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The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia plans are picked up by straggling Southern soldiers, who notice several cigars wrapped up in it. The men are allowed to keep the cigars, and the plans are returned to a grateful General Lee who orders an attack on Harpers Ferry, which falls easily and the weapons and supplies there are given to his Army. With the Union holding no knowledge of the Confederate plans, a small scouting mission of approximately 14 Yankee cavalry runs into the Army of Northern Virginia and forced to surrender, but not before several shots are exchanged and two Yanks, Colonel George Meade and Private George Custer are killed.
The Army of Northern Virginia then proceeds towards the Union Army of the Potomac, which has recently moved from its previous location to Frederick, with roughly 65,000 Union soldiers under McClellan, compared to Lee’s 55,000 men. Lee soon orders his army to surround the Yankees on the northern and southwestern sides. In the dead of night the Confederates move into position and barely finish trenches by dawn, by which the Union Army has not yet awakened. Lee then orders an attack on the still sleeping enemy forces at roughly 6:47 am on June 13th, and the startled and unaware northern soldiers are butchered as they have little time but to grab there weapons and try to feverishly load them, most don’t even get that far as the Southron forces take McClellan and several of the Army commanders prisoner, and the Union forces that manage to fight results in a petty bloodbath, with few Confederate casualties compared to over 23,657 northern death, 22,986 wounded, and 1,216 missing in action. The remaining 17,141 Yankees are then taken prisoner, with the Confederates stripping the northerners of there supplies, guns, and knives from the dead and living.
With this General McClellan and his staff are taken prisoner and sent south to Richmond where they are placed in a POW camp, albeit with special concessions for McClellan as he is the head of the, or formerly head of the Union armies. With th defeat of the key Union Army, President Lincoln orders the defenses of Washington increased and the formation of a new Army. By July 21st, he has a force of roughly 12,000 men, with more trickling in.
Meanwhile General Lee, along with his army and the rest of Dixie, jubilation breaks out. With Lee granting his men a 1 day rest, knowing that he must finish the war once and for all before the Yankees muster another Army. On July 30th the Army of Northern Virginia, burgeoning with enthusiasm and a few thousand reinforcements, breaks camp and marches northeast towards Baltimore, which is reached on August 15th, and the city surrenders after little fight due to the Union government declaring martial law throughout the state, and Maryland secessionists welcome them as liberators. Lee then asks for the Maryland legislature at the outbreak of the war to vote on secession due to their own choices, and not to be influenced by the Confederate soldiers. The vote is over 60% in favor of secession, and through telegram, the President is notified of Maryland’s secession.
Hearing this Lincoln orders the Union forces in Kentucky to Tennessee to halt all offensives and send troops east. Several commanders refuse, and continue their operations, among them Ulysses S Grant. Hearing of the victory the state legislature, stating that the Union had violated their declaration of neutrality at the wars outbreak, declares its secession and joins the Confederacy. Trapping the Union armies in Kentucky and Tennessee, massive desertions begin with the loss of yet another state as many feel the war is lost.
With Kentucky’s secession, jubilant Confederates attack the remaining Union forces in Tennessee and Kentucky and force them to surrender, killing US Grant and several others which had been prominent generals in OTL. Lee then orders the movement of his army northward, as Washington is heavily guarded. Lee makes camp just south of Philadelphia before setting up camp for the winter.
Meanwhile a man in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Brigadier General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne is promoted to Major General for his actions in the final battles against the Yankees in Tennessee and later Kentucky, on October 13th. He soon begins to promote his idea about freeing slaves to provide more manpower for the Confederacy, which even though having recent success on the battlefield, is still in need of troops to defend Kentucky and Maryland as well as fight other Union invasions. Other benefits of freeing the slaves in return for military service is the ability of the Confederacy to truthfully state slavery is being abolished, thus winning over foreign support and taking the slavery issue away from Lincoln as a reason for his war of aggression against the South.
With his fellow commanders, colonels, and generals Cleburne is among friends and thus has much support for his idea, a copy of his so called “Cleburne Memorial”, is sent to President Davis and General Robert E Lee in late December. The letters will reach their destinations by early January.