Gettysburg Seminar Papers

The Army of the Potomac in the Gettysburg Campaign

The Army of the Potomac on the Eve of Gettysburg
Dr. Charles Fennell

By the evening of May 6, 1863, the officers and men of the ill-fated Army of the Potomac knew that the seemingly unbeatable Army of Northern Virginia had once again defeated them. Any understanding of the condition of the Army of the Potomac on the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg must begin on May 6, 1863. The campaign, which began that spring with such promise, had ended like all the others, in defeat and disappointment. No army in American history has been more criticized or afflicted with such bad luck as the Army of the Potomac. Something always seemed to go wrong which robbed this long-suffering army of its richly deserved victories.

At the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, with the victory in sight the men of the army broke and ran. On the Peninsula in June of 1862, with spires of Richmond in sight, the Army of the Potomac was driven from the outskirts of the Confederate capital in a series of desperate actions known collectively as the Seven Days. In September of 1862, the army's luck seemed to change when General George B. McClellan was handed Robert E. Lee's operational order detailing the location and intention of every unit in the Confederate army. This golden opportunity was frittered away in the terribly costly Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest single day battle in American history up to that time.

Again in November of 1862, the Army of the Potomac seemed on the verge of settling old scores with its Confederate adversary when 30,000 Union troops arrived at Fredericksburg before the advance elements of Lee's army could reach that city and contest the crossing of the Rappahannock River. For the lack of a couple of pontoon bridges, which were supposed to be there and were not, Lee was able to concentrate his men on the high ground south and west of Fredericksburg and repulse repeated Union assaults to break through his defensive position.

Leadership or Luck?

And finally, in April of 1863, the Army of the Potomac had again skillfully outmaneuvered General Lee and should have won an impressive victory, or at the very least should have forced the Army of Northern Virginia to withdraw to cover its own lines of communication. However, at the resulting Battle of Chancellorsville in early May of 1863, Robert E. Lee and the much storied Army of Northern Virginia would win yet another most impressive victory, their last victory of any consequence over their ill-fated opponent, the Army of the Potomac.

Even the weather seemed to conspire against the luckless soldiers in blue. After the Battle of Fredericksburg as General Ambrose Burnside, perhaps the most unlucky army commander in American history, attempted to maneuver Lee out of his impregnable position on the heights behind that city, it rained, turning the roads into a quagmire. As one veteran remembered, "The condition of the roads almost passes belief. The army was half buried in mud and liquid muck, in which the horses and mules sank." [1] It was nearly impossible to move under those conditions as another drenched veteran of Burnsides' now infamous "Mud March" remembered. "The first day we went just a mile according to some, and a mile and a half according to others. Be this as it may, for in one day's march we got so deep in the mud that it took us two days to get out of it." [2]

And so it was again after the defeat at Chancellorsville as one veteran recalled, "mud almost as bad as that in the 'mud march'." [3] By 4 o'clock on the afternoon of May 5, 1863, as the Army of Potomac began to recross the river, it began to rain. As Captain Jonathan Hager recalled, "This afternoon one of the heaviest & longest continued rainfalls I have ever seen. The whole country was flooded. Every shelter tent was swimming and officers & men drenched to the skin." [4] Captain Collins of the One Hundred and Forty Ninth New York Infantry remembered that before his unit was across the river "a furious rain came on, and then a wind bearing the stench from the battlefield so vile as to be almost unbearable. When the brigade approached the river the adjacent flats were overflowed and the men waded in mud and water up to their middle in reaching the pontoon bridges." [5] Even the Confederates noted the intensity of the storm. A member of McLaws division remembered it "was the hardest rain I have seen in Virginia...." [6] The deluge threatened to wash away the very bridges that the Army of the Potomac was using to recross the Rappahannock. That the bridges remained was largely due to the hard work and skill of men in the engineering corps. What could go wrong seemed to always go wrong for the men of the Army of the Potomac. They began to truly believe that the army was cursed. As one veteran wrote after the Battle of Chancellorsville, "Call it what you please, demoralization or discouragement, we care not to ford rivers, sleep standing and fight running, when sure defeat always awaits such a doomed army." [7]

Although it was clear to everyone that the army was retreating, many of the officers and men did not agree with the movement, or even feel, for that matter, that they had been defeated. Four out of the six corps commanders of the army opposed withdrawal. [8] One of these was Major General George G. Meade, soon to be the next commander of the army. In a letter to his wife he wrote, "I opposed the withdrawal with all my influence..., but I was overruled.... General Hooker has disappointed all his friends by failure to show his fighting qualities at the pinch." [9] One of Meade's staff officers, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Webb, who would command the Philadelphia Brigade that held the now famous Angle during Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863, best expressed the mood of the commanders who wanted to continue the fight when he wrote, "Strong in our position we ought to have invited attack.... We all prayed that the bridges might be washed away rather than have the order [to retreat] carried out." [10]

The men in the ranks were equally convinced that they had not been defeated and that the victory could still be won. Captain Henry Young of the 7th Wisconsin wrote in a letter to his wife, "The men were absolutely astonished at our move for every one felt that we had the best of the Rebs and could hold our position as the saying is till 'Hell froze over....'" [11] A member of the Eighty-Third Pennsylvania Infantry recalled after taking position on May 3, 1863, that "with the exception of the successful attack of the enemy upon the Eleventh Corps, the army had met with no reverses that were calculated to produce any despondency. On the contrary, they were in the best of spirits and were confident, in case they were attacked, of decided victory. What was our surprise, then, when we learned on Monday night that we were going back over the river." [12] Another battle-hardened veteran of the army perhaps best expressed the feelings of the rank and file in a letter written on May 13, 1863, "If all had been in battle and got whipped we would be satisfied, but to think when all was bright in the prospectus, everyone so full of victory or death, and we, holding our second line secure, to think we should lose all and march way back to camp in that terrible storm, is enough to quench all hopes of victory in the mind of a poor recruit, the hero of continual defeats." [13] These men may well not feel defeated for they had only been lightly engaged in the recent fighting. Indeed, only four of the seven infantry corps of the Army of the Potomac had been involved in the heavy fighting and the newly formed cavalry corps was not even present at Chancellorsville, having been sent off on a raid to disrupt Lee's lines of communication with Richmond.

In spite of their rough handling by the Confederates, even the men who were heavily involved in the fighting seemed to share the same opinions of their comrades about whether or not they were defeated. The Chaplain of the Sixtieth New York Infantry recalled that it was not until Wednesday May 6, that the men of his unit, which had been involved in some of the hardest fighting, had "the first intimation that we had been whipped." [14] The officers and men of General Daniel Sickles Third Army Corps which had born the brunt of the fighting around Chancellorsville still believed that could "bust Lee up." [15] Despite the apparently high morale of the men in the ranks and the belief among many of them that they were actually winning the battle, the inescapable fact remained, they were retreating once again.

There are two generally accepted explanations for the continual Union defeats in Virginia: the men who served in the Confederate armies were better soldiers than their Union counterparts, and Confederate leadership at all levels of command was superior. These statements are accepted as articles of faith in the Civil War community and are largely unchallenged even today. However, when subjected to the light of the facts, these statements are revealed to be fallacies founded more on myths not realities. No one doubts that the Confederate soldier fought with consummate bravery, even reckless abandon, but so did his Yankee counterpart. The soldiers who crossed the Cornfield and carried the Sunken Road at Antietam or struggled in front of the stonewall at the base of Marye's Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg or held off Lee's victorious veterans at Chancellorsville were not cowards. They proved themselves the equal of their southern countrymen in bravery and fighting skill if not in results. [16]

If the quality of the soldiers does not explain why the Army of Northern Virginia always seemed to emerge the victor, then the answer must be leadership, or lack thereof, on the part of the Army of the Potomac. In the American Civil War, leaders, both North and South, would be required to fight a different kind of war. The American Civil War is considered the first of the modern, total wars, the harbinger of the total wars of the twentieth century, and, as such, would witness unprecedented developments in technology and philosophy. Our family feud was, therefore, as one noted historian claimed, "The first of the unlimited industrialized wars.... It was the first great conflict of the steam age, and the aim of the Northern, of Federal, states was the unconditional surrender - that is, total victory. Its character was, therefore, that of a crusade, and, because of this..., it opened a radically new chapter in the history of war." [17]

Philosophically the Civil War was a war of conflicting ideas: the seceded southern states were fighting for independence and the northern states were fighting to preserve the union of the various states. As these two ideas were incompatible, the objectives of the belligerents especially those of the North could only be achieved through total victory. Total victory could only be achieved by the unconditional surrender of the Southern Confederacy. The Federal soldier, whether he realized it or not, was fighting, in essence, to obliterate a nation. To accomplish this goal the North was forced to act aggressively and eventually required to apply the utmost violence.

The forces released by the industrial revolution facilitated the application of the utmost violence. Both the North and South were able to mass-produce weapons and supplies which permitted them to maintain large field armies by converting their economies to the production of war materiel or by gaining access to the industrial might of Europe. In the American Civil War, well-armed armies of unprecedented size, at least on the American continent, contended for military supremacy over an area equal to that of the Napoleonic conflicts.

Furthermore, the American conflict was modern because of the new technology and weapons employed to fight it: the railroad, the telegraph, steam-driven ironclad warships, the machine gun, electrically exploded torpedoes, wire entanglements, railway guns, and breech-loading repeating rifles. The single most important technological development, however, was the practical use of rifled weapons, which revolutionized the tactics that governed how men fought. [18] The American Civil War was the first war in history in which both sides used predominantly rifled weapons. The rifle caused a tactical revolt; revolution in warfare by increasing the range, accuracy, and, when combined with breech-loading repeating weapons, the rate of small arms fire. As a result, unprecedented firepower dominated the battlefields in America.

The increased range and rate of small arms fire forced several vital changes in tactics which, in time, forced combat officers in the Civil War to change the way they fought battles. Battlefield formations became progressively more spread out and armies were forced to form for battle much farther apart. Therefore, battles were less decisive and the defeated army was usually able to keep its adversary at a safe distance while it made its escape. Actions that in the past had been decided by a final shock delivered by massed formations of infantry or cavalry, which usually destroyed or seriously crippled the defeated army, were, henceforth, decided by firepower delivered by infantry formations standing behind stonewalls or trenches. Simply put, the bullet, not the bayonet, would decide the victor on battlefields of the American Civil War. [19]

The most important single change caused by the rifle was that it increased the power of the defender by at least three to one. There were two principal reasons for this development: first the unprecedented volume of firepower on the battlefield literally compelled men to seek shelter; and, second, since the attacker was forced to form for the attack farther away from the defenders, he was subjected to small arms fire for longer periods of time during an attack. In short, fewer men in the assaulting force made it to the point of impact. Furthermore, the extended range of an infantryman armed with a rifle compelled artillery to remain at distances that rendered it relatively impotent as an offensive weapon. Likewise, cavalry, which in the past had usually decided the battle by delivering a thundering charge which broke the opponents line and forced him to flee from the field, was unable to deliver an effective charge against a line of infantry armed with a rifled musket. In essence, the technology had advanced beyond the tactical theory producing a revolution in military operations that made the defense the dominate form of warfare.

Although the rifle had greatly increased the power of the defense, in the Civil War tactical theory emphasized operating offensively. Military theory, which was taught at West Point and reiterated in the tactical manuals of the period, strongly recommended the tactical offensive; the concept that field fortifications should be vigorously assaulted; a high regard for use of the bayonet both offensively and defensively; and dependence on the traditional, close-order formations. [20] These tactical theories were confirmed during the Mexican War in which American military forces, despite the fact that they were outnumbered and operating offensively in enemy territory, won all of the major engagements. Therefore, it is not surprising that Civil War military leaders, both professional and nonprofessional, based their operations on these outmoded tactical theories. Given the tactical revolution brought about by the rifle and the fact that it is always more difficult to operate offensively in the enemy's territory, it would seem that the men who commanded the Army of the Potomac had a more difficult task than their Southern counterparts. The fact that the Confederates forces were fighting on the defensive in their own territory better explains why they usually won the encounters. Even Robert E. Lee failed to win one on the road in the American Civil War.

The first man to command the troops assembling around Washington, D. C., which would eventually be formed into the Army of the Potomac, was Winfield Scott. General Scott was the most experienced soldier in America at that time. His military career spanned three major American wars, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant as a young cadet at West Point believed that, "With his commanding figure, his quite colossal size and showy uniform, I thought him the finest specimen of manhood my eyes had ever beheld, and the most to be envied." [21] At 6'5" Scott was an impressive physical specimen for his day. However, he had been born in 1786 and was older than the constitution he was now called upon to defend. To his 6'5" frame he had added 350 pounds of girth. He had dropsy, vertigo, and had to be lifted onto his horse by means of a winch like a Medieval knight in armor. He had trouble riding, walked with difficulty and fell asleep during meetings. Simply put, although General Scott was the most experienced soldier in America, he was physically incapable of commanding an army in the field. [22]

Although incapable of leading the army himself, the aged general in chief had a vast knowledge of the army's personnel and he knew which of the younger officers were the most promising. To lead the new army Scott's first choice was fellow Virginian Robert E. Lee. Lee was officially offered command of the Union forces assembling in defense of the Union on April 18, 1861, by Francis Blair, Sr., formerly editor of The Congressional Globe and acting as President Lincoln's agent in this matter. Lee declined Blair's offer explaining that, "If the Union is dissolved and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people and save in defense will draw my sword on none." [23] How different the history of the American Civil War might have been had Lee accepted the command of the forces assembling in defense of the Union. Perhaps the biggest "what if" of all. Although Robert E. Lee declined the command of the Union army, he had a profound influence on its development. In 1805, the great Napoleon had said, "A man has his day in war as in other things; I myself shall be good for it another six years, after which, even I will have to stop." [24] By this Napoleon believed that his opponents would learn from their constant defeats and would eventually be able to use his methods of warfare to defeat him. So it was that Robert E. Lee would be the best teacher the Army of the Potomac would ever have.

With Lee out of the picture, Lincoln appointed Irvin McDowell to command the army on May 14, 1861, at the suggestion of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. Political considerations seemed to be Chase's primary motivation concerning the appointment of McDowell who like Chase was an Ohioan. McDowell was born in Columbus, Ohio, and was educated in France prior to his appointment to West Point. He graduated in the middle of the Class of 1838, twenty-second of forty-four graduates. Pierre Gustave T. Beauregard who, as fate would have it, would be his adversary in the coming battle of First Manassas was second in the same class. The appointment of McDowell, however, seemed to be justified by his previous military career. He taught tactics at the Academy from 1841 to 1845, served as an aide-de-camp to General Wool in the Mexican War earning a brevet for gallant conduct at the Battle of Buena Vista. The one thing he lacked was command experience, but then again so did everyone else. In twenty-three years in the army he had never commanded as much as a squad in the field. Most of his military career had been spent in doing in staff work.

McDowell was the first in a long line of Union commanders who was expected to take the offensive with an army of inexperienced recruits, many of whom did not know their left foot from their right, a necessity in the linear tactics of the time in which commands were prefaced by left and right. Realizing the difficulties involved in the conduct of offensive operations in unfriendly territory, McDowell expected to be given the time to transform his men into well drilled soldiers. Unfortunately, time was one thing McDowell did not have due to the fact that Lincoln's call for volunteers was for only three months. The three months would expire for most of the troops at the end of July, 1861. Therefore, when Lincoln ordered him to advance and disperse the Confederate forces assembled around Manassas Junction in northern Virginia, McDowell protested the order that he advance arguing that his men were green and inexperienced. Lincoln replied, "You are green it is true; but they are green also; you are green together." [25] In this matter Lincoln was primarily motivated by political considerations which demanded a Union advance on Richmond the Confederate capital. This was the first time that political considerations would dictate the operations of the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac and it would most certainly not be the last. Furthermore, due to his lack of military training and experience, Lincoln did not fully appreciate the difficulties involved in conducting offensive operations in enemy territory.

McDowell, in obedience to Lincoln's wishes, began his advance in mid July. His plan was well conceived. He would maneuver around the Confederate forces that had taken a strong defensive position behind the Bull Run River and drive them back on Richmond. Although his plan was well conceived, his inexperienced troops were not up to the task of executing it. With victory in sight they broke and ran for the safety of Washington just over twenty miles away.

George B. McClellan

The Union defeat at First Bull Run (the Confederates called it First Manassas) convinced the Lincoln administration that more time would be needed to train and reorganize Union forces in the East. In addition, Lincoln was convinced that McDowell was not the man for the job. Therefore, a new commander was appointed to accomplish the mission of reorganizing Union forces and at the same time leading them to victory over the victorious Confederates now just outside of Washington itself. This task was given to George B. McClellan, perhaps the most controversial of all the Union generals in the American Civil War. Little Mac, as his men affectionately called him, came highly recommended with a most impressive resume. He had graduated second out of fifty-nine in his class at West Point in 1846. This class was one of the most distinguished at the Academy, contributing twenty general officers to the Union and Confederate armies. After graduation McClellan was posted to the elite Corps of Engineers serving in this capacity as an aide to Winfield Scott in Mexico where he received two brevets for his zeal, bravery, and engineering skill. After the Mexican War his accomplishments were many and varied. He served as an instructor at West Point; as a member of the Red River expedition; in various geological surveys; and as a member of the American Military Commission to the Crimean War. He translated a French manual on bayonet drill into English, invented a saddle which was still used by the American army at the beginning of World War Two, and served as chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad after resigning his commission in 1857. In 1861, McClellan had conducted one of the few successful military campaigns for the Union in western Virginia. [26]

McClellan's strengths were his great organization skills, his keen strategic insight and his ability to motivate soldiers. One historian characterized him as, "a fine organizer and trainer of troops; and his men, sensing that he identified himself with them, idolized him." [27] Indeed no commander of the Army of the Potomac would command the love of the men more than McClellan. As Colonel Wainwright remembered during McClellan's last review of the First Corps in November of 1862, after being relieved by President Lincoln, "...there was hardly a dry eye in the ranks. Very many men wept like children, while others could be seen gazing after him in mute grief one may say almost despair, as a mourner looks down into the grave of a dearly loved friend." [28] His most important contribution to final Union victory was that he made soldiers of the men who flocked to defend the Union after the initial defeat at Bull Run. He taught them how to fight and made them proud of themselves, and, for this, they never forgot him.

McClellan's biggest problem was his conduct in battle. Although confident and energetic in preparations, he became hesitant and lethargic once the battle started. He magnified the obstacles in his path, especially the size of the army opposing him. He made excuses and refused to move until everything was just right. Once the action commenced, he stayed well to the rear and seemingly made a conscience effort to avoid getting a view of the fighting. He created one of the finest armies in American history, and then, could not bring himself to lead it into battle. As Napoleon once said, a general who could not look on a battlefield with dry eyes would cause many of men to be killed needlessly. Napoleon's observation seems to fit McClellan perfectly.

By the fall of 1862, an army of over 150,000 men was assembled in Washington under McClellan's command; the largest army ever assembled on the continent up to that time in American history. It was well equipped, supplied, and organized. All that needed to be done was to move against the Confederate forces in northern Virginia and win the war. McClellan proposed to use Union seapower to move his army behind the main Confederate positions in northern Virginia and take Richmond from the southeast. By doing so, he would avoid having to cross the numerous rivers north of Richmond behind which the smaller Confederate forces could make a stand. The plan was strategically brilliant, as brilliant and well conceived as MacArthur's Inchon landing in the Korean War. McClellan would have probably enjoyed similar success if he had moved quickly once his forces were landed. However, a month's delay at Yorktown robbed the Union forces of any advantage they had gained by their flanking maneuver.

Two other factors conspired to rob McClellan's army of final victory; Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Lincoln decided to withhold reinforcements from McClellan in a vain attempt to trap Confederate forces commanded by General Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. When McClellan was informed that McDowell's Corps, which he believed had been promised to him, was to be withheld and sent to the Valley, he angrily wrote his wife, "Heaven save a country governed by such counsels!... I get more sick of them every day - for every day brings with it only additional proofs of their hypocrisy, knavery & folly...." [29]

Having been denied the use of McDowell's men, McClellan prepared to lay siege to Richmond. This is just what the Confederate authorities feared most, a battle of attrition with the Union forces, a battle they could not hope to win given the superior manpower resources of the North. Their new commander, Robert E. Lee, having been reinforced by Jackson's forces which had escaped the vain attempts of the union forces to trap them, seized the initiative and drove the Army of the Potomac from the outskirts of Richmond in a series of bloody encounters collectively known as the Seven Days. The Federals would never be so close to the Confederate capital again until 1864 and the cost of getting there would be much higher in terms of human loss. [30]

After his defeat on the Peninsula, McClellan was ordered to transfer his men to the newly created Army of Virginia under the command of John Pope. Pope had been successful in the West, specifically in the reduction of the Confederate defenses on Island No. 10 baring navigation of the Mississippi River. Pope has been described as pugnacious, confident, and conceited. Much of his so called military reputation he could attribute to his own braggadocio and the good publicity he received from the press. [31] Pope was from Illinois where his father was a district judge and Pope hoped that his political connections would secure him a high position in the Union armies. It was his military successes, however, that caught Lincoln's attention. After his failure to trap Jackson's forces in the Valley, Lincoln decided to unify all the Union forces around Washington into one army. He selected Pope to be the commander of this new army, the Army of Virginia. One of Pope's first official acts upon taking command was to have unfortunate effects. On July 14, 1862, he issued his now famous proclamation to the officers and men of the Army of Virginia. In it Pope proclaimed that, "I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense.... Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear." [32] No one who knew him doubted that Pope was a good talker. However, nothing he ever said had more unfortunate consequences than this proclamation. It alienated the officers and men under his command, as well as those forces of McClellan's Army of the Potomac soon to be transferred to his command.

Pope's proclamation added insult to injury and it was not well received by the Union soldiers in the East. General Fritz John Porter, whose Fifth Army Corps had done the bulk of the fighting and dying on the Peninsula, wrote regarding the proclamation, "I regret to see that General Pope has not improved since his youth and has now written himself down as what the military world has long known, an ass. [33] Marsena Patrick, soon to be Provost Marshal of the Army of the Potomac, commented, "I suppose we shall soon move, as Pope has published his Address to the Army of Virginia, which seems to me, very windy & somewhat insolent." Latter, in reference to one of Pope's orders, he complained, "This order of General Pope's has demoralized the Army & Satan has been let loose." [34] Rufus Dawes of the Six Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry was also offended. He wrote, "General Pope's bombastic proclamation has not tended to increase confidence, indeed the effect is exactly the contrary." [35] General Samuel Sturgis, who after the war commanded the Seventh Cavalry but found it convenient to leave the field direction of the unit to his second in command, George Armstrong Custer, best summed up the feelings of the soldiers in the East when he bluntly stated, "I don't care for John Pope one pinch of owl dung." [36] Given the feeling of his officers and men, coupled with his own mismanagement, it is not surprising that General Pope promptly went out and lost the Second Battle of Manassas, affording General Lee his first opportunity to take his army across the Potomac.

After the debacle at Second Bull Run, Lincoln turned once again to McClellan to reorganize the two principle armies in the East that had been recently defeated. As Lincoln explained, "I must have McClellan to reorganize this army and bring it out of chaos.... McClellan has the army with him." [37] When word came that he had replaced Pope, one soldier remembered, "such a hurrah as the Army... had never before heard... The effect of this man's presence upon the Army of the Potomac - in sunshine or rain, in darkness or daylight, in victory or defeat - was electric." [38] However, McClellan did not have much time to get the job done for Robert E. Lee was at that time moving his army into Maryland. Little Mac performed miracles and did perhaps his greatest service to the cause by quickly reorganizing the Union forces in the Washington area. In less than two weeks he had the Army of the Potomac, augmented by Pope's now defunct Army of Virginia, reorganized and in pursuit of Lee's forces in Maryland. The result was the bloody Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. This battle, McClellan's last, was the bloodiest single day battle in American history up to that time and seems to contradict those who believed that McClellan would not fight. With Lee's retreat and McClellan's lack of pursuit, Lincoln relieved him of command for the last time.

Ambrose Burnside

As McClellan's replacement, Lincoln chose Ambrose Burnside. All things considered, Burnside seemed a logical choice. He was the only one of the corps commanders at that time who had any experience in independent command, having successfully directed operations along the North Carolina coast earlier in the war. The only criticism of his generalship up to the time he was given command of the Army of the Potomac had been that he had hesitated in crossing Antietam Creek. This, his critics argued, had allowed Lee to move men from in front of Burnside's forces to other more threatened parts of the field. In spite of his lackluster performance at Antietam, there were a number of factors in Burnside's favor. He was a friend of McClellan, who was still very popular among the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac, and he was without political ambitions. His contemporaries commented favorably on his honesty and intelligence. Jacob D. Cox, who served under him at Antietam, remarked that he admired, "his sincerity and truthfulness, his unselfish generosity, and his devoted patriotism." [39] Indeed, it was hard to find anyone who did not like Burnside.

Modern historians, however, have not been so kind. They present Burnside as a slow-witted, stubborn incompetent. [40] Although it is true that he was not a military genius, he was, however, a competent and successful soldier in the fall of 1862. Furthermore, he knew his limitations. After being offered command of the army for the second time, he frankly stated that he was not "competent to command such a large army as this," and then promptly proceeded to prove it at the upcoming Battle of Fredericksburg. Burnside's plan was excellent, perhaps even brilliant. He proposed to move the army from around Warrenton, Virginia, where McClellan had left it, to Fredericksburg. Once there he would cross the swollen Rappahannock River on pontoons which he had ordered to been assembled there. Once across the river he would march directly on Richmond forcing Lee to retreat to defend the Confederate capital. The key was to do all of this quickly. At first things went according to plan. General Summer arrived opposite Fredericksburg with 30,000 Union troops well before Lee was able to react. However, once he got to Fredericksburg, there were no pontoons to be found and Burnside refused to allow Summer to cross the Rappahannock without them. While waiting for the pontoons to arrive, the Confederates were able to take up strong defensive positions on the heights behind the city. Perhaps still smarting from the criticism of not crossing Antietam Creek sooner and knowing that President Lincoln expected action, Burnside crossed the Rappahannock in the only major action of the war involving a contested river crossing. Once across, he then proceeded to assault Lee's formidable defenses. The results were one of the most futile and costly actions of the entire war, as thousands of Union soldiers were cut down in front of a stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights. When compared to the Union assaults on Marye's Heights, Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg pales in significance. The lopsided battle of Fredericksburg proved that Burnside was right; he was incapable of commanding an army the size of the Army of the Potomac.

Joseph Hooker

To replace Burnside Lincoln selected Fighting Joe Hooker. Although his nom de guerre embarrassed him, Hooker had earned it. He had commanded troops in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac. Moreover, they had seen considerable fighting. In every battle in which he had been engaged in the fighting, he had either conducted a frontal assault or had repulsed one. His men suffered accordingly. As one man who served under him remarked, "We are to have hard marching and hard fighting for when Old Joe fights he will win a splendid victory or suffer a terrible defeat." [41] Hooker himself had been wounded in the bloody cornfield at Antietam.

Joseph Hooker was a graduate of West Point, capable, inspiring, and intelligent. He exuded confidence and was an engaging conversationalist, especially when the topic Joseph Hooker was Joe Hooker. He allegedly drank too much. In contrast to Burnside, he was terribly ambitious and so had courted favor among prominent members of Congress. In spite of his obvious shortcomings, he appeared to be just what Lincoln was looking for - a general who did not mind to fight.

Hooker's first task was to reorganized the dispirited Army of the Potomac. In the restoration of the army's morale and spirit, he was an outstanding success. Believing that an army's well being is directly connected to its stomach, Hooker ordered the diet of the men improved. Bakeries were constructed, fresh vegetables were distributed, and regular rations of whiskey were issued. Working through the medical director of the army, Jonathan Letterman, whose advice Hooker wisely followed, sanitation was improved as well as the general health of the soldiers. He instituted a regular system of furloughs and a reward system for regiments with outstanding records. His most famous measure, however, was the standardization of the corps badge of each unit. From now on, a unit could be identified at a distance, and, if any unit preformed badly in the future, everyone would know it. [42]

In addition to improving morale, Hooker completed the organization of the Army of the Potomac begun by General McClellan. Specifically he created an effective cavalry corps. Up until Hooker's tenure as commander of the Army of the Potomac, Union cavalry had been scattered among the various infantry corps. Their primary function, it seems, was to guard the infantry camps and rear areas. Cavalry's primary function in the Civil War was to gather information about the enemy and to deny information to them. In order for cavalry to be effective, it must be concentrated. McClellan did not understand this. So therefore, in the first half of the war, the cavalrymen of the Army of the Potomac were completely out preformed by their Southern counterparts commanded by the aggressive and very capable James Ewell Brown Stuart. Coupled with the fact that most of the battles were fought in Virginia, Lee was much better informed than his Union counterparts. This same phenomenon can be seen in World War Two in France in 1940. The Germans concentrated their available armor and the British and French scattered their armor among their infantry units. The end result was the fall of France. Having created an effective cavalry corps, Hooker promptly sent it off on a wild goose chase to threaten Lee's line of communications with Richmond during the Chancellorsville campaign. Thus, the cavalry were not available to inform General Hooker of Lee's movements and this had tragic results.

Under Hooker, Chief of Staff Daniel Butterfield commissioned Marsena Patrick, Provost Marshal General of the Army, to improve the army's information gathering system. Patrick selected Colonel George H. Sharpe for the job and had him appointed deputy provost marshal general. Sharpe created the Bureau of Military Information staffed with agents who worked behind the Confederate lines in order to gather information that was then sent directly to him. With the appointment of Sharpe, the creation of a cavalry corps, and the use of Professor Lowe's observation balloons, Hooker was the best-informed Union general to take the field against Robert E. Lee.

By the end of April 1863, Hooker had created the largest, best organized and best equipped army in American history. Now all he had to do was lead it against Robert E. Lee defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker's plan was quite simple, really. He would threaten Lee's line of supply by executing a wide turning movement to the west with most of his army. Once across the Rappahannock River, the Army of the Potomac would be in the rear of Lee's army still opposite Fredericksburg. Lee would, therefore, be forced to retreat to cover his lines of communications and Richmond. It was that simple. "My plans are perfect, and when I get started, may God have mercy on General Lee for I will have none." [43] Thus spoke Fighting Joe Hooker. Brave words. However, words do not win battles, guts and good leadership do. Everything initially went according to Hooker's plan except Lee did not retreat as expected. Instead, Lee attacked and won what proved to be his last major victory of the war. One military authority called Chancellorsville "the perfect battle." [44] Perfect, of course, from General Lee's perspective.

The great victory at Chancellorsville enabled Lee to again take the war north of the Potomac River. As the Union veterans trudged northward in pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia, they would experience yet another change in command: their eighth in less than two years. On June 28, 1863, Lincoln ordered General George Gordon Meade to assume command of the Army of the Potomac. He would be the last commander the Army of the Potomac would have. Few commanders have taken command under more difficult circumstances, but Meade seemed, like all the others before him, to be qualified for the job. As a member of the West Point class of 1835, Meade graduated eighteenth in a class of fifty-five. In 1836, Meade resigned his commission, but, on the eve of the Mexican War, he re-enlisted and was appointed to the corps of topographic engineers. During the war, Meade received a brevet for meritorious and gallant conduct. In the years between the Mexican War and the Civil War, Meade constructed lighthouses, improved harbors, and conducted geodetic surveys as a member of the Corps of Topographic Engineers.

On August 31, 1861, Captain Meade was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a brigade in the Pennsylvania Reserves. Leading this unit from his home state, he was wounded in two places at the battle of Glendale in 1862. In the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, he preformed with distinction, earning a reputation as a highly competent and skillful officer. At Fredericksburg, he gained the only Union success in a battle that was regarded as the worst fiasco in the history of the Army of the Potomac. At Chancellorsville, although his Fifth Army Corps was not heavily engaged, he impressed his fellow corps commanders by his repeated pleas for Hooker to resume the offensive. [45]

Most general officers and others closely associated with the high command of the Army of the Potomac were glad to hear of the change in command and considered Meade the right choice. Alpheus Williams best summarized the feelings of the army's general officers in a letter to his daughter written on June 29, 1863. "I am no military genius, but if I had commanded the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville I would have wagered my life on being in Richmond in ten days. All we are suffering now in shame and mortification and in the great risk of losing the whole fortunes of the war is the legitimate result of the weakness (Hooker) which characterized that campaign.... now with a gentleman and a soldier in command I have renewed confidence that we shall at least do enough to preserve our honor and the safety of the Republic." [46] General Marsena Patrick recorded in his diary, "Gen. Hooker has been relieved from Command [sic] and Gen. Meade placed over the Army of the Potomac. Of course this has caused great commotion, but as yet I have heard no regret." [47] Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, the chief of the First Army Corps artillery, wrote, "General George G. Meade was my candidate for Hooker's successor immediately after Chancellorsville, I believing him to have the longest and clearest head of any general officer in this army." [48] Theodore Lyman who served on Meade's staff remembered that "...he is not Napoleon, is a thorough soldier, and a mighty clear-headed man; and one who does not move unless he knows where and how many his men are; where and how many his enemy's men are; and what sort of country he has to go through. I never saw a man in my life who was so characterized by straightforward truthfulness as he is." [49]

Others outside the army's high command also commented favorably on the choice of Meade as Hooker's successor. Frederick Law Olmstead of the United States Sanitary Commission remembered Meade as having a "most soldierly and veteran-like appearance; a grave stern countenance-somewhat Oriental in its dignified expression, yet American in his race horse gauntness. He is simple, direct, deliberate and thoughtful in manner and speech and general address.... He is a gentleman and an old soldier." [50] Meade was a careful, calculating soldier who was also a native Pennsylvanian. These were the qualities that recommended him to the Lincoln administration.

However well known Meade was to the general officers, he was not well known to the rank and file of the army. Many viewed the new change in command with some misgivings. A member of the One Hundred and Forty-ninth New York expressed the feeling "that they were to be led again to disaster and slaughter by an inexperienced officer." [51] Edward Geary, the son of General John White Geary who commanded a division of the Twelfth Army Corps, wrote his mother, "Gen. Hooker was relieved to-day and Gen. Meade had taken command. The change is not agreeable [sic] to the army." [52] Many it seemed hoped McClellan would return to command. As one soldier explained, "General Meade was not particularly well known except as commander of the 5th Corps, and it was supposed, by some, that his Command would be temporary, and that he would be replaced by General McClellan, and it was even rumored that the latter was actually in command." [53] McClellan's name still had not lost its magic to the men of the Army of the Potomac.

While some viewed the appointment of Meade as a mistake, others viewed the change of command with indifference. Elisha Hunt Rhodes recalled, "General Hooker has been relieved and Gen. George G. Meade of Penn. assigned to the command of the Army of the Potomac. What does it all mean? Well, it is none of our affairs and we obey orders and march out into the road." [54] Thus spoke a true veteran. A member of the Eleventh New Jersey concurred. "The army," he explained, "knew Meade as the commander of the Fifth Corps, but it had become accustomed to sudden changes, and it excited but little concern." [55] Sudden changes indeed but coming at a time when the fate of the nation hung in the balance as another soldier observed. "Again was the patriotism, intense loyalty, superb discipline and morale of the gallant old army to be put to the its greatest test, for no severer strain can be put upon a marching column, and that in the face of a bold and aggressive the enemy, already on an offensive campaign, than to relieve its head and commander. But the Army of the Potomac was getting used to this sort of thing, and there was scarcely a ripple upon the smooth wave of such an esprit de corps." [56] In spite of the constant and unexpected changes in command, the majority of the rank and file of the Army of the Potomac seemed to have become oblivious.

As General Meade settled into command, he could count on a solid, if unspectacular, group of corps commanders. Most of them had experience in commanding a corps in combat before the Gettysburg campaign. The three who did not, Generals Winfield Scott Hancock, Alfred Pleasonton, and George Sykes, had all seen combat at lower levels of command and had conducted themselves with distinction. Hancock, called the superb, was the consummate combat officer. He got his men shot. At every level, brigade, division and corps, his units suffered among the highest casualties in the Union armies, most of them while he was in command. His old division suffered higher losses than any other division, east or west. [57] The Second Army Corps, that he commanded at Gettysburg and in Grant's Overland Campaign in 1864, suffered the greatest number of casualties in the war for an army corps in the Union armies. [58] In Hancock, the Union may have found its Stonewall Jackson. He could be relied on to get involved in the fighting.

Maj. Gen. George Sykes

George Sykes was another without corps level command experience before the Gettysburg Campaign. He received command of the Fifth Army Corps when General Meade received command of the army. Sykes was the true professional, remaining in the regular army while most West Point graduates entered the volunteer ranks to receive quick promotions. As a major he commanded the brigade of regulars at First Bull Run, covering the retreat of the McDowell's army as the Confederates drove the volunteers from the field in disarray. His history then is the history of the division composed of units from the regular army, known to students of the war as Sykes Division. He was considered a brave and efficient officer by the men who served under him. [59] Sykes could be relied on to do his duty, no more, no less. After the Gettysburg Campaign, Meade found him lacking in aggressiveness and he was transferred to the Department of Kansas where he served out the war.

Alfred Pleasonton, the newly appointed commander of the cavalry corps, was also without previous experience commanding a corps in battle. Pleasonton graduated from West Point in 1844, seventh in his class. It was a small class. He was appointed to the dragoons and served with them against the Sioux and in the Florida Indian wars. When the Civil War began, he entered the cavalry and was perceived, due mostly to his courting of the newspapers, as a brave and aggressive officer. A biographer has described him as, "active and energetic," exuding, "self-confidence and a get-things-done attitude." [60] He was small, compact, cocky, and believed that cavalry could do anything that infantry could do, only better. Most who knew him were aware of his ambition to advance himself by any means. One soldier commented that Pleasonton, "is pure and simple a newspaper humbug.... He does nothing save with a view to a newspaper paragraph." [61]

Although Pleasonton was perhaps the least capable of Meade's corps, his subordinates were among the best combat officers in the Army of the Potomac. These men, for the most part, were battle-tested veterans of recognized ability to led men in combat. The best of them were John Buford who led the First Cavalry Division and David McMurtrie Gregg commanding the Second Cavalry Division. Both were West Point educated, self-reliant, brave, and highly respected by their peers and subordinates. One officer declared Buford, "... the best cavalry general we had.... rough in his exterior, never looking to his own comfort, untiring on the march and in the supervision of all the militia of his command, quiet and unassuming in his manners" [62] Gregg's conduct in action prompted similar praise. [63]

The cavalry division commanders, including General Judson Kilpatrick, newly appointed to command the Third Cavalry Division, could count on eight brigade commanders who had seen combat and were, as a group, perhaps the most aggressive bunch of commanders in the entire army. The most famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view, was General George Armstrong Custer, the youngest general in the Battle of Gettysburg at twenty-three. His daring exploits are legend. As a group, the commanders of the Union cavalry formed the youngest command structure in the Army of the Potomac.

Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds

Of the men who had experience at commanding a corps, General John Fulton Reynolds, another Pennsylvanian, was considered the best. Reynolds graduated in the middle of the West Point class of 1841, and was appointed to the artillery. He received two brevets for bravery in the Mexican War and was Commandant of Cadets at West Point when the war began. In 1861, he was made Lieutenant Colonel of the Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, and later, in August, Brigadier General of Volunteers. As such he commanded a brigade in the Pennsylvania Reserves in the Peninsula Campaign and was captured as the Union forces were overrun. Returning to the army after he was exchanged, Reynolds commanded a division in the Second Battle of Bull Run and led the First Army Corps at Fredericksburg. At Fredericksburg his corps achieved the only Union success of the battle as one of his divisions, commanded by General Meade, pierced Stonewall Jackson's line. Even though his men were only slightly engaged in the Battle of Chancellorsville and he had commanded a corps in only one battle of note, Lincoln sounded him out as a possible replacement for General Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac. [64] Although he was not offered command of the Army of the Potomac, he had the confidence and respect of his men and Abraham Lincoln. Edwin Coddington, a recognized authority on the Battle of Gettysburg, said of Reynolds, "He was a first class fighting man, universally respected and admired. If the fates had decreed other than they did, he might have gone down in history as one of the greatest generals of the Civil War." [65]

Reynolds men would have agreed with Coddington's assessment. As one of them wrote after the Battle of Gettysburg, "In our estimation, and I believe in the opinion of the authorities in Washington, the gov [sic] in his loss has lost one of its ablest generals." [66] Another soldier commented that, "all recognized in him one of the ablest and most skillful commanders in the Army of the Potomac...." [67] Reynolds was idolized by his men because he took care of them and literally led from the front. It was this admirable characteristic that resulted in his death at Gettysburg. Reynolds is the Stonewall Jackson of the Battle of Gettysburg, the most lamented general officer casualty of the battle. His death also provides students of the battle with one of the first "what ifs." What if Reynolds had lived? "Had he lived to guide and encourage his troops," argued one of his men, "though the first day's fight against vast odds might not have been entirely successful, it would certainly have been more brilliant in achievement." [68] Another commented, "...had he lived the results of that days battle would have been differrent." [69] Things, most certainly, would have been different.

While Reynolds is considered the best of Meade's corps commanders, Howard, who assumed command on the field at Gettysburg after Reynolds' death, is most probably the worst. Concerning Howard, one historian had the following to say:

... Howard should consider himself lucky to hold any command at all, much less that of a corps. Not only had he allowed his troops to be surprised at Chancellorsville; his performances at Gettysburg and Chattanooga had at best been mediocre. He is a poor tactician, unenterprising, and so ostentaciously pious that the troops call him Old Prayer Book. In fact, he had seriously contemplated entering the ministry after graduation from West Point in 1850, [This is a mistake. Howard graduated fourth in the class of 1854, a class in which Robert E. Lee's son, George Washington Custis Lee, was first.] had become a Methodist lay preacher, a strict teatotler, and blushes whenever anyone curses or takes the Lord's name in vain, a trait that causes some of his fellow generals to employ such language as frequently, and as extravagantly as possible whenever he is around. [70]

In his favor, Howard was intelligent, brave (he had been wounded in the Peninsula Campaign), loyal, and completely dedicated to duty. He just could not command men in battle. In fact, almost every battle he had been involved in had resulted in catastrophe for his men as well as the Army of the Potomac. At the battle of First Bull Run, his brigade suffered by far the highest casualties, at the battle of Antietam his brigade was overrun in the West Woods as part of Sedgwick's Division, and at the battle of Chancellorsville the rout of his corps was what ultimately decided the battle. Despite his singular lack of success on the battlefield, Howard kept receiving promotions, finally receiving command of Grant's old army, the Army of the Tennessee in 1864. "His ... career," wrote one authority, "must constitute one of the the great paradoxes of American military history; no officer entrusted with field direction of troops has ever equaled howard's record for surviving so many tactical errors in judgment and disregard of orders, emerging later not only with increased rank, but on one occasion [at Gettysburg] with the thanks of Congress." [71] As Ambrose Bierce, a soldier who have served under Howard in the Atlanta campaign, said after the war, "Howard was the consummate master of the unnecessary defeat."

Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles

The most interesting and controversial of the corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac was General Daniel E. Sickles. He was also the only corps commander involved in the Battle of Gettysburg on either side who was not a West Point graduate. Sickles was the quintessential evil in the military, a politician in high command. One officer remarked when he heard a rumor that Sickles was being considered for the command of the Army of the Potomac, "If God gives us General Sickles to lead us I shall cry with vexation & sorrow and pled to be delivered." [72] Indeed, Sickles was a Tammany Hall Democrat from New York with no combat experience before the war, a consummate politician turned ardent warrior. He was flamboyant, decisive, and confrontational. During his first term in Congress, Sickles confronted and publicly executed Philip Barton Key who was having an affair with his wife. Sickles was acquitted on the grounds of temporary insanity, the first such defense in American jurisprudence to result in an acquittal. Pleading the "unwritten law" seems to have been the idea of one of his defense attorneys, Edwin Stanton.

With his political career in a shambles, Sickles turned his talents to the military. When the war came, he threw his support behind the Lincoln administration and the Union. He raised a brigade despite opposition from the authorities in New York and was, accordingly, appointed a brigadier general. Sickles led his brigade, the Excelsior Brigade, with distinction on the Peninsula and in November of 1862, received a second star. He commanded a division at Antietam and Fredericksburg and when Hooker was elevated to army command, Sickles received the command of the Third Army Corps. At the Battle of Chancellorsville he displayed reckless bravery and aggressiveness, qualities sadly lacking, some thought, in the other corps commanders. Sickles would be the only officer of general rank to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his conduct in the battle of Gettysburg. As a commander, he was energetic, compact, confident, and combined, as one biographer has said, "good looks with an air of subdued violence." [73]

General Regis De Trobriand, who served under Sickles in the war and knew him as a politician in New York, presents perhaps the best assessment of this interesting and significant character.

Sickles was one of the striking figures of this war. More as a man than as a general officer; in many ways a typical American. He was gifted in a high degree with a multiplicity of faculties which has given rise to the saying that a Yankee is ready for everything. Still young he has tried many things and always with success. At the bar, in politics, in diplomacy, in the legislature, in arms. He has been a lawyer and politician in New York, Secretary of Legation in London, member of the Legislature in Albany, representative in the House of Representatives at Washington, general in Virginia, envoy extraordinary to Bogota. And in all these positions he has acquitted himself well. He has quick perception, an energetic will, prompt and supple intelligence, an active temperament. Naturally ambitious, he brings to the service of his ambition a clear view, a practical judgement, and a deep knowledge of political tactics. When he has determined on anything, he prepares the way, assembles his forces, and marches directly to the assault. Obstacles do not discourage him, but he never attempts the impossible, and as he has many strings to his bow, if one breaks, he will replace it with another. [74]

Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum

The other two corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, Generals Henry W. Slocum commanding Twelfth Army Corps and John Sedgwick commanding Sixth Army Corps, are almost unknown to students of the battle. As one authority said, "Henry Warner Slocum was one of those numerous important Union generals who were deservedly prominent in their time but whose fame has paled with the passing of time." [75] The same could be said of Sedgwick. Slocum graduated West Point seventh in the class of 1852 and was assigned to the artillery. He resigned his commission in 1856 and opened a successful law practice in Syracuse, New York. When the war began he was appointed colonel of the Twenty-seventh New York Infantry, leading this unit in the Battle of First Bull Run, where he was seriously wounded. After returning to the Army of the Potomac, his advance was rapid. He served on the Peninsula as a division commander and, in September of 1862, with the death of General Mansfield, he was given command of the Twelfth Army Corps. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, one year after he commanded a division, he was, in fact, the senior corps commander of the Army of the Potomac and, as such, ranked both Meade and Reynolds.

Slocum never lost a gun or a flag, a record none of the other corps commanders could match. A colleague described him as, "modest, resolute, sagacious, brave." [76] Another called him, "cool, deliberate, self-poised," amid the crash of battle. [77] He was dedicated, loyal, unassuming, with a keen eye for detail. He took care of his men and was personally brave. Slocum was a solid performer who could be counted on in a crisis.

Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick

General Sedgwick, another Union general whose importance paled over the years, commanded the Sixth Army Corps. Called "Uncle John" by his men, no Union Corps commander was more popular with his men than Sedgwick. Sedgwick graduated from West Point near the middle of the class of 1837, but ahead of General Joe Hooker. He hen served in various garrisons on the frontier and received two brevets for meritorious gallant service in the war with Mexico. On the eve of the Civil war, he was posted to the First Cavalry commanded by Robert E. Lee. With the defection of Southern officers, he commanded this unit until August of 1861, when he was promoted to brigadier general. As a division commander, he was wounded at the battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, and again at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. At the battle of Antietam, Sedgwick was wounded three times before he was carried unconscious from the field. Returning to the army in time for the Chancellorsville campaign, he was given command the Sixth Army Corps. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the storming of Marye's Heights on May 3, 1863. Marye's Heights was where the Army of the Potomac was slaughtered the previous December during the battle of Fredericksburg, and, even though the heights were only lightly held, the storming of them was never forgotten by the men of the Sixth Army Corps or the Army of the Potomac for that matter. As the men of the Sixth Army Corps marched to Gettysburg, they could count on a commander who was experienced, personally brave, and beloved by his men.

The high command of the Army of the Potomac on the eve of Gettysburg consisted of men with a wealth of combat experience. However, their ability to lead men in battle varied with the individual. The most capable were Hancock, Reynolds, and Meade, not necessarily in that order. The least capable were Howard, Sykes, and Pleasonton. Of this group three would be casualties at Gettysburg (Reynolds killed, and Hancock and Sickles wounded). Sedgwick would be killed in action at Spotsylvania Court House. They averaged just under forty one years of age, were physically fit, and personally brave. Like the men.

The lack of continuity in the high command of the Army of the Potomac was offset somewhat by a highly talented and professional general staff. The Chief of Staff was Major General Butterfield, who received his position when Hooker was given command of the army. Only 32 years old he already had an enviable record with the Army of the Potomac. Despite his lack of a West Point education, he had risen to the rank of Major General by November of 1862. At the battle of Gaines's Mill in June of 1862, he had been wounded while leading his brigade, an action for which he will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Although Meade would have preferred another officer as Chief of Staff, he was forced to retain Butterfield. Butterfield rendered good and efficient service during the Gettysburg Campaign and was severely wounded in the performance of his duties on July 3, 1863. [76]

The other top staff officers of the Army of the Potomac were all West Point graduates. The Chief Engineer was General Gouverneur Kemble Warren, another Hooker appointee. Warren was appointed to West Point at the age of sixteen, graduating second in his class in 1850. By 1863 he had extensive combat experience, having participated as a line officer in all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac. A biographer said that "Warren possessed an eye for ground as good as any in the Army of Potomac..." [78] A testament to his good and efficient service during the battle of Gettysburg stands on Little Round Top to this day.

Brig. Gen. Henry Hunt

Another highly qualified and efficient staff officer was General Henry Hunt, the Chief of Artillery. As one authority of the battle stated that, "Hunt was a splendid soldier who had won great fame as an artillerist at Malvern Hill, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, and he well merited the position of Chief of Artillery." [79] Hunt was arguably the finest artillery commander of the war. With him watching over the artillery, Meade would not have to be concerned how this important arm would perform in the upcoming battle.

The other three staff officers of general rank had been in their positions for quite some time. General Rufus Ingalls, was the only quartermaster general the Army of the Potomac ever had, receiving his appointment in 1861. Another who was present at the creation of the army was General Seth Williams. Williams was appointed the adjutant general of the Army of the Potomac in September of 1861, "performing his duties in an eminently satisfactory manner on the successive staffs of such opposed personalities as George B. McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George G. Meade." [80] When General Grant assumed overall command of the Union war effort in 1864, Williams was selected to be his inspector general. Marsena Patrick had the least seniority of the three receiving his appointment as provost marshal general in October of 1862. Until that time General Patrick commanded a combat brigade in the First Army Corps. Although his performance as a general of brigade was one of "competence rather than brilliance," he had successfully preformed the duties as military governor of Fredericksburg in 1862. [81] This, coupled with his known penchant for discipline and order, recommended him for the post as chief policeman of the Army of the Potomac.

These men, along with Captain Lemuel B. Norton, chief signal officer, Lieutenant John R. Edie, acting chief ordinance officer, and Doctor Jonathan Letterman, medical director, provided a continuity and efficiency that made the constant changes in the commander of the army less disastrous than they might have been. Anyone wishing to understand these men's importance in the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg should compare their performance to their Confederate counterparts, and it seems clear that the staff of the Army of the Potomac was a significant source of strength.

The men in charge of the divisions and brigades, the fighting units, were also experienced. All of them had seen combat at one level of command or another before the battle of Gettysburg. On the eve of that historic confrontation, the Army of the Potomac contained twenty-two combat divisions, nineteen infantry and three cavalry. Of the men commanding the infantry divisions, only four were major generals, a rank usually associated with division command in the Civil War. The rest were brigadier generals. Eleven of these individuals were West Point graduates but only two, Francis Barlow and Romeyn Ayers, had not commanded a division before Gettysburg. The oldest of the division commanders was James Barnes at sixty-one, and the youngest was Francis Barlow at twenty-eight. Barnes had been a classmate of Robert E. Lee, graduating fifth in the class. Barlow was a lawyer who had displayed courage and initiative in previous battles. Both of these men would be wounded in the upcoming battle. The leaders of the cavalry divisions were all West Point graduates and only one, Judson Kilpatrick, was commanding a division for the first time.

Under these division commanders were fifty-one infantry and eight cavalry brigade commanders. Twenty-five of the infantry brigades were commanded by brigadier generals, which is where the rank originated. Brigadier generals command brigades. Over half, however, were commanded by the senior colonel. Only fifteen of these men leading the infantry brigades of the Army of the Potomac in the battle of Gettysburg were West Point graduates. Most of them had risen through the ranks, starting out as regimental commanders. The oldest was George Sears Greene, a crusty old West Pointer at sixty-two, who had graduated second in the class of 1823, and the youngest was John Rutter Brooke at twenty-four years of age. Nearly one in four of these men had never commanded a brigade in battle before. However, given their extensive combat experience one would expect that they knew what to do and how to do it. Three brigadier generals and five colonels commanded the eight brigades of cavalry. Three had never led a brigade in combat before the Gettysburg campaign and two of these had only recently, as of June 29, 1863, been promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Elon Farnsworth was promoted from captain to general and George Armstrong Custer was elevated from lieutenant to general, going as it were from the outhouse to the penthouse. The other of these famous boy generals, Wesley Merritt, had commanded a brigade as a captain in Stoneman's raid during the Chancellorsville campaign. He too was now elevated to the rank of brigadier general. Despite their seeming lack of experience at that level of command, the men leading the brigades of the Army of the Potomac would distinguish themselves in the confrontation to come.

Although the organization and leadership of the Army of the Potomac was sound as they prepared to meet the Army of Northern Virginia, what about the men the ranks who had to do the bulk of the fighting and dying? One would expect after a year of defeats and disappointments, and, now with the retrograde movement north, that the morale of the men in the Army of Potomac would be very low. Surprisingly the morale of the men remained high and even improved as they pursued the Army of Northern Virginia through Maryland and into Pennsylvania. Nothing improves a soldier's morale better than good home cooking and pretty women. The longer a soldier remains in the army the more the definition of good home cooking and pretty women changes, and, for many of the men in the ranks, they had been in the army for well over a year.

The common soldiers noted the contrast between worn torn and desolate Virginia and the rich, heretofore, untouched lands of Maryland and Pennsylvania. As a member of the Ninety-Seventh New York Infantry recalled, "Green fields of richest venue; fields of wheat, corn and other grain, mingled with those of clover and timothy of luxuriant growth, on either side met our gaze." [82] A veteran of the Sixth Wisconsin of the famous Iron Brigade wrote simply on the evening of June 30, 1863, "We have marched through some beautiful country. It is refreshing to get out of the barren desert of Virginia into this land of thrift and plenty." [83] The chaplain of the Sixtieth New York specifically remembered the farms in Maryland, "There are some splendid farms in this part of the country, and it is noted, I should say, for its magnificent barns and out-buildings. In fact, our route, since we crossed the Potomac, had been through a fine agricultural country. From Frederick to the Maryland line, may be found some to be finest wheat farms in the land." [84] Another soldier remembered the prosperous looking farms in Pennsylvania, "The country about Littlestown and Southern Pennsylvania through which the army passed is populated by people of German descent, and has the unusual Dutch characteristics; barns better than the houses and horses better kept than the women and children. It had a thrifty and prosperous look,..." [85] Robert McAllister also recalled as he passed through "a great many little towns and a most magnificent country under a high state of cultivation," what impact the change of scenery had on the men. On June 30, 1863, he wrote, "as a general thing, the troops are in good spirits and in good health. The country is healthy—good water, pure air, very differrent from Virginia. We seem to breathe another atmosphere, and the men seem to be perfectly delighted...." [86]

In addition to the change in environment, the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac also noticed a change in the attitude of the inhabitants that also had a positive impact on the men's morale. "Coming as the men had from the pine barrens, and the disloyal portion of lower Virginia," recalled one veteran, "it was a great change, and the courage and loyalty of the Union army was renewed. Up to this time the Army of the Potomac had been surrounded by persons in sympathy with its opponent; now the tables were turned and it was privileged to act the part of the conquering hero; and it rather liked it." [87] A member of the Iron Brigade remembered a similar feeling that was invoked by a group of school children as they watched the soldiers march through Poolesville. "One cannot imagine," he wrote, "without experience, the cheerful feeling such a sight induces among those who have not for months witnessed this feature of civilization." [88] Elisha Hunt Rhodes of the Second Rhode Island Infantry felt so rejuvenated by the march north that despite hard marching in the rain without cover, he could still exclaim with enthusiasm, "But Hurrah! 'It is all for the Union.'" [89] Thus, the men of the Army of the Potomac were marching north to fight on their own territory and they were looking forward to it.

The march of the men of the Army of the Potomac through Maryland and Pennsylvania as Captain George Collins, a member of the Twelfth Army Corps, recalled, "was more of a parade than a march." [90] As the men of the Twelfth Corps passed through Frederick City Maryland with "flags flying, bands and drum corps playing, and the men marching in cadence step," hundreds of people, especially women waving handkerchiefs, saluted the column. [91] A member of the First Corps also remembered the men and women who came out to greet and cheer the soldiers, "and occasionally to offer a goblet of cold water, with something of the staff of life, was refreshing, and acted like a charm upon the feelings of the army." [92] Regis De Trobriand, commanding a brigade in the Third Army Corps, recalled being welcomed as liberators. At Frederick he recalled, "our march was almost triumphal. All the houses were draped; all the women were at the windows, waving their handkerchiefs; all the men were at their doors, waving their hats." [93]

Therefore, on the eve of the battle of Gettysburg, the Army of the Potomac was spoiling for a fight. With the appointment of General Meade to command of the army, the last piece of the puzzle was in place; consistent, competent leadership at the army level. The Army of the Potomac would never have another change in commanders for the remainder of the war. The high command of the army, although lacking an outstanding performer, was capable and experienced. Furthermore, the Army of the Potomac on the eve of the battle of Gettysburg was as well organized and equipped as any army in American history. The officers and men knew what was expected of them, and they were ready to do their duty, their skills having been forged in the crucible of battle.

The Army of the Potomac on the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg was the finest army on the planet, bar none, and, although they did not realize it at the time, the Union soldiers, as they marched to Gettysburg, were on the road to Appomattox. They would be heroes of continuous defeats no longer.


1 Thomson, Howard and Ranch, William, History of the Bucktails, p. 243.

2 Amos Judson, History of the Eighty-Third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (Reprint: Dayton Ohio:Morningside, 1988), p. 111.

3 Mason Whiting Tyler, Recollections of the Civil War, ed. William S. Tyler (New York: G. P. Putnam Sons, 1912), p. 91.

4 Jonathan Hager memoir, Alderman Library, University of Virginia; See also, Stephan W. Sears, Chancellorsville, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996), pp. 427-429.

5 George, Collins, Memoirs of the 149th Regt. N. Y. Inft. (Syracuse: Published by the Author, 1891), p. 113.

6 John L. G. Wood to aunt, May 10, Georgia Department of Archives and History. Also quoted in Stephen W. Sears, Chancellorsville (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996), p. 428.

7 Robert Goldthwaite Carter, Four Brothers in Blue (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979), p. 264. Italics are in the original.

8 Meade remembered the count as four to two. Those in favor of staying and fighting it out were Generals Reynolds, Meade, Slocum, and Howard. Generals Sickles and Couch were for retreating. Couch was only for retreating if Hooker remained in command; otherwise he was for advancing. General Slocum could not be located and did not arrive until after the meeting had ended, but indicated later that he was in favor of staying. The vote of the five corps commanders present was actually three to two. See Ernest B. Furgurson, Chancellorsville 1863 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), pp. 304-305. Also Sears, Chancellorsville, pp. 420-423. Meade, Life and Letters, vol. 1, pp. 373-374.

9 George Meade, The Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913; Reprinted Baltimore: Butternut and Blue, 1994), p. 372. The italics are in the original cited here from the reprinted edition.

10 Alexander S. Webb to father, May 12, Webb Papers, Yale University Library

11 Henry F. Young to his wife, May 13, 1863, State Historical Society of Wisconsin; See also Sears, Chancellorsville, pp. 431-434 for a good assessment of the feelings of the rank and file of the Army of the Potomac regarding Hooker's orders to re-cross the Rappahannock River.

12 Judson, Eighty-Third Pennsylvania, p. 114. This unit would fight beside the Twentieth Maine Infantry on Little Round Top on July 2, 1863.

13 Carter, Brothers In Blue, p. 264.

14 Richard Eddy, History of the Sixtieth Regiment New York State Volunteers, (Philadelphia: J. Fagan and Son, 1864), p. 248.

15 See David Craft, History of the One Hundred Forty-First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, (Towanda, Pennsylvania: Reporter-Journal Printing Company, 1885. Reprinted in 1991 by Butternut and Blue), p. 96. Gilbert Adams Hays, Under the Red Patch: Story of the Sixty Third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861 1864, (Pittsburgh: Press of Market Review publishing Company, 1908), p. 183. Kate M. Scott, History of the One Hundred and Fifth Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, (Philadelphia: New World-Publishing Company, 1877), Reprinted in 1993 by Butternut and Blue, p. 76.

16 For a good example of the myth that the Confederate soldier was superior to his Union counterpart, consult the works of Douglas Southall Freeman or Shelby Foote.

17 J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World, vol. 3. (New York: Da Capo Press, 1957), p. 6. Other noted historians who share Fuller's conclusions about the American Civil War are Bruce Catton, David Donald, and T. Harry Williams.

18 Rifling simply defined means that spiral grooves are cut inside the barrel of the weapon which, when the projectile is discharged will cause it to spin, greatly increasing the range and accuracy of the weapon. To grip the rifling properly, the projectile had to fit the inside of the barrel tightly thus reducing the rate of fire as the bullet literally had to be hammered in - a major drawback. The smoothbore musket although less accurate had a much higher rate of fire. In the 1850's the rifle began to replace the musket as the standard infantry weapon. This was made possible by the development of a hollow-based oblong bullet called a minie ball after one of its' inventors, Captain Claude Entienne Minie of the French army. The minie ball could be inserted into a rifled musket as easily as a round ball could be inserted into a smoothbore musket. The difference, however, was that when the rifled musket was discharged, the gases expanded the hollow base of the minie ball into the rifling of the barrel thereby increasing the distance and accuracy of the weapon. For this tactical revolution see, Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage (Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1982) and Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988.

19 For the tactical revolution brought about by the rifled musket see, John Carroll and Colin Baxter, ed. The American Military Tradition, "The American Civil War: The First Modern War," by Charles C. Fennell, Jr. (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources Inc 1993), pp. 63-93; John K Mahon, "Civil War Assault Tactics." Military Affairs (Summer 1961), pp. 57-67; Edward Hagerman, "From Jomini to Denis Hart Mahon: The Evolution of Trench Warfare and the American Civil War." Civil War History (September, 1964), pp. 197-220; Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and The Origins of Modern Warfare, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage, (Birmingham: The University of Alabama Press, 1982).

20 Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Tactics and the Southern Heritage, (Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1982), pp. 41-47.

21 Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant and Selected Letters 1839-1865, (New York: The Library of America Press, 1990), p. 33.

22 T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and his Generals, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), p. 3. Although dated, Williams' descriptions of the major command figures in the Union armies are still interesting and useful. Williams' thesis is quite simple, Lincoln was the best general in the American Civil War.

23 Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee, (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1961), pp. 109-110.

24 Vincent J. Esposito and John Robert Efting, A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964). Map Series 107.

25 Williams, Lincoln and His Generals, p. 21.

26 Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), pp. 290-292. See Also Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, (West Point, New York: Association of Graduates, USMA, 1990), pp. 270-271. Hereafter cited as Register of Graduates,

27 Williams, Lincoln and his Generals, p. 27.

28 Wainwright, Diary of Battle, p. 125.

29 Stephen W. Sears, George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon (New York: Ticknor & Fields: 1988), p. 190.

30 In May of 1864, the Army of the Potomac would lose approximately two thousand men a day for a month in their overland march on Richmond from the north. By June of that year, the Union forces had suffered about sixty thousand casualties, and they were about as close to the Confederate capital as McClellan had been in 1862.

31 Williams, Lincoln and His Generals, p. 120.

32 O.R. XI 1, Pt.3, pp. 473-474.

33 Porter to J.C.G. Kennedy, July 17, 1862, Porter Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. For a thorough analysis of the effect and purpose of Pope's proclamation, see, John J. Hennessy, Return to Manassas, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), pp. 12-17.

34 David S. Sparks, ed. Inside Lincoln's Army: The Diary of General Massena Rudolf Patrick. Provost Marshal General. Army of the Potomac, (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1964), pp. 108-110.

35 Rufus R. Dawes, Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1984), p. 51.

36 Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 82.

37 David Donald, Lincoln, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), p. 371.

38 Bruce Catton, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co, Inc., 1960), p. 225.

39 Jacob D. Cox, Military Reminiscences of the Civil War. Vol 1, (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1900), p. 264. For a well reasoned analysis of Burnside, see, D. Scott Hartwig's comments in Edward J. Stackpole, The Fredericksburg Campaign, (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1991), pp. 285-292.

40 Edward J. Stackpole, The Fredericksburg Campaign. (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1991), pp. 285-286.

41 Stephen Sears, Chancellorsville, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996), p. 56. The quote is found in a letter of Captain Henry F. Young of the 7th Wisconsin to his wife.

42 See John Hennessy, "We Shall Make Richmond Howl: The Army of the Potomac on the Eve of Chancellorsville, "in Gary Gallagher, Ed., Chancellorsville, The Battle and Its Aftermath, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

43 Sears, Chancellorsville p. 120.

44 R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Compact History of the Civil War, (New York: Collier Books, 1962), p. 196.

45 Edwin Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1968), pp. 213-214.

46 Williams, Cannon's Mouth, p. 221.

47 Sparks, ed., Inside Lincoln's Army, p. 265.

48 Nevins, ed., Diary of Battle, p. 227.

49 George G. Agassiz, Meade's Headquarters 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore H. Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, (Salem, New Hampshire: Ayer Company, publishers, Inc., 1970), p. 25.

50 Coddington, Gettysburg, pp. 210-211.

51 George Collins, Memoirs of the One Hundred and Forty-Ninth New York, (Syracuse, New York: Published by the author, 1891), p. 129.

52 James P. Brady, ed., Hurrah for the Artillery: Knap's Independent Battery "E". Pennsylvania Light Artillery, (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1962), p. 246.

53 Richard Eddy, History of the Sixtieth Regiment New York State Volunteers, (Philadelphia: By the author, 1864), p. 257.

54 Robert Hunt Rhodes, ed., All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes (New York: Orion Books, 1985), p. 115.

55 Thomas D. Marbaker, History of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers. (Hightstown, New Jersey, Longstreet House, 1990), p. 91.

56 Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 293.

57 William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the Civil War. (Dayton: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1985), p. 115.

58 Ibid., p. 67.

59 Pfanz, The Second Day, p. 207.

60 Edward Longacre, The Cavalry at Gettysburg, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), p. 48.

61 Worthington Chancey Ford, A Cycle of Adams Letters. 1861-1865, 2 vols. (Boston, 1920), p. 8.

62 Wainwright, Diary of Battle p. 309.

63 Longacre, The Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign, p. 50.

64 See Coddington, Gettysburg Campaign, p. 37, There seems to be some question whether or not Lincoln actually offered Reynolds command of the Army of the Potomac, However most authorities agree that he at least sounded him out on the matter.

65 Ibid.

66 Mary W. Thomas and Richard A. Sauers, ed. The Civil War Letters of First Lieutenant James B. Thomas, (Baltimore: Butternut and Blue, 1995), p. 174.

67 Thomas Chamberlin, History of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. Second Regiment. Bucktail Brigade, (Baltimore: Butternut and Blue, 1986), p. 118.

68 Ibid, pp. 118-119.

69 Thomas and Sauers, Letters of James Thomas, p. 174.

70 Albert Casteel, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1992), p. 98.

71 Warner, Generals in Blue, p. 237.

72 Coddington, Gettysbug, p. 37.

73 W. A. Swanberg, Sickles the Incredible, (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1956), p. 5.

74 Regis De Trobriand, Four Years with the Potomac Army, (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1889), p. 226.

75 Pfanz, Second Day, p. 89.

76 New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. In Memoriam, Henly Warner Slocum, 1826-1894 (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, Printers, 1904), p. 35.

77 Ibid, p. 53.

78 For an assessment of Butterfield's performance of his duties, see Pfanz, Second Day, p. 14; Coddington, Gettysbug, pp. 218-219. Also see. Warner, Generals in Blue, pp. 62-63.

79 Warner, Generals in Blue, p. 541.

80 Coddington, Gettysbug, pp. 30-31.

81 Warner, Generals in Blue, pp. 562-563.

82 Sparks, ed., Inside Lincoln's Army, p. 17. Warner, Generals in Blue, pp. 361-362.

83 Issac Hall, History of the Ninety-Seventh Regiment New York Volunteers ("Conkling Rifles") in the War for the Union (Utica, New York: Press of L. C. Childs & Sons, 1890; Reprinted in 1991 by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Maryland), p. 131.

84 Rufus Dawes, Service with the Sixth Wisconsin (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1984), p. 158.

85 Richard Eddy, History of the Sixtieth Regiment New York State Volunteers, (Philadelphia: Published by the Author, 1864), pp. 158-159.

86 Collins, One Hundred and Forty-Ninth New York, pp. 131-132.

87 James I. Robertson, Jr., The War Letters of General Robert McAllister (New Brusnwick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1965), p. 330.

88 Collins, pp. 130-131.

89 Curtis, Twenty-Fourth Michigan, p. 150.

90 Robert Hunt Rhodes, ed., All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes (New York: Orion Books, 1985), p. 114.

91 Collins, pp. 130-131.

92 Ibid., p. 130.

93 Hall, The Ninety-Seventh New York, pp. 131-132.

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