GENERAL LEE'S HEADQUARTERS
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On June 1, 1862, its most famous and final leader, General Robert E. Lee, took command after Johnston was wounded, and Smith suffered what may have been a nervous breakdown, at the Battle of Seven Pines. William Whiting received permanent command of Smith's division, while Richard Anderson reverted to brigade command. Longstreet served as a wing commander for part of the Seven Days Battles and Anderson had operational command of the division at Glendale.
During the Seven Days Battles, Lee had eleven separate divisions under his command, aside from the original core army that had been led by Joe Johnson, there were assorted other commands from the Richmond area and North Carolina as well as Jackson's Valley Army. The inexperience and poor coordination of the army led to the failure of Lee's plans to destroy the Army of the Potomac. As soon as the Seven Days Battles were over, Lee reorganized his army into two corps commanded by Longstreet and Jackson. He removed several generals who had turned in a less-than-inspiring performance in the Seven Days Battles, including John Magruder and Benjamin Huger.
Jackson had five divisions, the commands of A.P. Hill, Ewell, D.H. Hill, and Winder. Longstreet had six divisions commanded by Richard Anderson (formerly Benjamin Huger's division), Cadmus Wilcox, James Kemper (each commanding half of Longstreet's former division), John Hood (formerly William H.C. Whiting's division), David R. Jones, and Lafayette McLaws. D.H. Hill's and McLaws's divisions were left behind in the Richmond area and did not participate in the Northern Virginia campaign. The army was also joined for the Northern Virginia and Maryland Campaigns by Nathan G. Evans's independent South Carolina brigade and a North Carolina brigade led by Brig. Gen Thomas Drayton.
During the Maryland Campaign, D.H. Hill rejoined the main army along with Lafayette McLaws. Kemper's division was merged with the division of David R. Jones, a more senior, experienced officer, and Kemper reverted to brigade command. In addition, Robert Ransom commanded two brigades from the Department of North Carolina. At Antietam, Longstreet commanded the divisions of Anderson, McLaws, Jones, Hood, and Ransom while Jackson had the divisions of John R. Jones, Alexander Lawton, A.P. Hill, and D.H. Hill.
The Northern Virginia and Maryland Campaigns still showed numerous defects in the organization and leadership of the Army of Northern Virginia, particularly the high rate of straggling and desertion during the invasion of Maryland. Lee had fewer than 40,000 men on the field at Antietam, the smallest his army would be until the Appomattox Campaign, and the battle was largely fought on autopilot with minimal involvement by the senior officers in the army.
During the Fredericksburg Campaign, Longstreet had the divisions of Anderson, Hood, McLaws, Ransom, and George Pickett, who had just returned to action after months of convalescence from a wound sustained during the Seven Days Battles. Jackson had the divisions of D.H. Hill, A.P. Hill, Jubal Early, and Elisha Paxton. Robert Ransom's division returned to North Carolina after Fredericksburg. D.H. Hill also departed after quarreling with Lee.
In the Chancellorsville Campaign, Longstreet was sent with Pickett and Hood to the Richmond area. His other two divisions remained with the main army; they were directly commanded by Lee during this time. Robert Rodes took over D.H. Hill's division. "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Afterwards, Lee divided the army into three corps with three divisions each. Longstreet got the divisions of Pickett, McLaws, and Hood, A.P. Hill got the divisions of Harry Heth, William D. Pender, and Richard Anderson, and Richard Ewell (returning to action after almost a year of recovering from the loss of a leg at Second Bull Run) got the divisions of Robert Rodes, Jubal Early, and Edward "Allegheny" Johnson.
By the time of the Pennsylvania invasion, Lee had fixed the organizational defects that plagued the army during its early campaigns and the straggling problems of the Maryland Campaign did not repeat themselves.
In the first year of his command, Lee had two principal subordinate commanders. The right wing of the army was under the command of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet and the left wing under Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. These wings were redesignated as the First Corps (Longstreet) and Second Corps (Jackson) on November 6, 1862. Following Jackson's death after the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee reorganized the army into three corps on May 30, 1863, under Longstreet, Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, and Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill. A Fourth Corps, under Lt. Gen. Richard H. Anderson, was organized on October 19, 1864; on April 8, 1865, it was merged into the Second Corps. The commanders of the first three corps changed frequently in 1864 and 1865. The cavalry, organized into a division on August 17, 1862, and into a corps on September 9, 1863, was commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart until May 11, 1864 (the day he was mortally wounded). The cavalry corps was then temporarily split into divisions, but was merged again on August 11, 1864 under command of Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton III. The Reserve Artillery was commanded by Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton for most of the war.
After taking over command in mid-1862, Lee began preparing to lead the Army of Northern Virginia for the first time. However, his aggressiveness to attack the Union led to the loss of many troops especially at the Battle of Antietam, which ended up being a turning point in the war for the Union. After the costly victories during the Seven Days Battles and at Second Manassas in August 1862, Lee had now lost a total of 30,000 of his approximately 92,000 troops within three months of becoming the Confederate's top general. Lee then planned to take his troops north into Maryland to destroy a critical railroad bridge across the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg in a letter written to President Davis. Lee even questioned his own plan, as he wrote, "I am aware that the movement is attended with much risk, yet I do not consider success impossible..." In addition, historians question Lee's aggressiveness to move his army to Maryland. "There can be no sort of doubt that Lee underestimated the exhaustion of his army after Second Manassas. That is, in reality, the major criticism of the Maryland operation: he carried worn-out men across the Potomac." His men were also underarmed and underfed, so the journey to Maryland added to the overall exhaustion. Once Lee arrived in Maryland and was preparing for Antietam, he made another controversial decision. Against the advice from General Longstreet and Jackson, Lee split his troops into four parts to attack the Union from different fronts. Clearly outnumbered and opposed to Lee's plan, Longstreet stated, "General, I wish we could stand still and let the damned Yankees come to us!" As the fighting played out on September 17, 1862, known as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, the battles at Dunker Church and Burnside's Bridge proved to be too much for Lee and his Confederate army. Luckily for Lee, the arrival of A.P. Hill's troops and the mixture of McClellan's and Burnside's sluggishness, saved Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and allowed them to barely hold off the Union in Maryland.
Wikipedia contributors. (2018, December 29). Army of Northern Virginia. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:52, February 1, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Army_of_Northern_Virginia&oldid=875906573