Council of War

Council of War (HMMS)

Location: Boonsboro, MD 21713 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 32.31', W 77° 42.62'

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Should We Attack?

Gen. George G. Meade gathered his generals near here at his "Antietam Bridge" headquarters on the evening of July 12, 1863, to decide whether to assault the Confederate defenses near Williamsport protecting Gen. Robert E. Lee's escape routes to the Potomac River. President Abraham Lincoln applied pressure: "If General Meade can complete his work, so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee's army, the rebellion will be over."

Meade himself wrote his wife that he believed "we shall have another battle before Lee can cross the river. For my part, as I have to follow and fight him, I would rather do it at once and in Maryland than to follow into Virginia." Concerned about a rash attack, however, General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck cautioned Meade from Washington on July 10 to "postpone a general battle till you can concentrate all your forces and get up your reserves and reenforcements. ... Beware of partial combats."

When Meade solicited his lieutenants' advice two days later, five of his six corps commanders "unqualifiedly opposed" assaulting Lee's entrenched position. A displeased Halleck admonished Meade: "It is proverbial that councils of war never fight. Act upon your own judgment and make your generals execute your orders." Meade decided to attack on July 14, but it was too late, Lee had escaped across the river the previous night.

"We had them in our grasp. We had only to stretch forth our hands and they were ours. And nothing I could say or do could make the Army move." —Abraham Lincoln
Series This marker is part of the Maryland Civil War Trails series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 7:53pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 267080 N 4380045
Decimal Degrees39.53850000, -77.71033333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 32.31', W 77° 42.62'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 32' 18.60" N, 77° 42' 37.20" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 18862-18898 MD-68, Boonsboro MD 21713, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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