Abraham Lincoln, Aldie, Alfred Pleasonton, Alfred Waud, Army of the Potomac, Battlelines: Gettysburg, e, Edwin Forbes, George Meade, Gettysburg, J.E.B. Stuart, Joseph Hooker, Robert E. Lee, Thomas J. Jackson, Upperville
Note: The annual anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg is approaching this weekend. To commemorate that, we are posting, with permission, excerpts from Battlelines: Gettysburg, that describe aspects of the battle. Battlelines: Gettysburg contains the battlefield drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the only two artists who witnessed the battle.
The story of the battle of Gettysburg begins – if it begins anywhere – with the battle at Chancellorsville on May 1-3, 1863. The Union’s Army of the Potomac, with fresh troops and a new leader in General Joseph Hooker, ran into Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in what amounted to a surprise attack by Lee. In three days of fighting, Lee won an important and surprising victory against vastly superior force, further demoralizing the North and demonstrating, once again, the limits of Northern generals.
But, in his victory, Lee had suffered a devastating blow himself. His best general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, was wounded on the second day of the battle and died several days later after his arm was amputated. Jackson had proved himself on several occasions in the previous two years of fighting to be a creative and irreplaceable part of the Army of Northern Virginia. Few single casualties of the war were as important as the death of Stonewall Jackson.
Despite this loss, Lee had the advantage at least for the moment, and he decided to press that advantage with an invasion of the North.