On June 15th 1863, confederate forces, commanded by Robert E. Lee, crossed the Potomac River at Williamsport and headed into Pennsylvania. The Last Invasion had begun.
On the heals of their astounding victory at Chancellorsville in May, moral was high as the 70,000 strong rebel army moved through the keystone state and marveled at the beautiful countryside. Pennsylvania’s small family farms were noticeably different then the large plantations of the confederacy. After nearly two years of fighting in the south, the neat snake-rail fences dividing the country, the abundance of large dutch barns and fields ripe, an unmolested landscape, served as a stark contrast to war ravaged Virginia. With abundant forage for the troops to acquire along their journey, spirits were high in the confederate army as the South brought the war North.
General Lee, ” marches knowing that a letter has been prepared by Jefferson Davis, a letter which offers peace. It is to be placed on the desk of Abraham Lincoln the day after Lee has destroyed the Army of the Potomac somewhere north of Washington.” *
In June of 1863 the country was at a crossroads. A string of confederate victories and the continuing cost in blood had many in the north looking to end the war with a negotiated peace. As word of the Confederate invasion reached Washington, President Lincoln appointed a new general, George Meade, to take the reins of the Union Army. General Meade would have just a couple of days to assume command before meeting the confederates at the crossroads town of Gettysburg, PA.
What takes place at Gettysburg in the coming days would turn out to be the apex of the Civil War and the three bloodiest days in American history. July 1-3, 1863.
The Civil War 150 Pinhole Project will be in Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary of this most seminal battle of the war. Two major reenactments are being held in the vicinity of this small Pennsylvania town in June/July 2013. Over 20,000 reenactors have registered for these sesquicentennial events and tens of thousands of spectators are expected. Please check back to the blog as postings of the battlefield and reenactments will be added to the project in late July.
* Quote from, “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara