Series: A Savage Continual Thunder

In September 1862 Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee changed the course of the Civil War. By crossing the Potomac River he moved from defending the south and its people to invading northern territory. He hoped that a major victory on Union soil would encourage European recognition of the Confederacy, crush northern morale, and force President Lincoln to sue for peace. As the Union Army of the Potomac scrambled to meet the Southern threat, President Lincoln hoped that Lee's invasion would lead to a Union victory and provide him with the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. "It is for you to decide your destiny, freely and without constraint. This army will respect your choice, whatever it may be; and, while the Southern people will rejoice to welcome you to your natural position among them, they will only welcome you when you come of your own free-will." -Robert E. Lee to the people of Maryland