Daily Archives: June 29, 2014

The Gettysburg Campaign: Lee Moves North, the Battle of Brandy Station, Stuart’s Ride and the Relief of Fighting Joe Hooker

Friends of Padre Steve’s World
It is now the evening of June 29th and 151 years ago two armies, the Army of Northern Virginia and the Federal Army of the Potomac were on a course that would lead them into one of the most decisive as well as the bloodiest battle every fought on the North American continent. This is a short introduction to the movement of the armies leading up to the battle. I am in the process of doing a major revision of it as part of my Gettysburg Staff Ride text that I use to teach that at the Staff College. That being said, apart from being less academic and detail oriented than I prefer I believe that it is a nice introduction to that part of the campaign for anyone with a casual interest in this battle. I will be posting more Gettysburg articles over the next few days, including a new one for my text on Robert E. Lee’s decision to continue his attack on the night of July 1st and if I finish it in time one on Pickett’s Charge. As for the last subject I have three articles on it already, two about the artillery and one about the tragedy of friends at war, dealing with Lewis Armistead and Winfield Scott Hancock. Those are all on this site. I have been working on the article on Lee’s decision the past couple of days, hopefully I will have it completed tomorrow. But then with me it seems that nothing is ever complete when it comes to Gettysburg, I am always reading, researching and discovering new things, some of which cause me to revise previous thoughts or ideas. While in the newer articles I seek to provide as much detail as possible, I also attempt to find current application for leaders, as well as to shape a readable and interesting story. That is harder than it looks. Barbara Tuchman so eloquently wrote “Historians who stuff in every item of research they have found, every shoelace and telephone call of a biographical subject, are not doing the hard work of selecting and shaping a readable story.” To find the balance is what I seek. While this article is less detailed and sourced than my other work, it does tell the story. So until tomorrow,
Padre Steve+

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Lee with his Commanders at Williamsport 

Note: This is another of my preparations for for the Gettysburg Staff Ride that I will be conducting with students from the Staff College that I teach. 

On June 3rd 1863 Robert E Lee began to move his units west, away from Fredericksburg to begin his campaign to take the war to the North. He began his exfiltration moving Second Corps under Richard Ewell and First Corps under James Longstreet west. Initially he left A.P. Hill’s Third Corps at Fredericksburg to guard against any sudden advance by Hooker’s Army of the Potomac toward Richmond.

Once it was ascertained that Hooker was not making for Richmond, Hill’s Corps followed and on June 7th all three Corps were reunited at Culpepper. Lee’s movement did not go unnoticed, Hooker’s aerial observers detected the move, but Hooker after throwing pontoon bridges across the river and discovering that Hill’s…

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