General Robert Edward Lee's Defeat

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A Study in Defeat PART ONE The general who could not be defeated – General Robert Edward Lee “Lee is the only man I know whom I would follow blindfold.” General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, 1862 I In early April 1861, Colonel Robert Edward Lee was offered field command of the Union armies by Winfield Scott. Lee declined, saying that he could not contemplate fighting against the South in the event of their secession from the Union. He resigned from his anomalous position and returned to his beloved Virginia. On 25 April 1861, he was promptly made commander of the Virginian army. The Us Civil War had broken out on 12 April 1861 with the shelling of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Confederate Brigadier General Pierre Beauregard had demanded…show more content…
The delay allowed Lee to rush troops to Fredericksburg. The ensuing battles ended in a Confederate victory. Despite being outnumbered, they had been skilfully placed in impregnable positions where a mere 5,000 troops pinned down the Union soldiers. On 26 January 1863, General Burnside was replaced by General Joseph Hooker. IV Chancellorsville – Lee’s “finest hour” In the Battle of Chancellorsville fought from 30 April to 6 May 1863, Lee inflicted a serious defeat against General Joseph Hooker. It was considered by many military historians as his finest battle because he defeated a much larger foe by using aggressive tactics. However, Lee suffered the loss of his most capable officer, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The “Stonewall” was accidentally shot by his own men while making a dusk reconnaissance. Lee then took his armies across the Potomac to threaten Maryland and Pennsylvania. He rejected suggestions to relieve the Union pressure on the siege of Vicksburg. He was seeking for a decisive victory which might bring about French or British support or recognition for the Confederacy. V The turning points of the war – Gettysburg and Vicksburg The decisive battle was fought but it was General George Meade who defeated Lee’s armies in the bloody Battle of Gettysburg from 1 July to 3 July
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