National Geographic : 1963 Jul
PRELUDE TO Gettysburg MAP NOTES BY CAROLYN BENNETT PATTERSON, SENIOR EDITORIAL STAFF T HE three-day Bat tle of Gettysburg stands as the high water mark of the Con federacy. Thereafter the surge of the South reced ed, though the war dragged on for two more years. Before Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee walked in an aura of victory. From June, 1862, when he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee prevailed through 12 months of battle. To Stonewall Jackson, Lee made suggestions that the in tuitive tactician brilliantly carried to success. But Lee's masterpiece, the Battle of Chan cellorsville, cost him much: Jackson fell, an accidental victim of his own men's fire. Now as the summer of 1863 neared, Lee needed a victory beyond and above the others. He wanted to carry the war to the North, where success might encourage the peace party to agitate for a negotiated settle ment. And some historians believe he hoped to offset the threatened loss of Vicksburg, even then on the eve of desperate siege. A LIBRARY CONGRE55 Rebel sharpshooter's last sleep. Shortly after the battle, Alexander Gardner, one of Mathew Brady's photographers, made this picture at the same Devil's Den stronghold shown on opposite page. Revisiting the spot four months later, he found a bleaching skel eton within the moldering uniform, the U. S . rifle-musket still propped against the rock. "It would make jobs, wouldn't it? Many of our young people leave when they get out of school. There is not enough work for all of them here. I earn my living in Baltimore." It is a round trip of more than 100 miles to Baltimore, and my friend commutes five times a week. Other Gettysburgians work in York, Carlisle, Frederick, and elsewhere. On the other hand, Gettysburg is becoming something of a retirement town-not only, I was told, because of the beauty of the coun tryside or because it is a historic shrine but because former President and Mrs. Eisen hower live there (pages 26-7). Gettysburg thus is a unique compromise between yesterday and today. As I drove about town, I saw the modern Eisenhower Elementary School with its thou sand glassy eyes; Rebel and Yank fought where it stands on the battle's first day. I also admired, on the outskirts, the trim nine-hole golf course-General Eisenhower often plays here-and I thought idly that one of its golfers might take a divot and turn up a Minie ball, for bullets once whined here, too. Walking the old streets, I noted the park ing meters, the traffic lights, the television antennas. The Junior Chamber of Commerce, however, is heightening the flavor of Civil War times; "Campaign Gettysburg" is its project's name. The idea is to create a "historic image" for the main business section. This is being (Continued on page 23) NEXT PAGE FOLDS OUT 13 Union victory at Vieksburg would split the South in two along the Mississippi River. In Virginia, Lee would have to fight on his own soil, where supplies were running low. Rich Pennsylvania farm and industrial cen ters would offer relief. Gathering his gray host, Lee moved north. To the gaunt, lonely man in the White House, the war had become an agonizing search for a fighting general. Lincoln had appointed commander after commander, but none had battled with both heart and brilliance. When Confederate John S. Mosby captured a brigadier general and 58 horses on a raid at Fairfax Court House, Virginia, the President appeared to regret loss of the horses more than the general. "Fighting Joe" Hooker had disappointed him at Chancellorsville. Eventually the only thing Lincoln wanted from Hooker was his resignation. He got it, finally, and June 27, 1863, appointed Maj. Gen. George G. Meade commander at the very moment the Army of the Potomac was marching to its destiny at Gettysburg. The curtain was rising. Marching blind to each other, Lee's invading forces and the defending Army of the Potomac push north. The Blue Ridge screens Lee, whose line is so long Lincoln feels "the animal must be very slim somewhere" and suggests that the Fed erals "break him." Lee's eyes and ears, Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's cavalry men, swing east of Union forces, lose touch with Lee, and fail to provide vital reports. Knowing the long march must lead to battle, Lee writes: "All must remember us in their prayers." Meade fears too. "Pray for me," he writes.