Robert E. Lee Library of conference

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate military of northern Virginia entered the last stage of a protracted season of marketing as that marched towards Maryland during the very first week of September 1862. Basic Joseph E. Johnston’s disabling wound at the fight of same Oaks had lugged Lee come command that the military on June 1, 1862, and within a month he had actually seized the plan from significant General George B. McClellan, control the Union’s army of the potomac away from Richmond in the seven Days" Battles. Through his funding safe, Lee marched northward in so late August and also won a stunning success 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 that any significant Union army presence, and also Lee seek to develop on his success by acquisition the war throughout the potomac River into the united States. Lee’s interlocutor maneuvering finished when he retract from Maryland complying with the fight of Antietam top top September 17, 1862, close up door a three-month duration that must be regarded as a solitary huge procedure that reoriented the war from the outskirts of Richmond come the potomac frontier and significant Lee’s spectacular debut as a field commander.

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In acquisition his army throughout the potomac River in early September, Lee had actually in mental strategic, logistical, and also political factors. He thought that the soldiers the McClellan and Pope “lay weakened and demoralized” in the vicinity that Washington, D.C., and also he seek to keep aggressive momentum fairly than assume a defensive position and permit the Federals to muster their superior toughness to mount one more offensive. If he continued to be in Virginia, Lee would be required to reaction to Union movements, whereas in Maryland or Pennsylvania the would hold the initiative. Lee believed he can easily flank the enemy by cross the potomac upriver from Washington and marching the military of north Virginia with Maryland. A quick thrust right into Union territory would no be enough; a protracted remain would be the key to Confederate success. Lee hoped to store his army on United says soil through lot of the autumn, not v the on purpose of capturing and holding territory however with one eye toward accomplishing number of goals prior to returning come Virginia together winter approached.

The most vital of those goals focused on logistics. Facing an important shortages the food, Lee knew that a movement into the untouched farming regions of Maryland and also Pennsylvania’s Cumberland sink held far-ranging promise. If positioned northwest of Washington, Lee might force the Federals to remain in between him and also their capital, therefore liberating war-exhausted northern and north-central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, native the visibility of the completing armies. Southern ranches that had actually suffered native the existence of scores of hundreds of troops can recover, crops might be harvest safely, and civilians could enjoy a respite from the stress of continuous uncertainty around their persons and property. Meanwhile, Lee’s military would gather an essential food, fodder, and other provides from Maryland and also perhaps from southern Pennsylvania. This double-sided logistical bonus, by itself, would certainly be enough to render the Maryland campaign a success.

Beyond preserving the strategic offensive and also improving his logistical situation, Lee sensed an chance to influence political events in the united States. He read Northern newspapers carefully and also knew the bitter debates raged between Northern Republicans and also Democrats about civil liberties, the conduct of the war, and also emancipation. If the campaign north the the potomac went together Lee hoped, the North’s fall elections would take ar while the military of north Virginia maneuvered in Maryland or Pennsylvania. The visibility of the premier Rebel military on United claims soil would certainly hurt Lincoln and the Republicans, thought Lee, do it easier for democrats to press for some form of negotiated settlement.

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Lee addressed the connection in between military and political occasions in a letter to Confederate president Jefferson Davis top top September 8, 1862, remarking that “for much more than a year both part of the nation have been ruined by hostilities i m sorry have carried sorrow and also suffering upon thousands of homes, without progressing the objects i beg your pardon our enemies proposed to us in start the contest.” the time had pertained to propose tranquility on the communication of Confederate independence. “Made when it is in our strength to inflict injury upon ours adversary,” reasoned Lee through his army’s northward activity in mind, such a proposal “would display conclusively come the civilization that our single object is the facility of ours independence, and the attainment that honorable peace.” have to the Lincoln government disapprove the proposal, ongoing Lee, Northerners would know that full responsibility for continuance that the war rested through the Republicans rather than with the Confederacy. Voters would certainly go to the polls in November 1862 “to identify . . . Even if it is they will assistance those that favor a prolongation of the war, or those who wish to carry it come a termination, i beg your pardon can but be abundant of an excellent to both parties without affecting the respect of either.”


Confederate artillery in prior of the Dunker Church plunder Shenk


Lee additionally held high wishes for the state that Maryland. The joined countless other Confederates in thinking that just Federal bayonets kept that servant state in the Union against the wishes of that residents. Citizens of Baltimore had rioted in April 1861. Marylanders had been arrested and also incarcerated without benefit of the writ the habeas corpus. Thirty-one secessionist members the the state legislature, along with the mayor of Baltimore, had actually been imprisoned for several weeks throughout the loss of 1861. Hundreds of Maryland citizens wondered if their liberties would stand in abeyance for the term of the war. Lee believed the affect of his victorious military might embolden Maryland’s military-age guys to action forward in energetic support of the Confederacy, after i m sorry they might once again, as he placed it in a proclamation come Marylanders top top September 8, “enjoy the inalienable civil liberties of freemen, and also restore independence and also sovereignty to your State.”

Two important components that stood in the balance together Lee moved right into Maryland play no role in the general’s decision-making. He knew nothing around Abraham Lincoln’s intentionally to worry a preliminary proclamation the emancipation if Union armies won a success – other the chairman would carry out in the wake of Antietam – and thus planned there is no considering just how his movements might shape Lincoln’s actions relating to the momentous issue. And he did not march northward through the expectation the persuading England and also France to expand formal diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy. Although leader in London and also Paris, that in September 1862 edged closer to some type of diplomatic intervention than at any type of other time throughout the war, watched carefully to check out whether the military of northern Virginia would win one more triumph, Lee always insisted that the Confederacy need to never counting on assist from Europe to attain its independence. No one of his post at the time of the Maryland campaign mentioned the opportunity of influencing foreign observers.

As he thought about the possible outcomes the his campaign, Lee to express no fear of aggressive federal reaction to his march across the Potomac. V the very first week that September, reports suggested that northern troops to be concentrating in the fortifications outside Washington. If a Federal military did rouse itself to face Lee, the would have actually the advantage of fighting top top the tactical defensive on floor of his own picking – possibly defending gaps in the south Mountain selection or other favorable positions. “The only two topics that give me any type of uneasiness,” Lee composed Jefferson Davis top top September 4 together his military began to overcome the potomac at White’s Ford, near Leesburg, Virginia, “are my supplies of ammunition and subsistence.” The previous was not an prompt problem: “I have enough for existing use,” proclaimed Lee, “and have to await outcomes prior to deciding come what suggest I will have extr supplies forwarded.” as for food and also fodder, the ranches of western Maryland would answer the needs of the military of north Virginia. Lee had summed increase his analysis of the situation in the early fall that 1862 in a letter created to Jefferson Davis the vault day: “The present seems to be the many propitious time because the start of the war for the Confederate military to enter Maryland.”