Voices of the Maryland Campaign: September 8, 1862

Jefferson Davis

The Army of the Potomac continued spreading out along the roads of western Maryland, fanning out in several different columns to protect Baltimore, Washington, and the Potomac River crossings. George B. McClellan believed correctly that despite the “vague and conflicting” reports he received that the Confederate force in Maryland was at Frederick.

Robert E. Lee sat safely in his camp this day, even taking time to dabble in politics. Believing this campaign to be the best chance yet for the Confederacy to gain its independence, Lee offered some political advice to his president.

Near Fredericktown, Md., September 8, 1862

His Excellency Jefferson Davis,
President of the Confederate States, Richmond, Va.:

Mr. President: The present position of affairs, in my opinion, places it in the power of the Government of the Confederate States to propose with propriety to that of the United States the recognition of our independence. For more than a year both sections of the country have been devastated by hostilities which have brought sorrow and suffering upon thousands of homes, without advancing the objects which our enemies proposed to themselves in beginning the contest. Such a proposition, coming from us at this time, could in no way be regarded as suing for peace; but, being made when it is in our power to inflict injury upon our adversary, would show conclusively to the world that our sole object is the establishment of our independence and the attainment of an honorable peace. The rejection of this offer would prove to the country that the responsibility of the continuance of the war does not rest upon us, but that the party in power in the United States elect to prosecute for purposes of their own. The proposal of peace would enable the people of the United States to determine at their coming elections whether they will support those who favor a prolongation of the war, or those who wish to bring it to a termination, which can be but productive of good to both parties without affecting the honor of either.

I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,

R.E. Lee,

Robert E. Lee believed the presence of Confederate troops in Maryland might persuade the Northern public to vote for an end to the war in the Fall 1862 elections

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