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General Lee's Campaign in Pennsylvania

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1216, p. 155.

August 8, 1863


We present our readers with a carefully-prepared map of that part of Pennsylvania which has already been made interesting and important by the several expeditions and battles that have taken place therein. Should the war be prolonged, it will doubtless again become the scene of momentous events. Our Map, it will be seen, embraces Pittsburg [sic] , Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Washington, and points out very clearly the line between the Northern and Southern States, called "Mason and Dixon's line." This line was surveyed by Mason and Dixon during the last century, and became the means of settling old and troublesome contests between the independent nationalities which claimed jurisdiction under grants made by the Crown to William Penn and Lord Baltimore. The circular line on the north of the State of Delaware became the starting-point of the survey. Beginning at this circle, ten miles from Newcastle, the survey goes due west to a point near the Ohio River. Should the future boundary of the Southern Confederacy, however, be fixed in accordance with the wishes of the South, it will no doubt be made to follow the Susquehannah River, and thence down the Ohio and up the Missouri and the Platte.

It would be vain to speculate upon the motives which induced the Confederate Government to order General Lee's advance north. Beyond doubt, the difficulties of the task were underrated; and, after the succession of reverses sustained by the army of the Potomac, President Davis may well be excused for not having foreseen the gallant manner in which it fought under the command of its new General, Meade. A great object of the advance was, of course, to make the North feel more acutely the burden of the war and to supply the army with food and forage. But, beyond a doubt, more important results were expected, and there is no ground for regarding the failure of General Lee's campaign as anything less than a severe, if temporary, blow to the cause he fights for.

General Lee effected his advance, which was over the extensive rivers, mountain ranges, &c., of some 165 miles of country, by throwing forward cavalry forces on the east side of Bull Run mountains to Leesburg and the Potomac, in order to clear the country of Federal signal-stations; which, posted on the mountains, gave notice of his movements. Lieutenant-General Ewell, the friend and successor of Stonewall Jackson, then marched by a route in the rear of those mountains, and, deflecting his course north and west, crossed the Shenandoah River between Salem and Winchester, and fought General Milroy at the latter place. General A. P. Hill followed, Longstreet bringing up the rear.

Sufficient forces were left in and near Richmond to defend the city against the formal advance of an army of 65,000 or 70,000 men; but not enough to take the field and check the inroads of marauding parties who might, therefore, approach almost within sight of the city, and do damage to the railroads, &c.

General Milroy was routed, and several thousand prisoners were taken. The rest of his forces escaped by night, scattering over the country and reaching Pennsylvania by various routes. General Ewell thence crossed the Potomac River at several fords above Harper's Ferry and below Williamsport. He steadily advanced, viâ Hagerstown, Maryland, to Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Bodies of cavalry were dispatched in every direction, destroying Federal property, public bridges, railroads, &c., but respecting the persons and property of private citizens. General Stuart's cavalry advanced to a bridge over the Baltimore and Washington Railroad (the only rail connecting Washington with the United States), at Beltsville, fourteen miles from Washington. He destroyed the bridges of the Baltimore and Susquehannah Railroad, connecting Baltimore with Harrisburg; ruined the track and bridges of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, connecting Washington and Baltimore with the West, and compelled the Federals to burn bridges over the Susquehannah River, to check his advance on Philadelphia and Harrisburg, one of which cost a million dollars. Besides this, contributions on towns and cities were levied. In one case, £30,000 was exacted from the city of York, Pennsylvania.

When General Hooker left the Rappahannock, Longstreet advanced to the Potomac; and when General Hooker crossed the Potomac Longstreet was still in advance. General Lee, assuming that he could engage Hooker with Longstreet's division, employed the corps of Ewell to open the way to Pennsylvania. It was at this juncture that General Hooker, with great sagacity, resigned his command.

The particulars of the battle of Gettysburg are still fresh in the recollection of our readers. Although the forces of General Lee were far inferior to those under the command of General Meade, he had the advantage of handling veteran troops who had acquired confidence in many a hard fought and victorious field. Against this advantage, however, Meade had undoubtedly the superiority of numbers and position. The Federal army fought well and long, the battle raging for three days. Upon the first day the combined forces of two of Lee's Lieutenants--Generals A. P. Hill and Ewell--fell upon the advance of Meade's army north-west of Gettysburg, and drove it back, with great slaughter, some two miles and a half to the south of that town.

The second day there was a general engagement, extending over miles of ground, and contesting the strong position to which General Meade had fallen back, commanding all the roads and affording excellent defensive works to the Federal army. On the third day,

Page 156

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Map Illustrating General Lee's Advance into Pennsylvania.; Plan of Pittsburg.; The Defences of Washington.

when fortune, long doubtful, seemed inclining to the Confederate arms, two brigades of fresh troops arrived to reinforce General Meade, and changed the fate of the day. Simultaneously with this General Lee received advice that a large force of the enemy was about interrupting his trains. He immediately fell back upon Hagerstown, and prepared there to decide the great event of the war. It is impossible to say what, but for General Lee's recall, might have happened. Much might have been expected from the Confederate General's skill, and the character of his troops; but, on the other hand, his position was not altogether favourable. Meade was advancing from the south-east; another corps neared him along the banks of the Susquehannah, from the east; a small division advanced upon him from the west, and all the Federal forces that had collected at Harper's Ferry were pouring in from the south. Meanwhile, a large force of cavalry hung upon his rear, taking up the stragglers, sick, &c., of his army. But at this juncture the Confederate Government, alarmed by the fall of Vicksburg and the threatened attack on Charleston, recalled him, purposing, it is said, to entrust to Lee the management of the important movements rendered necessary in the west and south. And so ended the second Confederate campaign in Pennsylvania.

As this region, however, may hereafter become interesting, either by future battles or treaties, we append the following facts concerning the principal towns.

Pittsburg and Philadelphia are connected by one of the finest railroads in the world. It is somewhat less than four hundred miles in length, and the journey is made in about fourteen hours. There are eight lines of telegraph wire running the whole distance. Pittsburg is the Birmingham of America. It is exceedingly wealthy. A quarter of a century ago its élite used gold forks, spoons, &c. Iron, coal, glass, steel, copper, kerosine oil, pottery, cotton, woollen goods, ships, &c., are made there to an enormous extent. The Map shows its situation between two navigable rivers and at the head of a third, which is navigable for large vessels for one thousand miles down to the Mississippi River, and thence up and down one thousand miles each way. The city is surrounded and commanded by hills, some 300 ft. high, which are now being fortified. General Braddock, an English General of last century, was killed at "Braddock's field," twelve miles from Pittsburg, on the north bank of Monongahela River.

Philadelphia lies between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, on a fine large plain, about two miles and a half broad, connected with suburbs over the rivers by six first-class stone and iron bridges, and some twenty-five steam-ferries. The population, before the war, was about two-thirds of a million.

Harrisburg is the seat of Government of Pennsylvania, and quite a populous city. The Susquehannah River is not fordable, and is crossed by several large and expensive bridges, one of which is nearly one mile in length. The country around is very productive.

Baltimore, Maryland, is a city of nearly 200,000 people, the majority of whom are opposed to the Federal Government. Washington, the Federal capital, is very strongly defended by bastioned works and a sufficient force of well-disciplined men. Its inhabitants are generally in favour of the Confederate Government. The people of Eastern Maryland and the region around Washington are Southern, those west of Frederick are generally Northern, in their sympathies. Delaware is divided in sentiment.

The plans which we append of Pittsburg and the fortifications of Washington will speak for themselves.

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