Americans had been engaged in a Civil War which had been begun in April of 1861 with shots fired on a fort in South Carolina. In the summer of 1863 in a small town called Gettysburg, there would be a fierce battle fought between the Union Army of the Potomac led by General George G. Meade and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee. The events of the battle would overcome the losses suffered by the Union and put the Confederacy on the run. “Over 165,000 men would converge, and before the fighting ended, the ground would run red with blood. The battle was fierce, and the casualties proved it. But the casualties that resulted would not be in vain, at least for the Union; the formidable power of the Army of Northern Virginia would be stricken a fatal blow, one that they, and the South, would never truly recover from. ” The Union victory at Gettysburg changed the course of the Civil War.
General George B. McClellan was the commander of the Army of the Potomac from August 15, 1862 until November 9, 1862 when he was removed from command due to his constant harassment of the War Department and his inability to achieve victories over the rebel armies. On that same day of his removal General Ambrose E. Burnside would be appointed as the new commander of the Army of the Potomac. President Lincoln gave direct instructions to General Burnside to attack the Army of Northern Virginia. Burnside moved his army to the area of the Rappahannock River, which was located just outside the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. When he arrived there on December 13 he found that the rebels had dug in positions that overlooked the river and the town. Due to Burnside’s units moving slowly at getting into attack positions the advantage was lost in exploiting the weaknesses in the rebel defenses. However, there were assaults made on the defensive line and the casualties were high but no significant gains on the rebel positions were made. Over a few weeks of fighting bad weather eventually moved in and the rain virtually made the roads impossible to cross. The bad weather and muddy roads that slowed movement of troops and the losses that were sustained trying to take the high ground that the rebels occupied caused General Burnside to cease his operations and on January 26, 1863 he was relieved of his command.
On January 26, 1863 General Joseph Hooker was appointed the commander of the Army of the Potomac. General Hooker wanted to attack General Lee’s army while a large portion of his troops were engaged at the town of Fredericksburg. He commanded an army that was almost twice the size of Lee’s forces. Hooker then moved the Union forces toward the town of Chancellorsville and had his men set up in defensive positions just outside the town. When General Lee learned of this he moved a portion of his men to assault Hooker and his army. When he arrived, Lee split his men in order to attack from different...