The Pennsylvania campaign.
Gen. Lee's official report.

The following is an authentic copy of Gen. Robert E. Lee's official report of the "Pennsylvania campaign:"

Headq'rs Army Northern Va.,
July 31st, 1863.
Gen. S. Cooper, Alfaud I. General, Richmond, Va. General
--I have the honor to submit the following outline of the recent operations of this army for the information of the Department:

The position occupied by the enemy opposite Fredericksburg being one in which he could not be attacked to advantage, it was determined to draw him from it. The execution of this purpose embraced the relief of the Shenandoah Valley from the troops that had occupied the lower part of it during the winter and spring, and, it practicable, the transfer of the scene of hostilities north of the Potomac.

It was thought that the corresponding movements on the part of the enemy to which those contemplated by us would probably give rise, might offer a fair opportunity to strike a blow at the army therein commanded by Gen. Hooker, and that in any event that army would be compelled to leave Virginia, and possibly to draw to its support troops designed to operate against other parts of the country. In this way it was supposed that the enemy's plan of campaign for the summer would be broken up, and part of the season of active operations be consumed in the formation of new combinations and the preparations that they would require.

In addition to these advantages it was hoped that other valuable results might be attained by military success.

Actuated by these and other important considerations that may hereafter be presented, the movement began on the 3d June. McLaws's division, of Longstreet's corps, left Fredericksburg for Culpeper C. H., and Hood's division, which was encamped on the Rapidan, marched to the same place.

They were followed on the 4th and 5th by Ewell's corps, leaving that of A. P. Hill to occupy our lines at Fredericksburg.

The march of these troops having been discovered by the enemy on the afternoon of the 5th, and the following day he crossed a force, amounting to about one army corps, to the south side of the Rappahannock on a pontoon bridge laid down near the mouth of Deep Run. Gen. Hill disposed his command to resist their advance; but as they seemed intended for the purpose of observation rather than attack, the movements in progress were not arrested.

The forces of Longstreet and Ewell reached Culpeper Court House by the 8th, at which point the cavalry under Gen Stuart was also concentrated.

On the 9th a large force of Federal cavalry strongly supported by infantry, crossed the Rappahannock at Beverly's and Kelly's fords, and attacked Gen. Stuart. A severe engagement ensued, continuing from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, when the enemy was forced to recross the river with heavy loss, leaving 400 prisoners, three pieces of artillery and several colors in our hands.

Gen. Jenkins, with his cavalry brigade, had been ordered to advance towards Winchester to co-operate with the infantry in the proposed expedition into the Lower Valley, and at the same time Gen. Imboden was directed, with his command, to make a demonstration in the direction of Romney, in order to cover the movement against Winchester and prevent the enemy at that place from being reinforced by the troops on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Both of these officers were in position when Gen. Ewell left Culpeper Court-House on the 16th. Crossing the Shenandoah near Front Royal, he detached Rodes's division to Berryville, with instructions after dislodging the force there to cut off the communication between Winchester and the Potomac. With the divisions of Early and Johnson, Gen. Ewell advanced directly upon Winchester, driving the enemy into his works around the town on the 13th. On the same day the troops at Berryville, left back before Gen. Rodes, retreating to Winchester. On the 14th Gen. Early stormed the works at the latter place, and the whole army of Gen. Milroy was captured or dispersed. Most of those who attempted to escape were intercepted and made prisoners by Gen. Johnson. Their leader fled to Harper's Ferry with a small party of fugitives.

General Rodes marched from Berryville to Martinsburg, entering the latter place on the 14th, where he took seven hundred prisoners, five pieces of artillery, and a considerable quantity of stores. These operations cleared the valley of the enemy, those at Harper's Ferry withdrawing to Maryland Heights. More than four thousand prisoners, twenty-nine pieces of artillery, two hundred and seventy wagons and ambulances, with four hundred horses, were captured, besides a large amount of military stores. Our loss was small. On the night that Ewell appeared at Winchester, the Federal troops in front of A. P. Hill, at Fredericksburg, recrossed the Rappahannock and the next day disappeared behind the hills of Stafford.

The whole army of General Hooker withdrew from the line of the Rappahannock, pursuing the roads near the Potomac, and no favorable opportunity was offered for attack. It seemed to be the purpose of General Hooker to take a position which would enable him to cover the approaches to Washington city--with a view to draw him further from his base, and at the same time to cover the march of A. P. Hill, who, in accordance with instructions, left Fredericksburg for the Valley as soon as the enemy withdrew from his front. Longstreet moved from Culpeper Court-House on the 15th, and advancing along the east side of the Blue Ridge, occupied Ashby's and Snicker's Gaps. His force had been augmented while at Culpeper by General Pickett with three brigades of his division.

The cavalry, under General Stuart, was thrown out in front of Longstreet to watch the enemy now reported to be moving into London. On the 17th, his cavalry encountered two brigades of ours under General Stuart near Aldie, and was driven back with loss. The next day the engagement was renewed, the Federal cavalry being strongly supported by infantry, and General Stuart was in turn compelled to retire.

The enemy advanced as far as Upperville and then fell back. In these engagements Gen. Stuart took about four hundred prisoners, and a considerable number of horses and arms.

In the meantime a part of Gen. Ewell's corps had entered Maryland, and the rest was about to follow. Gen. Jenkins with his cavalry, who accompanied Gen. Ewell, penetrated Pennsylvania as far as Chambersburg. As these demonstrations did not have the effect of causing the Federal army to leave Virginia, and as it did not seem disposed to advance upon the position held by Longstreet, the latter was withdrawn to the west side of the Shenandoah, Gen. Hill having already reached the valley.

Gen Stuart was left to guard the passes of the mountains, and observe the movements of the enemy, whom he was instructed to harass and impede as much as possible should he attempt to cross the Potomac. In that event, Gen Stuart was directed to move into Maryland, crossing the Potomac east or west of the Blue Ridge, as in his judgment should be best, and take position on the right of our column as it advanced.

By the 24th the progress of Ewell rendered it necessary that the rest of the army should be in supporting distance, and Longstreet and Hill marched to the Potomac. The former crossed at Williamsport and the latter at Shepherdstown. The columns reunited at Hagerstown, and advanced thence into Pennsylvania, encamping near Chambersburg on the 27th.

No report had been received that the Federal army had crossed the Potomac, and the absence of the cavalry rendered it impossible to obtain accurate information. In order, however, to retain it on the east side of the mountains after it should enter Maryland, and thus leave open our communication with the Potomac through Hagerstown and Williamsport, General Ewell had been instructed to send a division eastwards from Chambersburg to cross the South Mountains. Early's division was detached for this purpose, and proceeded as far east as York, while the remainder of the corps proc to Carlisle.

General Imboden, in pursuance of the instructions previously referred to, had been actively engaged on the left of Gen. Ewell during the progress of the latter into Maryland. He had driven off the forces guarding the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, destroying all the important bridges on that route from Cumberland to Martinsburg, and seriously damaged the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

He subsequently took position at Hancock, and, after the arrival of Longstreet and Hill at Chambersburg, was directed to march by way of McCounsellsburg to that place.

Preparations were now made to advance upon Harrisburg; but on the night of the 29th information was received from a scout that the Federal army, having crossed the Potomac, was advancing northwards, and that the head of the column had reached the South Mountain. As our communications were thus menaced, it was resolved to prevent his further progress in that direction by concentrating our army on the east side of the mountains. Accordingly, Longstreet and Hill were directed to proceed from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, to which point Gen. Ewell was also instructed to march from Carlisle.

Gen. Stuart continued to follow the movements of the Federal army south of the Potomac after our own had Maryland, and in his efforts to impede its progress advanced as far eastward as Fairfax Court-House. Finding himself unable to delay the enemy materially, he crossed the river at Seneca, and marched through Westminster to Carlisle, where he arrived after Gen. Ewell had left for Gettysburg. By the route he pursued the Federal army was interposed between his command and our main body, preventing any communication with him until his arrival at Carlisle.

The march towards Gettysburg was conducted more slowly than it would have been had the movements of the Federal army been known.

The leading division of Hill met the enemy in advance of Gettysburg, on the morning of the 1st of July. Driving back these troops to within a short distance of the town, he there encountered a larger force; with which two of his divisions became engaged. Ewell, coming up with two of his divisions by the Heidlersburg road, joined in the engagement. The enemy was driven through Gettysburg, with heavy loss, including about five thousand prisoners and several pieces of artillery.

He retired to a high range of hills south and east of the town. The attack was not pressed that afternoon, the enemy's force being unknown, and it being considered advisable to await the arrival of the rest of our troops. Orders were sent back to hasten their march, and, in the meantime, every effort was made to ascertain the numbers and position of the enemy, and find the most favorable point of attack. It had not been intended to fight a general battle at such a distance from our base, unless attacked by the enemy; but finding ourselves unexpectedly confronted by the Federal army, it became a matter of difficulty to withdraw through the mountains with our large trains. At the same time the country was unfavorable for collecting supplies while in the presence of the enemy's main body, as he was enabled to restrain our foraging parties by occupying the passes of the mountains with regular and local troops. A battle thus became, in a measure, unavoidable. Encouraged by the successful issue of the engagement of the first day, and in view of the valuable results that would ensue from the defeat of the army of Gen. Meade, it was thought advisable to renew the attack.

The remainder of Ewell's and Hill's corps having arrived, and two divisions of Longstreet's, our preparations were made accordingly. During the afternoon intelligence was received of the arrival of Gen. Stuart at Carlisle, and he was ordered to march to Gettysburg, and take position on the left.--A full account of these engagements cannot be given until the reports of the several commanding officers shall have been received, and I shall only offer a general description.

The preparations for attack were not completed until the afternoon of the 2d.

The enemy held a high and commanding ridge along which he had massed a large amount of artillery. Gen. Ewell occupied the left of our line, General Hill the centre, and Gen. Longstreet the right. In front of Gen. Longstreet the right. In front of Gen. Longstreet the enemy held a position, from which if he could be driven it was thought that our army could be used to advantage in assailing the more elevated ground beyond, and thus enable us to reach the crest of the ridge. That officer was directed to endeavor to carry this position, while Gen. Ewell attacked directly the high ground on the enemy's right, which had already been partially fortified. Gen. Hill was instructed to threaten the centre of the Federal line, in order to prevent reinforcements being sent to either wing, and to avail himself of any opportunity that might present itself to attack.

After a severe struggle, Longstreet succeeded in getting possession of and holding the desired ground. Ewell also carried some of the strong positions which he assailed, and the result was such as to lead to the belief that he would ultimately be able to dislodge the enemy. The battle ceased at dark.

These partial successes determined me to continue the assault next day. Pickett, with three of his brigades, joined Longstreet the following morning, and our batteries were moved forward to the position gained by him the day before.

The general plan of attack was unchanged, except that one division and two brigades of Hill's corps were ordered to support Longstreet.

The enemy in the meantime had strengthened his line with earthworks. The morning was occupied in necessary preparations, and the battle recommence in the afternoon of the 3d, and raged with great violence until sunset. Our troops succeeded in entering the advanced works of the enemy, and getting possession of some of his batteries, but our artillery having nearly expended its ammunition the attacking columns became exposed to the heavy fire of the numerous batteries near the summit of the ridge, and after a most determined and gallant struggle were compelled to relinquish their advantage and fall back to their original positions with severe loss.

The conduct of the troops was all that I could desire or expect, and they deserved success so far as it can be deserved by heroic valor and fortitude. More may have been required of them than they were able to perform, but my admiration of their noble qualities, and confidence in their ability to cope successfully with the enemy, has suffered no abatement from the issue of this protracted and sanguinary conflict.

Owing to the strength of the enemy's position and the reduction of our ammunition, a renewal of the engagement could not be hazarded, and the difficulty of procuring supplies rendered it impossible to continue longer where we were. Such of the wounded as were in condition to be removed, and part of the arms collected on the field, were ordered to Williamsport. The army remained at Gettysburg during the 4th, and at night began to retire by the road to Fairfield, carrying with it about four thousand prisoners. Nearly two thousand had previously been paroled, but the enemy's numerous wounded that had fallen into our hands after the first and second days' engagements were left behind.

Little progress was made that night, owing to a severe storm, which greatly embarrassed our movements. The rear of the column did not leave its position near Gettysburg until after daylight on the 5th.

The march was continued during that day without interruption by the enemy, except an unimportant demonstration upon our rear in the afternoon, when near Fairfield, which was easily checked. Part of our train moved by the road through Fairfield, and the rest by the way of Cashtown, guarded by General Imboden. In passing through the mountains, in advance of the column, the great length of the trains exposed them to attack by the enemy's cavalry, which captured a number of wagons and ambulances; but they succeeded in reaching Williamsport without serious loss.

They were attacked at that place on the 6th by the enemy's cavalry, which was gallantly repulsed by General Imboden. The attacking force was subsequently encountered and driven off by General Stuart and pursued for several miles in the direction of Boonsboro'. The army after an arduous march, rendered more difficult by the rains, reached Hagerstown on the afternoon of the 6th and morning of the 7th July.

The Potomac was found to be so much swollen by the rains, that had fallen almost incessantly since our entrance into Maryland, as to be unfordable. Our communications with the south side were thus interrupted, and it was difficult to procure either ammunition or subsistence, the latter difficulty being enhanced by the high waters impeding the working of neighboring mills. --The trains with the wounded and prisoners were compelled to await at Williamsport the subsiding of the river and the construction of boats, as the pontoon bridge left at Falling Waters had been partially destroyed.--The enemy had not yet made his appearance; but, as he was in condition to obtain large reinforcements, and our situation, for the reasons above mentioned, was becoming daily more embarrassing, it was deemed advisable to recross the river. Part of the pontoon bridge was recovered, and new boats built, so that by the 13th a good bridge was thrown over the river at Falling Waters.

The enemy in force reached our front on the 12th. A position had been previously selected to cover the Potomac from Williamsport to Falling Waters, and an attack was awaited during that and the succeeding day. This did not take place, though the two armies were in close proximity, the enemy being occupied in fortifying his own lines.--Our preparations being completed, and the river, though still deep, being pronounced fordable, the army commenced to withdraw to the South side on the night of the 13th.

Ewell's corps forded the river at Williamsport, those of Longstreet and Hill crossed upon the bridge. Owing to the condition of the roads the troops did not reach the bridge until after daylight on the 14th, and the crossing was not completed until 1 P. M., when the bridge was removed. The enemy offered no serious interruption, and the movement was attended with no loss of material except a few disabled wagons, and two pieces of artillery, which the horses were unable to move through the deep mud. Before fresh horses could be sent back for them the rear of the column had passed.

During the slow and tedious march to the bridge, in the midst of a violent storm of rain, some of the men lay down by the way to rest. Officers sent back for them failed to find many in the obscurity of the night, and these, with some stragglers, fell into the hands of the enemy.

Brig. Gen. Pettigrew was mortally wounded in an attack made by a small body of cavalry, which was unfortunately mistaken for our own and permitted to enter our lines. He was brought to Bunker Hill, where he expired a few days afterwards. He was a brave and accomplished officer and gentleman, and his loss will be deeply felt by the country and the army.

The following day the army marched to Bunker Hill, in the vicinity of which it encamped for several days. The day after its arrival, a large force of the enemy's cavalry, which had crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, advanced towards Martinsburg. It was attacked by Gen. Fitz Lee, near Kearneysville, and defeated with heavy loss, leaving its dead and many of its wounded on the field.

Owing to the swollen condition of the Shenandoah river, the plan of operations which had been contemplated when we recrossed the Potomac could not be put in execution, and before the waters had subsided the movements of the enemy induced me to cross the Blue Ridge and take position south of the Rappahannock, which was accordingly done.

As soon as the reports of the commanding officers shall be received, a more detailed account of these operations will be given, and occasion will then be taken to speak more particularly of the conspicuous gallantry and good conduct of both officers and men.

It is not yet in my power to give a correct statement of our casualties, which were severe, including many brave men, and an unusual proportion of distinguished and valuable officers. Among them, I regret to mention the following general officers: Major-Generals Hoort, Pender, and Trimble severely, and Major General Heth slightly wounded.

Gen. Pender has since died. This lamented officer has borne a distinguished part in every engagement of this army, and was wounded on several occasions while leading his command with conspicuous gallantry and ability. The confidence and admiration inspired by his courage and capacity as an officer were only equalled by the esteem and respect entertained by all with whom he was associated, for the noble qualities of his modest and unassuming character. Brig. Gens. Barksdale and Garnett were killed, and Brig. Gen. Semmes mortally wounded while leading their troops with the courage that always distinguished them. These brave officers and patriotic gentlemen fell in the faithful discharge of duty, leaving the army to mourn their loss and emulate their noble examples.

Brig. Gens. Kemper. Armistead, Scales, G. T. Anderson, Hampton, J. M. Jones, and Jenkins, were also wounded. Brig. Gen. Archer was taken prisoner. Gen. Pettigrew, though wounded at Gettysburg, continued in command until he was mortally wounded near Falling Waters.

The loss of the enemy is unknown, but from observation on the field, and his subsequent movements, it is supposed that he suffered severely.

Respectfully submitted,
(Signed,) R. E. Lee, Gen'l.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ewell (18)
Longstreet (16)
A. P. Hill (14)
Gen Stuart (11)
Imboden (4)
Rodes (3)
Robert E. Lee (3)
Jenkins (3)
Hooker (3)
Early (3)
Pickett (2)
Pettigrew (2)
Pender (2)
Johnson (2)
Carlisle (2)
York (1)
Trimble (1)
Respectfully Submitted (1)
Semmes (1)
Scales (1)
Milroy (1)
Meade (1)
McLaws (1)
Fitz Lee (1)
Kemper (1)
J. M. Jones (1)
Hoort (1)
Hood (1)
Heth (1)
Hampton (1)
Garnett (1)
S. Cooper (1)
Barksdale (1)
Armistead (1)
Archer (1)
G. T. Anderson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
14th (3)
5th (2)
July, 7 AD (1)
January, 7 AD (1)
March, 6 AD (1)
July 31st, 1863 AD (1)
27th (1)
17th (1)
16th (1)
15th (1)
13th (1)
12th (1)
9th (1)
3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: