Following consultations with President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee decided to once again invade the North with his Army of Northern Virginia. Even the loss of Stonewall Jackson and the army’s subsequent reorganization would not deter Lee.
Congressional and state elections were weeks away, and a successful invasion of the North might convince her electorate of the futility of continuing the war. So, on Wednesday, June 3, 1863, the first units of Lee’s army of approximately 75,000 men left their encampment along the Rappahannock and began to move in a westerly direction.
The Gettysburg campaign, which would last nearly two months, had started. As initial reports arrived of the Confederates’ movements, Joseph Hooker at Falmouth across the river from Fredericksburg did not know what to make of Lee’s actions.