Chronological History of the American Civil War
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Tennessee, is occupied by the Union forces. Major General J.E.B. Stuart's (CSA) Cavalry capture some Union forces at Fairfax, Court House, Virginia. Sunday, June 28, 1863 : Another major change in command, for the U.S. Army of the Potomac, as General Joseph Hooker resigns, and General George Gordon Meade (U.S.) is picked as the 5th commander of the unit. Confederate spy, Henry Thomas Harrison, (pictured) came to General Robert E.
Lee (CSA) with information about the Union positions. Lee had never heard of Harrison before, yet he came with compliments of General Longstreet (CSA) who had known Harrison, since the beginning of that year. Harrison's information was believable enough for Lee to halt his entire army. Harrison reported that the Union had left Frederick, Maryland, and was moving northward, which was true. As a result of Harrison's information, Lee told all of his troops to concentrate in the vicinity of Cashtown, Pennsylvania, eight miles from Gettysburg, thereby triggering the events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee even said after hearing the news from Harrison, "A battle thus became, in a measure, unavoidable." Monday, June 29, 1863 : After taking command, General George Meade (U.S.)
immediately ordered the Army of the Potomac to hunt out the Army of Northern Virginia (CSA). Whereas, Hooker (U.S.) wanted to wait, and see what Lee intended; Meade wanted to engage him as soon as was feasible. Meade was coming as fast as he could, 20 to 40 miles a day. While on the move toward Gettysburg, George A Custer (U.S.) is appointed Union Brigadier - General, despite having no direct command experience, he became one of the youngest generals in the Union Army at age 23. Tuesday, June 30, 1863 : Major General J.E.B. Stuart's (CSA) cavalry, which was riding north to get around the Union army, attacked a Union cavalry regiment, driving it through the streets of Hanover, Pennsylvania. Reinforced by Brigadier General George A. Custer's brigade, the Union soldiers held their ground, and a stalemate ensued. Stuart was forced to continue north and east, to get around the Union cavalry, further delaying his attempt to rejoin Lee's army which was then concentrating at Cashtown Gap west of Gettysburg. General Lee sent a unit of Confederate troops to Gettysburg, where it was believed a stash of military boots was kept. They came across Unionist troops from Brigadier-General Buford’s (U.S.) cavalry division and withdrew. Wednesday, July 1, 1863 : The largest military conflict in North American history begins this day, when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What started as a minor clash soon, developed into something more. General Lee, states: “The enemy is here and, if we do not whip him, he will whip us.” 2,500 Union infantrymen advanced to Gettysburg to give support, and ended up capturing 1,000 Confederate troops and Brigadier-General Archer. More and more Confederate, and Union infantry advanced on Gettysburg, until seemingly overnight 22,000 Confederate troops and 16,500 Unionists are based in and around Gettysburg. Thursday, July 2, 1863 : Believing that he has superior numbers, Lee ordered a full-scale attack against Union forces at Gettysburg. However, overnight, the Army of the Potomac (U.S.) had greatly increased its numbers, so that Lee now faced 30,000 men. However, some units like the VI Corps (U.S.) had marched 30 miles overnight to be at Gettysburg and were hardly in a fit state to fight. In the initial stages of the Battle of Gettysburg, the upper hand rested with Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Friday, July 3, 1863 : In the past, General Lee (CSA) usual tactic was to outflank his enemy, this time he would charge them in a head on approach. However, Lee got his calculations wrong. By now, Meade’s Army of the Potomac numbered 85,000 to Lee’s 75,000. Now called “Pickett’s Charge,” 13,000 men armed with rifles and bayonets from Major-General Pickett’s division charged Union positions. 7,000 were killed or wounded a total of 62% of the attacking force. The division retreated in disorder. Acknowledging that, he had made the wrong decision, Lee, riding among the survivors said, “This was all my fault. It is I, that has lost this fight, and you must help me out of it the best you can.” On what was already a disastrous day for the Confederacy, General John Pemberton (CSA) offered the surrender of the besieged city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Grant insisted on an unconditional surrender of the Confederate forces, based in the besieged town.
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