantness might at least yield a profit. These hopes were dashed when the Confederates paid for their purchases in worthless Confederate scrip. Some saw the money as a metaphor for the men:. The condition and morale of the army is beyond description.

They came among us not only badly clothed and unclean in person, but in a half-starving condition. For days, indeed, since the fights at Centreville, they have subsisted on rations of bread, irregularly issued, and green corn and fruits.

Hundreds are weakened by diarrhea, and worn out by their long march, but they fight desperately because forced by hunger and want. Many express an ardent desire to lay down their arms, while on the other hand the officers and those better cared for are determined to fight to death rather than submit.

Locals hoped the intrusion would be brief, and indeed it was supposed to be. Then a strange thing happened. The massive, northwestern-bound surge suddenly reversed itself and began oozing back. The returning Confederates held the Federals at bay at three mountain passes long enough for Lee to scramble back to some high ground near Sharpsburg on the west bank of a creek called Antietam.

He arrived in time to confront a swelling sea of blue spilling down from the mountain heights. In between these two streaming masses of men stood an unadorned white box of a building, a simple church consecrated to the prospects of peace. Nearby lived one of its founders, Samuel Mumma, whose thoughts in any given September would have been on the upcoming harvest.

His neighbor, David Miller, might have been thinking about his promising crop of corn. Nobody was. The landmarks that have become historic icons—Bloody Lane, the Cornfield, Burnside Bridge—were, of course, not so-named at the time of the fight. The portrayal instead calls to mind two boxers rooted in the center of the ring, landing one big haymaker after another. Things looked good for the Federals early, then the tide turned and all seemed lost; this would be the pattern for the day.

Still our boys pushed onward with magnificent courage and determination, every man, from Hooker down, intent only on victory. Hooker was wounded and carried from the field. General [James] Ricketts at once assumed command of the corps; but our victorious movement had lost its impulse…. While our advance rather faltered, the rebels greatly reinforced made a sudden and impetuous onset, and drove our gallant fellows back over a portion of the hard won field.

What we had won, however, was not relinquished without a desperate struggle, and here up the hills and down, through the woods and the standing corn, over the ploughed land and the clover, the line of fire swept to and fro as one side or the other gained a temporary advantage.

And so it went, back and forth all day, the thrill of victory shattering into the agony of defeat and then back, over and over again. Here, there was no such thing as unbiased coverage. Then he turned and saw it—Maj. William B. For once, the writer curtly noted, the reinforcements did not arrive too late or too exhausted from their march to join the fight.

But a lesson had been learned. It is beyond all wonder how men such as the rebel troops are can fight as they do. That those ragged and filthy wretches, sick, hungry and in all ways miserable, should prove such heroes in fight, is past explanation. Men never fought better—There was one regiment that stood up before the fire of two or three of our long range batteries and of two regiments of infantry and though the air around them was vocal with the whistle of bullets and the scream of shells, there they stood and delivered their fire in perfect order, and there they continued to stand, until a battery of six light twelves was brought to bear on them and before that they broke.

Confident the situation to his right was in hand, the reporter turned his attention to his left, where General Ambrose Burnside was busy being Burnside.



The Army of Northern Virginia | American Experience | Official Site | PBS.


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After achieving a localized success, Union forces withdrew in mid-afternoon. Description: In cooperation with D. John Peck. On April 14, Union gunboats attempted to run the batteries at the Norfleet House slightly upstream, but Mount Washington was crippled. The Federals, at the same time, constructed batteries to command the Confederate works at Norfleet House. On April 15, these batteries were unmasked and opened fire, driving the Confederates out of this important position.

This amphibious force assaulted Fort Huger from the rear, quickly capturing its garrison, thus reopening the river to Union shipping. On April 24, Brig. George E. The Federals approached cautiously and were easily repulsed. On April 29, Gen. Robert E. Principal Commanders: Maj. Joseph Hooker [US]; Gen.

Lee and Maj. Thomas J. Jackson [CS]. Description: On April 27, Maj. In the meantime, Lee left a covering force under Maj. Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the army to confront the Federals.

Hearing reports of overwhelming Confederate force, Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate again at Chancellorsville. On the morning of May 2, Lt. Though there are numerous contingent moments where victory or defeat hung in the balance, the North gradually developed both military and industrial superiority.

A detailed bibliography and notes contributes to the usefulness of this volume as an introduction to the Civil War. The emphasis on the strategic also includes context for individual engagements and developments in tactics and armaments. He focuses on a thousand letters of the volunteers from and , not the later conscripts, nor deserters, and Gallagher does not take under consideration what he estimates to be the half who were shirkers. Among his subjects who did most of the fighting and much of the dying, duty to save their country seemed uppermost among Northerners along with honor, honor seemed stronger among Southerners along with duty.

Patriotism was apparent on both sides, supported by 19 th century evangelical religion less common in the 20 th century. Men fought for fear of letting down comrades who were also neighbors in the hometown regiments, or disgracing the families left behind, or dishonoring themselves in a moment of cowardice. Both sides expressed sentimental devotion to flag, Constitution, liberty and the American Revolution; Confederates also stressed defense of their hearth and home.

January 23, at AM. Excellent read Loading Kristopher D. White says:. January 23, at PM. Thank you Edward. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

Paul O. Hunt says:. Boys will be boys. No matter their age and circumstance. Bob Ruth says:. Thanks Bob. Meg Groeling says:. I love you, Mr. Chris Mackowski says:. Military history—huzzah! This was it. A whole hour and a half! Sarah Kay Bierle says:. January 26, at PM. LOL Loading Please leave a comment and join the discussion! Cancel reply.

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