Before the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate soldiers were blocking the path to Virginia. Lee’s army stayed along Rappahannock River and they were soon faced with Union troops desperate to cross.
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The Union general at the time was Joe Hooker, who replaced Ambrose Burnside after he failed at Fredericksburg. General Hooker outnumbered Lee’s forces more than two to one and the Union was in a confident position. However, Hooker predicted that Lee would make the obvious move. It was assumed that Lee would put his small number of troops as close as possible in order to make the strongest fight against the Union Yankees. Robert E. Lee had other plans. With the help of Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson (who was killed in this battle), General Lee divided his soldiers and confused the Union army. Hooker was forced to retreat and Lee took this as an opportunity to push north to Pennsylvania. This Civil War encounter was called the Battle of Chancellorsville and was vital in setting up the Battle of Gettysburg. (Shmoop Editorial Team)
Hooker moved his army north along with Lee and wanted to make a move at Richmond. However, after the embarrassing defeat at Chancellorsville, Hooker was denied and replaced by General George G. Meade. A showdown was destined to happen between Lee and Meade, but these were not the only generals in this fight. General J. E. B. Stuart was the brains of the Confederate forces and was sent to get information about Union positions. Stuart decided to go a long way around Meade’s army and lost precious time. Lee was clueless when it came to the Union’s position and suffered greatly. His forces were dispersed, rushed, and not prepared for what would come to be the turning point of the Civil War. (Shmoop Editorial Team)
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted from July 1st to July 3rd in 1863. The lesser known Confederate, General A.P. Hill, made the first advances into battle while General Lee was elsewhere. Some of his men discovered a group of Northern soldiers while looking for supplies. Hill, along with General Ewell, pushed the small Union force away. This realization that the Union forces were close and powerful motivated the Confederates to act quickly. Lee ordered General Ewell to attack at Cemetery Hill, but Ewell refused to fight. He considered the Union forces too powerful for his troop. His decision was seen as very cowardly and may have cost the Confederates a good opportunity to slow the Union’s growing army.(History)
The ideal outcome for the Confederates was a northern win which would hopefully result in a peace treaty or even the destruction of the Army of the Potomac.
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