Robert E. Lee Library of congress

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army of north Virginia entered the last stage of a protracted season of marketing as it marched towards Maryland throughout the very first week of September 1862. Basic Joseph E. Johnston’s disabling wound at the fight of same Oaks had carried Lee come command that the military on June 1, 1862, and within a month he had actually seized the to plan from major General George B. McClellan, driving the Union’s military of the potomac away native Richmond in the 7 Days" Battles. With his capital safe, Lee marched northward in so late August and won a stunning victory over major General man Pope’s army of Virginia in ~ the second Battle the Manassas or Bull Run. These two Confederate victories had actually cleared Virginia of any major Union army presence, and Lee seek to develop on his success by acquisition the war across the grape max River into the joined States. Lee’s interlocutor maneuvering finished when he retreated from Maryland complying with the battle of Antietam ~ above September 17, 1862, closeup of the door a three-month period that should be regarded as a single huge operation that reoriented the war from the outskirts of Richmond to the potomac frontier and significant Lee’s spectacular debut as a ar commander.

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In taking his army throughout the grape max River in beforehand September, Lee had actually in mental strategic, logistical, and political factors. He believed that the soldiers the McClellan and also Pope “lay weakened and demoralized” in the vicinity the Washington, D.C., and he sought to keep aggressive momentum rather than i think a protective position and permit the Federals come muster your superior stamin to mount one more offensive. If he stayed in Virginia, Lee would certainly be forced to react to Union movements, conversely, in Maryland or Pennsylvania he would organize the initiative. Lee thought he can easily flank the foe by crossing the grape max upriver indigenous Washington and also marching the army of northern Virginia v Maryland. A quick thrust right into Union are would no be enough; a protracted remain would be the crucial to Confederate success. Lee hope to store his army on United states soil through much of the autumn, not v the intention of capturing and holding territory but with an eye towards accomplishing number of goals prior to returning come Virginia as winter approached.

The most essential of those goals concentrated on logistics. Facing critical shortages of food, Lee knew the a movement into the untouched farming regions of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s Cumberland sink held significant promise. If positioned northwest of Washington, Lee might force the Federals come remain between him and also their capital, hence liberating war-exhausted northern and also north-central Virginia, as well as the Shenandoah Valley, from the visibility of the competing armies. Southern ranches that had actually suffered from the visibility of scores of countless troops might recover, crops might be harvested safely, and civilians might enjoy a respite native the stress of consistent uncertainty around their persons and property. Meanwhile, Lee’s army would gather an important food, fodder, and also other gives from Maryland and perhaps from southerly Pennsylvania. This double-sided logistical bonus, by itself, would be adequate to render the Maryland project a success.

Beyond maintaining the strategic offensive and also improving his logistical situation, Lee sensed an opportunity to impact political events in the united States. He read Northern newspapers carefully and knew the bitter discussions raged in between Northern Republicans and also Democrats about civil liberties, the command of the war, and emancipation. If the campaign north that the potomac went as Lee hoped, the North’s autumn elections would take place while the military of northern Virginia maneuvered in Maryland or Pennsylvania. The existence of the premier Rebel military on United claims soil would certainly hurt Lincoln and also the Republicans, thought Lee, do it less complicated for democracy to press for some form of negotiated settlement.

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Lee addressed the connection in between military and also political events in a letter come Confederate president Jefferson Davis top top September 8, 1862, remarking that “for an ext than a year both part of the nation have been ravaged by hostilities i beg your pardon have lugged sorrow and suffering upon countless homes, without progressing the objects i m sorry our adversaries proposed to themselves in start the contest.” the moment had come to propose tranquility on the basis of Confederate independence. “Made once it is in our power to inflict injury upon ours adversary,” reasoned Lee v his army’s northward activity in mind, such a proposal “would display conclusively come the world that our sole object is the establishment of our independence, and the attainment of honorable peace.” should the Lincoln government disapprove the proposal, ongoing Lee, Northerners would know that complete responsibility for continuance the the war rested through the Republicans quite than with the Confederacy. Voters would certainly go to the polls in November 1862 “to recognize . . . Whether they will assistance those that favor a prolongation the the war, or those who wish to lug it to a termination, i beg your pardon can but be abundant of great to both parties there is no affecting the honor of either.”


Confederate artillery in former of the Dunker Church rob Shenk


Lee likewise held high really hopes for the state of Maryland. That joined numerous other Confederates in reasoning that just Federal bayonets preserved that servant state in the Union against the wishes of that residents. Citizen of Baltimore had rioted in April 1861. Marylanders had actually been arrested and incarcerated without advantage of the writ that habeas corpus. Thirty-one secessionist members of the state legislature, along with the mayor of Baltimore, had been imprisoned for number of weeks throughout the autumn of 1861. Hundreds of Maryland citizens wondered if their liberties would certainly stand in abeyance because that the duration of the war. Lee thought the influence of his victorious army might embolden Maryland’s military-age guys to action forward in energetic support the the Confederacy, after i m sorry they might once again, as he put it in a proclamation come Marylanders on September 8, “enjoy the inalienable legal rights of freemen, and also restore independence and also sovereignty to your State.”

Two important components that stood in the balance together Lee moved into Maryland played no role in the general’s decision-making. He knew nothing around Abraham Lincoln’s on purpose to problem a preliminary proclamation that emancipation if Union militaries won a success – miscellaneous the president would do in the wake up of Antietam – and thus planned without considering how his movements might shape Lincoln’s actions relating to the momentous issue. And he did no march northward through the expectation of persuading England and France to expand formal diplomatic acknowledgment to the Confederacy. Although leader in London and Paris, who in September 1862 edged closer come some form of diplomatic intervention than at any type of other time throughout the war, watched carefully to see whether the army of northern Virginia would win one more triumph, Lee constantly insisted the the Confederacy have to never counting on assist from Europe to achieve its independence. No one of his post at the moment of the Maryland campaign mentioned the possibility of influencing foreign observers.

As he considered the feasible outcomes that his campaign, Lee expressed no fear of aggressive federal reaction come his march across the Potomac. With the first week of September, reports suggested that north troops were concentrating in the fortifications external Washington. If a Federal army did rouse chin to face Lee, the would have actually the benefit of fighting top top the tactical protective on ground of his own choosing – probably defending gaps in the southern Mountain range or other favorable positions. “The just two topics that provide me any kind of uneasiness,” Lee created Jefferson Davis on September 4 together his army began to cross the grape max at White’s Ford, close to Leesburg, Virginia, “are my offers of ammunition and subsistence.” The former was not an immediate problem: “I have enough for present use,” proclaimed Lee, “and must await outcomes prior to deciding to what point I will certainly have additional supplies forwarded.” together for food and fodder, the farms of western Maryland would certainly answer the needs of the army of north Virginia. Lee had summed up his evaluation of the situation in the early on fall the 1862 in a letter created to Jefferson Davis the ahead day: “The present seems to it is in the many propitious time because the beginning of the battle for the Confederate army to go into Maryland.”