Sunday, July 08, 2012

Gettysburg - July 8th - We must attack Lee

Halleck To Meade, Washington, D. C., July 8, 1863.
There is reliable information that the enemy is crossing at Williamsport; the opportunity to attack his divided forces should not be lost. The President is urgent and anxious that your army should move against him, by forced marches.

Meade To Halleck, July 8, 1863
General Couch from scouts learns that the enemy train at Williamsport is crossing very slowly. So long as the river is unfordable they will not cross...From all I can gather, the enemy front extends from Hagerstown to Williamsport, covering the march of their train.

Their cavalry and infantry pickets are advanced to the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg pike, on general line of the Antietam. We hold Boonsboro', and our pickets, four miles in front towards Hagerstown, are in contact with the enemy's pickets. My army is assembling slowly; the rains of yesterday and last night have made all roads but pikes almost impassable; artillery and wagons are stalled. It will take time to collect them together. A large portion of the men are barefooted; shoes will arrive at Frederick to-day, and will be issued as soon as possible.

The spirit of the army is high; the men are ready and willing to make every exertion to push forward; the very first moment I can get the different commands, the artillery and cavalry, properly supplied and in hand, I will move forward. Be assured I most earnestly desire to try the fortunes of war with the enemy on this side of the river, hoping through Providence and the bravery of my men to settle the question; but I should do wrong not to frankly tell you of the difficulties encountered.

I expect to find the enemy in a strong position, well covered with artillery, and I do not desire to imitate his example at Gettysburg, and assault a position where the chances were so greatly against success; I wish, in advance, to moderate the expectations of those who, in ignorance of the difficulties to be encountered, may expect too much. All that I can do under the circumstances I pledge this army to do

Meade To Halleck, July 8, 1863—3 P. M
My information as to the crossing of the enemy does not agree with that just received in your dispatch. His whole force is in position between Funkstown and Williamsport. I have just received information that he has driven my cavalry force in front of Boonsboro...

Halleck To Meade, Washington, D. C., July 8, 1863.
Do not understand me as expressing any dissatisfaction. On the contrary, your army has done most nobly. I only wish to give you opinions formed from information received here. It is telegraphed from near Harper's Ferry that the enemy have been crossing for the last two days. It is also reported that they have a bridge across. If Lee's army is so divided by the river, the importance of attacking the part on this side is incalculable. Such an opportunity may never occur again. If, on the contrary, he has massed his whole force on the Antietam, time must be taken also to concentrate your forces. Your opportunities for information are better than mine

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