Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

The Army of Northern Virginia Moves North

Which side was more in doubt as to the other’s location?

It was a tie. Never, at least on the Eastern front, had there been such confusion as to which army, or section of an army, was in which location. By the time Meade received his new orders, the Army of the Potomac was hastening northward from Maryland, attempting to converge to protect Baltimore from a possible attack. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, on the other hand, were scrambling to converge at a location in southern Pennsylvania. Part of this confusion was caused by the normal misfortunes of war, but if there was one person who could be blamed, it was J. E. B. Stuart.

Stuart had not recovered from the Battle of Brandy Station. Never before had he been surprised by the enemy to that degree, and never had one of his fights been so desperate. Given a nasty shock, Stuart took longer than expected to cross the Potomac, and when he did, he led his men on an overly ambitious ride toward Washington before making a sharp left-hand turn for the north. Stuart, clearly, wished to exorcise his near-defeat at Brandy Station, but the result was that he went so far as to deprive Lee of his eyes and ears.


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