|I think there was more concern during Lee's second invasion than during his first. He penetrated deeper into the North and people were concerned he might move on the major cities. And the Northern papers certainly see to have been following the invasion prior to Gettysburg. Looking at The June 20th and 27th editions of Harper's Weekly they carried the following articles
June 20, 1863
CARRYING THE WAR INTO THE
THE prediction of the Richmond papers that the summer campaign would be fought on Northern soil was no idle threat. For some time past General Stuart has been massing the advance-guard of the rebel army near Culpepper, and on 9th a bloody fight took place between that body and a picked detachment of the Army of the Potomac. Of the result of that encounter we know nothing as yet. But unless Stuart has been utterly overwhelmed and scattered, we may take for granted that even if our side has been successful the invasion of Pennsylvania has only been deferred for a time. The rebels are determined to make us feel "the horrors of war" in our homes. They are daring and desperate; the recent cavalry raids into Virginia and Mississippi show how much may be effected by a band of resolute men; there is every reason to expect, and no good reason to doubt, but that the soil of Pennsylvania and Maryland will be invaded within the month.
It may be asked, as it was asked when Lee invaded Maryland last fall, cui bono? What can the rebels gain by invading the North? They can gain simply this—that they will make our people feel the horrors of war, and give a practical point to the Copperhead cry for peace. They will both satisfy their thirst for vengeance and supply the citizens of Maryland and Pennsylvania with pretty substantial grounds for desiring the war to be ended. These ends, in the opinion of the Richmond press, amply justify the enterprise.
What are the prospects of success? The answer to this depends upon the Government at Washington. Because a brigade of swift cavalry was able to ride through the thinly-peopled State of Mississippi without meeting any rebel force, while another brigade contrived, by hard riding and dextrous management, to dash across from Culpepper to Gloucester Court House, that is no reason why a rebel corps d'armee should succeed in making good a foothold in the thickly-peopled State of Pennsylvania—unless we are to suppose that the Government neglects the most obvious precautions for the protection of the North.
If, on the first indications of a rebel purpose to cross the Potomac, the entire militia of Pennsylvania and 50,000 men from the adjacent States are called out if proper measures are taken by competent officers to remove from points of danger, or to protect adequately all depots of supplies; if the splendid but somehow amazingly unlucky Army of the Potomac be manoeuvred so as to fall upon the rear of the invaders, and cut off effectually their retreat to their base, in this case the invasion of the North would probably prove the end of the South as a pretended nation. If, however, matters are suffered to drift along, and the Government deludes itself into a belief that the rebels are not energetic enough or desperate enough to try to carry the war into Pennsylvania; or that, being in that State, they will not prove most formidable intruders, then it will be well for loyal people to prepare themselves for another season of heart-breaking disaster and disappointment.
It is a very simple matter, and one which should admit of no debate. If we can not keep the rebels out of Pennsylvania, there must be no more talk of foreign wars, for neither could we prevent the English from landing on our coast.
SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 1863.
THE INVASION OF THE NORTH.
GENERAL LEE has verified the predictions we published in our last number with startling exactness. A part of his army has invaded Pennsylvania, now occupies one or two of the southern towns in that State, and menaces Harrisburg. A wild panic pervades the State, and the military organization which should have preceded the invasion by several weeks is now being hurriedly completed, in the midst of universal terror and confusion. Even as far west as Pittsburg the operatives in the machine-shops have knocked off work, called for speeches, and fallen to building earth-works. Meanwhile the alarm has spread to the adjacent States. New Jersey, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, and even Massachusetts are hurrying forward their militia to the scene of action, and there is some reason to hope that by the time these lines are read a new army of volunteer militia, as numerous if not as efficient as Lee's forces, will interpose between the rebel advance and the capital of the Keystone State.
It is stated that the Government was fully aware of Lee's designs, and suffered the rebels to cross the Potomac for ulterior purposes of its own. This may be so, though the prize which it was proposed to purchase by the sacrifice of one half of Milroy's army and the flourishing town of Chambersburg must—one would think—have been tolerably substantial.
The rebel journals, and some organs of opinion here, intimate that it is Lee's design to push forward into the heart of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and to stay at Pittsburg or Harrisburg, or some other convenient point—in other words, to invade the North on the plan which we have pursued at the South, taking all he can seize, and holding what he takes. The event will probably prove the fallacy of this expectation. No army of the size of Lee's can operate as a movable or flying column without a base; and no body of troops small enough to operate as a movable column would be safe in any part of the State of Pennsylvania. A brigade or a division of cavalry, moving swiftly from place to place, and avoiding the large towns, may make successful raids even into Pennsylvania, and may destroy bridges and stores, and carry off large quantities of plunder, without running more than the average risks of war. But if Lee, or any of his generals, attempts to move a corps d'armee of twelve to fifteen thousand men of the three arms, into any Northern State, it is demonstrable that the chances would be heavily against their return. And if he moves with any larger force than this, he must keep his communications open with his base or perish. This has been the cardinal principle which has impeded our operations so seriously in Virginia. Whenever the army of the Potomac has moved any considerable distance from its base, its communications have been cut, and the very existence of the army endangered. It will be so with Lee. If he operates from Winchester, which is the most probable base for a campaign against Southern Pennsylvania, he will not dare to move much beyond Hagerstown or Chambersburg; for if he does, his communications will infallibly be cut, and his army will have to retreat or perish.
Many motives have been assigned for Lee's sudden march from Fredericksburg to Winchester. It is hardly worth while to discuss any of them, as the most plausible is after all mere conjecture. But it is not difficult to understand that the preservation of the morale of the rebel army and the rebel people, in view of the proximate fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson and the loss of the Mississippi Valley, imperatively required that some dashing enterprise—involving possibilities of brilliant successes—should be undertaken, and this theory alone might suffice to account for Lee's recent strategy; which, in any other point of view, would seem to be unworthy of his reputation.
THE INVASION OF THE NORTH.
As we intimated in our last number, the rebels are fulfilling their threat of invading the North. It appears that the army under Lee commenced to move in a northwesterly direction on 9th June, and that General Hooker, discerning his intention, moved on 11th or 12th on a parallel line. On the morning of 12th, a rebel corps, said to have been Jackson's old corps, now commanded by General Ewell, passed through Strasburg. The alarm was given, and General Milroy at Winchester prepared for defense. He was attacked on 13th, and his assailants being far too strong to be successfully resisted, he fell back, after a severe fight, to Harper's Ferry. On the same day, 13th, a Union force at Berryville, and another body at Middletown, were attacked, and fell back to the Potomac. On 14th, Sunday, Martinsburg was attacked, and a sharp affair occurred. We have no precise account of how it ended. It is stated, however, that our forces made good their retreat to the Potomac. On the evening of 14th and the morning of 15th, a large body of rebel troops, how many or of what description we know not, crossed the Potomac in the vicinity of Nolan's Ford, and moved on Hagerstown, which was evacuated by our troops on 15th. In failing back, our people are said to have taken with them their stores, supplies, and guns. At 9 P.M. on 15th, the rebel advance-guard is said to have entered Chambersburg, which place we are likewise reported to have evacuated. Other rebel columns are described as moving on Mercersburg, on the one hand, and Waynesboro on the other. On 16th the rebel advance, consisting mainly of cavalry, was at Chambersburg and Scotland. The forces assembled for the protection of the State were at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg was threatened, but it was believed that we could save it.
Of General Hooker's movements no precise account has yet transpired, though it is known that his entire army has moved in the direction of Manassas Gap. The President has called for 120,000 men, viz., 100,000 six months'men, namely, 50,000 from Pennsylvania, 30,000 from Ohio, 10,000 from Maryland, and 10,000 from West Virginia; and 20,000 New York State militia, to serve for a short period. Proclamations calling out troops have been issued by the Governors of Olio and Pennsylvania, and troops are moving with alacrity toward the scene of conflict.
STRENGTH OF LEE'S ARMY.
It has been ascertained that the reinforcements reaching General Lee from the Carolinas and elsewhere have swelled his army to double the number he had in the battle of Chancellorsville. His force is divided into three corps, of 30,000 men each.
People were going to be following articles like these. I doubt had the Army of the Potomac been defeated that there would have been many men clambering to get into local militias to face off against the Army of Northern Virginia and Lee. The panic that would have created would have been more likely to get what Lee was after, fuel for the peace movement in the North to push for an end to the fighting.