Throughout June 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was on the move. He had pulled his army from its position along the Rappahannock River around Fredericksburg, Virginia, and set out on the road to Pennsylvania. Lee and the Confederate leadership decided to try a second invasion of the North to take pressure off Virginia and to seize the initiative against the Army of the Potomac. The first invasion was on September 17, 1862, but failed when the Federals fought Lee’s army to a standstill at the ‘Battle of Antietam’ aka ‘The battle of Sharpsburg’ in Maryland.
Lee later divided his army and sent the regiments toward the Shenandoah Valley, using the Blue Ridge Mountains as a screen. After the Confederates took Winchester, Virginia, on June 14, they were situated on the Potomac River, seemingly in a position to move on Washington, D.C. Lincoln did not know it, but Lee had no intention of attacking Washington. Lincoln knew that the Rebel army was moving en masse and that Union troops could not be sure about the Confederates’ location.
On June 15, Lincoln made an emergency call for 100,000 troops from the state militias of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia. Although the troops were not needed, and the call could not be fulfilled in such a short time, it indicated how little the Union authorities knew of Lee’s movements and how vulnerable they thought the Federal capital was.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas the armed insurrectionary combinations now existing in several of the States are threatening to make inroads into the States of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, requiring immediately an additional military force for the service of the United States:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy thereof and of the militia of the several States when called into actual service, do hereby call into the service of the United States 100,000 militia from the States following, namely: From the State of Maryland, 10,000; from the State of Pennsylvania, 50,000; from the State of Ohio, 30,000; from the State of West Virginia, 10,000—to be mustered into the service of the United States forthwith and to serve for the period of six months from the date of such muster into said service, unless sooner discharged; to be mustered in as infantry, artillery, and cavalry, in proportions which will be made known through the War Department, which Department will also designate the several places of rendezvous. These militias are to be organized according to the rules and regulations of the volunteer service and such orders as may hereafter be issued. The States aforesaid will be respectively credited under the enrollment act for the militia services rendered under this proclamation.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 15th day of June, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States.
By the President: