On June 3, the Army of
Northern Virginia moved from Fredericksburg to Culpeper. Left to defend the city of
Fredericksburg from the entire Union army was A.P. Hill with three divisions. Union
balloonists reported the movement of Lees army, and General Hooker contemplated
taking the vulnerable city. On June 5-6 Hooker sent Sedgwick across the Rappahannock River
to test Confederate strength. Sedgwick reported the position strongly defended. Meanwhile,
at Brandy Station, Stuart held a grand review of Confederate cavalry. Stuart repeated the
ceremony two days later for General Lee. News of the extravagant reviews reached the Union
army, and on July 9, Hooker sent Pleasonton with 11,000 cavalry to Culpeper on a
reconnaissance mission. The Union forces caught Stuart off guard at Brandy Station. There
they fought the largest cavalry battle of the war. Having accomplished his mission,
Pleasonton withdrew with his cavalry and reported to Hooker a concentration of the
Confederate army around Culpeper. Hooker recommended an attack on the remaining divisions
of the Confederate army and move farther South to Richmond. He would swap queens
by taking Richmond, and leaving Washington to Lee. Lincoln rejected Hookers proposal
arguing that Lees army, and not Richmond, is your true objective point.
Stuarts image was hurt by the Battle at Brandy
By June 28, two of Lees corps were at Chambersburg;
Jubal Early with one division of Ewells corps was at York, and the rest was near
Harrisburg. Stuart was somewhere in Maryland. The absence of Stuart and his cavalry to be
his eyes and ears, deprived General Lee of movements and positions of the
Union army. Lee constantly asked his officers Can you tell me where General Stuart
is? or Where on earth is my cavalry? Meanwhile, Stuart and the cavalry
was attempting to rejoin Lees army, and he encountered upon a train of Federal
wagons at Rockville. During his pursuit of the Federal wagons, Stuart came extremely close
to Washington and caused great alarm to the city. In the end, Stuart captured 125 wagons
loaded with sugar, bacon, hams, hardtack, and bottled whiskey. With the wagons which
slowed down his pace, Stuart continued his movement north.
Lees intelligence information came from a spy named
Harrison. The spy brought news that the Union army had already crossed the Potomac and was
at Frederick, and Meade was the new commander. Lee thought the Army of the Potomac was
still in Virginia and was shocked at how close the enemy was. Immediately, Lee ordered his
army to concentrate around Cashtown, 9 miles west of Gettysburg.
Heth arrived at Cashtown on the 29th and on the next day, he
sent Pettigrews brigade to Gettysburg to get a rumored supply of shoes. On the same
day, Major General John Buford, entered Gettysburg and recognized its strategic
importance. Gettysburg was located at an intersection of a dozen roads. Buford placed
Colonel Devlins brigade north of Gettysburg, and Gambles brigade west of
Gettysburg. As Pettigrew was advancing to the small town, he discovered a John Bufords
Federal cavalry and returned to Cashtown.
Confederate General Heth didnt believe there was a
large number of Union forces in the area, and Union Colonel Devlin didnt believe
there was a large number of Confederate forces in the area. But Buford said They
will attack you in the morning and they will come booming-skirmishers three deep. You will
have to fight like the devil until support arrives. Despite Lees orders not to
bring on a battle until the entire army was united, Heth wanted to enter Gettysburg. So he
went to A.P. Hill for permission.
Heth said If there is no objection, I will take my
division tomorrow and go to Gettysburg and get those shoes.
None at all, A.P. Hill replied.
On the night of June 30, the Confederate army was
concentrated around Gettysburg, while General Meade and the artillery reserve was at
Taneytown, the First Corps at Marsh Run, the Second at Uniontown, Third at Bridgeport,
Fifth at Union Mills, Sixth at Manchester, Eleventh at Emmitsburg, Twelfth at Littlestown,
and Kilpatricks cavalry at Hanover.
Union Intelligence Report
General Haupt to Baltimore & Washington
Information just received, 12:45 A.M., leads to the belief that the concentration of
the forces of the enemy will be at Gettysburg rather than Chambersburg. The movement on
their part is very rapid and hurried. They returned from Carlisle in the direction of
Gettysburg by way of the Petersburg pike. Firing about Petersburg and Dillsburg this p.m.
continued some hours. Meade should by all means be informed, and be prepared for a sudden
attack from Lees whole army.
Captured Confederate Message
J.A. Early, Major General to a colonel Get between Gettysburg and Heidlersburg, and
picket at Mummasburg and Hunterstown. Send in the direction of Gettysburg, and see what is
there, and report to General Ewell at Heidlersburg. A small body of Yankee cavalry has
made its appearance between Gettysburg and Heidlersburg. See what it is.
That night, Meade ordered the First Corps to Gettysburg, the
Eleventh to supporting distance of the First, and the Twelfth to Two Taverns, five miles
southeast of Gettysburg.