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The Strain of War
Transcript of The Strain of War
After Antietam, Lee moved out of Maryland into Virginia.
A new Union Commander, Ambrose Burnside, followed with the army of the Potomac. George B McClellan had been fired by Lincoln for failing to destroy the Reb army after Antietam.
Cleverly, Lee had his men dig trenches around the town of Fredericksburg. Burnside, wanting to me more aggressive than McClellan, attacked across a river against the trenches.
The Union took massive casualties and had to retreat. Burnside was fired.
After Burnside was fired, Joseph Hooker was hired by Lincoln to command the Army of the Potomac.
He had a good reputation among the men and was known as a firebrand.
He famously stated upon being hired: "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none."
Outside the town of Chancellorsville, Lee's 60,000 men met Hooker's 120,000.
In a very risky move, Lee split his army in two- him leading one half and Stonewall Jackson leading the other. Jackson struck the Union in the rear while Lee attacked the front.
Hooker panicked and thought his army was surrounded by a much larger army. He retreated, taking massive casualties.
He was then fired.
Sadly, Jackson was killed by friendly fire in the battle.
After Lee's victories, the Southern government under Jefferson Davis was exuberant. They were winning the war!
They then made a reckless decision. They sent Lee's army not to protect the South, but to invade the North.
If they could threaten the northern homeland, they believed the people would pressure Lincoln to end the war.
Gettysburg: July 1
Lee's army marched into Pennsylvania towards the town of Gettysburg- a town rumored to have a shoe factory, which the rebs dearly needed.
The Confederate Cavalry under Jeb Stuart was joyriding in Northern Pennsylvania- as a result, Lee had no idea where the Union Army was.
Confused, the two armies bump into each other in Gettysburg. The first day of fighting is confused and without organization.
Notable, one hill named Cemetery Hill went unguarded by the Union. Jackson's replacement did not take the hill-a mistake Jackson would not have made.
The next day, the Confederates occupied the low ground while the North had the hills in a fishook formation.
Lee's second, James Longstreet, argued for a retreat- they were outnumbered and the enemy had the high ground. Lee, however, argued that the men would get sad if they left because they were not used to losing.
An attack was planned on both Union flanks- Culp's Hill and Little Round top. They were repulsed, but barely.
Once again, James Longstreet begged Lee to retreat and reposition the army.
Lee, however, refused. He argued that since the Union was strong on the flanks, they must be weak at the center.
He took a division under the command of George Pickett and sent it toward the middle of the Union Army, marching over a mile all while being under fire by rifles and cannon.
It was a failure- 10,000 rebel soldiers died.
Afterward, Lee rode among the men saying "it's all my fault. It's all my fault."
On July 4, Lee retreats from Gettysburg. The Union General George Meade does not follow, which he gets fired for.
On the same day, Ulysses S Grant takes the fort of Vicksburg Louisiana. The Union now controls the Mississippi.
The tide of war has turned.
A few months later, Gettysburg is declared a national cemetery.
Lincoln arrives to make a speech- one he had written on a napkin on the train over.
Before most journalists had even taken out their pens, the speech was over. At the time, it wasn't considered important.
Later however, the Gettysburg Address will be the most remembered speech in American history.