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[207] of the Potomac would be handled in Pennsylvania as at Chancellorsville, he determined upon an offensive campaign, the object of which was the capture of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. The end he hoped to attain was the long coveted recognition by foreign powers of the Southern Confederacy, its consequent successful establishment, and the complete humiliation of the Union cause. Accordingly, on the 22d of June, after a series of bold movements in Virginia, he ordered the advance of his army, under Ewell, into Maryland; and on the 24th and 25th, his two remaining corps, under Longstreet and Hill, crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and Shepherdstown, and followed Ewell, who had already advanced into Pennsylvania as far as Chambersburg. The Army of the Potomac crossed on the 25th and 26th, at Edwards' Ferry, and was concentrated in the neighborhood of Frederick, Maryland.

It was under these circumstances that, at two A. M. of June 28th, General Meade, still in command of the Fifth Corps, received from General Hardie, of the War Department, the order of the President placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac. This order was a complete surprise to General Meade, and it is not too much to say that by it he was suddenly called to a position in which, for a time, the fate of the country was in his hands. One false step now, and the Union cause was lost; for if Lee had succeeded in his plans for this campaign, the capture of Vicksburg, and other victories in the West, would have been of little avail. General Meade was as modest as he was brave, and while he never sought promotion, he never shrank from the responsibility which it brought. We shall see that he bore himself so well in this grave crisis, that within six days after he assumed command, by his rare energy and skill, he accomplished a difficult march, and fought successfully, with an army inferior in numbers to that of his adversary, the greatest battle of the war.

Immediately after receiving the order placing him in command, General Meade sought an interview with General Hooker, and used every effort to obtain information concerning the strength and position of the different corps of our army, and the movements of the enemy. General Meade, in his evidence before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, says: “My predecessor, General Hooker, left the camp in a very few hours after I relieved him. I received from him no intimation of any plan, or any views that he may have had up to that moment, and I am not aware that he had any, but was waiting for the exigencies of the occasion to govern him, just as I had to do subsequently.”

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