General Order Number 75

The wounding of General Joseph E. Johnston at the Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia on June 1, 1862 was a watershed moment for the Confederate army fighting to protect their new capitol. Johnston’s wounding led to the assignment of General Robert E. Lee as the new commander of the Confederate army defending Richmond, Va. Despite an initial withdrawal after the Seven Pines, General Lee began to formulate a new plan to beat back the Union Army of the Potomac and move the war northward away from Richmond, Va. In other words, General Lee was planning to take the war to the enemy and, according to some scholars, attempt to bring a swift end to the conflict. On Tuesday, June 24, 1862, General Lee distributed orders to his commanders to begin offensive operations in the next several days. One set of orders were distributed to Brigadier General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, a former North Carolina congressman, who commanded a brigade of North Carolina regiments in the famous “Light” Division commanded by Major General Ambrose P. Hill. On Thursday, June 26, 1862, General Hill’s “Light” Division attacked Union positions at the Battle of Mechanicsville, Va. as preparatory attacks to clear the way for larger Confederate units. This fighting was the beginning of a period of three months of hard fighting that did not end until the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia retreated back into Virginia after the Battle of Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862.

General Order Number 75,11182

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