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May 27, 1863: Lee ponders pushing north

May. 27, 2013 - 12:15PM   |  
A cannon is seen on July 1, 2011 during
A cannon is seen on during events at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania in 2011. (Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images)
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Military Times has learned that the top Confederate brass is considering a summer offensive into Union-held territory.

Sources close to Gen. Robert E. Lee say the rebel commander may soon deploy his Army of Northern Virginia into western Maryland or even southern Pennsylvania in the coming weeks.

“With any luck we’ll soon be drinking fresh coffee in Carlisle, or better yet their beer,” quipped one Southern sergeant with a twinkle in his eye as he glanced to the north.

“I’d just like to get my hands on some of them good boots I hear they make up there,” laughed another rebel soldier as he poked a toe from one of the gaping holes in his tattered footwear.

Spring has already brought with it a season of defeat for the Union Army.

Buoyed by his crushing defeat of the Union’s attack on Fredricksburg late last year, Lee and his legions have been making short work of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s hopes of securing Virginia for the North.

Just last month, Lee’s troops trounced Gen. “Fighting Joe” Hooker’s Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Despite being outnumbered 2 to 1, Lee’s victory there is already hailed by some as his “perfect battle.”

Meanwhile, Union attempts to wrestle control of the Mississippi and seize Vicksburg have stalled like a fat donkey in a muddy cotton field.

That’s why Lee says it’s time to go the offensive. Lee met with Confederate States President Jefferson Davis in recent weeks a war council at the Southern Capital in Richmond.

“There is nothing to be gained by this army remaining quietly on the defensive,” Lee reportedly argued.

The Davis administration, according to several top-level advisors, had been considering dispatching at least several of Lee’s corps to the west to break the Federal siege on Vicksburg.

Lee, however, argued persuasively that a thrust to the north along the Shenandoah River Valley, would be the best way to take the fight to the enemy.

In the meantime, both sides took time to bury their dead from the latest North-South skirmish today.

“No time for a real memorial,” said one weary Federal brigade commander. “Perhaps there will come a day when Americans will take time to remember, a memorial day even, to pause and reflect on the true cost of war that is buried here in this field,” he said, pausing briefly with a wipe something from his eye, “and so many fields to come, I fear.”

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