This is the second in my series of week-long blog posts called Countdown to Gettysburg“. They are written from the perspective of someone who lived at that time and as if the internet existed in 1863.
The introduction to the series is here.
(See Update Below)
As I posted here, George Meade was indeed named Commander of the Army of the Potomac. Pity the poor soul! My source at the War Department telegraph office said Meade was none too happy with the assignment saying he â€œwas in ignorance of the exact condition of the troopsâ€—his own—or â€œthe position of the enemy.â€
No matter. General Halleck was able to tell him plenty. And I’m sure “Old Brains” was burning up the wires between Washington and Meade’s headquarters just outside of Frederick, Maryland with all sorts of useless advice that, if he’s smart, Old Hawknose will ignore.
Halleck is a goose. This is the man who almost cashiered General Grant, a man proving to be the best field general in the Union Army, for what he called “insubordination.” Actually, Grant couldn’t stomach the man any more than the rest of us. Why Abe finds Old Brains useful is beyond me. He’s a good administrator, true. But I was able to get a look at some of the messages he sent to McClellan when Little Mac was on the Peninsula last year and let me tell you, the gentleman is a buffoon. His orders were vague and contradictory simultaneously telling Little Mac to advance quickly but to be careful.
Sometimes I wonder whose side these West Pointers are on.
Meanwhile, it seems the Johnny Rebs are infesting the state of Pennsylvania. The Harrisburg papers say that Reb General Early is in York! That’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from Harrisburg. “Old Jube” for the moment is just sitting in York waiting. But waiting for what? Will General Rodes, whose division has been in Chambersburg for more than 48 hours swoop down on Harrisburg from the west while Early hits the city from the south? There’s also word that Reb General Edward Johnson (how many “General Johnson’s” do the Rebs have!) who commands Stonewall Jackson’s old outfit is headed toward Carlysle. Here’s a map showing how spread out the Rebs are.
Early’s division is pretty isolated way over in York. I wonder why? By now all our boys are on the east side of South Mountain. Lee must not know this, otherwise he wouldn’t be so danged spread out. He’s got his divisions wandering all over most of southern Pennsylvania and if Meade can get a move on, he can catch the Rebs before they can concentrate somewhere.
It appears to me that our boys are in pretty good shape. We’re pretty bunched together what with 5 Corps double timing it down the dusty Maryland roads on the eastern foothills of South Mountain while the Rebs are spread out from the Susquehanna river in the east to South Mountain in the west. The rest of Lee’s army must be between Chambersburg and Carlisle. But what about Stuart and his murdering cavalry? The last we heard from him he was actually spotted in the Shenandoah Valley at Front Royale. But that was two days ago. He could be halfway to Washington and we’d never know it.
Are our boys racing into a trap? Bobby Lee must have some stratagem up his sleeve otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure why he doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. Meade is 48 hours away from defeating his army in detail and there Early sits with 20,000 men in York, more than 25 miles from his closest relief.
Has Lee blundered?
Keep pushing boys…keep pushing.
My source at Pinkerton’s says that A.P. Hill and Longstreet are east of Chambersburg enroute to Gettysburg and General Meade has ordered Sickles’ III Corps to join Reynolds’ I Corps and Howard’s XI Corps outside of Emmitsburg. I’m not sure where our cavalry is at the moment which is nothing new. Both Generals Buford and Kilpatrick are out there somewhere. Maybe if we get lucky they’ll blunder into Jeb Stuart and then we’ll see what our boys are made of.
Looks like Bobby Lee has finally discovered that Meade is close on his heels and is now turning to fight. And all the roads – north, south, east, and west – converge on some town called Gettysburg.
Never heard of it. All I got when I googled “Gettysburg” was some Lutheran Theological Seminary.