Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, during the first year of the Civil War, Lee served as a senior military adviser to President Jefferson Davis. Once he took command of the field army in 1862 he soon emerged as a shrewd tactician and battlefield commander, winning most of his battles. Lees strategic foresight was more questionable, and both of his major offensives into Union territory ended in defeat, Lees aggressive tactics, which resulted in high casualties at a time when the Confederacy had a shortage of manpower, have come under criticism in recent years. Lee surrendered his army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9,1865. By this time, Lee had assumed command of the remaining Southern armies. Lee rejected the proposal of an insurgency against the Union.
He urged them to rethink their position between the North and the South, and the reintegration of former Confederates into the political life. Lee became the great Southern hero of the War, an icon of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy to some. But his popularity even in the North, especially after his death in 1870. Barracks at West Point built in 1962 are named after him, Robert Edward Lee was born at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Major General Henry Lee III, Governor of Virginia, and his second wife, Anne Hill Carter. His birth date has traditionally been recorded as January 19,1807, one of Lees great grandparents, Henry Lee I, was a prominent Virginian colonist of English descent. Lees family is one of Virginias first families, descended from Richard Lee I, Esq. the Immigrant, Lees mother grew up at Shirley Plantation, one of the most elegant homes in Virginia. Lees father, a planter, suffered severe financial reverses from failed investments. Little is known of Lee as a child, he spoke of his boyhood as an adult.
Nothing is known of his relationship with his father who, after leaving his family, mentioned Robert only once in a letter. In 1811, the family, including the newly born child, moved to a house on Oronoco Street, still close to the center of town. In 1812, Harry Lee was badly injured in a riot in Baltimore
John Sedgwick was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. He was wounded three times at the Battle of Antietam while leading his division in an assault, causing him to miss the Battle of Fredericksburg. Under his command, the VI Corps played an important role in the Chancellorsville Campaign by engaging Confederate troops at the Second Battle of Fredericksburg and his corps was the last to arrive at the Battle of Gettysburg, and thus did not see much action. He is well remembered for his ironic last words, They couldnt hit an elephant at this distance, Sedgwick was born in the Litchfield Hills town of Cornwall, Connecticut. He was named after his grandfather, John Sedgwick, an American Revolutionary War general who served with George Washington. S and he fought in the Seminole Wars and received two brevet promotions in the Mexican-American War, to captain for Contreras and Churubusco, and to major for Chapultepec. After returning from Mexico he transferred to the cavalry and served in Kansas, in the Utah War, in the summer and fall of 1860, Sedgwick commanded an expedition to establish a new fort on the Platte River in what is now Colorado.
This was a location with no railroads, and all supplies having to be carried long distances by riverboat. Even though many of these failed to arrive, Sedgwick still managed to erect comfortable stone buildings for his men before the cold weather set in. At the start of the American Civil War, Sedgwick was serving as a colonel and he missed the early action of the war at the First Battle of Bull Run, recovering from cholera. In Virginia, he fought at Yorktown and Seven Pines and was wounded in the arm and he was promoted to major general on July 4,1862. In the Battle of Antietam, II Corps commander Maj. Gen. Edwin V, sumner impulsively sent Sedgwicks division in a mass assault without proper reconnaissance. His division was engaged by Confederate forces under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson from three sides, was routed, and fell back with half the men it had started with. Sedgwick himself was hit by three bullets, in the wrist and shoulder, and was out of action until after the Battle of Fredericksburg.
From December 26,1862, he led the II Corps and the IX Corps, and finally the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, his corps faced Fredericksburg in a holding action while Maj. Gen. Joseph Hookers other four corps maneuvered against Robert E. Lees left flank. He was slow to action, but eventually crossed the Rappahannock River. At the Battle of Gettysburg, his corps arrived late on July 2 and it was not kept together as a unit during the second and third days of the battle, its brigades scattered around to plug holes in the line. In the 1864 Overland Campaign, the VI Corps was on the Union right at the Battle of the Wilderness, Sedgwick fell at the beginning of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, on May 9,1864
Jubal Anderson Early was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served in the Eastern Theater of the war for the conflict, as a division commander under Stonewall Jackson and Richard Stoddert Ewell. He was the Confederate commander in key battles of the Valley Campaigns of 1864, including a raid to the outskirts of Washington. The articles written by him for the Southern Historical Society in the 1870s established the Lost Cause point of view as a long-lasting literary, Early was born in the Red Valley section of Franklin County, third of ten children of Ruth and Joab Early. The Early family was a well-connected old Virginia family, Earlys father operated an extensive tobacco plantation of more than 4,000 acres at the foot of the Blue Ridge. Early attended local schools as well as academies in Lynchburg. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1837, ranked 18th of 50, during his tenure at the Academy he was engaged in a dispute with a fellow cadet named Lewis Addison Armistead.
Armistead broke a plate over Earlys head, an incident that prompted Armisteads resignation from the Academy. After graduating from the Academy, Early fought against the Seminole in Florida as a lieutenant in the 3rd U. S. Artillery regiment before resigning from the Army for the first time in 1838 and he practiced law in the 1840s as a prosecutor for both Franklin and Floyd Counties in Virginia. He was noted for a case in Mississippi, where he beat the top lawyers in the state and his law practice was interrupted by the Mexican-American War, in which he served as a Major with the 1st Virginia Volunteers from 1847 to 1848. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1841 to 1843, Early was a Whig and strongly opposed secession at the April 1861 Virginia convention. However, he was roused by the actions of the Federal government when President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. He accepted a commission as a general in the Virginia Militia. He was sent to Lynchburg, Virginia, to three regiments and commanded one of them, the 24th Virginia Infantry, as a colonel in the Confederate army.
Early was promoted to general after the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. In that battle, he displayed valor at Blackburns Ford and impressed General P. G. T, during the Gettysburg Campaign, Earlys Division occupied York, the largest Northern town to fall to the Rebels during the war. Early was trusted and supported by Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee affectionately called Early his Bad Old Man, because of his short temper
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 called for popular sovereignty—that is, the decision about slavery was to be made by the settlers. It would be decided by votes—or more exactly which side had more votes counted by officials, at the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would allow or outlaw slavery, and thus enter the Union as a slave state or a free state. Pro-slavery forces said every settler had the right to bring his own property, including slaves, anti-slavery free soil forces said the rich slaveholders would buy up all the good farmland and work it with black slaves, leaving little or no opportunity for non-slaveholders. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a conflict between forces in the North and pro-slavery forces from the South over the issue of slavery in the United States. The term Bleeding Kansas was coined by Republican Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, its indicated that compromise was unlikely. Through the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Congress kept a balance of political power between North and South.
Immigrants supporting both sides of the arrived in Kansas to establish residency and gain the right to vote. They captured territorial elections, sometimes by fraud and intimidation, in response, Northern abolitionist elements flooded Kansas with free-soilers. Anti-slavery Kansas residents wrote the first Kansas Constitution and elected the Free State legislature in Topeka, the two Territorial governments increased as well as symbolized the strife of Bleeding Kansas. Among the first immigrants to Kansas Territory were citizens of states, notably neighboring Missouri. Pro-slavery forces settled towns including Leavenworth and Atchison, at the same time, citizens of the North, many aided by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, moved to Kansas to make it a free state and settled towns including Lawrence and Manhattan. It was rumored in the South that thousands of Northerners were arriving in Kansas, the following year a Congressional committee investigating the election reported that 1729 fraudulent votes were cast compared to 1114 legal votes.
In one location only 20 of the 604 voters were residents of the Kansas Territory, in another 35 were residents and 226 non-residents. On March 30,1855, Kansas Territory held the election for its first Territorial Legislature, this legislature would decide whether Kansas Territory would allow slavery. Due to questions about electoral fraud, Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder invalidated the results in five voting districts, eight of the eleven delegates elected in the special election were Free-State, but this still left the proslavery camp with an overwhelming 29–10 advantage. To help countermand the voting fraud, by the summer of 1855 around 1,200 New England Yankees had emigrated to Kansas Territory. The abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher armed many of them with Sharps rifles, in response to the disputed votes and rising tension, Congress sent a special committee to Kansas Territory in 1856. The committee report concluded that if the election on March 30,1855, had limited to actual settlers it would have elected a Free-State legislature
Second Battle of Fredericksburg
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee left Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Cadmus Wilcoxs brigade arrived on May 3, increasing Earlys strength to 12,000 men and 45 cannons, most of the Confederate force was deployed south of Fredericksburg. Early was ordered by Lee to watch the remaining Union force near Fredericksburg, if he was attacked and defeated, if the Union force moved to reinforce Hooker, Early was to leave a covering force and rejoin Lee with the remainder of his troops. Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick was left near Fredericksburg with the VI Corps, the I Corps, Hookers plan called for Sedgwick to demonstrate near the city in order to deceive Lee about the Union plan. The VI and II Corps seized control of several crossings on April 29, laying down pontoon bridges in the morning hours. Brooks and James S. Wadsworth crossed the river, the I Corps was ordered to reinforce the main army at Chancellorsville during the night of May 1. During the evening of May 2, Sedgwick received orders to attack Early with his remaining forces, Sedgwick moved his forces into Fredericksburg during dawn on May 3, uniting with Gibbons division which had crossed the river just before dawn.
Sedgwick originally planned to attack the ends of Maryes Heights but a canal and he decided to launch an attack on the Confederate center on the heights, which was manned by Barksdales brigade, with John Newtons division, this attack was defeated. Colonel Thomas M. Griffin of the 18th Mississippi Infantry granted the Union forces a truce in order to gather in their wounded, during this truce, the Union commanders noticed that the flank of Barksdales left regiment was unprotected. Sedgwick launched another attack against this flank and Barksdales front using elements from all three VI Corps divisions, which pushed the Confederate forces off the ridge, capturing some artillery, the first men to mount the stone wall were from the 5th Wisconsin and the 6th Maine Infantry regiments. Barksdale retreated to Lees Hill, where he attempted to make another stand but was forced to retreat southward. Confederate casualties totaled 700 men and four cannons, Early withdrew with his division two miles to the south, while Wilcox withdrew westward, slowing Sedgwicks advance.
When he learned of the Confederate defeat, Lee started moving two divisions east to stop Sedgwick, Sedgwick had lost 1,100 men during the engagement. At first he started to pursue Earlys division but followed the orders he received the previous day, Gibbons division was left in Fredericksburg to guard the city. Garden City, New York and Company,1952, Chancellorsville 1863, The Souls of the Brave. Early at Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church in Chancellorsville, The Battle and Its Aftermath, chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press,1996. The union Sixth Army Corps in the Chancellorsville Campaign, A Study of the Engagements of Second Fredericksburg, Salem Church, mackowski and Kristopher D. White. Chancellorsvilles Forgotten Front, The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church, el Dorado Hills, CA, Savas Beatie,2013
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry
John Browns raid on Harpers Ferry was an effort by armed abolitionist John Brown to initiate an armed slave revolt in 1859 by taking over a United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Browns party of 22 was defeated by a company of U. S. Marines, Colonel Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the operation to retake the arsenal. Brown came with a group of men minimally trained for military action. His group included 18 men besides himself, Northern abolitionist groups sent 198 breech-loading.52 caliber Sharps carbines and 950 pikes, in preparation for the raid. The United States Armory was a complex of buildings that manufactured small arms for the U. S. Army, with an Arsenal that was thought to contain 100,000 muskets. Brown attempted to more black recruits. He tried recruiting Frederick Douglass as an officer to the slaves in a meeting held in a quarry at Chambersburg. It was at this meeting that ex-slave Emperor Shields Green consented to join with John Brown on his attack on the United States Armory, Douglass declined, indicating to Brown that he believed the raid was a suicide mission.
The plan was an attack on the government that would array the whole country against us. You will never get out alive, he warned, the Kennedy Farmhouse served as barracks, supply depot, mess hall, debate club, and home. It was very crowded and life there was tedious, Brown was worried about arousing neighbors suspicions. As a result, the raiders had to stay indoors during the daytime, without much to do but study, argue politics, discuss religion, Browns daughter-in-law Martha served as cook and housekeeper. His daughter Annie served as lookout, Brown wanted women at the farm, to prevent suspicions of a large all-male group. The raiders went outside at night to drill and get fresh air, thunderstorms were welcome since they concealed noise from Browns neighbors. Brown did not plan to have a raid and escape to the mountains. He believed that on the first night of action, 200-500 black slaves would join his line and he ridiculed the militia and regular army that might oppose him. He planned to send agents to nearby plantations, rallying the slaves and he planned to hold Harpers Ferry for a short time, expecting that as many volunteers and black, would join him as would form against him.
He would move rapidly southward, sending out armed bands along the way and they would free more slaves, obtain food and hostages, and destroy slaveholders morale
Lafayette McLaws was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served at Antietam and Fredericksburg, where Robert E, after the Knoxville Campaign, he was court-martialed for inefficiency, though this was overturned for procedural reasons. McLaws remained bitter about his court-martial, especially as the charges had been filed by James Longstreet, his friend and classmate at West Point, although he defended Longstreet against Lost Cause proponents who blamed him for losing the war, McLaws never fully forgave Longstreet for his actions. Lafayette McLaws was born in Augusta, Georgia and he graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842, placing 48th out of 56 cadets. McLaws served as an officer in the Mexican-American War, in the West. While at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he married Emily Allison Taylor, at the start of the Civil War, resigning as a U. S. Army captain, McLaws was commissioned a major in the Confederate States Army. He marched his division to Sharpsburg and defended the West Woods in the Battle of Antietam, Lee was disappointed in McLawss slow arrival on the battlefield.
At the Battle of Fredericksburg, McLawss Division was one of the defenders of Maryes Heights, at Chancellorsville, while the rest of Longstreets corps was detached for duty near Suffolk, Virginia, McLaws fought directly under Lees command. On May 3,1863, Lee sent McLawss Division to stop the Union VI Corps under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick marching toward Lees rear. He did accomplish this, but Lee was disappointed that McLaws had not attacked more aggressively and caused harm to Sedgwicks corps. Ewell and A. P. Hill instead, McLaws requested a transfer, but it was denied. On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2,1863 and he achieved great success in the areas known as the Wheatfield and the Peach Orchard, but the army as a whole was unable to dislodge the Union forces from their positions on Cemetery Ridge. His division did not participate in Picketts Charge the next day, McLaws accompanied Longstreets corps to Tennessee to come to the aid of General Braxton Braggs Army of Tennessee. He arrived too late to lead his division at Chickamauga, where it was led by Brig.
Gen. Joseph B, but he did participate in the Chattanooga Campaign. McLaws wrote to Cooper on December 30, disputing Longstreets charges, Davis ordered the court-martial of both generals, although he opposed relieving McLaws until a successor could be appointed. The courts-martial of Robertson and McLaws convened in Morristown, Tennessee, on February 12,1864, the proceedings suffered delays as witnesses—including Longstreet—were not available to appear as scheduled, in some cases because Longstreet granted them leaves of absence. However, on May 18, McLaws was assigned by the War Department to the Defenses of Savannah in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, McLaws was bitter about his fate, claiming that Longstreet had used him as a scapegoat for the failed Knoxville Campaign. Writing in his memoirs many years after the war, Longstreet expressed regret that he had filed charges against McLaws, in time, the animosity healed between the two Confederate veterans, but McLaws never fully forgave Longstreet for his actions
American Civil War
The American Civil War was an internal conflict fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865. The Union faced secessionists in eleven Southern states grouped together as the Confederate States of America, the Union won the war, which remains the bloodiest in U. S. history. Among the 34 U. S. states in February 1861, War broke out in April 1861 when Confederates attacked the U. S. fortress of Fort Sumter. The Confederacy grew to eleven states, it claimed two more states, the Indian Territory, and the southern portions of the western territories of Arizona. The Confederacy was never recognized by the United States government nor by any foreign country. The states that remained loyal, including border states where slavery was legal, were known as the Union or the North, the war ended with the surrender of all the Confederate armies and the dissolution of the Confederate government in the spring of 1865. The war had its origin in the issue of slavery. The Confederacy collapsed and 4 million slaves were freed, but before his inauguration, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy.
The first six to declare secession had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, the first seven with state legislatures to resolve for secession included split majorities for unionists Douglas and Bell in Georgia with 51% and Louisiana with 55%. Alabama had voted 46% for those unionists, Mississippi with 40%, Florida with 38%, Texas with 25%, of these, only Texas held a referendum on secession. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession, outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincolns March 4,1861 inaugural address declared that his administration would not initiate a civil war, speaking directly to the Southern States, he reaffirmed, I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. After Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy, efforts at compromise failed, the Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on King Cotton that they would intervene, but none did, and none recognized the new Confederate States of America.
Hostilities began on April 12,1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, while in the Western Theater the Union made significant permanent gains, in the Eastern Theater, the battle was inconclusive in 1861–62. The autumn 1862 Confederate campaigns into Maryland and Kentucky failed, dissuading British intervention, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. To the west, by summer 1862 the Union destroyed the Confederate river navy, much of their western armies, the 1863 Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. In 1863, Robert E. Lees Confederate incursion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg, Western successes led to Ulysses S. Grants command of all Union armies in 1864
The Missouri Compromise is the title generally attached to the legislation passed by the 16th Congress of the United States on May 8,1820. The measures provided for the admission of the District of Maine as a free to ratify a state constitution that both did not recognize and prohibited slavery within the state. Further, the Compromise provided that the Missouri territory was free to enact a constitution that both recognized as legal and permitted, the institution of chattel slavery. With these actions, the Compromise committed the largest remaining portion of Purchase territory to free soil, South of the parallel no slavery restrictions were imposed in the Arkansas Territory, which became Indian territory and Arkansas. There were not any statements about restrictions or recognition of the institution of slavery at or South of the latitude, President James Monroe signed the legislation on April 6,1820. The compromise bills served to quell the furious sectional debates that had first erupted during the session of the 15th Congress.
On February 3,1819, Representative James Tallmadge, Jr. a Jeffersonian Republican from New York State, had submitted two amendments to Missouris request for statehood. The first proposed to prohibit further slave migration into Missouri. At issue among southern legislators was the encroachment by their northern free state colleagues in what they considered a purely sectional concern, the more populous North held a firm numerical advantage in the House. Jeffersonian Republicans in the North ardently maintained that an interpretation of the Constitution required that Congress act to limit the spread of slavery on egalitarian grounds. The slave-holding states were acutely aware that maintaining a balance in the number of states was necessary to ensure political equilibrium in the US Senate. The South sought to enlist Missouri to maintain Southern political preeminence, the Missouri question in the 15th Congress ended in stalemate on March 4,1819, the House sustaining its northern antislavery position, and the Senate blocking a slavery restricted statehood.
Antislavery agitation grew in the North in the aftermath of the debates, as the 16th Congress assembled in December 1819, the two houses remained thoroughly polarized over slavery in the Louisiana Purchase territories. Thomas of Illinois added a proviso, excluding slavery from all remaining lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36 30’ parallel. The combined measures passed the Senate, only to be voted down in the House by those Northern representatives who held out for a free Missouri, speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay of Kentucky, in a desperate bid to break the deadlock, divided the Senate bills. The legislation extracted by the served to effect a brokered truce or armistice rather than a genuine compromise. The crux of the Compromise was that it circumvented the deepening disaffection among Jeffersonian Republicans, the Era of Good Feelings, closely associated with the administration of President James Monroe, was characterized by the dissolution of national political identities.
The end of opposition parties meant the end of party discipline, rather than produce political harmony, as President James Monroe had hoped, amalgamation had led to intense rivalries among Jeffersonian Republicans
Issues of the American Civil War
Issues of the American Civil War include questions about the name of the war, the tariff, states rights and the nature of Abraham Lincolns war goals. For more on naming, see Naming the American Civil War, the question of how important the tariff was in causing the war stems from the Nullification Crisis, which was South Carolinas attempt to nullify a tariff and lasted from 1828 to 1832. The tariff was low after 1846, and the issue faded into the background by 1860 when secession began. States rights was the justification for nullification and secession, the most controversial right claimed by Southern states was the alleged right of Southerners to spread slavery into territories owned by the United States. Historians generally agree that economic conflicts were not a cause of the war. When numerous groups tried at the last minute in 1860–61 to find a compromise to avert war, aside from the economic institution of slavery, no other economic issues brought about the Civil War. The South and Northeast had quite different word structures and they traded with each other and each became more prosperous by staying in the Union, a point many businessmen made in 1860–61.
Beard in the 1920s made a highly influential argument to the effect that these caused the war. He saw the industrial Northeast forming a coalition with the agrarian Midwest against the Plantation South, critics pointed out that his image of a unified Northeast was incorrect because the region was highly diverse with many different competing economic interests. In 1860–61, most business interests in the Northeast opposed war, after 1950, only a few mainstream historians accepted the Beard interpretation, though it was accepted by libertarian economists. As Historian Kenneth Stamp—who abandoned Beardism after 1950, sums up the scholarly consensus, the Southerners in Congress set the federal tariffs on imported goods, especially the low tariff rates in 1857, this led to resentment by Northern industrialists. Controversy over whether slavery was at the root of the issue dates back at least as far as the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. During the debate at Alton, Lincoln said that slavery was the cause of the Nullification crisis over a tariff.
John C. Calhoun was an owner who helped develop the positive good theory of slavery. Also, Calhoun said that slavery was the cause of the Nullification Crisis, while most leaders of Southern secession in 1860 mentioned slavery as the cause, Robert Rhett was a free trade extremist who opposed the tariff. However, Rhett was a slavery extremist who wanted the Constitution of the Confederacy to legalize the African Slave Trade, Republicans saw support for a Homestead Act, a higher tariff and a transcontinental railroad as a flank attack on the slave power. There were enough Southern Senators in the U. S. Senate to keep the tariff low after 1846, even when the tariff was higher three decades before the war, only South Carolina revolted, and the issue was nullification, not secession. The tariff was much lower by 1861, when the Confederacy was formed it set a very high 15% tariff on all imports, including imports from the United States
Cadmus M. Wilcox
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War and was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Wilcox was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, one of his brothers, John Allen Wilcox, would serve in the First Confederate Congress as a representative from Texas. The family moved to Tipton County, when Cadmus was only two years old and he was raised and educated in Tennessee, studying at Cumberland College before being nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point from the Memphis district. He graduated in 1846, standing 54th out of 59 cadets, among his West Point classmates were future Civil War generals George B. McClellan and Thomas J. Jackson. With the Mexican–American War already underway, Wilcox joined the 4th Infantry in the Mexican city of Monterrey in 1847. He was appointed as an aide to Maj. Gen. John A. Quitman, acting as his adjutant at the Battle of Veracruz and the Battle of Cerro Gordo. For gallant conduct at the Battle of Chapultepec, in action at the Belén Gate, after the war with Mexico ended, Wilcox was promoted to first lieutenant on August 24,1851.
On his return to West Point, he published a manual on rifles and rifle firing, Wilcox translated and published a work on infantry evolution as practiced in the Austrian Army. He was ordered to New Mexico Territory in 1860, and was promoted to the rank of captain in the 4th Infantry on December 20, while serving in the New Mexico Territory in June 1861, Wilcox learned of the secession of Tennessee. After tendering his resignation from the U. S. Army he traveled to Richmond, Virginia and he was promoted to colonel and given command of the 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment on July 9. Wilcox joined Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnstons Army of the Shenandoah with his regiment on July 16, beauregards Army of the Potomac just before the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21. The brigade was assigned to Maj. Gen. James Longstreets division of the First Corps, during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Wilcox played a prominent role at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5. At the 1862 Battle of Seven Pines, Wilcox commanded two brigades, and at Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27 he led three—his own, the loss in Wilcoxs brigade was heavier in the Seven Days Battles than of any other brigade in Longstreets division.
After Longstreet was elevated to command, Wilcox got half of his division. He led it to Second Bull Run, but was held in reserve, in the Maryland Campaign, Wilcox was returned to brigade command and his division merged with Richard H. Andersons. He fell ill and spent the Battle of Antietam resting in Martinsburg, Virginia, as a part of the division of Maj. Gen. Richard H. Shortly after the battle and his brigade moved with Andersons division to the newly created Third Corps and his command participated in the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. On the battles second day, July 2, his charge against a weakened Union line was met by a suicidally brave countercharge from the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry