Gettysburg - Day One
By the Chief of Artillery of the Army of the Potomac
The battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville raised the confidence of the Confederate army of Northern Virginia to such a height as to cause its subordinate officers to believe that, as opposed to the Army of the Potomac, they were equal to any demand that could be made upon them. Their belief in the superiority of the Southerner to the Northerner as a fighter was no longer, as at the beginning of the war, a mere provincial conceit, for it was now supported by signal successes in the field. On each of these two occasions the Army of the Potomac had been recently reorganized under a new general, presumably abler than his predecessor and possessing the confidence of the War Department, and the results were crowning victories for the Confederates. Yet at Fredericksburg defeat was not owing to any lack of fighting qualities on the part of the Federal soldier, but rather to defective leadership.
At Chancellorsville both qualities were called in question. In none of the previous battles between these armies had the disparity of numbers been so great. The Federal general had taken the initiative, his plan of operations was excellent, and his troops eager for battle. The Confederates could at first oppose but a portion of their inferior force to the attack of greatly superior numbers, and the boast of the Federal commander, that ``the Army of Northern Virginia was the legitimate property of the Army of the Potomac,'' seemed in a fair way to be justified, when at the first contact the advantages already gained were thrown away, and a timid defensive attitude assumed. Lee's bold offensive which followed immediately on this exhibition of weakness, the consequent rout of a Federal army-corps, and the subsequent retreat of the whole army, a large portion of which had not been engaged, confirmed the exultant Confederates in their conviction -- which now became an article of faith -- that both in combat and in generalship the superiority of the Southerner was fully established. The Federal soldiers returned to their camps on the northern bank of the Rappahannock, mortified and incensed at finding themselves, through no fault of their own, in the condition of having in an offensive campaign lost a battle without fighting, except when the enemy forced it upon them.
Yet in this battle the Northern soldier fought well. No men could under the circumstances have withstood such a sudden attack as that made by ``Stonewall'' Jackson on the flank and rear of the Eleventh Corps; but as soon as Jackson encountered troops in condition for action, his pursuit was checked and he was brought to a stand. The panic did not extend beyond the routed corps, nor to all of that, for its artillery and so much of its infantry as could form a proper line did their duty, and the army, far from being ``demoralized'' by this mishap, simply ridiculed the corps which from its supposed want of vigilance had allowed itself to be surprised in a position in which it could not fight. The surprise itself was not the fault of the troops, and the corps redeemed its reputation in subsequent battles. Both armies were composed in the main of Americans, and there was little more difference between their men than might be found between those of either army at different periods, or under varying circumstances; for although high bounties had already brought into the Federal ranks an inferior element which swelled the muster rolls and the number of stragglers, ``bounty jumping'' had not as yet become a regular business.
The morale of the Confederate army was, however, not much higher at that time than that of its adversary. It was composed of men not less patriotic, many of whom had gone into the war with reluctance, but who now felt that they were defending their homes. They were by this time nearly all veterans, led by officers having the confidence of their government, which took pains to inspire its soldiers with the same feeling. Their successes were extolled and magnified; their reverses palliated or ignored. Exaggerations as to the relative numbers of the troops had been common enough on both sides, but those indulged in at the South had been echoed, sometimes suggested, in the North by a portion of the press and people, so that friends and enemies united in inspiring the Confederate soldier a belief in himself and a contempt for his enemy.
In the Army of the Potomac it was different; the proportion of veterans was much smaller; a cessation of recruiting at the very beginning of active operations, when men were easily obtainable to supply losses in existing regiments, had been followed, as emergencies arose, by new levies for short periods of service, and in new organizations which could not readily be assimilated by older troops. And there were special difficulties. The Army of the Potomac was not in favor at the War Department. Rarely, if ever, had it heard a word of official commendation after a success, or of sympathy or encouragement after a defeat. From the very beginning its camps had been filled with imputations and charges against its leaders, who were accused on the streets, by the press, in Congress, and even in the War Department itself, and after victories as well as after defeats, not only of incapacity or misconduct, but sometimes of ``disloyalty'' to their superiors, civil and military, and even to the cause for which they fought. These accusations were followed or accompanied by frequent changes of commanders of the army, army-corps, and even of divisions. Under such circumstances, but little confidence could be felt by the troops, either in the wisdom of a war office which seemed to change its favorites with the caprice of a coquette, or in the capacity of new generals who followed each other in such rapid succession. But it is due to that patient and sorely tried army, to say that the spirit of both its officers and men was of the best, and their devotion to duty unconquerable. The army itself had originally been so admirably disciplined and tempered, that there always remained to it a firm self-reliance and a stern sense of duty and honor that was proof against its many discouragements. In battle it always acquitted itself well, and displayed the highest soldierly qualities, no matter who commanded it nor whence he came. Chancellorsville furnishes no exception to this assertion, nor evidence of inferiority of the Northern to the Southern soldier, but it does furnish striking illustrations of Napoleon's well-known saying ``In war men are nothing, a man is everything.''
General Lee, who felt great confidence in his own troops, and overrated the effects of successive reverses on the Federal soldiers, now resolved to assume the offensive, for he knew that to remain on the defensive would in the end force him back on Richmond. He determined, therefore, in case the Army of the Potomac could not be brought to action under favorable circumstances in Virginia, to transfer, if permitted, the field of operations to Northern soil, where a victory promptly followed up would give him possession of Baltimore or Washington, and perhaps lead to the recognition of the Confederacy by foreign powers. The valley of the Shenandoah offered a safe line of operations; the Federal troops occupying it were rather a bait than an obstacle, and to capture or destroy them seemed quite practicable to one who controlled absolutely all Confederate troops within the sphere of his operations. The sharp lesson he had administered the previous year had not been heeded by the Federal War Office; an opportunity now offered to repeat it, and he took his measures accordingly. In case his government would not consent to a bolder offensive, he could at least clear the valley of Virginia of the enemy, -- a distinct operation, yet a necessary preliminary to an invasion of the North. This work was assigned to lieutenant-General Ewell, an able officer, in every way qualified for such an enterprise.
In anticipation of the new campaign, Lee's army was strengthened and reorganized into three army-corps (First Corps, Longstreet: divisions, McLaws, Picket, Hood; artillery, Walton. Second Corps, Ewell: divisions, Early, Johnson, Rodes; artillery, brown. Third Corps, A.P. Hill: divisions, R.H. Anderson, Heth, Pender; artillery, Walker. -- H.J.H.) of three divisions each. Each division consisted of four brigades, except Rodes's and Anderson's, which had five each, and Pickett's, which had three at Gettysburg, -- in all, thirty-seven infantry brigades. The cavalry were the select troops of the Confederacy. Officers and men had been accustomed all their lives to the use of horses and arms, ``and to the very end the best blood in the land rode after Stuart, Hampton, and the Lees.'' They were now organized as a division, under Major-General J.E.B. Stuart, consisting of the six brigades of Hampton, Robertson, Fitzhugh Lee, Jenkins, Jones, and W.H.F. Lee and six batteries of horse-artillery under Major R.F. Beckham. To these should be added Imboden's command, a strong brigade of over two thousand effective horsemen, and a battery of horse-artillery, which had been operating in the mountain country and was now near Staunton, awaiting orders. The artillery had recently received an excellent organization under its commandant-in-chief, General Pendleton. It consisted, besides the horse-artillery, of fifteen so-called ``battalions,'' each of four batteries, with one lieutenant-colonel and a major. To each army-corps were attached five battalions, one for each division and two as a reserve, the whole under a colonel as chief of artillery. The total number of batteries was sixty-nine, of guns two hundred and eighty-seven, of which thirty were with the cavalry. With few exceptions the batteries were of four guns each. The army was commanded by a full general, each army-corps, except the artillery, by a lieutenant-general, each division by a major-general, each brigade, except two, by brigadier-generals. Nearly all these officers were veterans of proved ability and many had served in the Mexican war.
In the Army of the Potomac the discharge of fifty-eight regiments had reduced its strength since Chancellorsville by twenty-five thousand effectives, partly replaced by five brigades numbering less than twelve thousand men. At the battle of Gettysburg the seven army corps (First Corps, J.F. Reynolds: divisions, Wadsworth, Robinson, Doubleday; artillery, Wainwright. Second Corps, Hancock: divisions, Caldwell, Gibbon, Alexander Hays; artillery, Hazard. Third Corps, Sickles: divisions, Birney, Humphreys; artillery, Randolph. fifth Corps, Sykes: divisions: Barnes, Ayres, Crawford; artillery, A.P. Martin. Sixth Corps, Dedgwick: divisions, Wright, Howe, Wheaton; artillery, Thompkins. Eleventh Corps, Howard: divisions, Barlow, Steinwehr, Schurz; artillery, Osborn. Twelfth Corps, Slocum: divisions, A.S. Williams, Geary; artillery, Muhlenberg. Engineers, commandant-in-chief, G.K. Warren; Engineer brigade, Benham. Artillery, commandant-in-chief, Hunt; artillery reserve, Tyler: brigades of Ransom, McGilvery, Taft, Huntington, Fitzhugh. General Headquarters, Chief of Staff Butterfield, Adjutant-General Williams, Inspector-General Schriver, Provost-Marshal General patrick -- H.J.H.) consisted of nineteen infantry divisions, seven of which had two brigades, eleven had three, and one had four: in all fifty-one brigades. The army and army-corps were commanded by major-generals, the divisions by three major- and sixteen brigadier-generals, the infantry brigades by twenty-two brigadier-generals and twenty-nine colonels. The average strength of army corps and divisions was about half that of the Confederates, a fact that should be kept in mind, or the terms will be misleading. The cavalry had been raised under disadvantages. Men accustomed to the use of both horses and arms were comparatively few in the North and required training in everything that was necessary to make a trooper. The theater of war was not considered favorable for cavalry, and it was distributed to the various headquarters for escort duty, guards, and orderlies. It was not until 1863 that it was united under General Pleasanton in a corps consisting of three weak divisions, Buford's, D. McM. Gregg's, and Duffie's, afterwards consolidated into two, Stahel's cavalry, which joined at Frederick, June 28th, becoming the third division. The corps was then organized as follows: First Division, Buford: brigades, Gamble, Devin, Merritt; Second Division, Gregg: brigades, McIntosh, Huey, J. Irvin Gregg; Third Division, Kilpatrick: brigades, Farnsworth, Custer. The divisions and three of the brigades were commanded by brigadier- generals, the other five brigades by colonels. To the cavalry were attached Robertson's and Tidball's brigades of horse artillery. Under excellent chiefs and the spirit created by its new organization, the Federal cavalry soon rivaled that of the Confederates.
The field-artillery was in an unsatisfactory condition. The high reputation it had gained in Mexico was followed by the active and persistent hostility of the War Department, which almost immediately dismounted three-fourths of its authorized batteries. Congress in 1853 made special provision for remounting them as schools of instruction for the whole arm, a duty which the War Department on shallow pretexts evaded. Again in 1861, Congress amply provided for the proper organization and command of the artillery in the field, but as there was no chief nor special administration for the arm, and no regulations for its government, its organization control and direction were left to the fancies of the various army commanders. General officers were practically denied it, and in 1862 the War Department announced in orders that field- officers of artillery were an unnecessary expense and their muster into service forbidden. Promotion necessarily ceased, and such brilliant artillerists as Hays, DeRussy, Getty, Gibbon, Griffin, and Ayres could only receive promotion by transfer to the infantry or cavalry. No adequate measures were taken for the supply of recruits, and the batteries were frequently dependent on the troops to which they were attached for men enough to work their guns in battle. For battery-draft they were often glad to get the refuse horses after the ambulance and quartermasters' trains were supplied. Still, many of the batteries attained a high degree of excellence, due mainly to the self-sacrifice, courage, and intelligence of their own officers and men.
On taking command of the army, General Hooker had transferred the military command of the artillery to his own headquarters, to be resumed by the chief of artillery only under specific orders and for special occasions, which resulted in such mismanagement and confusion at Chancellorsville that he consented to organize the artillery into brigades. This was a decided improvement, which would have been greater if the brigade commanders had held adequate rank. As it was, there was no artillery commandant-in-chief for months before the battle of Gettysburg, and of the fourteen brigades four were commanded by field-officers, nine by captains, and one by a lieutenant, taken from their batteries for the purpose. The number of field batteries at Gettysburg was sixty-five, of guns three hundred and seventy, of which two hundred and twelve were with the infantry, fifty with the cavalry, one hundred and eight in the reserve. The disadvantages under which the artillery labored all through the war, from want of proper regulations, supervision, and command, were simply disgraceful to our army administration from the close of the Mexican to that of the Civil war, and caused an unnecessary expenditure of both blood and treasure.
It will be perceived by comparison that the organization of the Army of the Potomac was at this period in every way inferior to that of its adversary. The army-corps and divisions were too numerous and too weak. They required too many commanders and staffs, and this imposed unnecessary burdens on the general-in-chief, who was often compelled to place several army-corps under the commander of one of them, thus reproducing the much abused ``grand divisions'' of Burnside, under every possible disadvantage. Had the number of infantry corps been reduced to four at most, and the divisions to twelve, the army would have been more manageable and better commanded, and the artillery, without any loss, but rather a gain in efficiency, could have been reduced by a dozen or fifteen batteries.
Early in June Lee's army began to move, and by the 8th, Longstreet's and Ewell's corps had joined Stuart's cavalry at Culpeper. A. P. Hill's corps was left in observation at Fredericksburg; and so skillfully were the changes concealed that Hooker, believing that all the enemy's infantry were still near that town, ordered Pleasonton to beat up Stuart's camps at Culpeper, and get information as to the enemy's position and proposed movements. For these purposes he gave Pleasonton two small brigades of infantry, 3000 men under Generals Ames and Russell, which carried his total force to 10,981. They were echeloned along the railroad which crosses the river at Rappahannock Station, and runs thence ten miles to Culpeper. About midway is Brandy Station, a few hundred yards north of which is Fleetwood Hill. Dividing his force equally, Pleasonton ordered Buford and Ames to cross at Beverly's, and Gregg, Duffie, and Russell at Kelly's Ford. All were to march to Brandy Station, Duffie being thrown out to Stevensburg to watch the Fredericksburg road. Then the whole force was to move on Culpeper. The crossing was ordered for June 9th; but on the 8th, General Lee having sent Jenkins's brigade as Ewell's advance into the valley, reviewed the other five brigades of Stuart, 10,292 combatants, on the plains near Brandy Station. After the review they were distributed in the neighborhood with a view to their crossing the Rappahannock on the 9th, Stuart establishing his headquarters at Fleetwood. Accident had thus disposed his forces in the most favorable manner to meet Pleasonton's converging movements.
At daybreak Buford crossed and drove the enemy's pickets from the ford back to a the main body, near St. James's church. Stuart, on the first report of the crossing, sent Robertson's brigade toward Kelly's to watch that ford, and Colonel M.C. Butler's Second South Carolina to Brandy Station. He himself took the command at the church where he was attacked by Buford. In one of the engagements W.H.F. Lee was wounded, and Colonel Chambliss took command of his brigade. Meantime Gregg had crossed at Kelly's Ford, and, Duffie leading, took a southerly road, by which he missed Robertson's brigade. Learning that Duffie's advance had reached Stevensburg and that Buford was heavily engaged, Gregg pushed direct for Brandy Station, sending orders to Duffie to follow his movement. Stuart, notified of his approach, had sent in haste some artillery and two of Jones's regiments to Fleetwood, and Colonel Butler started at once for Stevensburg, followed soon after by Wickham's Fourth Virginia. On their approach two squadrons of the Sixth Ohio, in occupation of the place, fell back skirmishing. Duffie sent two regiments to their aid, and after a severe action, mainly with the Second South Carolina, reoccupied the village. In this action Colonel Butler lost a leg, and his lieutenant- colonel, Hampton, was killed.
On Gregg's arrival near Brandy Station the enemy appeared to be in large force, with artillery, on and about Fleetwood Hill. He promptly ordered an attack; the hill was carried, and the two regiments sent by Stuart driven back. Buford now attacked vigorously and gained ground steadily, for Stuart had to reenforce his troops at Fleetwood from the church. In the struggles that followed, the hill several times changed masters; but as Duffie did not make appearance, Gregg was finally overmatched and withdrew, leaving three of his guns, two of them disabled, in the enemy's hands, nearly all of their horses being killed and most of their cannoneers hors de combat. There were some demonstrations of pursuit, but the approach of Buford's reserve brigade stopped them. Duffie finally came up and Gregg reported to Pleasonton, informing him of the approach of Confederate infantry from Culpeper. Pleasonton, who had captured some important dispatches and orders, now considered his mission as accomplished, and ordered a withdrawal of his whole command. This was effected leisurely and without molestation. Gregg recrossed at Rappahannock Station, Buford at Beverly's Ford, and at sunset the river again flowed between the opposing forces. Stuart reports his loses at four hundred and eighty-five, of whom three hundred and one were killed or wounded. Pleasonton reports an aggregate loss (exclusive of Duffie's, which would not exceed twenty-five) of nine hundred and seven, of whom four hundred and twenty-one were killed or wounded. In nearly all the previous so-called ``cavalry'' actions, the troops had fought as dismounted dragoons. This was in the main a true cavalry battle, and enabled the Federals henceforth to dispute the superiority hitherto claimed by, and conceded to, the Confederate cavalry. In this respect the affair was an important one. It did not, however, delay for a moment General Lee's designs on the valley; he had already sent Imboden by way of Romney toward Cumberland to destroy the railroad and canal from that place to Martinsburg.
Milroy's Federal division, about nine thousand strong, occupied Winchester, with McReynolds's brigade in observation at Berryville. Kelley's division of about ten thousand men was at Harper's Ferry, with a detachment of twelve hundred infantry and a battery under Colonel B.F. Smith at Martinsburg. On the night of June 11th, Milroy received instructions to join Kelley, but, reporting that he could hold Winchester, was authorized to remain there. Ewell, leaving Brandy Station June 10, reached Cedarville via Chester Gap on the evening of the 12th, whence he detached Jenkins and Rodes to capture McReynolds, who, discovering their approach, withdrew to Winchester. They then pushed on to Martinsburg, and on the 14th drove out the garrison. Smith's infantry crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown, and made its way to Maryland Heights; his artillery retreated by the Williamsport road, was pursued, and lost five guns.
Meanwhile Ewell, with Early's and Edward Johnson's divisions, marched direct on Winchester. Arriving in its neighborhood on the evening of the 13th, he ordered Early on the 14th to leave a brigade in observation on the south of the town, move his main force under cover of the hills to the north-western side, and seize the outworks which commanded the main fort. he also ordered Johnson to deploy his division on the east of the town, so as to divert attention from Early. This was so successfully done that the latter placed, unperceived, twenty guns and an assaulting column in position, and at 6 P.M., by a sudden attack, carried the outworks, driving the garrisons into the body of the place. This capture was a complete surprise, and Milroy called a council of war, which decided on an immediate retreat, abandoning the artillery and wagons. Ewell had anticipated this, and ordered Johnson to occupy with a brigade a position on the Martinsburg pike, north of Winchester. The retreat commenced at two A.M. of the 15th, and after proceeding three or four miles, the advance encountered Johnson's troops, attacked vigorously, and at first successfully, but the enemy receiving reinforcements, a hard fight ensued in which the Federals lost heavily. The retreat was then continued; the troops separated in the darkness, one portion reaching Harper's Ferry, another crossing the Potomac at Hancock. On the 15th, Ewell crossed the river, occupied Hagerstown and Sharpsburg, and sent Jenkins's cavalry to Chambersburg to collect supplies. On the 17th, the garrison of Harper's Ferry was removed to Maryland Heights, and the valley of the Shenandoah was cleared of Federal troops. In these brilliant operations General Lee claims for Ewell the capture of four thousand prisoners and small arms, twenty-eight pieces of artillery, eleven colors, three hundred loaded wagons, as many horses, and a considerable quantity of stores of all descriptions, the entire Confederate loss, killed, wounded, and missing, being two hundred and sixty-nine.
These operations indicate on the part of General Lee either contempt for his opponent, or a belief that the chronic terror of the War Department for the safety of Washington could be safely relied upon to paralyze his movements, -- or both. On no other reasonable hypothesis can we account for his stretching his army from Fredericksburg to Williamsport, with his enemy concentrated on one flank, and on the shortest road to Richmond.
General Hooker's instructions were to keep always in view the safety of Washington and Harper's Ferry, and this necessarily subordinated his operations to those of the enemy. On June 5th, he reported that in case Lee moved via Culpeper toward the Potomac with his main body, leaving a corps at Fredericksburg, he should consider it his duty to attack the latter, and asked if that would be within the spirit of his instructions. In reply he was warned against such a course, and its dangers to Washington and Harper's Ferry were pointed out. On June 10th, learning that Lee was in motion, and that there were but few troops in Richmond, he proposed an immediate march on that place, from which, after capturing it, he could send the disposable part of his force to any threatened point north of the Potomac, and was informed that Lee's army and not Richmond was his true objective. Had he taken Richmond, Peck's large force at Suffolk and Keyes's ten thousand men in the Peninsula might have been utilized, and Hooker's whole army set free for operations against Lee.
As yet an invasion of the North had not yet been definitely fixed upon. On June 8th, the day before Brandy Station, General Lee, in a confidential letter to Mr. Seddon, Confederate Secretary of War, stated that he was aware of the hazard of taking the aggressive, yet nothing was to be gained by remaining on the defensive; still, if the department thought it better to do so, he would adopt that course. Mr. Seddon replied June 10th, the date of Hooker's proposal to march on Richmond, concurring in General Lee's views. he considered aggressive action indispensable, that ``all attendant risks and sacrifices must be incurred,'' and adds, ``I have not hesitated in cooperating with your plans to leave this city almost defenseless.'' General Lee now had full liberty of action, with the assured support of his government, -- an immense advantage over an opponent who had neither.
So soon as Hooker learned from Pleasonton that a large infantry force was at Culpeper, he extended his right up the Rappahannock, and when informed of Ewell's move toward the valley, being forbidden to attack A.P. Hill at Fredericksburg or to spoil Lee's plans by marching to Richmond, he moved his army, on the night of June 13th, toward the line of the orange and Alexandria Railroad, and occupied Thoroughfare Gap in advance of it. On the 15th, Longstreet left Culpeper, keeping east of the Blue Ridge and so covering its gaps. On the 14th, Hill left Fredericksburg, and via Chester Gap reached Shepherdstown on the 23rd. Stuart's cavalry had been thrown out on Longstreet's right to occupy the passes of the Bull Run mountains and watch Hooker's army. On the 17th, he encountered, near Aldie, a portion of Pleasanton's command; a fierce fight ensued which left the Federals in possession of the field. During the four following days there was a succession of cavalry combats; those of the 19th near Middleburg, and of the 21st near Upperville, where especially well contested, and resulted in the retreat of Stuart through Ashby's Gap. Longstreet had already withdrawn through the gaps and followed Hill to the Potomac. Imboden, his work of destruction completed, had taken post at Hancock. Longstreet and Hill crossed the Potomac on the 24th and 25th and directed their march on Chambersburg and Fayetteville, arriving on the 27th. Stuart had been directed to guard the mountain passes until the Federal army crossed the river, and, according to General Lee's report, ``to lose no time in placing his command on the right of our [Confederate] column as soon as he should perceive the enemy moving northward,'' in order to watch and report his movements. According to Stuart's report he was authorized to cross between the Federal army and Washington, and directed after crossing to proceed with all dispatch to join Early in Pennsylvania.
General Lee so far had been completely successful; his army was exultant, and he lost no time in availing himself of his advantages. On the 21st he ordered Ewell to take possession of Harrisburg; and on the 22nd Ewell's whole corps was on the march, Rodes's and Johnson's divisions via Chambersburg to Carlisle, which they reached on the 27th, and Early via Greenwood and Gettysburg to York, with orders from Ewell to break up the Northern Central Railroad, destroy the bridge across the Susquehanna at Wrightsville, and then rejoin the main body at Carlisle. Early entered York on the 28th, and sent Gordon's brigade, not to destroy, but to secure possession of the bridge, which would enable him to operate upon Harrisburg from the rear; but a small militia force under Colonel Frick, retreating from Wrightsville across the bridge, after an unsuccessful attempt to destroy one of its spans, set fire to and completely destroyed that fine structure, Gordon's troops giving their aid to the citizens to save the town from the flames. On the 29th, Ewell received orders from General Lee to rejoin the army as Cashtown; the next evening, 30th, his reserve artillery and trains, with Johnson's division as an escort, were near Chambersburg, and Ewell, with Early's, and Rodes's, near Heidlersburg. Thus suddenly ended Ewell's Harrisburg expedition. One object was to collect supplies, and contributions were accordingly levied. Much damage was done to roads and bridges, but the prompt advance of the Army of the Potomac made this useless to the Confederates.
Before committing his army to an invasion of the North, General Lee recommended the proper steps to cover and support it. In a letter of June 23rd, addressed to President Davis, he states that the season was so far advanced as to stop further Federal operations on the Southern coast, and that Confederate troops in that country and elsewhere were now disposable. He proposed, therefore, that an army should as soon as possible be organized at Culpeper, as ``the well-known anxiety of the Northern Government for the safety of its capital would induce it to retain a large force for its defense, and thus relieve the opposition to our advance''; and suggested that General Beauregard be placed in command, ``as his presence would give magnitude even to a small demonstration.'' On the 25th, he wrote to Mr. Davis urging the same views. The proposition embarrassed Mr. Davis, who could not see how, with the few troops under his hand, it could be carried out. In fact, although General Lee had pointed out the means, the proposition came too late, as the decisive battle took place much earlier than was expected. This correspondence, however, with that between General Lee and Mr. Seddon, shows that Hooker's project to capture Richmond by a coup-de-main was feasible.
It was not now a question of ``swapping queens.'' Washington was safe, being well fortified and sufficiently garrisoned, or with available troops within reach, without drawing on Hooker; and to take Richmond and scatter the Confederate Government was the surest way to ruin Lee's army -- ``his true objective.''
On the first appearance of danger of invasion, her vigilant governor, Curtin, warned the people of Pennsylvania, and called out the militia. General Couch was sent to Harrisburg to organize and command them, but disbelief in the danger -- due to previous false alarms -- caused delays until the fugitives from Milroy's command, followed by Jenkins's cavalry, roused the country. Defensive works were then thrown up at Harrisburg and elsewhere, and local forces were raised and moved toward the enemy.