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Full text of "The strategy of Robert E. Lee"

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•?mks^on^o'f^?hT*Jnhn^'?™T*''^ copyrighted steel plate etching of General Robert E. Lee. By 
-rraission of the John A. Lowell Bank Note Company, Boston, Mass. 






Formerly Member of the First Company 
of Richmond Howitzers 





Copyright, 1914, by 
The Neale Publishing Company 

m -^ iSH 


)CI,A36 9 95 2 





I Bull Run ii 

II Why the Confederates Did Not Take Wash- 
ington 17 

III Bull Run in Richmond 22 

IV Beauregard's Plan 27 

V The Quarrel About Johnston's Rank . . 31 

VI " Within Hearing of the Enemy's Guns " . 33 

VII The Relations Between Davis and Lee . . 2i7 

VIII Manassas to Seven Pines 40 



- I Seven Days 49 

•^11 Second Manassas ., . 61 

'v'lll Sharpsburg (Antietam) ' IZ 

t-IV Fredericksburg 92 



I Chancellorsville 103 

• II Gettysburg 133 

III Gettysburg 165 



I From the Rapidan to the James .... 191 

II Thh Siege of Richmond 239 

III The Retreat 249 


Portrait of Robert E, Lee 

Portrait of J. J. Bowen . 

Portrait of Robert E. Lee 

Portrait of Joseph E. Johnston 

Portrait of G. P. T. Beauregard 

Portrait of Lee and His Horse " Traveller 

Portrait of Jefferson Davis . 

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln 

Portrait of Thomas J. Jackson 

Portrait of Robert E. Lee 

Portrait of George G. Meade 

Portrait of James Longstreet 

Portrait of R. S. Ewell . 

Portrait of John B, Hood 

Portrait of Carl Schurz . 

Portrait of Wade Hampton 

Portrait of U. S. Grant . 

Portrait of J. E. B. Stuart 

Portrait of William T. Sherman 

Portrait of John C. Fremont 

Portrait of John C. Breckinridge 

Valentine's Recumbent Figure of Lee 

Frontispiece ^ 





40 V 


103 ^^ 

133 ^^ 


146 . 



191 ^ 


207 I '' 

223 ^ 



255 1/, 


k'^. ^A->-^~ 

(from a daguerreotype taken in RICHMOND IN 1862) 

Facing page 1 1 




PROBABLY no army that ever fought a battle re- 
ceived so Httle credit as McDowell's. Northern 
writers called it " raw troops," and European 
military men improved on this and dubbed both armies 
" mobs," — Von Moltke, " bush-whackers." 

According to the authorities, both armies were ready 
to run, but McDowell's got the start. 

The Confederate army comprised many old, well- 
drilled organizations, — such as the Washington Artil- 
lery, of New Orleans; the ist regiment, from Richmond, 
and many others, — while the Federal army was the reg- 
gular U. S. army in its artillery, — a very important 
feature, — and it comprised also some regular cavalry 
and infantry. 

Infantry, other than the regular, was made up of the 
three-month men, who were fairly well trained. It is 
true they were raw as far as actual fighting was con- 
cerned, but the same may be said of the regular army 
at the present time. 

If the Confederate army was ready to run, there was 
tno indication of it on the front ; men were chasing shells 



for relics and went at a double quick, when the order 
came, to the fight on the left. 
Beauregard says : 

" It was a point made at the time at the North that 
just as the Confederate troops were about to break and 
flee the Federal troops anticipated them by doing so, 
being struck into this precipitation by the arrival upon 
their flank of the Shenandoah forces, . . . errors that 
have been repeated by a number of writers and by an 
ambitious but superficial French author. The battle of 
Manassas was like any other battle, progression and de- 
velopment from the deliberate counter-employment of 
the military resources in hand, affected by incidents as 
always, but of a kind very different from those referred 
to. My line of battle, which twice had not only resisted 
the enemy's attacks, but had taken the offensive and 
driven him back in disorder, was becoming momentarily 
stronger from the arrival, at last, of the reinforcements 
provided for; and if the enemy had remained on the 
field till the arrival of Ewell and Holmes, they would 
have been so strongly outflanked that many who escaped 
would have been destroyed or captured." 

There is abundant evidence of the fact that both armies 
fought well. 

From Beauregard's report of the battle: 

" It was now between half past two and three o'clock; 
a scorching sun increased the oppression of the troops 
exhausted from incessant fighting, — many of them hav- 
ing been engaged since morning. 

" Fearing lest the Federal offensive should secure too 
firm a grip, and knowing the fatal result that might 



Facing page 13 


spring from any grave infraction of my line, I deter- 
mined to make another effort for the recovery of the pla- 
teau, and ordered a charge of the entire line of battle, 
including the reserves, which at this crisis I myself led 
into action. 

" The movement was made in such keeping and dash 
that the whole plateau was swept clear of the enemy, 
. . . leaving in our possession the most of Ricketts' 
and Griffin's batteries, the men of which were mostly 
shot down where they bravely stood by their guns." 

Bee and Bartow, who met the initial attack, were both 
killed, and their four regiments lost 658 men. They 
were driven back half a mile, but recovered it and fought 
steadily all day. 

Captain J. B. Fry, assistant adjutant general on Mc- 
Dowell's staff, says : 

" On the plateau Beauregard says the disadvantage of 
his smooth bore guns was reduced by shortness of range. 

" The short range was due to the Federal advance, 
and the several struggles for the plateau were at close 
quarters and gallant on both sides." 

No matter how well troops fight, they are sure to be 
beaten if badly handled by their officers, and that was the 
trouble with the Federal army. 

Longstreet says : 

" Had a prompt, energetic general been in command 
when, on the 20th, his order of battle was settled upon, 
the division under Tyler would have been deployed in 
front of Stone Bridge as soon after nightfall as dark- 
ness could veil the march, and the divisions under Hunter 
and Heintzelman, following, would have been stretched 


along the lateral roads in bivouac so as to be prepared 
to cross Sudley's Ford and put in a good day's work 
on the morrow, 

" McDowell's army posted as it should have been, a 
march at daylight would have brought the column to 
the Henry House before seven o'clock, dislodged Evans, 
busied with Tyler's display at the bridge without a 
chance to fight, and brought the three divisions united 
in gallant style along the turnpike, with little burning 
of powder. Thus prepared and organized, the compact 
battle order of 20,000 men would have been a fearful 
array against Beauregard's fragmentary left, and by 
the events as they passed would have assured McDowell 
of victory hours before Kirby Smith and Elzey, of the 
Army of the Shenandoah, arrived upon the field." 

Instead of this disposition the turning column had to 
march twelve miles, starting at midnight. This was a 
pretty trying prelude to an all day's fight under a July 

Captain Fry, McDowell's chief of staff, says : 

" He (McDowell) reached the scene of the actual con- 
flict somewhat earlier than Beauregard, and seeing the 
enemy driven across the valley of Young's Branch, and 
behind the Warrenton turnpike, at once sent a swift 
courier to Tyler with orders to press the attack at Stone 

" Tyler acknowledged he received this order at 
eleven o'clock. It was Tyler's division upon which 
McDowell relied for the decisive fighting of the day. 

" He knew the march of the turning column would 
be fatiguing, and when by a sturdy fight it had cleared 
the turnpike for the advance of Tyler's division, it had 


in fact done more than its fair share of the work. But 
Tyler did not attempt to force the passage of Stone 
Bridge, which after eight o'clock was defended by only 
four companies of infantry, though he admitted that by 
the plan of battle, when Hunter and Heintzelman had 
attacked the enemy in the vicinity of the bridge, he was 
to force the passage of Bull Run at that point, and at- 
tack the enemy in flank. 

" Soon after McDowell's arrival at the front Burn- 
side rode up to him and said his brigade had borne the 
battle, that it was out of ammunition, and that he 
wanted permission to withdraw, refit, and fill cartridge 
boxes. McDowell, in the excitement of the occasion, 
gave reluctant consent, and the brigade, which certainly 
had done nobly, marched to the rear, stacked arms, and 
took no further part in the fight. 

" The batteries of Ricketts and Griffin, by their fine 
discipline, wonderful daring, and matchless skill, were 
the prime features in the fight. The battle was not lost 
till they were lost. When in their advanced position, 
just after the infantry supports had been driven in over 
the slope, a fatal mistake occurred. A regiment came 
out of the woods on Griffin's right, and as he was in the 
act of opening upon it with canister he was deterred by 
the assurance of Major Barry, chief of artillery, that 
it was a regiment sent by Heintzelman to support the 
battery. A moment more, and the doubtful regiment 
proved its identity by a deadly volley, and, as Griffin 
states in his report, every cannoneer was cut down, and 
a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery 
(which was without support except in name) perfectly 
helpless. The effect upon Ricketts was equally fatal. 
He, desperately wounded, and Ramsey, his lieutenant, 
killed, lay in the wreck of the battery. 


" After the arrival of Howard's brigade, McDowell, 
for the last time, pressed up the slope to the plateau, 
forced back the Confederate line, and regained posses- 
sion of the Henry and Robinson Houses, and of the 
lost batteries. 

" But there were no longer cannoneers to man or 
horses to move the guns that had done so much. By 
the arrival upon this part of the field of his own re- 
serves and Kirby Smith's brigade of Johnston's army, 
about half past three, Beauregard extended his left to 
outflank McDowell's shattered, shortened and discon- 
nected lines, and the Federals left the field about half 
past four. 

" Until then they had fought wonderfully well for 
raw troops. There were no fresh forces on the field 
to support or encourage them, and the men seemed to 
be seized simultaneously by the conviction that it was 
no use to do anything more, and they might as well start 

McDowell's defeat was due to his faulty disposition 
on the night of the 20th, the failure of Tyler to force 
the crossing at Stone Bridge, and Major Barry's mis- 
take. The raw troops were not to blame for any of these 
things. After the battle some of the commands lost 
cohesion, and the men drifted to Washington where 
their camps were located. 

For this they may be censured, but not for the real 
disaster, — the loss of the battle. Any troops would 
have lost it under the circumstances. 

J^ iJ^t^A4^3U 

Facing page 17 



IT is needless to say there was great rejoicing in Rich- 
mond over the victory; but the city was already a 
military camp, and there was a mingled feeling of 
disappointment among the soldiers who had not been in 
the battle for fear the war had ended without glory 
for them. 

Furloughs were granted lavishly ; the city was full of 
officers from the army, and much discussion of the bat- 
tle ensued. At first it was considered a complete and 
decisive victory, and Beauregard was hailed as the young 
Napoleon. It was not long, however, before it dawned 
on the ingenious mind of some one that Washington 
ought to have been captured, and this illusion spread 
until it is probably the accepted opinion of the world 

General Upton, in his plea for a regular army of 
large proportions, says that Washington was saved from 
capture by the " indecision of a band of insurgents." It 
would be difficult, however, to establish indecision where 
there was no diversity of opinion, and it is easy to show 
there was none. Longstreet, in his " IManassas to Ap- 
pomattox," written long after the event, appears to have 
caught the infection also. 

He says : 



" Beauregard's mistake was in failing to ride promptly 
after his five o'clock order and handling his column 
while in action. As events actually occurred, he would 
have been in overwhelming numbers against jMcDowell's 
reserve and supply depot. His adversary, so taken by 
surprise, would not have been difficult to conquer. 

". . . Supplies of subsistence, ammunition, and for- 
age, passed as we marched through the enemy's camp 
toward Centerville, seemed ample to carry the Confeder- 
ate army on to Washington. . . . 

". . . Through the abandoned camps of the Federals 
we found their pots and kettles over the fire, with food 
cooking; quarters of beef hanging on the trees, and 
wagons by the roadside loaded, some with bread and 
general . provisions, others with ammunition. When 
within artillery range of the retreating column passing 
through Centerville, the infantry was deployed on the 
side of the road, under cover of the forest, so as to 
give room for the batteries ordered into action to open, 
Bonham's brigade on the left, the others on the right. 

" As the guns were about to open there came a mes- 
sage that the enemy, instead of being in precipitate re- 
treat, was marching around to attack the Confederate 
right. With this report came orders, or reports of or- 
ders, for the brigades to return to their positions behind 
the Run. I denounced the report as absurd, claimed to 
know a retreat such as was before me, and ordered that 
the batteries open fire, when Major Whiting, of 
General Johnston's stafif, rising in his stirrups, said, * In 
the name of General Johnston, I order that the batteries 
shall not open.' I enquired, ' Did General Johnston 
send you to communicate that order ? ' Whiting replied, 
* No ; but I take the responsibility to give it.' I claimed 
the privilege of responsibility under the circumstances, 


and when in the act of renewing the order to fire, 
General Bonham rode to my side and asked that the 
batteries should not open. As the ranking officer pres- 
ent, this settled the question. By that time, too, it was 
near night." 

I do not know what Longstreet saw, but our battery 
was the battery attached to Bonham's brigade. We 
did not get anywhere near Centerville, saw no retreat- 
ing column, and no pots and kettles, provisions nor 

The infantry was faced to the right because it was 
rumored the enemy was on that flank; but the battery 
remained in column in the road. After a wait of short 
duration we returned to our position behind the Run. 

But even if the attack had been made, the probabil- 
ities are that it would have failed, for Captain Fry says 
that McDowell had at Centerville Miles's division, 
Richardson's brigade, three regiments of Runyon's di- 
vision, and Hunt's, Tidball's, Ayres', and Green's regular 
batteries, and one or two fragments of batteries, making 
in all about twenty guns. 

H, as Longstreet says in speaking about the battle on 
the left, " before the loss of his artillery he (McDowell) 
was the Samson of the fight," it is tolerably clear that 
he would have met a warm reception at Centerville. 

Then the idea of relying on what could be picked up 
on the road in the way of supplies and ammunition is 

Captain Fry says that one reason McDowell decided 
on the retreat from Centerville was that he was short 
of provisions. 

Johnston says in his report of the battle : 

" At twenty minutes before five, when the retreat of 


the enemy toward Centerville began, I sent orders to 
Brigadier General Bonham by Lieutenant Colonel Lay of 
his staff, who happened to be with me, to march with his 
own and Longstreet's brigade (which were nearest Bull 
Run and the stone bridge) by the quickest route to the 
turnpike, and form them across it to intercept the re- 
treat of the Federal troops. 

" But he found so little appearance of rout in those 
troops as to make the execution of his instructions seem 
impracticable, so the two brigades returned to their 

Davis says: 

" He (Beauregard) stated that because of false alarms 
which reached him he had ordered the troops referred 
to (Elzey's and Early's) from the left to the right of 
our line, so as to be in position to repel the reported 
movement of the enemy against that flank." 

So that instead of Beauregard's riding with his five- 
o'clock order, he was busy with his dispositions to repel 
the reported advance of the enemy on his right flank. 

Nor was there any subsequent intention of advanc- 
ing on Washington. 

General Johnston says: 

" Having left the field after ten o'clock and ridden 
in the dark slowly, it was about half past eleven when 
I found the President and General Beauregard together 
in the latter's headquarters at Manassas. We three 
conversed an hour or more without referring to pursuit 
or advance on Washington. . . . 

" And one conference he, the President, had with me 


that day (the 22d) proved conclusively that he had no 
thought of sending an army against Washington, for in 
it he offered me the command in West Virginia." 

Mr. Davis says : 

" On the night of the 22d I had a second conference 
with Generals Johnston and Beauregard. All the rev- 
elations of the day were of the most satisfactory char- 
acter as to the completeness of the victory. . . . 

". . . The generals, like myself, were all content with 
what had been done. I propounded to them the enquiry 
as to what it was practicable to do. Both generals op- 
posed an advance, alleging unpreparedness and the 
certainty of resistance, not only from troops at Wash- 
ington, but from Patterson's army." 

Davis concludes : " Thus it was, and so far as I 
know, for the reasons stated above, that an advance to 
the south bank of the Potomac was not contemplated as 
the immediate sequence of the victory at Manassas." 

And so a sufficient answer to the question ** Why the 
Confederates did not take Washington?" is "Because 
they never thought of it." It was not in the program. 
That is a good and sufficient reason, as cities are not 
captured unintentionally. 

Another reason is that it was impregnable to any force 
the Confederates could bring against it. 

Cameron telegraphed to New York : 

" Our works on the south bank of the Potomac are 
impregnable, being well manned with reinforcements. 
The capital is safe." 

The capture of Washington was not even discussed 
in the army at that time, nor for that matter at any 
subsequent time. 



WHILE Manassas, or Bull Run, was a Confeder- 
ate victory, it was a blessing in disguise to the 
North. Out of it came the quarrels between Davis, 
Johnston, and Beauregard, — sores that never healed, 
— and as those generals were the popular heroes, 
of whom much was expected but never realized, and as 
they were retained in the service until the end and were 
always balky horses, it is clear that the effect was most 

In addition to the balky and sometimes insubordinate 
conduct of Johnston and Beauregard in the field they 
had their adherents in Congress, and these gave the ad- 
ministration no end of trouble. In fact the battle of 
Bull Run inaugurated a conflict in Richmond that con- 
tributed not a little to the downfall of the Confederacy. 

The first manifestation of trouble was over the absurd 
idea that Washington could have been captured; and 
as it was not captured, somebody blundered. 

It surely could not be Beauregard, the young Napo- 
leon, nor Johnston who came, like Bliicher, to his aid; 
so it must be Davis, who arrived on the field just as 
the battle ended, and in time to restrain the impetuous 

Mr. Davis says: 

" When the smoke of battle had lifted from the field 
of Manassas, and the rejoicing over the victory had 



spread over the land and spent its exuberance, some who, 
like Job's warhorse, * sniffed the battle from afar,' but 
in whom the likeness there ceased, censoriously asked 
why the fruits of the victory had not been gathered by 
the capture of Washington. 

" Then some indiscreet friends of the generals com- 
manding in that battle, instead of the easier task of 
justification, chose the harder one of exculpation for 
the inferred failure. This ill-advised zeal, combined, 
perhaps, with malice against me, induced the allegation 
that the President had prevented the generals from mak- 
ing an immediate and vigorous pursuit of the routed 
enemy. This, as the other stories had been, was left 
to the correction which time, it was hoped, would bring; 
the sooner, because it was expected to be refuted by the 
reports of the commanding generals with whom I had 
conferred on that subject immediately after the battle. 
After considerable time had elapsed, it was reported to 
me that a member of Congress, who had served on that 
occasion as a volunteer aid to General Beauregard, had 
stated in the House of Representatives that I had pre- 
vented the pursuit of the enemy after his defeat at Ma- 

" This gave to the rumor such ofHcial character and 
dignity as seemed to me to entitle it to notice not here- 
tofore given. Wherefore I addressed General Johnston 
the following inquiry, which, though restricted to the 
allegation, was of such a tenor as left it to his option to 
state all the facts connected with the slander, if he should 
choose to do me that justice, or should see the public 
interest involved in the correction, which, as stated in 
my letter to him, was that which gave it, in my estima- 
tion, its claim to consideration, and had caused me to 
address him on the subject: 


"'Richmond, Va., November 3, 1861. 
" * General J. E. Johnston, 

" * Commanding Department of the Potomac. 

" * Sir : Reports have been and are being widely cir- 
culated that I prevented General Beauregard from 
pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and 
had subsequently restrained him from advancing upon 
Washington city. 

" * Though such statements may have been made 
merely for my injury, and in that view might be post- 
poned to a more convenient season, they have served to 
create distrust, to excite disappointment, and must embar- 
rass the administration in its further efforts to reinforce 
the armies of the Potomac, and generally to provide for 
the public defense. For these public considerations I 
call upon you, as the commanding general, and as a 
party to all the conferences held by me on July 21st and 
22d, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of the enemy 
after the victory of Manassas, or have ever objected tO' 
an advance or other active operations which it was 
feasible for the army to undertake. 
" * Very respectfully yours, &c., 

" * Jefferson Davis.' 

" * Headquarters^ Centerville, , 
" * November 10, 1861. 
" * To His Excellency, 

" ' The President. 

" ' Sir : I have the honor to receive your letter of the 
3d instant, in wdiich you call upon me as the commanding 
general, and as a party to all the conferences held by 
you on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether you ob- 
structed the pursuit after the victory of Manassas, or 
have ever objected to an advance or other active opera- 


tions which it was feasible for the army to undertake. 

" ' To the first question I reply, No ; the pursuit was 
" obstructed " by the enemy's troops at Centerville, as I 
have stated in my official report. In that report I have 
also said why no advance was made upon the enemy's cap- 
ital, as follows: The apparent freshness of the United 
States troops at Centerville, which checked our pursuit; 
the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, 
Arlington, and Alexandria; the certainty, too, that 
General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington 
with his army of more than thirty thousand men sooner 
than we could ; and the condition and inadequate means 
of the army in ammunition, provisions, and transporta- 
tion prevented any serious thought of advance upon the 

" * To the second inquiry I reply that it has never 
been feasible for the army to advance farther than it 
has done to the line of Fairfax C. H., with its advanced 
posts at Munson's and Mason's Hills. After a con- 
ference at Fairfax C. H. with the three senior general 
officers you announced it to be impracticable to give the 
army the strength which those officers considered neces- 
sary to enable it to assume the offensive. Upon which 
I drew it back to its present position. 

" ' Most respectfully, 
" ' Your obt. svt, 

"'J. E. Johnston.'" 

It will be seen that Johnston admits that Davis did 
not hold him back from Washington immediately after 
Bull Run, but that several months afterward he refused 
to give him the men to capture that city, — and hence 
it was not captured. 

Davis wrote to Beauregard: 


" Richmond, Va., October 30, 1861. 
" General Beauregard, Manassas, Va. 

" Sir : Yesterday my attention was called to various 
newspaper publications, purporting to have been sent 
from Manassas, and to be a synopsis of your report of 
the battle of July 21st last, in which it is represented that 
you have been overruled by me in your plan for a battle 
with the enemy, south of the Potomac, for the capture 
of Baltimore and Washington, and the liberation of 
Maryland. I inquired for your long expected report, and 
to-day it has been submitted for my inspection. 

" With much surprise I find that the newspaper 
statements were sustained by the text of the report. I 
was surprised, because if we differ in opinion as to the 
measures and purposes of contemplated campaigns, such 
facts could have no proper place in the report of a battle ; 
further, because it seemed to be an attempt to exalt 
yourself at my expense; and, especially, because no such 
plan as that described was submitted to me. . . . 

" Very respectfully yours, 

"Jefferson Davis." 


Facing page 2^ 


Beauregard's plan 

EAUREGARD'S report was : 

" Gen'l S. Cooper, 

" Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond. 

"... I proposed that General Johnston should unite, 
as soon as possible, the bulk of the Army of the Shenan- 
doah with that of the Potomac, then under my com- 
mand, leaving only sufficient force to garrison his strong 
works at Winchester, and to guard the five defensive 
passes of the Blue Ridge, and thus hold Patterson in 
check. At the same time General Holmes was to 
march hither with all his command not essential for 
the defense of the position at Acquia Creek. These 
junctions having been made at Manassas, an immediate 
impetuous attack of our combined armies upon Mc- 
Dowell was to follow, as soon as he approached my 
advanced position in and around Fairfax C. H., with 
the inevitable result, as I submitted, of his complete 
defeat and the destruction and capture of his army. 
This accomplished, the Army of the Shenandoah, 
under General Johnston, increased with a part of my 
forces and rejoined, as he returned, by the detachments 
left to hold the mountain passes, was to march back 
rapidly into the Valley, fall upon and crush Patterson 
with a superior force, wheresoever he might be found. 

" This, I confidently intimated, could be done within 



fifteen days after General Johnston should march from 
Winchester to Manassas. Meanwhile I was to occupy 
the enemy's works on this side of the Potomac, if, 
as I anticipated, he had been so routed as to enable 
me to enter them with him; or if not, to retire again 
for a time within the line of Bull Run with my main 

" Patterson having been virtually destroyed, then 
General Johnston would reinforce General Garnett suf- 
ficiently to make him superior to General McClellan, 
his opponent, and able to defeat that officer. 

" This done. General Garnett was to form an im- 
mediate junction with General Johnston, who was forth- 
with to cross the Potomac into Maryland with his whole 
force, rouse the people as he advanced to the recovery 
of their political rights and the defense of their homes 
and families from an offensive invader, and then 
march to the investment of Washington, in the rear, 
while I resumed the offensive in front. 

" This plan of operation, you are aware, was not ac- 
ceptable at the time, from considerations which appeared 
so weighty as more than " to counterbalance the pro- 
posed advantages." 

He says nothing in his report of being restrained 
from capturing Washington as an immediate sequence 
of the battle of Manassas, but wanted everybody to 
know that he could have captured it before the battle, 
and that, as Davis failed to avail himself of his plan, 
Washington and Baltimore were not captured; and 
Maryland was not liberated. 

It will be seen that both generals magnanimously ad- 
mit that Davis did not restrain them from capturing 
Washington immediately after the battle; but they both 


Jwould have captured it, one before and the other after 
the battle, if Davis had in one case approved of an ab- 
surd plan, and in the other provided troops that he could 
not arm. 

Beauregard refused to make any change in his re- 
port, so Congress did it, — that is, left out the "plan." 

Beauregard's plan may appear to the military critics 
involved and complicated, but with the cooperation of 
the enemy it would have been perfectly practical. Pat- 
terson would have obligingly allowed Johnston to de- 
tach a part of his 11,000 men to hold Winchester and 
the five passes of the Blue Ridge, and then, with the 
remainder of his army, join Beauregard at Manassas. 
He would not have molested the little detachments at 
Winchester and the mountain passes. 

The " immediate and impetuous " attack on McDowell 
would certainly not have been objectionable to that of- 
ficer, and no doubt he would have delighted in the " com- 
plete defeat and the destruction and capture of his 

Then General Johnston would have been received on 
his return to the Valley with open arms by his old friend 
Patterson, who would have been " crushed " on schedule 
time. Being " virtually destroyed," he would not have 
objected — in fact could not — to the reinforcement of 
Garnett and the destruction of McClellan, though at that 
time Garnett was in rapid retreat before McClellan, 
and was a few days later killed and his small force dis- 
persed. McClellan beaten and disposed of, Garnett's 
junction with Johnston would have been easy, and the 
crossing of the Potomac by the combined armies, a 
pleasant excursion. 

Once in Maryland the hunger for political rights 
would have been different from what it was when we 


tried it in 1862 and 1863, and the brave Marylanders, 
to oblige Beauregard, would have sung " Maryland, 
My Maryland," while Johnston invested Washington in 
rear, and Beauregard in front. 

Thus the Federal armies would have been disposed 
of, Washington and Baltimore captured, Maryland 
liberated, and Beauregard another and greater Napoleon. 

Elaborate and complicated plans on schedule time 
never had any terrors for Beauregard. 

Before the battle of Manassas he suggested that John- 
ston should leave the railroad thirty-five miles from Ma- 
nassas, and fall on McDowell's rear, while he, on hearing 
his guns, would attack in front. 

The result would have been as Johnston says : 

" McDowell would have disposed of me in two hours 
and could then have turned his attention to Beauregard, 
who would have been coming up." 



THE armies of Johnston and Beauregard were com- 
bined after the battle, and Johnston was in com- 
mand, but things did not run smoothly between the 
generals, nor between them and the Richmond author- 
ities. Only three days after the battle Johnston wrote 
to the War Department : 

" Lieutenant Colonel Maury reported to me this 
morning as assistant adjutant general, being assigned 
to that place by General Lee. I had already selected 
Major Rhett . . . and can admit the power of no of- 
ficer of the army to annul my order on the subject, nor 
can I admit the claim of any officer to the command 
of the forces, being myself the ranking general of the 
Confederate army." 

Davis indorsed this letter " Insubordinate," and the 
quarrel over Johnston's rank ensued. 
In one of his lengthy letters he says: 

" The effect of the course pursued is this : It trans- 
fers me from the position of first in rank to that of 
fourth. ... It is plain that this is a blow aimed at 
me alone. ... It seeks to tarnish my fame, as a soldier 
and as a man, earned by more than thirty years of labor- 
ious and perilous service. I had but this, the scars of 



many wounds all honestly taken in my front and in 
the front of battle, and my father's Revolutionary sword. 
It was delivered to me from his venerable hand, without 
a stain of dishonor. The blade is still unblemished," 
etc., etc. 

Davis replied: 

" I have just received and read your letter of the 
1 2th inst. The language is, as you say, unusual, its 
arguments and statements utterly one-sided, and its in- 
sinuations as unfounded as they are unbecoming." 

Beauregard gave almost as much trouble. 

Differences led, as Mrs. Davis says in her " Memoirs," 
" to an estrangement between Beauregard and the 
authorities at Richmond, which apparently widened as 
the war progressed." 

Both generals were spoiled by the battle. 

The administration was already unpopular. Mr, 
Hunter, of Virginia, quit the cabinet for fear, his 
enemies said, that identification with the administration 
might jeopardize his chances for the next presidential 

Beauregard loomed up also as presidential " timber." 




EAUREGARD wrote to the editor of the Richmond 

" Centerville, Va., 
(" Within hearing of the enemy's guns), 

"November 3, 1861. 
" To THE Editor : My attention has been called to 
an unfortunate controversy now going on relative to 
the publication of a synopsis of my report of the battle 
of Manassas. None can regret more than I do this 
publication, which was made without my knowledge or 
authority. The President is the sole judge of when and 
what parts of the reports of a commanding officer 
should be made public. I, individually, do not object 
to delaying its publication as long as the War Depart- 
ment should think it necessary or proper for the success 
of our cause. Meanwhile, I entreat my friends not 
to trouble themselves about refuting the slanders and 
calumnies aimed at me. Alcibiades on a certain occasion 
resorted to a singular method to occupy the minds of 
his traducers; let, then, that synopsis answer the same 
purpose for me in this instance. 

"If certain minds cannot understand the difference 
between patriotism, the highest civic virtue, and office 
seeking, the lowest civic occupation, I pity them from 
the bottom of my heart. Suffice it to say that I prefer 



the respect and esteem of my countrymen to the ad- 
miration and envy of the world. I hope for the sake 
of our cause and country to be able, with the assistance 
of a kind Providence, to answer my calumniators with 
new victories over our natural enemies ; but I have noth- 
ing to ask of the country, the Government, nor my 
friends, except to afford me all the aid they can in the 
great struggle we are now engaged upon. 

" I am not and never expect to be a candidate for 
any civic office in the gift of the people or the Executive. 
The acme of my ambition is, after having cast my mite 
in the defense of our sacred cause, and assisted to the 
best of my ability in securing our rights and independence 
as a nation, to retire to private life (my means permit- 
ting), never again to leave my home unless to fight 
anew the battles of my country. 
" Respectfully 

''' Your most obedient servant, 
"G. T. Beauregard." 

" Within hearing of the enemy's guns " is a good 
second to Pope's " Headquarters in the saddle." 

Mrs. Davis says : 

" Now for the first time there appeared to be an or- 
ganized party in opposition to the administration. 

" This might have been weakened by daily social inter- 
course and, habituated as we were to giving numerous 
entertainments of an official character, we should gladly 
have kept up the custom ; but during every entertainment, 
without exception, either the death of a relation was 
announced to a guest, or a disaster to the Confederacy 
was telegraphed to the President. He was a nervous 


dyspeptic by habit. . . . He said he could do either one 
duty or the other, give entertainments or administer the 
Government, and he fancied he was expected to per- 
form the latter service in preference! And so we 
ceased to entertain except at formal receptions, or 
informal dinners and breakfasts given to as many as 
Mr. Davis's health permitted us to invite. In the even- 
ing he was too exhausted to receive visitors. 

" The Examiner sent forth a wail of regret over the 
parsimony of the administration. It touched feelingly 
upon the deprivation of the young people of Richmond 
in not being received in the evening, the assumption of 
* superior dignity of the satraps,' etc., etc. 

" This became a fierce growl as it contemplated the 
awful contingency of the ' President's getting rich on 
his savings.'. . . So, little by little, Congress became 
alienated, or at least a large portion of them, with a few 
of the military men. 

" The President let the conviction gnaw at his vitals 
in silence. He used to say with a sigh : * If we suc- 
ceed, we shall hear nothing of the malcontents; if we 
do not, then I shall be held accountable by the majority 
of friends as well as of foes. I will do my best, and 
God will give me strength to bear whatever comes to 

An historian, speaking of Davis, says : 

" His temperament was obstinate and domineering. 

" He soon made all branches of the Government 
subservient to his will, although there were both a 
Congress and a Supreme Court. He was the State. 

" And this unfortunate disposition alienated from him 
some of the ablest men of the South, men who were 


ardent supporters of the independence of their section, 
and whose self-sacrificing spirit could not be challenged." 

The general impression that Davis was to blame for 
the alienation of some of the ablest men, including Beau- 
regard and Johnston, and that he was " domineering 
and obstinate," has no foundation in fact. 

To the contrary, he was most considerate of the feel- 
ings of those with whom he was associated in the Govern- 
ment, and with the generals in the field, as the corre- 
spondence between them abundantly demonstrates. 



THE relations between Davis and Lee were of the 
most intimate and friendly character throughout 
the war, a fact no doubt due to the difference between 
the " able men alienated " and Lee, who remained loyal 
to Davis even after the absurd act of Congress, passed 
after the war had practically ended, empowering Lee 
to ignore Davis and resurrect the Confederacy. 

After the war Davis wrote to the War Department 
at Washington for some papers, and the officer who 
forwarded them wrote: 

" The official records when published will not add to, 
but greatly detract from. General Johnston's reputation. 
I can hardly conceive how you could so long have borne 
with the snarly tone of his letters, which he wrote at 
all times, and on all pretexts." 

Davis was not a tactful man like Lincoln, and there- 
fore could not handle the opposition in the same masterly 

That he was conscious of this early in the war is 
shown by the following extract from one of his letters 
of the i6th of May, 1862, to Mrs. Davis: 

"... I have no political wisK beyond the success of 



our cause, no personal desire but to be relieved from 
further connection with office." 

He was an idealist, while Lincoln was the embodi- 
ment of common sense. 

Dr. Craven, post surgeon at Fortress Monroe, says 
in his diary: 

" No. 8 . . . Mr. Davis is remarkable for the kind- 
liness of his nature and fidelity to friends. Of none 
of God's creations does he seem to speak unkindly, and 
the same fault found with Mr. Lincoln, — unwillingness 
to sanction the military severities essential to maintain 
discipline, — is the fault I have heard most strongly urged 
against Mr. Davis. . . . 

" There were moments, while speaking on religious 
subjects, in which Mr. Davis impressed me more than 
any professor of Christianity I ever heard. . . ." 

General Morris Schaff, in the Atlantic, April, 1908, 

" There must have been a great personal charm in 
Jefferson Davis notwithstanding his rather austerely 
courtly address; and it has occurred to me that in it, 
next to the almost irresistible influence of marriage ties, 
may be found the explanation of the fact that a number 
of Northern men, his personal friends, like Huse of 
Massachusetts, Cooper of New York, Ives of Con- 
necticut, Gorges and Collins of Pennsylvania, broke the 
natural bonds of home and blood and fought for the 
Confederacy. A Southern friend who visited him at 
Beauvoir a few years before he died referred to this 
rare trait of his nature, and went on to describe his 


home, shaded by pines and live oaks, with their drapery 
of swaying moss, and he told me of the way his broad 
porch overlooked the still and peaceful waters of the 
Gulf of Mexico. I wonder if, as his eye rested out on 
that stretch of sea where now and then a solitary pelican 
winged heavily into view, he thought of his cadet days 
on the banks of the Hudson and contrasted their peace 
with the dead hopes of his old age. He was a great 
man. . . ." 



COLONEL MOSBY, in his " Stuart's Cavalry in the 
Gettysburg Campaign," says: 

" I dined with General Lee at his headquarters, near 
Petersburg, about six weeks before the surrender. He 
told me then that he had been opposed to General 
Johnston's withdrawing to the Peninsula, and had writ- 
ten to him while he was on the Rapidan, advising him 
to move back toward the Potomac. He thought that 
if he had done this, McClellan would have been recalled 
to the defense of Washington." 

Thus early in the game did Lee realize that the only 
hope of Confederate success lay in keeping the army out 
of the last ditch, and that the only way in which that 
could be done was to threaten Washington. 

But Johnston did not heed Lee's advice. 

His usual mania for retreat had seized him, though 
McClellan was hibernating, torpid, and had no thought 
of molesting him. 

Davis became alarmed at the loss of guns and sub- 
sistence stores in case of a hasty retreat. 

" Richmond, Va., February 28, 1862. 
"General J, E, Johnston: . . . The heavy guns 
at Manassas and Evansport, needed elsewhere, and re- 
ported to be useless in their present position, would 















necessarily be abandoned in a hasty retreat. I regret 
that you find it impossible to move them. 

" The subsistence stores should, when removed, be 
placed in position to answer your future wants. 

"... I need not urge on your consideration the value 
to our country of arms and munitions of war; you know 
the difficulty with which w^e have obtained our small sup- 
ply; that to furnish heavy artillery to advanced posts 
we have exhausted the supplies here which were designed 
for the armament of the city defenses. Whatever can 
be, should be done to avoid the loss of these guns. 

". . . Recent disasters have depressed the weak, and 
are depriving us of the aid of the wavering. Traitors 
show the tendencies heretofore concealed, and the selfish 
grow clamorous for local and personal interests. At 
such an hour the wisdom of the trained and the steadi- 
ness of the brave possess a double value. The military 
paradox that impossibilities must be rendered possible 
had never better occasion for its application. . . . 
" Very truly and respectfully yours, 

"Jefferson Davis." 

He writes again on the 6th urging him to save the 
ordnance stores, etc. 

Johnston began to extricate the troops from winter 
quarters on the 7th, and after much confusion got them 
on the retreat on the 9th. 

On the loth of March, Davis, unadvised of Johnston's 
retreat, telegraphed to him: 

" Further assurance given me this day that you shall 
be promptly reinforced, so as to enable you to maintain 
your position and resume first policy when the roads 
will permit." 

The first policy was to be aggressive. 


Davis and McClellan thought the roads were not 
good enough for an advance, but Johnston thought they 
would do very well for a retreat. 

Davis received no official notice of the retreat until 
the 15th. 

He writes to Johnston under that date : 

". . . It is true I have had many and alarming re- 
ports of great destruction of ammunition, camp equipage, 
and provisions, indicating precipitate retreat; but having 
heard of no cause for such a sudden movement, I was 
at a loss to believe it." 

General Early, speaking of the needless loss due to 
a hurried and foolish retreat, says: 

" A very large amount of stores and provisions had 
been abandoned for want of transportation, and among 
the stores was a very large quantity of clothing, blankets, 
etc., which had been provided by the States south of 
Virginia for their own troops. . . . 

" The loss of stores at this point, and at White Plains, 
on the Manassas Gap railroad, where a large amount 
of meat had been salted and stored, was a very serious 
one to us. . . ." 

Johnston halted on the south bank of the Rappahan- 
nock in a position of great strength. 

Early in April McClellan and his army of about 100,- 
000 men landed on the lower peninsula. Johnston 
moved down to Yorktown and the line of the Warwick 
river to opposite him. But, as usual, he promptly advised 
a retreat. 

Fat;ing page 43 



"Richmond, Va., May i, 1862. 
" General J. E. Johnston, 

"Yorktown, Va. 

" Accepting your conclusion that you must soon re- 
tire, arrangements are commenced for the abandonment 
of the Navy Yard, and the removal of public property 
both from Norfolk and this Peninsula. 

" Your announcement to-day that you would with- 
draw to-morrow night takes us by surprise, and must 
involve enormous losses, including unfinished gun- 
boats. Will the safety of your army allow more time? 

"Jefferson Davis." 

But Johnston did not value gunboats as McClellan 
did, and withdrew his army from the lines of the War- 
wick river on the night of the 3d. 

He checked McClellan's advance at Williamsburg; 
then fell back on Richmond. 

Lee, who was military adviser to the President, wrote 
to Jackson, who was in command in the Shenandoah 
Valley : 

" I cannot pretend at this distance to direct operations 
depending on circumstances unknown to me, and re- 
quiring the exercise of direction and judgment as to 
time and execution." 

Jackson replied : 

" Now, it appears to me, is the golden opportunity 
for striking a blow. Until I hear from you I will watch 
an opportunity for attacking one exposed point." 

Lee could not furnish the reinforcements that Jack- 
son intimated he would like, but he gave him a free hand 
in the Valley. 


On the 8th of May Jackson defeated Milroy and 
Schenk at McDowell. 

On the 17th of May Lincoln ordered McDowell at 
Fredericksburg to march to McClellan, and ordered 
McClellan to extend his right accordingly. On the 23d 
of May he visited McDowell to perfect arrangements for 
this march. 

That same day, the 23d, Jackson defeated Banks at 
Front Royal. 

The next day, the 24th, Lincoln countermanded his 
order for McDowell's march, and ordered him to send 
20,000 men to capture Jackson. 

On Sunday, the 25th, at daybreak Jackson routed 
Banks at Winchester, and chased him across the Poto- 

Banks wrote : 

" There never were more grateful hearts in the same 
number of men than when midday of the 26th we stood 
on the opposite shore." 

Lincoln and Stanton were now dreadfully alarmed for 
the safety of Washington. 

Stanton telegraphed to the governors of the States: 

" Intelligence from various quarters leaves no doubt 
that the enemy in great force are marching on Washing- 
ton. You will please organize and forward immediately 
all the militia and volunteer force in your State." 

Lincoln seized the railroad; even the New York 
Seventh was brought out. 
He dispatched to McClellan : 

" I think the time is near when you must either attack 



Facing page 45 


Richmond, or give up the job and come to the defense 
of Washington." 

Stanton wrote: 

" Our condition is one of considerable danger, as we 
are stripped to supply the Army of the Potomac and now 
have the enemy here." 

So that Jackson, with 17,000 men, gave Washington 
its first scare and prevented 30,000 men in the Valley, 
and 40,000 at Fredericksburg, from reinforcing McClel- 

Mr. Davis says: 

" Seeing no preparation for keeping the enemy at a 
distance, and kept in ignorance of any plan for such 
purpose, I sent for General R. E. Lee, then at Richmond 
in general charge of army operations, and told him why 
and how I was dissatisfied with the condition of affairs." 

Lee called on Johnston, and said Johnston proposed 
to attack McClellan on the next Thursday; but he did 
not. On the 31st of May, Johnston did attack. As- 
suming that high water in the Chickahominy would wash 
McClellan's bridges away and in no way interfere with 
the movements of his own army, he attacked the left of 
McClellan's army that was on the Richmond side of the 

The result was exactly the reverse of his expectations. 
McClellan's bridges were not washed away, and here is 
what General Rhodes says of his advance over one of 
the creeks he had to cross : 


" The progress of the brigade was delayed by the 
washing away of the bridges, which forced the men to 
wade in water waist deep, and a large number were 
entirely submerged. . . . 

" The ground was covered with thick undergrowth, 
and the soil very marshy. It was with great difficulty 
that either horses or men could get over it, guided as 
they were only by the firing in front. Only five com- 
panies of the 5th Alabama emerged from the woods 
under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry." 

Johnston had some success, captured some guns and 
prisoners, but with a loss of 7000 of the best soldiers 
the Confederacy ever had. 

The battle of Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines, was a mis- 
take in conception and a botch in execution. The enemy 
was comfortably entrenched, while our men had to 
flounder through swamps and tangled underbrush. 

Davis was as helpless as a child. On the 3d of June 
he wrote to Mrs. Davis : 

" If the Mississippi troops lying in camp when not re- 
treating under Beauregard were at home, they would 
probably keep a section of the river free for our use, 
and closed against Yankee gunboats. 

" It is hard to see incompetency losing opportunity, 
and wasting hard gotten means, but harder still to bear 
is the knowledge that there is no available remedy." 

The West Point fetish was strong in the army. 




ON June I, 1862, Lee was placed in command of 
the army, Johnston having been wounded in his 
battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks). 
Davis says: 

" Our army was in line in front of Richmond, but 
without intrenchments. General Lee immediately con- 
structed earthworks. They were necessarily feeble be- 
cause of our deficiency in tools. It seemed to be the 
intention of the enemy to assail Richmond by regular 
approaches, which our numerical inferiority and want of 
proper utensils made it improbable that we should be 
able to resist. 

" The day after General Lee assumed command, I 
was riding out to the army and I found him in a house 
in consultation with a number of his general officers. 
Their tone was despondent, and one especially pointed 
out the inevitable consequences of the enemy's advance 
by throwing out boyaux and constructing successive 

I think it will be admitted that when Lee took com- 
mand of the army in the backyards of Richmond pros- 
pects were far from flattering. 

Besides fighting the battle of Bull Run and a few 
minor engagements terminating with the ill-conceived 



and badly executed battle of Seven Pines, the army had 
done nothing but retreat. Disasters in the southwest 
were only relieved by an occasional dispatch from Beau- 
regard announcing a " brilliant retreat." If Lee re- 
mained in his intrenchments the city would be McClellan's 
by gradual approaches and big guns. 

In Napoleon's famous " Supper of Beaucaire," his 
first literary work of ability, he writes as follows : 

" It is an axiom of military science that the army 
which remains behind its intrenchments is beaten; ex- 
perience and theory agree on this point." 

As the brilliant idea of abandoning Richmond had 
not occurred to Lee, his only alternative was to seize 
the initiative. He would call Jackson from the Valley ; 
but before doing this he would give Washington a scare. 
He sent two brigades to reinforce Jackson, ordering 
him at the same time to move quickly to Ashland, then 
down the north bank of the Chickahominy. The news 
as to the reinforcement reached Washington and Mc- 
Clellan about the same time. Lincoln withheld troops 
from McClellart for the defense of Washington, and 
McClellan thought Lee had more men than he had any 
use for. 

On the 26th Lee, after leaving 30,000 men under 
Magruder for the defense of Richmond, crossed the 
Chickahominy at the upper bridges, A. P. Hill attacked 
the enemy at Beaver Dam, — McClellan's extreme right, 
— and was repulsed with considerable loss ; but on the 
next day, the 27th, Lee beat McClellan in the great bat- 
tle of Gaines's Mill. 

Longstreet says : 

" It was a little after 2 p. m. when A. P. Hill put all 


his force into action and pressed his battle with a great 
zeal and courage, but he was alone. . . ." 

Speaking of the final charge after sunset, which swept 
the Federal line from the field, Longstreet says : 

". . . The position was too strong to doubt that it was 
only the thinning fire as the battle progressed that made 
it assailable ; besides, the repulse of A. P. Hill's repeated, 
desperate assaults forcibly testified to the fact. It was, 
nevertheless, a splendid charge, by peerless soldiers. 

". . . Five thousand prisoners were turned over to 
General Lee's provost guard, a number of batteries and 
many thousand small arms to the Ordnance Department 
by my command. 

" The Confederate commanders, except A. P. Hill, 
claimed credit for the first breach in General Porter's 
lines, but the solid ranks of prisoners delivered to the 
general provost guard, and the several batteries captured 
and turned over to the Ordnance Department, show the 
breach to have been made by the columns of Anderson, 
Pickett, and Hood's two regiments. 

"The troops of the gallant A. P. Hill, that did as 
much and as effective fighting as any, received little of 
the credit properly due them. It was their long and 
steady fight that thinned the Federal ranks and caused 
them so to foul their guns that they were out of order 
when the final struggle came. . . ." 

McClellan dispatched to the Secretary of War from 
Savage station : 

" I now know the full history of the day. On this 
side of the river (the right bank) we repulsed several 


strong attacks; on the left bank our men did all that 
men could do, all that soldiers could accomplish, but they 
were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, even after 
I brought my last reserves into action. The loss on 
both sides is terrible. . . . The sad remnants of my men 
behave as men. ... I have lost this battle because my 
force was too small. ... I feel too earnestly to-night. 
I have seen too many dead and wounded comrades to 
feel otherwise than that the government has not sus- 
tained this army. If you do not do so now, the game 
is lost. If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that 
I owe no thanks to you nor to any other person in 
Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this 

Lincoln replied : 

*' Save your army at all events ; will send reinforce- 
ments as fast as we can. ... If you have had a drawn 
battle or a repulse, it is the price we pay for the enemy's 
not being in Washington. We protected Washington 
and the enemy concentrated on you. Had we stripped 
Washington he would have been upon us before the troops 
could have gotten to you. 12.20 a. m., June 28." 

Joe Johnston wrote to Beauregard, August 4, 1862: 

" I am not sure you are right in regarding the success 
of McClellan's * strategic movement ' as evidence of 
skill. It seems to me to be due rather to our having lost 
two days immediately after the principal fight, that of 
Friday (Gaines's Mill, June 2y^ and many hours after- 
ward, especially on Tuesday (Malvern Hill, July i). I 
was told that the action on that day commenced about 
6 o'clock p. m., but one and one-half or two miles from 


the field of Monday's engagement. It is said, too, that 
a large portion of our army was idle on each of those 

" The battle of Malvern Hill (Tuesday) was but fif- 
teen or twenty miles from the middle of McClellan's 
position on the Chickahominy. The result of that action 
terminated the pursuit. It seems to me the ' partial 
results ' were due to a want of the ' bulldog tenacity ' 
you give us credit for. 

"If the enemy had been pressed vigorously on Satur- 
day and Sunday (January 28-29), he must have been 
ruined, could never have fixed himself securely on James 
river. He left his position on the Chickahominy with- 
out our knowledge, because the wide interval by which 
he escaped was not observed by cavalry as it should have 
been. ... I must confess that the advantages gained 
by what is termed the Seven Days' fighting are not very 
evident to me." 

Lee explains in the following report why McClellan 
escaped. The reason would occur to any one who knows 
the Chickahominy country. Johnston ought to have 
known it after his disastrous experience at Seven Pines. 

Lee in his report said: 

" Under ordinary circumstances the Federal army 
should have been destroyed. Its escape was due to the 
causes already stated. Prominent among these is the 
want of correct and timely information. This fact, at- 
tributable chiefly to the character of the country, enabled 
General McClellan skillfully to conceal his retreat, and 
to add much to the obstructions with which nature had 
beset the way of our pursuing column." 


Lee did not know after the battle of Gaines's Mill 
whether McClellan would fall back on his base on the 
Pamunkey or whether he would seek a new one on the 
James, or, in fact, whether he would retreat at all or 

McClellan held the country In his rear. It was 
wooded and swampy, and with a strong" rear-guard he 
easily masked his movements. His gunboats also com- 
manded the James river. 

Johnston appears to have thought there was no fight- 
ing except at Gaines's Mill, Frazier's Farm, and Mal- 
vern Hill, whereas it was a continuous fight all the way. 

General Franklin says : 

" My experience during the period generally known as 
the * Seven Days ' was with the Sixth and Second corps. 
During the whole time between June 26 and July 2 there 
was not a night in which the men did not march almost 
continually, nor a day on which there was not a fight." 

Major General McCall, who was taken prisoner, in 
his report of the battle of Frazier's Farm, says : 

" Soon after this a most determined charge was made 
on Randol's battery by a full brigade advancing in 
wedge shape, without order, but in perfect recklessness. 
Somewhat similiar charges had been previously made on 
Cooper's and Kern's batteries by single regiments with- 
out success, they having recoiled before the storm of 
canister hurled against them. A like result was antici- 
pated in Randol's battery, and the 4th regiment was 
requested not to fire until the battery had done with them. 
Its gallant commander did not doubt his ability to re- 
pel the attack, and his guns did indeed mow down the 


advancing host, but still the gaps were closed and the 
enemy came in on a run to the very muzzles of the guns. 
" It was a perfect torrent of men, and they were in 
his battery before the guns could be removed, and the 
enemy, rushing past, drove the greater part of the 4th 
regiment before them. I had ridden into the regiment 
and endeavored to check them, but with only partial suc- 

But General Johnston thought he ought to have been 
reinstated in command when he recovered from his 

Mrs. Davis says : 

" Upon General Johnston's recovery from the wound 
he received at Seven Pines he had been assigned, on 
November 24, 1862, to the command of a geographical 
department, including the States of Tennessee, Missis- 
sippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Mrs. 
Johnston and I were very intimate friends, and the day 
before his departure I went to see them. General John- 
ston seemed ill and dispirited. In answer to a hope 
expressed by me that he would have a brilliant campaign, 
he said, ' I might, if I had Lee's chances with the Army 
of Northern Virginia,' from which I inferred he was 
very averse to leaving Virginia." 

Lord Wolseley published a friendly criticism of Lee 
in Macmillan's Magaaine, upon which a Northern writer 
in the Century Magadne of June, 1887, comments. It 
will serve to show that Lee's reputation has suffered 
more at the hands of his friends than at those of his 

The comment is as follows: 


". . . . Lord Wolseley has cultivated the belief that 
Lee's strategy and tactics were always ' everything that 
could be desired up to the moment of victory, but there 
his action seemed to stop abruptly.' True, the Con- 
federates were not Titans. They seemed never to be 
wound up for more than a week or more of hard march- 
ing on scant rations, followed by two or three days of 
continuous battle, usually against superior numbers, 
which left them at the end without fresh reserves. After 
a terrible and exhausting victory a longing for rest 
seemed to overcome them. General Lee could not 
furnish physical strength to his men from his own sinews, 
but he did know how to fight them to a shadow and 
then how to keep them going on something that from 
the other side of the line looked like very thin hope. 
Once, as Lord Wolseley recollects, but with vagueness 
as to its events, there were seven days of continuous 
fighting near Richmond. Lee, with sublime daring, 
dashed his columns time and again upon McClellan's 
superior but separated forces. His losses were fright- 
ful, but the bravery and energy displayed by his troops 
were tremendous. . . ." 

Longstreet says : 

" Passing in critical review the events of the cam- 
paign, they fail to display a flaw as it was projected 
by the Confederate chief." 

McClellan is criticised for not attacking Magruder. 
Davis says: 

*' I pointed out to him (Lee) that our force and in- 
trenched line between that left wing (of the Union 


Army) and Richmond was too weak for a protracted 
resistance, and if McClellan was the man I took him 
for ... as soon as he found that the bulk of our army 
was on the north side of the Chickahominy, he would 
not stop to try conclusions there, but would immediately 
move upon his objective point, the city of Richmond." 

Lee replied: 

"If you will hold him as long as you can at the in- 
trenchments and then fall back on the detached works 
around the city, I will be upon the enemy's heels before 
he gets there." 

Lee had evidently considered an attack on Magruder 
and was prepared for it. 

Lieut. Col. G. F. R. Henderson, in his " Life of Stone- 
wall Jackson," says: 

" McClellan forgot that in war it is impossible for a 
general to be absolutely certain. It is sufficient, accord- 
ing to Napoleon, if the odds in his favor are three to 
two; and if he cannot discover from the attitude of his 
enemy what the odds are, he is unfitted for supreme 

The " attitude " that Lee was in the habit of assum- 
ing was the very thing that impressed his enemy with 
the idea that his army was about twice as large as it 
really was. 

If Napoleon could determine the strength of his 
enemy by his " attitude," it is clear that he had no Lees 
to deal with. 


Then Napoleon was never in the Chickahominy 

Moreover, in reporting to the Directory, he habitually 
underestimated his own forces, and exaggerated those 
of the enemy, — just as McClellan did. 

McClellan erred in overestimating the strength of 
Lee's army. Whether he ought to have known it or 
not depends, not on any cut and dried rule of Napoleon's, 
but on conditions and environments. 

When he heard that Lee had sent troops North, he 
telegraphed to the President : 

"If 10,000 or 15,000 men have left Richmond to 
reinforce Jackson, it illustrates their strength and con- 

This interpretation was certainly more probable than 
any other, and generals, like other people, must base 
their policy on probabilities rather than improbabilities. 

The Confederacy was young and fresh at that time, 
and troops were coming up from the South. McClellan 
had no means of determining how many were coming, 
and Allan Pinkerton, McClellan's chief of secret service, 
estimated Lee's army at 180,000 men. 

If McClellan had divined that Lee, instead of sending 
troops to the Valley to reinforce Jackson, was calling 
Jackson to Richmond to reinforce himself, he would have 
been little less than a seer. 

Lee took command of the army on the ist of June. 
Mr. Davis says the tone of the general officers was des- 

McClellan's splendid army of 100,000 men was in sight 
of Richmond. On July 2 that army had been driven 
to Harrison's Landing, and was under shelter of its 


When Lee assumed the offensive he should have had, 
according to Napoleon's figures of three to two, 150,- 
000 men. Instead he had 80,000. 

Lee said in his report : 

" The siege of Richmond was raised, and the object 
of a campaign, which had been prosecuted after months 
of preparation at an enormous expenditure of men and 
money, completely frustrated. 

" More than 10,000 prisoners, including officers of 
high rank, 52 pieces of artillery, and upward of 35,- 
000 stands of small arms were captured. The stores 
and supplies of every description that fell into our hands 
were great in amount and volume, but small in com- 
parison with those destroyed by the enemy." 

Davis wrote to Mrs. Davis on the 6th of July: 

". . . Our success has been so remarkable that we 
should be grateful. . . ." 

" Our success " was not accomplished without heavy 
loss and a bad repulse at Malvern Hill. That position 
was one of extraordinary strength. The flanks rested 
on ground that was impregnable and defended by gun- 
boats. The front was accessible only by narrow roads 
through swamps and woods, and the hill itself offered 
positions for all McClellan's powerful artillery, including 
his siege guns. 

The only excuse for the attack is that no opportunity 
for striking a defeated and retreating enemy should be 

But contrast the conditions when Lee assumed com- 
mand with those one month afterward, and " our sue- 


cess " was not only " remarkable " but well-nigh 

Of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac, General 
Franklin says : 

" They had been soldiers less than a year, yet their 
conduct could not have been more soldierly had they 
seen ten years of service. No such material for soldiers 
was ever in the field before. ..." 

The same can be said of the Army of Northern 
Virginia. Both armies were composed of the best fight- 
ing material of their respective sections. 

Both armies were at their best. 

Lincoln called for 300,000 three years' men. 

Seward explained that reinforcements were necessary 
to follow up the " recent successes of the Federal arms." 

But the Northern people soon found that McClellan 
had been defeated and driven to the shelter of his gun- 
boats on the James. 

There was a panic in Wall Street and gloom every- 



LEE had disposed of one puzzle only to be con- 
fronted by another, and while he was considering 
it the army, after its floundering campaign in the woods 
and swamps of the Peninsula, got a few days of needed 

Looking down the river he saw McClellan, with 90,- 
000 men, only a day's march from Richmond. He was 
safe there with his gunboats, and said, it is reported, 
that ** there ought to be a gunboat in every family." 

Looking north he saw the bloodthirsty Pope, with 
43,000 men, occupying the line of the Rappahannock 
river, threatening the railroad at Gordonsville. 

McClellan at Harrison's Landing was calling for rein- 
forcements to resume the offensive, and Pope issued the 
following order of the day, which was calculated to scare 
Lee or any other man: 

"July 14. 
" I have come to you from the west, where we have 
always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army 
whose business it has been to seek the adversary and 
to beat him when he was found. ... I presume I have 
been called here to pursue the same course and to lead 
you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and 
that speedily. ... I desire you to dismiss from your 

minds certain phrases which I am sorry to find so much 



in vogue with you. I hear constantly of ' taking strong 
positions and holding them,' of * lines of retreat,' and of 
' bases of supplies.' Let us discard such ideas. The 
strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is 
one from which he can most easily advance against the 
enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of 
our opponent and leave our own to take care of them- 

" Let us look before us and not behind. Success and 
glory are in the advance; disaster and shame lurk in the 

The army narrowly escaped a spanking. 

Lee now had a problem on hand that would have 
taxed the ability of Napoleon. If he remained at Rich- 
mond it meant a siege by an army of at least 150,000 
men, and Lee did not like sieges. He did not fancy 
the defensive, so there was nothing to do but take the 
initiative against Pope. 

He thought the move would threaten Washington and 
draw McClellan away from Richmond. Accordingly, on 
the 13th of July he ordered Jackson with his own and 
Ewell's division to Gordonsville. Then he sent A. P. 
Hill and his division, and ordered Jackson to move on 
the enemy, while he remained with Longstreet's corps. 
Hill's and Anderson's divisions of infantry, and Stuart's 
cavalry, to watch McClellan, who still had 90,000 men in 
a day's march of Richmond. 

Jackson's move had the desired effect. On the 3d of 
August Halleck telegraphed to McClellan : 

" It is determined to withdraw your army from the 
Peninsula to Acquia Creek. You will take immediate 
action to this effect." 


McClellan sent this telegram in reply to General Hal- 

" Your telegram has caused me the greatest pain I 
ever experienced, for I am convinced that the order to 
v^^ithdraw this army to Acquia Creek will prove disas- 
trous to our cause. I fear it will be a fatal blow. . . . 

" This army is now in excellent discipline and condi- 
tion. . . . With the assistance of our gunboats I con- 
sider our communication as now secure. . . . Here, 
directly in front of this army, is the heart of the rebel- 
lion. It is here that all our resources should be collected 
to strike the blow which will determine the fate of the 
nation. All points of secondary importance ought to be 
abandoned, and every available man brought here; a de- 
cided victory here and the military strength of the re- 
bellion is crushed. It matters not what partial reverses 
we may meet elsewhere. Here is the true defense of 
Washington. It is here on the banks of the James that 
the fate of the Union should be decided. ... I entreat 
that this order be rescinded." 

Halleck's reply was: 

" The order of the withdrawal will not be rescinded. 
You will be expected to execute it with all possible 

On the 5th of August, Hooker drove the Confederate 
detachments from Malvern Hill, and McClellan wired to 
Halleck from that point: 

" This is a very advantageous position to cover an ad- 
vance on Richmond, and only fourteen and three-quarter 
miles distant, and I feel confident that with reinforce- 
ments I could march this army there in five days." 

Halleck promptly replied to this communication: 
" I have no reinforcements to send you." 

On the 9th of August Jackson defeated Banks at Cedar 
Run. Banks being largely reinforced, Jackson, after 
resting on the field two days and sending his accustomed 
dispatch, " God blessed our army with another victory," 
fell back on Gordonsville. 

Halleck, fearing that Pope and Burnside would be de- 
stroyed and Washington captured, wired to McQellan : 

" There must be no further delay in your movements. 
That which has already occurred was entirely unex- 
pected and must be satisfactorily explained." 

On the 13th of August Lee ordered Longstreet and 
two brigades u.nder Hood to Gordonsville, and he himself 
followed on the 15th. 

This left about 30,000 troops in Richmond, while 
McClellan had 81,000 at Harrison's Landing. 

Halleck telegraphed to McClellan that the enemy was 
fighting Pope, and that it was necessary to get troops in 
front of Washington as soon as possible. McClellan 
went to Fortress Monroe to beg Halleck to allow him to 
relieve Pope by attacking Richmond. Halleck answered 
at 1 .40 a. m., August 14 : " There is no change of plans ! 
You will send up your troops as rapidly as possible," and 
then went to bed. 

Lee, becoming convinced that he had nothing to fear 
from McClellan, ordered Stuart with the greater part of 
his cavalry and R. H. Anderson with his division to join 
him at Go'rdonsville. The divisions of D. H. Hill and 
McLaws followed, but they were not in time to partici- 
pate in the operations against Pope. 


On the 24th of August McCIellan reported at Acquia 

Lee started Jackson with 25,000 men on the 25th of 
August on a forced march to the rear of Pope's army. 
He took nothing but ammunition wagons, marched 
twenty-five miles the first day to Salem, passed through 
White Plains, Thoroughfare Gap, and Gainesville, and on 
the morning of the 26th was at Bristow Station on the 
Orange and Alexandria railroad. 

He was now between Pope and Washington. He cap- 
tured two railroad trains at Bristow, and an eight-gun 
battery, horses, provisions, and Pope's depot of supplies 
at Manassas. As his men had scant rations on the 
march, Pope's good things were highly appreciated. 

On the afternoon of the same day Lee followed Jack- 
son with Longstreet's command, less one division left on 
the Rappahannock. 

On the 27th McCIellan reported at Alexandria. 

That night Pope ordered the concentration of his army 
at Manassas. In his order to McDowell he said: "If 
you will move promptly and rapidly, we will bag the 
whole crowd." 

But Jackson, not wishing to be bagged, moved to a 
position near Bull Run, and hid in an old railroad cut 
and the woods, to await the arrival of Longstreet, who 
was hurrying to his aid. 

Pope thought Jackson was in a bad fix and would run 
away as soon as he could. He put his columns in mo- 
tion to catch him, and their marches and countermarches 
puzzled Jackson and led to the battle of the 28th. 

Of it Longstreet says : 

" As King's division of McDowell's corps was march- 
ing by (on the road to Centerville) Jackson thought to 


come out from his lurking-place to learn the meaning of 
the march. The direction of the move again impressed 
him that Pope was retreating, and that his escape to the 
north side of Bull Run would put his army in a position 
of safety before Lee could join him. 

" It was late, the sun had set, but Jackson was moved 
to prompt action, as the only means of holding Pope for 
Lee's arrival. He was in plain view of the white smoke 
of the rifles of my infantry as they climbed over the Bull 
Run mountains, seven miles away, and in hearing of our 
artillery as the boom of the big guns, resounding along 
the rock-faced cliffs, gathered volume to offer salutations 
and greetings for the union of comrades and commands. 
He changed the front of his right division, and, noting 
the movement of Siegel's troops along the Newmarket 
road, called out Ewell with his brigades under Lawton 
and Trimble, and in addition to the artillery of these com- 
mands used the horse artillery of Pelham. As formed, 
the new line was broadside against the turnpike, its left a 
little way from Groveton. 

" The ground upon which the action occurred had been 
passed an hour before by the division commander. Gen- 
eral Hatch, who saw no indication of the presence of a 
foe. As the division marched, the column was made up 
of the brigades of Hatch, Gibbon, Doubleday, and Pat- 
rick. The action fell against the brigade commanded by 
General Gibbon, who, taking it for a cavalry annoyance 
to cover retreat, opened against it, and essayed aggres- 
sive fight, till he found himself engaged against a formid- 
able force of Infantry and artillery. He was assisted by 
part of Doubleday's brigade, and asked for other assist- 
ance, which failed to reach him till night came and ended 
the contest. His fight was desperate and courageous 
against odds, but he held it and his line till dark, . . . 


General Doubleday joined the fight with his brigade, and 
reported his loss nearly half the troops engaged. Gen- 
eral Gibbon called it * a surprise.' And well he might, 
after his division commander had just passed over the 
route and failed to find any indication of the lurking foe. 
General Jackson reported, ' The conflict here was firm 
and sanguinary.' He failed to give his number lost, but 
acknowledges his severe loss in the division commanders, 
General Ewell losing a leg, and Taliaferro severely 
wounded. During the night the Federal commander re- 
ported to his subordinates that McDowell had ' inter- 
cepted the retreat of Jackson,' and ordered concentration 
of the army against him ; whereas it was, of course, 
Jackson who had intercepted McDowell's march. He 
seems to have been under the impression that he was 
about to capture Jackson, and inclined to lead his subor- 
dinates to the same opinion. 

"Of the time. Major Edward Pye reported: 'We 
were sent forward toward evening to pursue the enemy, 
who were said to be retreating. Found the enemy, but 
did not see them retreat. A deadly fire from three sides 
welcomed and drove us back.' " 

Jackson was asleep in a fence corner, having been up 
all the previous night, when the scouts reported the march 
of King's column. He sprang up and ran for his horse, 
buckling his sw^ord on as he went and shouting hurried 
orders for the attack to his aids. He thought Pope w^as 
trying to give Lee the slip as he did on the Rapidan. 

Pope, afraid that Jackson would escape, ordered Siegel 
to attack early on the morning of the 29th and bring 
him to a stand. 

From Hill's report : 

" The enemy prepared for a last and determined at- 


tempt. Their serried masses, overwhelming superiority 
of numbers, and bold bearing made the chances of vic- 
tory to tremble in the balance ; my own division exhausted 
by seven hours of unremitted fighting, hardly one round 
of ammunition per man remaining, and weakened in all 
things except its unconquerable spirit. 

" Casting about for help, fortunately it was here re- 
ported to me that the brigades of Generals Lawton and 
Early were near-by, and, sending to them, they promptly 
moved to my front at the most opportune moment, and 
this last charge met the disastrous fate that had befallen 
those preceding." 

Jackson's fight was desperate against heavy odds. 
Longstreet arrived and was in position by noon, and Lee 
desired him to turn the Federal left and so relieve the 
heavy pressure against Jackson. But Longstreet was 
balky and advised a reconnaissance. 

When his troops fell back from the reconnaissance, it 
looked like a retreat. On the morning of the 30th Pope 
wired to Washington that " the enemy was retreating to 
the mountains." He reported : 

" General Hooker estimates the loss of the enemy as at 
least two to one, and General Kearney as at least three to 

He did not know that Longstreet had come up. That 
afternoon he attacked in heavy force, but the battle of 
Second Manassas ended in his defeat. 

That night he, and not Jackson, was retreating. 

Franklin says that when he reached the Warrenton 
turnpike, about six o'clock, he found it " filled with flee- 
ing men, artillery, and wagons, all leaving the field in a 
panic. It was a scene of terrible confusion." 


General Porter wrote to General McClellan as follows : 

" I was whipped, as was the whole army, badly. . . . 
I have had no dinner nor supper to-day, and no chance for 
any to-morrow." 

" August 29, 1862, 2:30 p. m. 
"What news from direction of Manassas? What 
news generally? 

" A. Lincoln." 

This was to McClellan, who had no news, but plenty 
of advice. 

" August 29, 1862, 2.45 p.m. 
" I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted : 
first, to concentrate all our available forces to open com- 
munication with Pope; second, to leave Pope to get out 
of his scrape and at once use all our means to make 
the capital perfectly safe. . . . 

" Geo. B. McClellan, 

" Major General." 

" Centerville, August 31, 1862, 
" Our troops are all here and in position, though much 
used up and worn out. ... I should like to know 
whether you feel secure about Washington, should this 
army be destroyed. 

"Jno. Pope, 

" Major General." 

Halleck writes to McClellan : 

" I think you had better place Sumner's corps as it ar- 
rives near the fortification and particularly at the Chain 


bridge. . . . Use Tyler's and Cox's brigades and the 
new troops for the same purpose, if you need them." 

Rhodes says: 

" McClellan did not * regard Washington as safe 
against the rebels.' ' If I can quietly slip over there/ 
he said, in a letter to his wife, ' I will send your silver 

". . . In view of the ' great danger to Washington,' 
the general-in-chief asked Dix at Fort Monroe to send 
as rapidly as possible to the capital as large a part of 
the remainder of Keyes's corps as could be spared, and 
urged Burnside to hasten forward his troops. 

" A number of gimboats were ordered up the river, 
and anchored at different points in proximity to the city, 
and a war steamer was brought to the Navy Yard. 

" All the clerks and employees of the civil departments 
and all employees in the public buildings were called to 
arms for the defense of the capital. The sale of spirit- 
uous liquors at retail within the District of Columbia was 
prohibited. Excitement and alarm held undisputed 

I know of no adverse criticism of Lee in this cam- 
paign. Even Longstreet is complimentary. He says : 

" Jackson's march to Bristow and Manassas Junction 
was hazardous, or seemed so, but in view of his peculiar 
talent for such work (the captured dispatch of General 
Pope giving information of his affairs) and Lee's skill, 
it seemed the only way open for progressive maneuver. 
The strength of the move lay in the time it gave us to 
make issue before all the Army of the Potomac could 
unite with the anny of General Pope. His (Lee's) game 


of hide and seek about Bull Run, Centerville, and Ma- 
nassas Plains was grand." 

Lee's original plan was to catch Pope napping on the 
Rapidan; but Pope was informed of it by a captured 
letter from Lee to Stuart, and immediately fell back be- 
hind the Rappahannock. 

Lee was looking on from Clark's mountain, and said 
to Longstreet : " General, we little thought the enemy 
would turn his back upon us thus early in the campaign." 

Lee crossed the Rapidan and tried to pass the Rappa- 
hannock to fall upon Pope before he could receive rein- 
forcements from the Army of the Potomac, but Pope's 
artillery, heavy rains, and a high river prevented him. 

In the sparring along the Rappahannock Pope did very 
well, but Lee's unconventional strategy and Jackson's 
queer antics decided the campaign against him. 

There is much of the usual cheap criticism of Pope, — 
what he ought to have done, and so on. No doubt he 
would have done those things if he had known as much 
as the critics knew, after the event, regarding Lee's in- 
tentions and movements. It was highly probable that 
Jackson had made a raid on Manassas similar to that 
made by Stuart around McClellan's army at Richmond, 
and was retiring:. 


Rhodes says, referring to Lee : 

" An ordinary general might have been satisfied with 
the capture of stores and the alarm created in Washing- 
ton. . . ." 

So thought Pope. He made his disposition on that 
probability, rather than on the improbability that Jack- 
son had gone into hiding to wait for Lee. 


When he sent his dispatch of the 30th he was still of 
the opinion that Jackson was retreating. 
Longstreet says : 

" He was misled by reports of his officers and others 
to believe that the Confederates were in retreat, and 
planned his movements upon false premises." 

In generalship Pope probably did as well as any man 
would have done under the peculiar circumstances of the 
campaign, and as for dislodging the Army of Northern 
Virginia from position. Grant failed to do that at Spott- 
sylvania and Cold Harbor, though he had greater odds 
in his favor than Pope had. 

Lee captured 30 guns, many thousand small arms, 
7,000 prisoners, and 2,000 wounded, besides Jackson's 
captures at Manassas and Bristow. 

Pope's aggregate on the 28th was 70,000 men ; Lee's, 
49,000. Pope's losses were 15,000 men, and Lee's, 10,- 

Lee was now where he had advised Johnston to stay, 
— in position to threaten Washington. But it cost him 
about 30,000 men to get there. Add the 7,000 that 
Johnston lost at Seven Pines and the ordnance, clothes, 
and stores of subsistence lost by his retreats, and the con- 
clusion is inevitable that he blundered in not trying, at 
any rate, to follow Lee's advice. 



LONGSTREET says it was Lee's " deliberate and 
urgent advice to President Davis to join him and 
be prepared to make a proposal for peace and independ- 
ence from the head of a conquering army." This is one 
of Longstreet's many dreams. 

So far from v^ishing Davis to join him Lee wrote to 
him as follows: 

" Headquarters near Fredericktown, Md., 

" September 9, 1862. 
" His Excellency, President Davis. 

'■' Mr. President : I have just received your letter of 
the 7th instant, from Rapidan, informing me of your in- 
tention to come on to Leesburg. While I should feel the 
greatest satisfaction in having an interview with you and 
in consulting you upon all subjects of interest, I cannot 
but feel great uneasiness for your safety, should you un- 
dertake to reach me. You will not only encounter the 
hardships and fatigues of a very disagreeable journey, 
but also run the risk of capture by the enemy. 

" I send my aide-de-camp, Major Taylor, back to ex- 
plain to you the difficulties and dangers of the journey, 
which I cannot recommend you to undertake. I am en- 
deavoring to break up the line through Leesburg, which 
is no longer safe, and turn everything off from Culpeper 
Court House toward Winchester. 


"... I must therefore advise you do not make an 
attempt that I cannot but regard as hazardous. 

" I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obe- 
dient servant, 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

Davis abandoned the idea of going to Lee before he 
received his letter. Lee's real reason for the campaign 
he states clearly in the following letter, and his account 
of the condition of the army proves that he did not ex- 
pect to achieve Confederate independence. 

" Headquarters, Alexandria and Leesburg Road, 

" near Drainesville, September 3, 1862. 
" His Excellency, President Davis. 

"Mr. President: , . . After the enemy had disap- 
peared from the vicinity of Fairfax Court House and 
taken the road to Alexandria and Washington, I did not 
think it would be advantageous to follow him farther. I 
had no intention of attacking him in his fortifications 
and am not prepared to invest them. HI possessed the 
necessary munitions, I should be unable to supply pro- 
visions for the troops. I therefore determined, while 
threatening the approaches to Washington, to draw the 
troops into Loudoun, where forage and some provisions 
can be procured, menace their possession of the Shenan- 
doah Valley, and, if found practicable, to cross into 
Maryland. The purpose, if discovered, will have the 
effect of carrying the enemy north of the Potomac, and 
if prevented will not result in much evil. 

" The army is not properly equipped for an invasion 
of the enemy's territory. It lacks much of the material 
of war, is feeble in transportation, the animals being 


much reduced, and the men are poorly provided with 
clothing and in thousands of instances are destitute of 
shoes. Still, we cannot afford to be idle, and, though 
weaker than our opponents in men and military equip- 
ment, must endeavor to harass if we cannot destroy them. 
I am aware that the movement is attended with much 
risk, yet I do not consider success impossible, and shall 
endeavor to guard it from loss. As long as the army of 
the enemy is employed on this frontier I have no fears 
for the safety of Richmond. 

". . . . What occasions most concern is the fear of 
getting out of ammunition. I beg you will instruct the 
Ordnance Department to spare no pains in manufacturing 
a sufficient amount of the best kind. . . . If the Quarter- 
master's Department can furnish any shoes, it would be 
the greatest relief. We have entered upon September, 
and the nights are becoming cool. 

" I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obe- 
dient servant, 

" R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

There is not a word in this letter referring to the prob- 
ability or possibility of conquering Confederate inde- 
pendence, or of any definite end other than to harass the 
enemy and keep him on the northern frontier. 

It had cost Lee dearly to get his anny out of the last 
ditch at Richmond, and if he remained idle it would be 
but a little time before the Army of the Potomac would 
be trying to put him back in it. 

Longstreet says : 

" Riding together before we reached Frederick, the 
sound of artillery fire came from the direction of Point of 


Rocks and Harper's Ferry, from which General Lee in- 
ferred that the enemy was concentrating forces from the 
Valley, for defense of Harper's Ferry, and proposed to 
me to organize forces to surround and capture the works 
and garrison. I thought it a venture not worth the 
game, and suggested, as we were in the enemy's country 
and presence, that he would be advised of any move that 
we made in a few hours after it was set on foot ; that the 
Union army, though beaten, was not disorganized ; that 
we knew a number of their officers who could put it in 
order and march against us, if they found us exposed, 
and make serious trouble before the capture could be ac- 
complished ; that our men were worn by very severe and 
protracted service and in need of repose ; that as long as 
we had them in hand we were masters of the situation, 
but dispersed into many fragments our strength must be 
greatly reduced. As the subject was not continued, I 
supposed that it was a mere expression of passing 
thought until the day after we reached Frederick, upon 
going over to headquarters, I found the front of the 
general's tent closed and tied. Upon inquiring of a 
member of the staff, I was told that he was inside with 
General Jackson. As I had not been called, I turned to 
go away, when General Lee, recognizing my voice, called 
me in. The plan had been arranged. . , ," 

According to Longstreet, the capture of Harper's 
Ferry was optional and ought not to have been attempted. 

The following reasons will explain why it was neces- 

Lee wrote to Davis from Frederick, September 9 : 

" I shall move in the direction I originally intended, 
toward Hagerstown and Chambersburg, for the purpose 


of opening communication through the Valley in order 
to procure sufficient supplies of flour." 

Both Long and Taylor of Lee's staff say that when he 
got to Frederick he thought Harper's Ferry had been 
abandoned, as it should have been. As it was still gar- 
risoned by 1 1, GOO men, it was not safe to leave it on his 
new line of communication, and that is, of course, suffi- 
cient reason, even if there had been no other, for taking 

Longstreet says that in the Gettysburg campaign it was 
left alone. But it was not exactly left alone. 

Early's operations cleared the Valley of the enemy, and 
the garrison at Harper's Ferry crossed over to Mary- 
land Heights. 

Colonel Mosby says : 

". . . One benefit of Stuart's crossing at Seneca was 
that it practically eliminated French's corps in the cam- 
paign, and put it on the defensive, to guard the line of 
the Potomac and the rear of Meade's army. It had been 
the garrison, — ii,ooo, — at Harper's Ferry, but, when 
that place was abandoned, it was added to Meade's com- 
mand. But Stuart's appearance created such a sensa- 
tion that Meade sent 4,000 men to guard the canal and 
7,000 were kept at Frederick. They were no more help 
to Meade in the battle than if they had stayed above the 
clouds on Maryland Heights. . . ." 

Early's operations moved the garrison to the Maryland 
side, and Stuart's put it on guard in Meade's rear. 
Longstreet says: 

" All the Confederates had to do was to hold the army 
in hand and draw the enemy to a good field. . . . The 


Confederates, if held in hand and refreshed a little, could 
have made their grandest success." 

There is no reason why the success would have been 
any " grander " than the success at Manassas. The same 
reason that Lee gives for not following Pope would have 
been even stronger for not following McClellan, for his 
line of communication would have been longer and in 
fact impossible. 

Then Lee had no such good reason for fighting at 
Antietam or on Longstreet's " good field " as he had for 
fighting Second Manassas, where he fought to break up 
the combination against Richmond. 

Longstreet says : 

" If the Southern army had been carefully held in 
hand, refreshed by easy marches and comfortable sup- 
plies, the proclamation (of emancipation) could not have 
found its place in history. 

" On the other hand, the Southern President would 
have been in Maryland at the head of his army, with his 
manifesto of peace and independence." 

If the army had been held in hand it would hardly have 
done more in Maryland with 60,000 men than it did at 
Richmond with 80,000, and that was a victory at Gaines's 
Mill and a repulse at Malvern Hill. 

As for the proclamation, Lincoln repeatedly declared 
it was a war measure pure and simple, and designed ex- 
clusively to weaken the South and strengthen the North, 
so that it would have been more necessary in defeat than 
in victory. 

It is true Lincoln was holding the proclamation for a 
victory; but a repetition of Gaines's Mill and Malvern 


Hill would hardly have prevented him from issuing it, 
especially as he claimed a victory at Malvern Hill. 

When McClellan became possessed of the " lost order " 
acquainting him with Lee's plans, — the scattering of his 
columns to capture Harper's Ferry and to oppose his ap- 
proach, — he dispatched to Mr. Lincoln : 

" Headquarters, Frederick, 
" Sept. 13, 1862, 12 m. 

("Received 2.35 a.m., Sept. 14.) 
" To THE President : I have the whole rebel force 
in front of me, but am confident and no time shall be 
lost. I have a difficult task to perform, but with God's 
blessing will accomplish it. I think Lee has made a gross 
mistake, and that he will be severely punished for it. The 
army is in motion as rapidly as possible. I hope for a 
great success, if the plans of the rebels remain unchanged. 
We have possession of Catactin. I have all the plans of 
the rebels, and will catch them in their own trap, if my 
men are equal to the emergency. I now feel that I can 
count on them as of old. All forces of Pennsylvania 
should be placed to cooperate at Chambersburg. My re- 
spects to Mrs. Lincoln. Received most enthusiastically by 
the ladies. Will send you trophies. All well and with 
God's blessing will accomplish it. 

" Geo. B. McClellan." 

This must have been very comforting in view of the 
state of the public mind in the North. 
Rhodes says : 

" The feeling in the North approached consternation. 
That Lee should threaten Washington and Baltimore, 
then Harrisburg and Philadelphia, while Bragg threat- 


ened Louisville and Cincinnati, was piling up a menace 
that shook the nerves of the coolest men. 

". . . The dispatches from Governor Curtin at Harris- 
burg manifest concern for that capital; he called out 50,- 
000 militia for the defense of the State. The words 
which came from Philadelphia were such as the citizens 
of a wealthy city utter in time of panic." 

S. H. Gay wrote from New York city : " There is the 
deepest anxiety here, and a most ominous state of 

Though McClellan telegraphed to Lincoln on the 13th, 
" The army is in motion as rapidly as possible," and " I 
have all the plans of the rebels and will catch them in 
their own trap," he did not progress very rapidly. Lee 
sent D. H. Hill to the mountain gaps, and McClellan had 
to fight to get through. 

On the 17th, however, he did catch the rebels in their 
own trap. 

Colonel Douglass, aide-de-camp on Jackson's staff, 
gives the following account of the battle : 

". . . The first onset, early on the morning of the 17th, 
told what the day would be. The impatient Hooker, 
with the divisions of Meade, Doubleday, and Ricketts, 
struck the first blow, and Jackson's old division caught it 
and struck back again. Between such foes the battle 
soon waxed hot. Step by step and marking each step 
with dead, the thin Confederate line was pushed back to 
the wood around the Dunker church. Here Lawton, 
Starke (commanding in place of Jones, already 
wounded), and D. H. Hill, with part of his division, en- 
gaged Meade. And now in turn the Federals halted and 
fell back, and left their dead by the Dunker church. 
Next Mansfield entered the fight, and beat with resist- 


less might on Jackson's people. The battle here grew 
angry and bloody. Starke was killed, Lawton wounded, 
and nearly all their general and field officers had fallen; 
the sullen Confederate line again fell back, killing Mans- 
field and wounding Hooker, Crawford, and Hartsuflf. 

" And now D. H. Hill led in the rest of his division ; 
Hood also took part to the right and left, front and rear, 
of the Dunker church. The Federal line was again driven 
back, while artillery added its din to the incessant rattle 
of musketry. Then Sumner, with the fresh division of 
Sedgwick, re-formed the Federal line and renewed the 
offensive. Hood was driven back, and Hill partly; the 
Dunker Church was passed, the field south of it entered, 
and the Confederate left turned. Just then McLaws, 
hurrying from Harper's Ferry, came upon the field, and 
hurled his men against the victorious Sedgwick. He 
drove Sedgwick back into the Dunker wood, and beyond 
it, into the open ground. Farther to our right the pendu- 
lum of battle had been swinging to and fro, with D. H. 
Hill and R. H. Anderson hammering away at French and 
Richardson, until the sunken road became historic as 
* Bloody Lane.' Richardson was mortally wounded, and 
Hancock assumed command of his division. 

*' For a while there was a lull in the storm. It was 
early in the day, but hours are fearfully long in battle. 
About noon Franklin, with Slocum and W. F, Smith, 
marched upon the field to join the unequal contest. 
Smith tried his luck and was repulsed. Sumner then 
ordered a halt. Jackson's fight was over, and a strange 
silence reigned around Dunker Church. 

" General Lee had not visited the left that day. As 
usual he trusted to Jackson to fight his own battle, and 
work out salvation in his own way. How well he did 
it, against the ablest and fiercest of McClellan's lieuten- 
ants, history has told. 


"During all this time Longstreet, stripped of his 
troops, — sent to the help of Jackson, — held the right 
almost alone, with his eye on the center. He was now 
called into active work on his own front, for there were 
no unfought troops in Lee's army at Sharpsburg; every 
soldier on that field tasted battle. 

" General Burnside, with his corps of fourteen thou- 
sand men, had been lying all day beyond the bridge 
which now bears his name. Ordered to cross at eight 
o'clock, he managed to get over at one, and by three 
was ready to advance. He moved against the hill which 
D. R. Jones held with his little division of 2500 men. 
Longstreet was watching this advance. Jackson was at 
General Lee's headquarters on a knoll in rear of Sharps- 
burg. A. P. Hill was coming, but had not arrived, and 
it was apparent that Burnside must be stayed, if at all, 
with artillery. 

" I saw Burnside's heavy line move up the hill, and 
the earth seemed to tremble beneath their tread. It was 
a splendid and fearful sight, but for them to beat back 
Jones's feeble line was scarcely war. The artillery tore, 
but did not stay them. They pressed forward until 
Sharpsburg was uncovered, and Lee's line of retreat was 
at their mercy. But then, just then, A. P. Hill, pictur- 
esque in his red battleshirt, with three of his brigades, 
2500 men, who had marched that day seventeen miles 
from Harper's Ferry and had waded the Potomac, ap- 
peared upon the scene. Tired and footsore, the men 
forgot their woes in that supreme moment, and, with 
no breathing time, braced themselves to meet the coming 
shock. They met it and stayed it. The blue line stag- 
gered and hesitated, and, hesitating, was lost. At the 
critical moment A. P. Hill was always at his strongest. 
Quickly advancing his battle-flags, his line moved for- 


ward, Jones's troops rallied on him, and in the din of 
musketry and artillery, on either flank the Federals broke 
over the field. Hill did not wait for his other bri- 
gades, but held the vantage gained until Burnside 
was driven back to the Antietam and under the shelter 
of heavy guns. The day was done. Again A. P. 
Hill, as at Manassas, Harper's Ferry, and elsewhere, 
had struck with the right hand of Mars. No wonder 
that both Lee and Jackson, when, in the delirium of 
their last moments on earth, they stood again to battle, 
saw the form of A. P. Hill leading his column on ; but 
it is a wonder and a shame that the grave of this valiant 
Virginian in Hollywood cemetery has not a stone to mark 
it and keep it from oblivion. 

" The battle at Sharpsburg was the result of unfore- 
seen circumstances and not of deliberate purpose. It 
was one of the bloodiest of the war, and a defeat for 
both armies. The prestige of the day was with Lee, 
but when on the night of the i8th he recrossed into 
Virginia, although, as the Comte de Paris says, he left 
not a single trophy of his nocturnal retreat in the hands 
of the enemy, he left the prestige of the result with Mc- 

From Lee's report of the battle : 

" This great battle was fought by less than 40,000 
men on our side, all of whom had undergone the great- 
est labor and hardship in the field and on the march. 
Nothing could surpass the determined valor with which 
they met the large army of the enemy, fully supplied 
and equipped, and the result reflects the highest credit on 
the officers and men." 

Lee carried 60,000 men to Maryland; McClellan, 6y,- 


000. In addition to McClellan's army there were I2,- 
Goo men at Harper's Ferry. 

It will be seen that Lee was short 20,000 men at 
Antietam. They had been lost in the engagements at 
South Mountain, Crampton's Gap, Maryland Heights, 
and on the long marches, which were continuous and 

From General McLaws's report: 

" The entire command was very much fatigued. 
The brigades of Generals Kershaw and Barksdale had 
been engaged on Maryland Heights on the 12th, 13th, 
and 14th, and on the 15th had been marched from the 
Heights to the line of battle, up the Valley, formed to 
oppose that of the enemy below Crampton's Gap. 
Those of Generals Cobb, Senimes, and Mahone (Colonel 
Parsham) had been engaged and badly crippled at 
Crampton's Gap, and all the others had been guarding 
important points under very trying circumstances. 

" A large number had no provisions, and a great 
portion had not had time nor opportunity to cook what 
they had. All the troops had been without sleep the 
previous night, except w^hile waiting in line for the 
wagon trains to pass over the pontoon bridge at Harper's 

McClellan lost 11,657 riien, and Lee's loss, including 
the fighting at the mountain gaps and Harper's Ferry, 
was about 12,000. 

Lee captured at Harper's Ferry 11,000 infantry, 
three companies of cavalry, six companies of artillery, 
forty-nine pieces of artillery, twenty-four mountain 
howitzers, and 11,000 small arms. 

So far as the battle itself is concerned, there is nothing 
but favorable criticism of Lee's generalship. 


Nearly all critics agree with Rhodes, who says: 

" While Lee's strategy and in some measure his 
tactics have been censured by Longstreet, the layman 
will be prone to agree with Allen that the conduct of 
the battle of Antietam itself by Lee and his principal 
subordinates seems absolutely above criticism. ..." 

From "Ropes' Civil War": "Of General Lee's 
management of the battle there is nothing but praise 
to be said. . . ." 

McClellan has been censured for not renewing the at- 
tack on the 1 8th. He says in his report: 

" The night, however, brought grave responsibilities 
— whether to renew the attack on the i8th, or to defer 
it, even with the risk of the enemy's retirement, was 
the question before me. After a night of anxious de- 
liberation and a full and careful survey of the situation 
and condition of our army, the strength and position 
of the enemy, I concluded that the success of an attack 
on the 18th was uncertain. 

" At that moment, — Virginia lost, Washington men- 
aced, Maryland invaded, — the national cause could af- 
ford no risk of defeat. One battle lost and almost all 
would have been lost. Lee's anny might then have 
marched, as it pleased, on Washington, Baltimore, Phil- 
adelphia, or New York." 

But other reasons influenced him too. It was the 
bloodiest one-day fight of the war, and his army and 
his nerves were badly shaken. He says : 

" The troops generally were greatly overcome by the 
fatigue and exhaustion of the severe and continuous 


fighting on the 17th. They required rest and refresh- 
ment. One division of Sumner's and all Hooker's 
corps on the right had, after fighting most valiantly for 
several hours, been overpowered by numbers, driven 
back in great disorder, and much scattered, so that they 
were for the time somewhat demoralized. 

" Some of the new troops on the left, although many 
of them fought well during the battle and are entitled 
to great credit, were, at the close of the action, driven 
back and their morale impaired. 

" On the morning of the i8th General Burnside re- 
quested that another division be sent to assist him in 
holding his position on the far side of the Antietam, 
giving the impression that if he were attacked again 
that morning he would not be able to make a very vig- 
orous resistance. . . ." 

McClellan's discretion contrasts strongly with Lee's 
recklessness in fighting 87,000 men with less than 40,- 
000 tired ones, and in standing all day on the 18th in 
line of battle. 

The diary of Gideon Wells says that at the cabinet 
meeting June 17, 1863, Lincoln spoke of a poem mytho- 
logically describing McClellan as a monkey fighting the 
rebellion in the shape of a serpent. The joke was that 
McClellan kept calling for "more tail — more tail," 
which Jupiter furnished. 

Palfrey says of McClellan: 

" When the Confederacy was young and fresh and 
rich, and its armies were numerous, he fought a good, 
wary, damaging, respectable fight against it." 

But Jupiter gave to Grant " more tail " than he gave 
to McClellan. 


If Malvern Hill was a Federal victory, then An- 
tietam was a Confederate victory. At Malvern Hill 
McClellan commanded the invading army — at Antietam 
Lee commanded it. Lee's repulse at Malvern Hill was 
not more decided than McClellan's at Antietam, nor was 
it as bloody. 

McClellan retreated in disorder on the night of the 
battle, and subsequently by the back door water route 
to Washington. Lee remained in line the day after the 
battle, and then retired in order to Virginia. As usual, 
Longstreet alleges that failure of the campaign was due 
to the fact that Lee did not take his advice, and Lee's 
worshipers discover a mare's nest to account for it. 

One of them, who was on his staff, says : 

" What a fatality was there for General Lee ! What 
an advantage to the Federal commander to be instantly 
made aware of the division of his adversary's anny, the 
wide separation of his columns, and toi have the detail 
of his plan laid bare. There is no parallel to it in his- 

There is nothing to show that the " lost order " ac- 
celerated McClellan's advance. General Pleasonton, 
who made the first battle, that at Turner's Pass on the 
14th, had not heard of it. 

Anyhow it cuts no figure in the results of the cam- 
paign. Under the most favorable circumstances Lee 
could only have driven McClellan from Longstreet's 
" good field." 

His loss would have been as great, or greater, than 
it was at Antietam, and he would have been too weak 
to push him from the strong positions in his rear and 
lay siege to Washington. In fact if he had not lost a 


man he could not have laid siege to Washington, for he 
was not equipped nor provisioned for it. 

The trouble v^ith Lee's v^^orshipers is that they are al- 
ways making excuses for his failure to accomplish im- 
possibilities foreign to his strategy. At Antietam it is 
the "lost order " ; at Gettysburg, Stuart. 

The world takes no heed of their excuses, and so the 
failures which originated in their minds are largely re- 
sponsible for erroneous historical estimates of Lee. 

Lee was not a provincial Southerner. He had been 
in the United States army all his life, and his home 
was at Washington. He realized from the first what 
he had to contend with. He knew that his re- 
sources in men and material would not enable him 
to conquer independence on northern soil. Therefore his 
only alternative was to prolong the war until the North 
should get tired of it; and to prolong it, it was necessary 
to keep the Army of the Potomac as far away from 
Richmond as possible, and the only way in which that 
could be done was to threaten Washington. All his 
strategy, involving desperate movements and battles, was 
designed to accomplish this one object and nothing more. 
His correspondence, the condition of the army, and the 
conduct of his campaigns show conclusively the single- 
ness of his purpose. 

The same staff officer says: 

" It looks as if the good Lord had ordained that we 
should not succeed. . . . 

" To me it is as if He who controls the destinies 
of men and of nations had said: You people of the 
South shall be sorely tried; but the blame is not yours, 
and therefore to you shall fall the honors, — genius, skill, 
courage, fortitude, endurance, readiness for self-sacrifice, 


prowess in battle, and victory against great odds. But 
this great experiment to demonstrate man's capacity for 
self-government, with its cornerstone of universal 
freedom, must continue with undivided front, and there- 
fore I decree to the other side determination, persist- 
ency, numbers, unlimited resources, and ultimate suc- 
cess. . . ." 

Here we have the " good Lord " as umpire of the 
game. He slaps the North on the back and awards the 
gate money, and then bestows the usual taffy on the 

It does seem that if the " good Lord " had had any- 
thing to do with the war He would have been at least 
as merciful as are the umpires in the prize ring, and 
would have stopped it before any one was killed. 

Out of puffery, quackery, cant, and hypocrisy grows 
the absurdity that the practical, common-sense, dollar- 
worshiping people of the North squandered billions of 
dollars on the " man's capacity for self-government " 
humbuggery and negro emancipation. 

Man had been demonstrating his capacity, or rather his 
incapacity, for self-government ever since the man with 
the arquebus shot a hole in the knight's armor; otherwise 
there would have been no war. 

Then there was a parallel to the " lost order " episode, 
except in the matter of result. At Antietam they were 
nil, while at Metaurus in 207 B. C. they decided the fate 
of the world. 

Creasy says: 

". . . Meanwhile Hasdrubal had raised the siege of 
Placentia, and was advancing toward Ariminum on the 
Adriatic, and driving before him the Roman army under 
Porcius. Nor when the Consul Livius had come up, and 


united the second and third armies of the North, could 
he make head against the invaders. The Romans still 
fell back before Hasdrubal, beyond Ariminum, beyond 
the Metaurus, and as far as the little town of Sena, to 
the southeast of that river. Hasdrubal was not unmind- 
ful of the necessity of acting in concert with his brother. 
He sent messengers to Hannibal to announce his march, 
and to propose that they should unite their armies in 
South Umbria, and then wheel around against Rome. 
Those messengers traversed the quarter part of Italy in 
safety; but, when close to the object of their mission, 
were captured by a Roman detachment ; and Hasdrubal' s 
letter, detailing his whole plan of the campaign, was laid, 
not in his brother's hands, but in those of the commander 
of the Roman armies of the South. Nero saw at once 
the full importance of the crisis. The two sons of Ham- 
ilcar were now within two hundred miles of each other, 
and if Rome was to be saved, the brothers must never 
meet alive. . . ." 

This letter enabled Nero to destroy Hasdrubal and his 
army in the battle of Metaurus. 
Creasy says: 

". . . In the true spirit of that savage brutality which 
deformed the Roman national character, Nero ordered 
Hasdrubal's head to be flung In his brother's camp. 
Eleven years had passed since Hannibal had gazed on 
those features. 

" The sons of Hamilcar had then planned their system 
of warfare against Rome, which they had brought so 
•nearly to successful accomplishment. Year after year 
had Hannibal been struggling in Italy, In the hopes of 
one day hailing the arrival of him whom he had left in 


Spain, and of seeing his brother's eye flash with affection 
and pride at the junction of their irresistible hosts. He 
now saw that eye glazed in death, and in the agony of 
his heart the great Carthaginian groaned aloud that he 
recognized his country's destiny." 



IN December, 1862, Lee's army of 78,000 men was in 
winter quarters at Fredericksburg, and Burnside's, of 
113,000, at Falmouth on the opposite side of the 
Rappahannock river. Burnside's position was a false 
one from which to launch an " On to Richmond " cam- 

The ground of Lee's right was not inviting, and on 
his left was the Wilderness. The water route was 
not popular after McCIellan's failure, so Burnside con- 
cluded to cross directly in his front, take possession of 
Fredericksburg, and attack Lee in the strongest position 
he ever held. 

Lee held the river front of the town with a strong 
picket line that gave Burnside considerable trouble, but 
he finally dislodged it with a furious artillery fire that 
sent the bricks flying in Fredericksburg. 

The battle itself was a rather one-sided affair, — easy 
for Lee. 

Rhodes says of it : 

"... The order to be ready came early in the morn- 
ing, the 13th; the word of attack was received by noon. 
The Union soldiers advanced over the plain between the 
town and the stone wall, ground which Longstreet's 
superintendent of artillery said : ' We cover so well that 

we will comb it as with a fine-tooth comb. A chicken 



could not live on that field when we open on it.' The 
canal interfered with their deployment, and the fire was 
therefore the more destructive. But generals and sol- 
diers had their orders, and forward they went. No 
higher courage could be shown. Intelligent as brave, 
they felt their effort hopeless, yet did their very best 
to carry the stone wall. Hancock led a charge of 5,000 
and lost two out of every five of his veterans, of whom 
one hundred and fifty-six were commissioned officers, 

* able and tried commanders.' * Six times did the 
enemy,' wrote Lee, * notwithstanding the havoc caused 
by our batteries, press on with great determination to 
within one hundred yards of the foot of the hill, but 
here encountering the deadly fire of our infantry, his 
columns were broken.' ' Oh, great God ! ' cried Couch, 

* see how our men, our poor fellows, are falling ! It is 
only murder now ! ' * Fighting Joe Hooker,' who until 
that day had never seen fighting enough, felt that he 
could make no more impression upon the Confederate 
works than upon ' the side of a mountain of rock.' 

" Putting spurs to his horse, he rode across the river 
and begged Burnside to desist from further attack. The 
commander was obstinate, and declared that the work o^f 
assault must go on. Humphreys, * the knight without 
reproach or fear,' then led a bayonet charge of 4,500 
troops, who had never been in battle before. The stone 
wall was a sheet o.f flame. ... In brief time over a 
thousand men were killed and wounded. The column 
turned. The regiments retired slowly, and in good 
order, many of the soldiers ' singing and hurrahing.' 

" The next day Burnside was wild with grief. * Oh, 
those men! those men over there!' he said, pointing 
across the river where lay the dead and wounded, ' I 
am thinking of them all the time.' " 

Brevet Brigadier General Ames, U. S. V., says of it: 

" On Saturday, December 13, our brigade had been 
held in reserve ; but late in the day we were hurried to the 
battle only to see a field full of flying men and the sun 
low in the west shining red through columns of smoke, 
six deserted field-pieces on a slight rise of ground in 
front of us, and a cheering column of troops in regular 
march disappearing on our left. But the day was then 
over and the battle lost, and our line felt hardly bullets 
enough to draw blood before darkness put an end to the 
uproar of all hostile sounds, save desultory shell-firing. 
For an hour or two afterward shells from Marye's 
Heights traced bright lines across the black sky with their 
burning fuses. Then, by command, we sank down in 
our lines, to get what sleep the soggy ground and the 
danger might allow us. 

" Experience had taught us that when the silent line 
of fire from the shells had flashed across the sky and 
disappeared behind us the scream and explosion that fol- 
lowed were harmless, but still it required some effort to 
overcome the discomfort of the damp ground, and the 
flash and report of bursting shells, and to drop quietly 
asleep at an order. We finally slept, but we were roused 
before midnight, and formed into* line with whispered 
commands, and then filed to the right, and reaching the 
highways, marched away from the town. There were 
many dead horses at exposed points of our turning and 
many more dead men. Here stood a low brick house, 
with an open door in its gable end, from which shone 
a light, and into which we peered when passing. Inside 
sat a woman, gaunt and hard-featured, with crazy hair 
and a Meg Merrilies face, still sitting by a smoking candle, 
though it was nearly two hours past midnight. But what 


woman could sleep, though never so masculine and 
tough of fiber, alone in a house between two hostile 
armies, — two corpses lying across her doorstep, and 
within, almost at her feet, four more! So, with wild 
eyes and face lighted by her smoky candle, she stared 
across the dead barrier into the darkness outside, 
with the look of one who heard and saw not, and to 
whom all sounds were a terror. 

" We formed in two lines — the right of each resting 
near and in front of this small brick house, and the left 
extending into the field at right angles with the highway. 
Here we again bivouacked, finding room for our beds 
with no little difficulty, because of the shattered forms 
of those who were here taking their last long sleep. We 
rose early. The heavy fog was penetrating and chilly, 
and the damp turf was no warm mattress to tempt us 
to a morning nap. So we shook off sloth from our 
moistened bodies willingly, and rolling up the gray 
blankets, set about breakfast. The bivouac breakfast is a 
nearer approach to its civilized congener than the bivouac 
bed. Coffee can be made hot and good in blackened tins ; 
pork can be properly frizzled only on a stick over an 
open fire; hard tack is a better, sweeter morsel than the 
average American house- wife has yet achieved with her 
saleratus, sour milk, * empt'in's,' and what-not ; and a pipe 
— who can estimate what that little implement has done 
for mankind? Certainly none better than those who 
have sought its solace after the bivouac breakfast that 
succeeds a bivouac bed, in December. 

" We now began to take note through the misty veil 
of the wreck of men and horses cumbering the ground 
about us, and a slight lifting of the gray fog showed us 
the story of yesterday's repeated assaults and repeated 
failures. When our pipes were exhausted we got up to 


inspect and criticise the situation. Just here was the 
wreck of a fence, which seemed to have been the high 
tide mark of our advance wave of battle. The fence was 
a barrier which, slight as it was, had turned back the 
already wavering and mutilated lines of assault. Almost 
an army lay about us and scattered back over the plain 
toward the town. Not only corpses, but many of the 
badly wounded, hardly distinguishable from the dead, 
were here too. To die, groveling on the ground or fallen 
in the mire, is dreadful indeed. The pallid faces, and the 
clammy hands clenching their muskets, looked ghastly 
by the foglight. The new, bright blue overcoats only 
made the sight the ghastlier. 

*' About eighty yards in front the plowed field was 
bounded by a stone wall, and behind the wall were men 
in gray uniforms moving carelessly about. This picture 
is one of the most distinct memories of the war, — the 
men in gray behind this wall, talking, laughing, cooking, 
cleaning muskets, clicking locks — there they were ! — 
Lee's soldiers! — the Army of Northern Virginia! We 
were so absurdly near this host of yesterday's victors 
that we seemed wholly in their hands and a part of their 
great mass; cut off and remote from the Federal army, 
and almost within the lines of the enemy, — prisoners, 
of course. That was the immediate impression, as we 
stupidly gazed in the first moment of the awkward dis- 

" But the sharp whistle of a bullet sounded in our 
ears, and a rebel's face peered through the puff of smoke, 
as he removed the rifle from his shoulder; then rapidly 
half a dozen more bullets whistled by us, and the warning 
sent us all to earth. 

" The enemy riddled every moving thing in sight ; 
horses tied to the wheels of a broken gun-carriage behind 


us ; pigs that incautiously came grunting from across the 
road ; even chickens were brought down with an accuracy 
of aim that told of a fatally short range, and of a better 
practice than it would have been wise for our numbers 
to face. They applauded their own success with a hilar- 
ity we could hardly share in, as their chicken shooting 
was across our backs, leaving us no extra room for 

Lee's loss was 5377 men; and Burnside's, 12,653, the 
flower of his army. 

There was gloom in the North. Joseph Medill, of the 
Chicago Times, wrote to Colfax : 

" Our people all have the blues. The feeling of utter 
hopelessness is stronger than at any time since the war 
began. The terrible bloody defeat of our brave army 
at Fredericksburg leaves us almost without hope." 

Meigs wrote to Burnside : 

" As day after day has gone my heart has sunk, and 
I see greater peril to our nationality in the present con- 
dition of affairs than at any time during the struggle." 

Criticism of Lee is confined to his failure to attack 
Burnside after his repulse, and there is an absurd story 
that Jackson asked the army surgeon how many white 
bandages he could furnish for the men to wear in a night 

The review of Lord Wolseley's friendly criticism of 
Lee by a Northern soldier, already referred to, says : 

" Equally remarkable for visionary confidence is Lord 


Wolseley's next question, * What commander could wisK 
to have his foe in a tighter place than Burnside was in 
a.fter his disastrous attack upon Lee at Fredericksburg?* 
Lee has explained in his reports, in effect, that he was 
so much pleased with the tight boot Burnside was wear- 
ing, so long as Burnside was the aggressor, that he had 
no thought of exchanging footgear with the enemy, as 
he surely would have done if he had attacked Burnside 
within range of the Union cannon on Stafford Heights, 
across the river. So secure was Burnside at the town 
that when it was proposed, on deciding to recross the 
river, to keep hands on Fredericksburg, the council of 
officers believed that 10,000 men was a sufficient force 
for the service." 

From Lee's report: 

". . . The attack of the 13th had been so easily re- 
pulsed and by so small a part of our army that it was 
not supposed the enemy would limit his efforts to an 
attempt which, in view of the magnitude of his prepara- 
tions and the extent of his force, seemed to be compara- 
tively insignificant. Believing therefore that he would 
attack us, it was not deemed expedient to lose the ad- 
vantage of our position and expose the troops to the fire 
of his inaccessible batteries beyond the river by advanc- 
ing against him. . . ." 

Burnside's attacking columns were repulsed, but his 
lines at Fredericksburg were intact ; and on Stafford 
Heights, overlooking Fredericksburg from the opposite 
shore of a narrow river, and commanding every foot of 
approach, were 147 siege and heavy field guns. They 
were beyond the reach of Lee's artillery. Only 50,000 


men of Burnside's army had been engaged. The charge 
that Lee neglected pursuit when possible is without any 
foundation in fact. He had followed McClellan's re- 
treat as energetically as the nature of the country per- 
mitted, and was repulsed at Malvern Hill under fire of 
McClellan's gunboats. At Second Manassas there was 
no opportunity to pursue, as it was too close to Wash- 

Lord Wolseley of course would have made no such 
criticism, if he had known anything about the topography 
of the field. 

Burnside did not commit such an awful blunder at 
Fredericksburg as he is charged with. Standing at Fal- 
mouth he saw no easy way to Richmond. A flank move- 
ment meant an extended line of communication and 
possible trouble from heavy rains or snows at that sea- 
son. Lee's line across the river could be quickly and 
easily reached, and success there would have made seri- 
ous trouble for him and given Burnside an advantageous 
position from which to operate against Richmond, there 
being no strong defensive line between the two places. 
Then, too, at the worst, he could only suffer a repulse, 
as his guns on Stafford Heights would protect him from 
a counter attack. 


Facing page 103 




AFTER the battle of Fredericksburg and Burn- 
side's " mud march " the armies settled back into 
winter quarters. 
Longstreet was ordered south of the James river, as 
supplies of subsistence were more easily obtained there, 
and he would be in position to oppose troops that might 
be sent from the North to reinforce the army operating 
in that quarter against Richmond. 

General " Fighting " Joe Hooker had superseded 
Burnside in the command of the Army of the Potomac. 
The day after he was appointed Lincoln wrote to him 
as follows : 

". . . There are some things in regard to which I am 
not quite satisfied with you. ... I think that during 
General Burnside's command of the army you have taken 
counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as 
you could, in which you did a great wrong to the coun- 
try and to a meritorious and honorable brother officer. 
I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your re- 
cently saying that both the army and the government 
needed a dictator. . . . Only those generals who gain 
successes can set up as dictators. What I ask of you 
now is military success and I will risk the dictator- 
ship. ..." 



Lincoln thought the job was in pretty good hands as 
it was. 

We have already seen that Falmouth was a false po- 
sition from which to operate against Richmond ; but as 
McClellan had made a failure of the water route, and 
Burnside of his direct attack, Hooker's only alternative 
was a flank movement. A move on Lee's right flank 
was not promising of success, so Hooker determined to 
cross the river at the upper fords and strike Lee's left 
and rear. 

It was April — "the fields were green and the skies 
were blue." Hooker sent Stoneman with 10,000 cavalry 
to operate on Lee's line of communication, and to mask 
the march of his main column up the river. He ordered 
Sedgwick to cross it below and hold Lee as long as pos- 
sible at Fredericksburg in order that he might have time 
to strike and crush him. Both columns commenced 
crossing the river on the 29th and encountered no re- 

On the 30th Stoneman encountered Stuart's cavalry 
on the Spottsylvania road, but was unable to report 
whether or not there were infantry and artillery in that 
direction. This was Hooker's first trouble. 

He halted and made his headquarters at Chancellors- 

That night, — the 30th, — he issued the following gen- 
eral order: 

*' It is with heartfelt satisfaction that the commanding 
general announces to the army that the operations of the 
last three days have determined that our enemy must 
either ingloriously flee, or come out from behind his 
breastworks and give us battle on our own ground, 
where certain destruction awaits him." 


Talking boastfully, he said to some of his officers: 

" The rebel army is now the legitimate property of 
the Army of the Potomac. They may as well pack up 
their haversacks and make for Richmond, and I shall 
be after them." 

General Schurz says of this order: 

". . . They (the officers and men) indeed hoped that 
the Army of the Potomac, 130,000 strong, would prove 
able to beat Lee's army, only 60,000 strong. But it 
jarred upon their feelings, as well as their good sense, 
to hear their commanding general gasconade so boast- 
fully of having the enemy in the hollow of his hand, — 
that enemy being Robert E. Lee, at the head of the best 
infantry in the world." 

Hooker believed that he surprised Lee in his move- 
ment across the river and thought he had made a move 
on the chess-board that was decisive, — that Lee would 
have to attack him in strong position or retreat, and 
according to the rules of the game such was the case. 
Joe Johnston or Beauregard in Lee's position would have 
retreated, but Lee did not intend to retreat, nor had 
Hooker stolen a march on him. 

While the army was in winter quarters at Fredericks- 
burg, and after Burnside's " mud march," Lee went to 
Richmond on a visit. Longstreet was left in command. 
He says : 

". . . Long and close study of the field from the Po- 
tomac to the James river, and the experience of former 
campaigns, made it clear that the Army of the Potomac 


had been drawn into a false position, and it became 
manifest that there were but two moves left open for 
its spring campaign, — first, by crossing the upper fords 
of the Rappahannock; secondly, by detaching forces to 
the south of the James, and by that route moving against 

" To guard against the former, I laid out lines for 
field works and rifle pits, covering all approaches by the 
upper fords as far as the roads leading to the United 
States Ford. From that point the line broke to the 
rear, crossing the plank road and extending back half 
a mile to command the road from Chancellorsville to 
Spottsylvania Court House. When the lines for these 
works were well marked, I was ordered, with the divi- 
sions of Hood and Pickett and Bearing's and Henry's 
artillery battalions, to the south side near Petersburg, to 
be in position to meet the latter move, leaving the di- 
visions of McLaws and R. H. Anderson to finish the 
work on the line of defense. . . ." 

General Colston, who commanded one of Jackson's 
brigades, published the following in the Century Maga- 

" The assertion that Hooker's move upon Chancellors- 
ville was a surprise to General Lee is a great mistake. 
Every day Lee had information of Hooker's movements. 
The following letter, sent by Lee to Jackson and by the 
latter to me, has never been out of my possession since. 
It shows the remarkable intuition which enabled Gen- 
eral Lee on so many occasions to foresee and penetrate 
the intentions of his antagonist. In this case a demon- 
stration had been made on our extreme right at Port 
Royal, and without waiting for orders I had gone with 


a brigade and battery to meet it. I reported the facts 
to General Jackson, and it is my letter to him to which 
General Lee refers: 

" * Headquarters A. N. Va., April 2^, 1863. 
" * Lieut. Gen. T. J. Jackson, 

" * Commanding Corps. 

" * General : I have received General Colston's letter 
of 8.30 o'clock to-day, which you forwarded to me. I 
think from the account given me by Lieut. Col. Smith 
of the Engineers, who was at Port Royal yesterday, of 
the enemy's operations there the day and night previous, 
that his present purpose is to draw our troops in that 
direction while he attempts a passage elsewhere. I 
would not then send down more troops than are actually 
necessary. I will notify Generals McLaws and Ander- 
son to be on the alert, for I think that if a real attempt 
is made to cross the river it will be above Fredericks- 
burg. Very respectfully, 

"'R. E. Lee, 

" * General.' 

" The back of the letter was endorsed by Jackson, 
* Respectfully referred to General Colston for his guid- 
ance.' It was also marked ' Confidential,' and both the 
front and the back of the envelope were marked ' Pri- 
vate,' so that not even my adjutant general should open 
it in case of my absence." 

General Long, of Lee's staff, says: 

". . . Lee's whole cavalry force, consisting of two 
brigades, — Fitz Lee's and W. H. F. Lee's, — under the 
immediate command of Stuart, was mainly employed 


in guarding the fords of the upper Rappahannock. 
Hooker had no sooner commenced his movement than 
it was reported by Stuart to General Lee. . . ." 

From Lee's report : 

" At 5.30 a. m., April 28, the enemy crossed the Rap- 
pahannock in boats near Fredericksburg, and driving off 
the pickets on the river, proceeded to lay a pontoon 
bridge a short distance below Deep Run. Later in the 
afternoon another bridge was constructed about a mile 
below the first. A considerable force crossed on these 
bridges during the day and was massed out of view under 
the high bank of the river. 

". . . No demonstration was made opposite any other 
part of our lines at Fredericksburg, and the strength of 
the force that had crossed, and its apparent indisposition 
to attack, indicated that the principal effort of the enemy 
would be made in some other quarter. This impression 
was confirmed by the intelligence received from General 
Stuart that a large body of the infantry and artillery 
was passing up the river. During the forenoon of the 
29th that officer reported that the enemy had crossed 
in force near Kelly's Ford on the preceding evening. 
Later in the day he announced that a heavy column was 
moving from Kelly's toward Gemiana Ford on the Rapi- 
dan and another to Ely's Ford on the same river. The 
routes they were pursuing after crossing the Rapidan 
converge near Chancellorsville, whence several roads lead 
to the rear of our position at Fredericksburg. 

". . . The enemy in our front near Fredericksburg 
continued inactive and it was now apparent that the main 
attack would be made upon our rear and flank." 

Hooker is severely censured for halting at Chancel- 


lorsville on the 30th instead of marching to the open 
ground around Fredericksburg. But here is what Lee's 
report says of his preparations on the 29th to oppose 

" On the night of the 29th General Anderson was di- 
rected to proceed toward Chancellorsville and dispose 
Wright's brigade and the troops from the Bark Mill 
Ford to cover these roads. Arriving at Chancellorsville 
about midnight, he found the commands of Generals 
Mahone and Posey already there, having been withdrawn 
from Bark Mill Ford, with the exception of a small 

" Learning that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan 
and were approaching in strong force. General Ander- 
son retired early on the morning of the 30th to the inter- 
section of the Mine and Plank roads near Tabernacle 
church, and began to entrench himself. The enemy's 
cavalry skirmished with his rear-guard as he left Chan- 
cellorsville, but being vigorously repulsed by Mahone's 
brigade, offered no farther resistance to his march. Ma- 
hone was placed on the old turnpike, Wright and Posey 
on the plank road." 

Capt. James Power Smith, assistant adjutant general, 
aide-de-camp to General Jackson, says : 

". . . The divisions of Anderson and McLaws had 
been sent from Fredericksburg to meet Hooker's ad- 
vance from Chancellorsville; Anderson on Wednesday 
(29th), McLaws (except Barksdale's brigade) on 
Thursday. . . ." 

So if Hooker had advanced he would have run up 


against Anderson and McLaws, with Lee's whole army 
in supporting distance. 

On the next day, May i, Hooker did advance with the 
Second, Fifth, Twelfth, and Third Corps. Of this ad- 
vance Lee says in his report: 

". . . Jackson's troops followed Anderson's on the 
plank road. Colonel Alexander's battalion of artillery 
accompanied the advance. The enemy was soon en- 
countered on both roads and heavy skirmishing with 
infantry and artillery ensued, our troops pressing for- 
ward steadily. A strong attack on General McLaws 
was repulsed with spirit by Semmes' brigade, and Gen- 
eral Wright, by directions of General Anderson, con- 
verging to the left of the Plank road, marched by way 
of the unfinished railroad from Fredericksburg to Gor- 
donsville and turned the enemy's right. His whole line 
thereupon retreated rapidly, vigorously pursued by our 
troops until they arrived in about a mile of Chancellors- 
ville. Here the enemy assumed a position of great ma- 
terial strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest 
filled with tangled undergrowth, in the midst of which 
breastworks of logs had been constructed, with trees 
felled in front so as to form an almost impenetrable 
abatis. His artillery swept the few narrow roads by 
which his position could be approached from the front, 
and commanded the adjacent woods. . . ." 

When Hooker wanted to get out of the Wilderness, 
Lee held the " few narrow roads " ; and when Lee 
wanted to get in. Hooker held them. 

Hooker, on revisiting Chancellorsville after the war, 

". . . Here, on this open ground, I intended to fight 


my battle. But the trouble was to get my army on it, 
as the banks of the stream are, as you see, rugged and 
precipitous, and the few fords were strongly fortified 
and guarded by the enemy. 

" By making a powerful demonstration in front of 
and below the town of Fredericksburg with a part of 
my army, I was able, unobserved, to withdraw the re- 
mainder, and, marching nearly thirty miles up the stream, 
to cross the Rappahannock and the Rapidan unopposed, 
and in four days' time to arrive at Chancellorsville, 
within five miles of this coveted ground. And all this 
without General Lee's having discovered that I had left 
my position in his front. So far I regarded my move- 
ment as a great success. 

" On the morning of the fifth day my army was astir, 
and was put in motion on three lines through the tangled 
forest (the Wilderness) which covers the whole country 
around Chancellorsville, and in three hours' time I would 
have been in position on these crests, and in possession 
of Banks's Ford, in short and easy communication with 
the other wing of my army. But at midnight of that 
morning General Lee moved out with his whole army, 
and by sunrise had firm possession of Banks's Ford, had 
thrown up this line of breastworks which you can still 
follow with the eye, and had it bristling with cannon 
from one end to the other. Before I had proceeded 
two miles the heads of my columns, while still upon the 
narrow roads In these interminable forests, where it was 
impossible to maneuver my forces, were met by Jack- 
son with a full two-thirds of the entire Confederate 
army. I had no alternative but to turn back, as I had 
only a fragment of my command in hand, and take up 
the position about Chancellorsville which I had occupied 
during the night, as I was being rapidly out-flanked upon 


my right, the enemy having open ground on which to 

" And here again my reputation has been attacked be- 
cause I did not undertake to accomplish an impossibiHty, 
but turned back at this point; and every history of the 
war that has been written has soundly berated me be- 
cause I did not fight here in the forest with my hands 
tied behind me, and allow my army to be sacrificed. I 
have always believed that impartial history would vindi- 
cate my conduct in this emergency. . . ." 

Sir Edward Bruce Hamley in his work, '* The Oper- 
ations of War Explained and Illustrated," says: 

" To bring an aniiy from the order of march to the 
order of battle is a work of time, therefore it may, in 
most cases, be checked by a force deployed in order of 
battle, only a little superior to the heads of the advancing 
columns. And the uses to be made of this circumstance 
are manifold; it is not too much to say that, rightly em- 
ployed, it is the most effective weapon in the military 

While Lee was blocking Hooker's exit from the Wil- 
derness, he was feeling him in every other direction, in 
order to locate his lines definitely. 

General Howard, who must be something of a poet, 

". . . In my youth my brother and I had a favorite 
spot in an upper field of my father's farm from which 
we were accustomed, after the first symptoms of a com- 
ing storm, to watch the operations of the contending 
winds; the sudden gusts and whirlwinds; the sidling 


swallows excitedly seeking shelter; the swift and swifter, 
black and blacker clouds, ever rising higher and pushing 
their angry fronts toward us. As we listened we heard 
the low rumbling from afar ; as the storm came nearer, 
the woods bent forward and shook fiercely their thick 
branches, the lightning zigzagged in flashes, and the 
deep-bassed thunder echoed more loudly, till there was 
scarcely an interval between its ominous crashing dis- 
charges. In some such manner came on that battle of 
May 2 to the watchers at Dowdall's Tavern and Talley's 

" The first distant symptom occurred the evening of 
May I. Then was heard the sudden crack of rifle- 
shooting. It began with Steinwehr's skirmishers, and 
then passed on to Schurz. Schimmelpfennig pushed out 
a brigade straight forward toward the southwest and 
received a sudden fire of artillery' from the intruders. 
They left him and pushed on. 

" It was ' a rolling reconnaissance ' evidently to deter- 
mine, for Lee's and Jackson's information, the position 
of our flank. . . ." 

On the night of May i Longstreet was on the south 
side of the James river, eighty or one hundred miles 
away, with Hood's and Pickett's divisions, which were 
among the best in the army. Early was at Fredericks- 
burg with about 9,000 men to hold Sedgwick, who had 
22,000. Lee with Jackson and about 34,000 men faced 
Hooker and his 90,000 on the main Chancellorsville line. 

Wellington, who told Bliicher at Waterloo that he 
would do anything to help him except divide his army, 
which was against his principles, would hardly have ap- 
proved of this example in long division. We can 
imagine his surprise, could he have been present on the 


evening of the 2d when Lee stood on Hooker's front 
with 12,000 men, and Jackson on his right rear with 

Lee's army, present, was less than 45,000 men, in 
three detachments in the immediate vicinity of Hooker's 
army of 130,000. Such a disposition would not keep 
long, and so Jackson had marched from Lee with orders 
to attack before night on the 2d. Lee claimed Hooker's 
attention while Jackson was marching and fighting. 

Of Jackson's attack General Howard says: 

". . . With as little noise as possible, a little after 
5 p. m., the steady advance of the enemy began. Its 
first lively effects, like a cloud of dust driven before a 
coming shower, appeared in the startled rabbits, squirrels, 
quail, and other game, flying wildly hither and thither 
in evident terror, and escaping, where possible, into adja- 
cent clearings. 

" The foremost men of Doles's brigade took about 
half an hour to strike our advance picket on the pike. 
This picket, of course, created no delay. Fifteen min- 
utes later he reached our skirmishers, who seem to have 
resisted effectively for a few minutes, for it required a 
main line to dislodge them. Doles says, concerning the 
next check he received, ' After a resistance of about ten 
minutes we drove him (Devens) from his positions on 
the left and carried his battery of two guns, caissons, 
and horses.' 

" This was the fire which Steinwehr and I heard 
shortly after our return from Barlow. Somebody's 
guns thundered away for a few short minutes, and then 
came the fitful rattle of musketry; and before I could 
again get into the saddle there arose the ceaseless roar 
of the terrible storm. 


" I sent out my chief of staff. Colonel Asmussen, who 
was the first officer to mount, — ' The firing is in front 
of Devens; go and see if all is in order on the extreme 
right.' He instantly turned and galloped away. I 
mounted and set off for a prominent place in rear of 
Schurz's line, so as to change front to the northwest of 
every brigade southeast of the point of attack, if the 
attack extended beyond Devens's right flank; for it was 
divined at once that the enemy was now west of him. 
I could see numbers of our men — not the few stragglers 
that always fly like the chaff at the first breeze, but 
scores of them — rushing into the opening, some with 
arms and some without, running or falling before they 
got behind the cover of Devens's reserves, and before 
General Schurz's waiting masses could deploy or charge. 
The noise and the smoke filled the air with excitement, 
and to add to it Dieckmann's guns and caissons, with 
battery men scattered, rolled and tumbled like runaway 
wagons and carts in a thronged city. The guns and the 
masses of the right brigade struck the second line of 
Devens before McLean's front had given way, and, 
quicker than it could be told, with all the fury of the 
wildest hail-storm, everything, every sort of organiza- 
tion that lay in the path of the mad current of panic- 
stricken men, had to give way and be broken into 
fragments. . . . 

". . . Let us pause here a moment and follow Doles, 
who led the enemy's attack. He states that, after his 
first successful charge, ' the command moved forward 
at the double-quick to assault the enemy, who had taken 
up a strong position on the crest of a hill in the open 
field.' This position was the one on Hawkin's farm 
where Devens's and Schurz's reserves began their fight. 
But wave after wave of Confederate infantry came upon 


them, and even their left flank was unprotected the in- 
stant the runaways had passed it by. To our sorrow, 
we, who had eagerly observed their bravery, saw them 
also give way, and the hill and crest on Hawkin's farm 
were quickly in the hands of the men in gray. 

" Doles, who must have been a cool man to see so 
clearly amid the screeching shells and all the hot excite- 
ment of battle, says again: * He ' (meaning our forces 
from Schimmelpfennig's and Buschbeck's brigades, and 
perhaps part of McLean's, who had faced about and 
had not yet given away) 'made a stubborn resistance 
from behind a wattling fence on a hill covered thickly 
with pine.' 

" Among the stubborn fighters at this place was Major 
Jere Williams. The enemy was drawing near him. 
His men fired with coolness and deliberation. His right 
rested among scrubby bushes and saplings, while his left 
was in comparatively open ground. The fire of the 
enemy as he approached was murderous, and almost 
whole platoons of our men were falling; yet they held 
their ground. He waited, rapidly firing, till not more 
than thirty paces intervened, and then ordered the re- 
treat. Out of three hundred and thirty-three men and 
sixteen commissioned officers in the regiment (Twenty- 
fifth Ohio), one hundred and thirty, including five offi- 
cers, were killed or wounded." 

General Schurz writes of the attack: 

". . . At last the storm broke loose. I was with some 
of my staff at corps-headquarters, waiting for General 
Howard to return, our horses ready at hand. It was 
about twenty minutes past five when a number of deer 
and rabbits came bounding out of the woods bordering 


the opening of Hawkin's farm on the west. The ani- 
mals had been started from their lairs by Jackson's ad- 
vance. Ordinarily such an appearance of game would 
have been greeted by soldiers in the field with outbreaks 
of great hilarity. There was hardly anything of the 
kind this time. It was as if the men had instinctively 
understood the meaning of the occurrence. A little 
while later there burst forth, where Gilsa stood, a heavy 
roar of artillery, a continuous rattling of musketry, and 
the savage screech of the ' rebel yell,' and then happened 
what every man of common sense might have foreseen. 
Our two cannon standing in the road threw several rapid 
discharges into the dense masses of the enemy before 
them and then limbered up and tried to escape. But the 
rebel infantry were already upon them, shot down the 
horses, and captured the pieces. Gilsa's two regiments, 
formed at right angle with the turnpike, were at once 
covered with a hail of bullets. They discharged three 
rounds — it is a wonder they discharged as many — and 
then, being fired into from front and from both flanks 
at close quarters, they had either to surrender or beat a 
hasty retreat. They retreated through the woods, leav- 
ing many dead and wounded on the field. Some of 
Gilsa's men rallied behind a reserve regiment of the 
First division, the 75th Ohio, whose commander. Colo- 
nel Riley, had been sensible and quick to change front, 
and without orders advanced to help Gilsa. But they 
were promptly assailed in front and flank by several 
rebel regiments and completely wrecked. Colonel Riley 
being killed and the adjutant wounded. Meanwhile the 
enemy had also pounced upon the regiments of the First 
division, which were deployed in the turnpike. These 
regiments, hemmed in on the narrow road between dense 
thickets, and attacked on three sides, many of the men 


being shot through their backs, were not able to fight at 
all. They were simply telescoped and driven down the 
turnpike in utter confusion." 

General Schurz censured Hooker and Howard severely 
for the surprise of the Eleventh corps. He was appar- 
ently certain that his position would be attacked in flank 
and rear, and as it turned out he was right. But he was 
alarmed by the strong demonstrations against the right 
wing of the army, and did not stop to think that they 
would have been as necessary to cover a retreat as to 
mask a flank movement. Hooker and Howard compre- 
hended this, and as a retreat was more probable than a 
flank attack, they declined to hazard the change of front 
suggested by Schurz. 

The possibility of a flank attack did not escape 
Hooker's attention, as the following dispatch shows: 

" Headquarters, 
*' Army of the Potomac, 

" Chancellorsville, 
" May 2, 1863, 9.30 a. m. 
"Major-Generals Slocum and Howard: I am 
directed by the major-general commanding to say that 
the disposition you have made of your corps has been 
with a view to a front attack by the enemy. If he 
should throw himself upon your flank, he wishes you to 
examine the ground and determine upon the position 
you will take in that event, in order that you may be 
prepared for him in whatever direction he advances. 
He suggests that you have heavy reserves well in hand 
to meet this contingency. The right of your line does 
not appear to be strong enough. No artificial defenses 
worth naming have been thrown up, and there appears 


to be a scarcity of troops at that point, and not, in the 
general's opinion, as favorably posted as might be. We 
have good reason to suppose that the enemy is moving 
to our right. Please advance your pickets as far as may 
be safe, in order to obtain timely information of their 

"J. H. Van Alen, 
" Brigadier General and Aide-de-Camp." 

But as the day wore away developments favored the 
theory of retreat. 

General Howard says : 

". . . Jackson's movement, with a stronger indication 
of battle, began at sunrise, Rodes, Colston, and A. P. 
Hill in order following the old road by the Catherine 
Furnace, there shoving off farther south to get beyond 
the sight of our men; then sweeping around by a private 
road, well known to them, up to the Orange plank ; and 
thence on, perhaps a mile farther, through the wild for- 
est till the old turnpike was found and crossed. 

" The Catherine Furnace, nearly opposite Sickles's 
right and two and a half miles distant, gave an open 
reach and fully exposed the moving columns to view. 
Except at that point the entire Confederate force was 
completely covered by woods and by Stuart's busy and 
noisy cavalry. 

" About sunrise at Dowdall's I heard cheering. It 
was a hearty sound, with too much bass in it for that 
of the enemy's charge. It was occasioned by General 
Hooker, with Colonel Comstock and a few staff officers, 
riding along slowly and inspecting the lines. General 
Sickles says of this : ' It is impossible to pass over with- 
out mention the irrepressible enthusiasm of the troops 


for Major General Hooker, which was evinced in hearty 
and prolonged cheers as he rode along the lines of the 
Third, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps.' 

" I was ready, mounted, and with my officers joined 
the ever increasing cavalcade. Hooker observed the 
troops in position; Barlow, who filled the cross trenches 
an hour later, had not yet come out of the front line, 
so that my reserves just at that time were small. He 
noticed the breastworks, unusually well built by Schurz 
and Devens. He passed to the extreme right, and then 
returned by the shortest route. As he looked over the 
barricades, while receiving the salutes and cheers of the 
men, he said to me, ' How strong! How strong! ' 

" I still had much extension, so that there were gaps 
along Schurz's and Devens's fronts. Colonel Comstock 
spoke to me in his quiet way : ' General, do close in 
those spaces ! ' 

" I said, * The woods are thick and entangled ; will 
anybody come through there ? ' 

"'Oh, they may!' 

" His suggestion was heeded. 

" During the forenoon General Sickles discovered 
Jackson's moving column. It was passing toward 
Orange Court House, so everybody said. Sickles for- 
warded all reports to General Hooker, who had now re- 
turned to Chancellorsville. He tried to divine Jackson's 

" About midday Sickles received General Hooker's 
orders to advance south cautiously. Soon after, per- 
haps by 2 p. m., there was a stronger apprehension of a 
conflict, for there was a sharp skirmish in the direction 
of Catherine Furnace. The rattle of musketry followed ; 
then in a little time was heard the booming of cannon. 
I sent the news to every division and said, * Be ready.' 


Slocum went forward to the aid of Sickles, and Hancock 
was behind him with support. Next, the enemy was re- 
ported to be in full retreat. General Hooker so tele- 
graphed to Sedgwick; Captain Moore, of his staff, who 
had gone out with Birney to see the attack upon Jack- 
son, came hurriedly to me with an order from General 
Hooker for my reserve brigade, — Barlow's. . . . My 
aide had now returned from Sickles, near the Furnace, 
and reported in substance that he (Sickles) was glad to 
receive the help; that he was about to make a grand 
attack, having been for some time driving the enemy, 
and expected soon a brilliant result; that he desired to 
place my reinforcements upon his right flank in the for- 
ward movement. Such was the state of things when, 
through Captain Moore, General Hooker directed to 
Sickles's attack, at the Furnace, all my general infantry 
reserves, consisting of Barlow's stanch brigade. . . ." 

Hooker had become so well satisfied that Lee was re- 
treating, — and no doubt his opinion was that of his 
officers, with the possible exception of Schurz, — that 
he took troops from Howard to strengthen Sickles's 
fight with Jackson's rear-guard at the Furnace; and as 
late as 4.10 p. m., when Johnson was forming for the 
attack, he telegraphed to Sedgwick : 

" Capture Fredericksburg with everything in it, and 
vigorously pursue the enemy. We know that the enemy 
is fleeing to save his trains. Two of Sickles's divisions 
are amongst them." 

The conditions under which the Eleventh corps met 
disaster are frankly and correctly stated by General 
Howard in the Century Magazine. He says : 


*'. . . Twenty-three years ago in my report to Gen- 
eral Hooker I wrote the following: 

" ' Now, as to the causes of this disaster to my corps : 

" * 1st. Though constantly threatened and apprised 
of the moving of the enemy, yet the woods were so dense 
that he was able to mass a large force, whose exact 
whereabouts neither patrols, reconnaissances, nor scouts 
ascertained. He succeeded in forming a column oppo- 
site to and outflanking my right. 

" * 2d. By the panic produced by the enemy's reserve 
fire, regiments and artillery were thrown suddenly upon 
those in position. 

" ' 3d. The absence of General Barlow's brigade, 
which I had previously located in reserve and en echelon 
with Colonel von Gilsa's, so as to cover his right flank. 
This was the only general reserve I had.' 

" Stonewall Jackson was victorious. Even his ene- 
mies praise him ; but, providentially for us, it was the 
last battle which he waged against the American Union. 
For, in bold planning, in energy of execution which he 
had the power to diffuse, in indefatigable activity and 
moral ascendency, Jackson stood head and shoulders 
above his confreres, and after his death General Lee 
could not replace him." 

Jackson is criticised because he did not go on and on, 
after routing Howard's corps, and rout all the other 
corps in Hooker's army. This kind of criticism is very 
common, the critics forgetting that even a thunderbolt 
will stop somewhere. General Colston gives a few rea- 
sons for the halt. He says : 

" The Federal writers have w^ondered why Jackson's 
corps did not complete its work on the evening of May 


2d. They do not realize the condition of our troops 
after their successful charge on Howard. We had 
forced our way through brush so dense that the troops 
were nearly stripped of their uniforms. Brigades, regi- 
ments, and companies had become so mixed that they 
could not be handled; besides which the darkness of 
evening was so intensified by the shade of the dense 
woods that nothing could be seen a few yards off. The 
halt at that time was not a mistake, but a necessity. So 
far from intending to stop, Jackson was hurrying A. P. 
Hill's division to the front to take the place of Rodes's 
and mine, and to continue the attack, when he was 
wounded; A. P. Hill was also wounded soon afterward, 
and the advance of his troops in the narrow road on 
which alone they could move was checked by the shell 
and canister of twelve napoleon guns, from an elevation 
within five hundred yards. The slaughter and confusion 
were greatly increased by this terrible fire in the dark- 
ness of the night, so that the pause in the attack was one 
of those fatalities of war that no skill or foresight can 

Jackson moved his army of 22,000 men fifteen miles 
over the narrow roads of the wilderness in the immedi- 
ate presence of the enemy. It was a good day's work. 

Sir Edward Bruce Hamley in his work, " The Oper- 
ations of War Explained and Illustrated," says : 

". . . To bring an army from the order of march 
to the order of battle is a work of time. . . ." 

Colonel Hamley would probably have allowed half a 
day for this, and another half for the battle, so it is not 
much of an exaggeration to say that when Jackson 


halted his men, or rather when they stopped going, he 
had crowded two days' work into one, and that one was 
to be followed in a few hours by the great battle of 
the 3d. 

Of it General Schurz says: 

". . . The next morning, Sunday, May 3, found the 
Army of the Potomac, about 90,000 men of it, under 
General Hooker's immediate command, strongly in- 
trenched in the vicinity of the Chancellor House, and 
about 22,000 men, under General Sedgwick, near Fred- 
ericksburg, moving up to attack General Lee in his rear. 
Never did Lee's genius shine more brightly than in the 
actions that followed. 

" He proved himself, with his 60,000 men against 
nearly double that number, a perfect master of that su- 
preme art of the military leader, — to oppose with super- 
ior forces at every point of decisive importance. First 
he flung Jackson's old corps, now under command of 
General Jeb Stuart, against some of Hooker's breast- 
M^orks in the center, carrying one line of intrenchments 
after another by furious assaults. Then hearing that 
Sedgwick had taken Marye's Heights and was advancing 
from Fredericksburg, he detached from his front against 
Hooker a part of his force large enough to overmatch 
Sedgwick and drive that general across the Rappahan- 
,nock. Then he hurried back the divisions that had 
worsted Sedgwick, to make his own force superior to 
Hooker's at the point where he wished to strike." 

Early probably thought that as he had lost his posi- 
tion and exposed the rear of the army to Sedgwick's 
large force, Lee would also fall back on the Richmond 
road. This was a natural supposition, as he probably 


did not know how badly Hooker had been worsted. 
But his mistake was of such a serious character that 
Lee rode with the troops to oppose Sedgwick, and 
Hooker got safely over the river. 

Hooker was determined to make the best of the cam- 
paign, and so issued the following order : 

" Headquarters, 
" Army of the Potomac, 

" May 6, 1863. 
" The major-general commanding tenders to this 
army his congratulations in its achievements of the last 
seven days. ... By your celerity and secrecy of move- 
ment our advance and passage of the river was undis- 
puted, and on our withdrawal not a rebel ventured to 
follow. . . . 

" By command of Major-General Hooker. 

" S. Williams, 
" Assistant Adjutant General." 

Lincoln, however, extended no congratulations, for 
we find in " The Diary of Gideon Wells " the following 
entry : 

" June 20, 1863. 

**. . . The President said if Hooker had been killed 
by the shot that knocked over the pillar that stunned 
him, we should have been successful. 

" Sumner said he knew Hooker to be a blasphemous 
wretch. At Chancellorsville he exclaimed, ' The enemy 
are in my power, and God Almighty cannot deprive me 
of them.' " 

That was all cabinet meeting talk. 


Sumner condemned Hooker because of his blasphemy, 
and Lincoln, because he failed to substantiate it. 

Hooker is severely criticised for not making better 
use of his superior numbers in the Sunday battle. 

Mr. Samuel P. Bates, who accompanied him when 
he visited Chancellorsville, says : 

" I ventured to ask why he did not attack when he 
found that the enemy had weakened his forces in the 
immediate front and sent them away to meet Sedgwick. 
* That,' said he, ' would seem to have been the reasonable 
thing to do. But we were in this impenetrable thicket. 
All the roads and openings leading through it the enemy 
immediately fortified strongly, and planted thickly his 
artillery commanding all the avenues, so that with re- 
duced numbers he could easily hold his lines, shutting 
me in, and it became utterly impossible to maneuver 
my forces. My army was not beaten. Only a part of 
it had been engaged. The First corps, commanded by 
Reynolds, whom I regarded as the ablest officer under 
me, was fresh, and ready and eager to be brought into 
action, as was my whole army. But I had been fully 
convinced of the futility of attacking fortified positions, 
and I was determined not to sacrifice my men need- 
lessly, though it should be at the expense of my reputa- 
tion as a fighting officer. We had already had enough 
grievous experience in that line. I made frequent 
demonstrations to induce the enemy to attack me, but 
he would not accept my challenge. Accordingly, when 
the eight days' rations with which my army started out 
were exhausted, I retired across the river. Before doing 
so I sent orders to General Sedgwick to hold his position 
near Banks's Ford, on the south side of the stream, and 
I would bring my whole army to his support; but the 


order failed to reach him until he had already recrossed 
the river. Could I have had my army on the open 
grounds at that point where I could have maneuvered it 
properly, I felt assured that I could have gained a de- 
cisive victory. But this, my last chance, was frus- 
trated.' " 

General Pleasonton did not think much of the battle. 
He says that both Lee and Hooker failed in what they 
attempted. He thinks that both attempted to end the 
war at Chancellorsville. The reason they did not end 
it, he says, was because great victories are only won by 
great generals. 

But Lee was not trying to end the war ; he was trying 
to prolong it, and he did. Then, if any man was to 
blame for Hooker's defeat, Pleasonton was the man. 
He was completely outgeneraled by Stuart. 

It may be that the defeats of McClellan, Pope, and 
Hooker were more complimentary than otherwise to 
those officers, for if a general should always anticipate 
improbable and apparently impossible movements of his 
opponents, and maneuver accordingly, he would be ad- 
judged insane; and that is just what they would have 
had to do in order to avoid defeat. 

Colonel Mosby says of the battle : 

" Considering the numerical inferiority of the South- 
ern army and the fact that it took the offensive and 
drove its antagonist out of big intrenchments and over 
the river it had just triumphantly crossed, I consider it 
the boldest deed of arms and the most wonderful achieve- 
ment in the history of war." 

But on the next page Colonel Mosby says : 


". . . At Austerlitz the Allies attempted to do the 
same thing that Jackson did and met a great disaster. 
But General Lee knew that he did not have Napoleon to 
deal with. . . ." 

If Napoleon had been in a Wilderness at Austerlitz, 
and the Allies had been Confederate infantry commanded 
by a Lee, with a Jackson and a Stuart to execute his 
orders, he might have fared just about as Hooker did. 
Lee, seconded by his ubiquitous lieutenants, Jackson and 
Stuart, won an incomparable victory, not through 
Hooker's incapacity, but because, as General Schurz so 
generously says, ". . . He proved himself a perfect 
master of that supreme art of the military leader, — to 
oppose with superior forces at every point of decisive 
importance. . . ." 

And as General Schurz says, ". . . Never did Lee's 
genius shine more brightly. . . . than at Chancellors- 

Longstreet says: 

" My impression was, and is, that General Lee stand- 
ing under his trenches would have been stronger against 
Hooker than he was against Burnside, and that he would 
have grown stronger every hour of delay, while Hooker 
would have grown weaker in morale and in the confi- 
dence of his plans and the confidence of his troops. . . . 
By the time that the divisions of Pickett and Hood could 
have joined Lee, General Hooker would have found 
that he must march to the attack or make a retreat with- 
out a battle. The Confederates would then have had 
bpportunity, and have been in condition, so to follow 
Hooker as to have compelled his retirement to Washing- 


". . . The battle as a pitched and independent affair 
was brilHant, and, if the war was for glory, could be 
called successful ; but besides putting the cause upon the 
hazard of a die, it was crippling of resources of future 
progress, while the wait for a few days would have 
given time for concentration and opportunities against 
Hooker more effective than were experienced with Burn- 
side at Fredericksburg. . . ." 

Burnside crossed the river in Lee's front, while 
Hooker crossed on his flank, and was in position to 
operate against his line of communication. Lee says in 
his report that there were roads leading from Chancel- 
lorsville to the rear of his army. 

Lee said he could not afford to await the pleasure of 
the Army of the Potomac. His strategy was designed 
always to keep that army busily employed in the defense 
of Washington. Chancellorsville enabled him to do 
that in 1863 just as Seven Days did in 1862. Seven 
Days got his army out of the last ditch, and Chancellors- 
ville kept it out. It " compelled Hooker's retirement to 
Washington " in much less time than Longstreet's plan 
would have done, even if it had been successful, which 
in all probability it would not have been. 

" Putting the cause on the hazard of a die " was noth- 
ing new, Lee did that all through the war. The cause 
was desperate and called for heroic operations. 

Nor was Chancellorsville more " crippling in resources 
than other battles," and Lee captured 5,000 prisoners, 
exclusive of wounded, 13 pieces of artillery, 19,500 stand 
lof arms, and 17 colors. His loss was 10,000, while 
Hooker's was 16,845. 

Longstreet says: 

" Chancellorsville is usually accepted as General Lee's 


most brilliant achievement, and considered as an inde- 
pendent affair, it was certainly grand." 

Yes, and considered as a part of the campaign of 
1863 it was grander, as it enabled Lee to throw Hooker 
from Virginia into Pennsylvania. None of Lee's oper- 
ations were " independent affairs." They were all de- 
signed with one end in view, and that was the prolonga- 
tion of the war. 

There is a romantic story of Lee and Jackson sitting 
on cracker boxes on the night of the ist, and it is said 
by some that Jackson proposed the flank movement. 
The " cracker box " story does very well to " point a 
moral or adorn a tale," but it is fair to assume that the 
Chancellorsville net had been spread for Hooker long 
before the cracker box appeared on the scene, and that 
every thread of it had been carefully gone over. Von 
Moltke began, in 1867, to make plans for the war with 
France and completed them in the early part of 1869; 
and Lee in the following letter says that " every move- 
ment of an army must be well considered and properly 
ordered." And it is a fair historical inference that he 
did not wait for the cracker boxes. 

"Lexington, Va., Oct. 28, 1867. 
" Dr. a. T. Bledsoe, 

" Office Southern Reznruj, 
"Baltimore, Md. 

" My dear Sir : In reply to your inquiry, I must ac- 
knowledge that I had not read the article on Chancel- 
lorsville in the last number of the Southern Reznew, nor 
have I read any of the books published on either side 
since the termination of hostilities. I have as yet felt 
no desire to review any recollections of those events, 


and have been satisfied with the knowledge I possessed 
of what transpired. I have, however, learned from 
others that the various authors of the life of Jackson 
award to him the credit of the success gained by the 
Army of Northern Virginia when he was present, and 
describe the movements of his corps or command as 
independent of the general plan of operations and under- 
taken at his own suggestion and upon his own responsi- 

" I have the greatest reluctance to do anything that 
might be considered detracting from his well deserved 
fame, for I believe no one was more convinced of his 
worth or appreciated him more highly than myself; yet 
your knowledge of military affairs, if you have none of 
the events themselves, will teach you that this could not 
have been so. 

" Every movement of an army must be well considered 
and properly ordered, and every one who knew General 
Jackson must know that he was too good a soldier to 
violate this fundamental principle. In the operations 
around Chancellorsville I overtook General Jackson, who 
had been placed in command of the advance, as the 
skirmishers of the two armies met, advanced with the 
troops to the Federal line of defenses, and was on the 
field until their whole army recrossed the Rappahannock. 
There is no question as to who was responsible for the 
operations of the Confederates, or to whom any failure 
would have been charged. What I have said is for your 
own information. . . . 

" I am, with great respect, your friend and servant, 

''R. E. Lee." 

Lee no doubt planned the flank movement as he did 
the whole battle, and Jackson executed it. The plan was 


bold and desperate, the execution rapid and glorious, 
and to Lee and Jackson the honors have been awarded. 
Stuart has received little credit ; but to shield that column, 
actually in contact with the enemy, with his *' busy and 
noisy cavalry," and finally lead it to a position from 
which it could fall like a thunderbolt on the enemy was 
the w^ork of no ordinary cavalryman, but rather of one 
of a triumvirate of military geniuses that made of Chan- 
cellorsville an unparalleled victory. 

General Schurz pays Stuart the following very pretty 
compliment : 

". . . On the nth we had a day's truce between the 
two armies for the purpose of caring for the wounded 
and burying the dead. Confederate and Union officers 
met on the battle-field of Cedar Mountain and exchanged 
polite compliments. The famous cavalry general, * Jeb 
Stuart,' a figure of martial elegance, was one of the Con- 
federate generals. I am sorry I did not have any con- 
versation with him, for I could not help feeling myself 
attracted by that handsome young enemy looking so gay 
and so brave. . . ." 

If business had been as dead in the North as it was 
in the South, Chancellorsville might have ended the war. 
But business was booming. Fortunes were being rapidly 
made, and as money is the panacea for all the ills that 
flesh is heir to, Chancellorsville grieved the North less 
than any previous defeat, and so it was " On with the 


Facing page 133 



THE books written by Lee's generals, staff, and biog- 
raphers make it appear that he planned the Gettys- 
burg campaign to conquer Confederate independence at 
G£ttysburg, and that Confederate independence was 
possible at Gettysburg. 

As he did not accomplish the alleged object, these 
authors and historians, who naturally inferred that their 
books were the best authority, have made of the cam- 
paign the fatal failure, and of the battle the grand de- 
cisive battle, of the war. 

We shall see that beyond the employment of his usual 
strategy, designed as ever to limit the activity of the 
Army of the Potomac to the defense of Washington, 
Lee had no plan. 

We shall see that he had no idea of conquering Con- 
federate independence at Gettysburg, and that Confeder- 
ate independence at Gettysburg was impossible. 

We shall see that the campaign was not a failure, and 
that the battle was not a decisive battle, but a mere 
accidental incident of a successful campaign. 

Lee with 70,000 men in the North did not conquer 
Confederate independence in July, 1863. Neither did 
Lincoln subdue the Confederacy with 70,000 men in the 
South in July, 1863. It took him nearly two years 
longer to do it with nearly a million men in the South, 
and more war craft than ever engaged in any war. 



Among other errors that contribute to the exaggerated 
importance of the battle of Gettysburg is the idea that it 
marked the " turning point," the " high tide of the re- 
belHon." This mistaken view is due to the fact that 
Lee's victories were brilHant, and gained on the most 
conspicuous field, — that between Washington and Rich- 
mond, — and therefore obscured the Federal successes 

Two years after the war commenced, March 5, 1861, 
with the firing on Sumter, the Federals had taken Nor- 
folk and New Orleans, and held the Mississippi from 
source to mouth, except at Vicksburg. Kentucky and 
Missouri were held by Federal forces, and Tennessee 
had been made almost untenable by Grant's operations 
and the navy on the Tennessee river. Fort Pulaski had 
fallen, and with it went, practically. Savannah. The 
North had the largest navy afloat; the South, none 
worthy of the name. The Northern navy held the 
southern ports almost in complete blockade. It held the 
coast to the Rio Grande, and dominated all the rivers. 

The fortunes of the Confederacy waned everywhere 
from the first, except in Virginia, and the " turning 
point " there came in the Wilderness when Lee found 
himself so weak, comparatively, that he was compelled 
to renounce his hitherto aggressive policy, and act en- 
tirely on the defensive. 

This condition was decisive, and would have existed 
just the same if Lee had defeated Meade at Gettysburg, 
or had there been no Gettysburg. Gettysburg was not 
a decisive battle in immediate effect, or in its influence 
on subsequent conditions; nor does it rank as a Con- 
federate disaster with the surrender of Vicksburg and 
Pemberton's army, which was made while Lee and 
Meade confronted each other at Gettysburg. Vicksburg 


was the loss of an amiy with artillery and infantry arms, 
so precious to the Confederacy, and of a valuable stra- 
tegic point, while Gettysburg was simply a repulse. 

General Joe Johnston was in command of the geo- 
graphical department embracing Vicksburg, and was em- 
powered to use the entire resources at his command to 
save it. 

On the 15th of June he telegraphed to the War De- 
partment from Jackson, Mississippi : 

" I consider saving Vicksburg hopeless." 

The Secretary replied : 

" Your telegram grieves and alarms us, Vicksburg 
must not be lost, at least without a struggle. The inter- 
est and honor of the Confederacy forbid it. I rely on 
you still to avert the loss. If better resource does not 
offer, you must hazard attack. It may be made in con- 
cert with the garrison, if practicable, but otherwise with- 
out. By day or night as you think best." 

On the 2ist the Secretary wires as follows: 

" Only my convictions of almost imperative necessity 
for action induces the official dispatch I have just sent 
you. On every ground I have great deference for your 
judgment and military genius, but I feel it right to share, 
if need be to take, the responsibility and leave you free 
to follow the most desperate course the occasion may 
demand. Rely upon it, the eyes and hopes of the whole 
Confederacy are upon you, with the full confidence that 
you will act, and with the sentiment that it were better 
to fall nobly daring than, through prudence even, to be 


inactive. I look to attack in the last resort, but rely 
on your resources of generalship to suggest less desper- 
ate modes of relief." 

There was no such anxiety as this over Gettysburg. 

The object of the Gettysburg campaign we have in 
Lee's own words. It is explicitly stated in the following 
letter to Mr. Seddon, Secretary of War: 

" CuLPEPER Court House, June 8, 1863. 
" As far as I can judge there is nothing to be gained 
by this army's remaining quietly on the defensive, which 
it must, unless it can be reinforced. I am aware there 
is difficulty and hazard in taking the aggressive with so 
large an army in its front intrenched behind a river 
where it cannot be advantageously attacked. Unless it 
can be drawn out in a position to be assailed, it will take 
its own time to prepare and strengthen itself to renew 
its advance upon Richmond and force this army back 
within the intrenchments of that city. This may be the 
result in any event ; still I think it worth the trial to 
prevent such a catastrophe. Still, if the Department 
thinks it better to remain on the defensive and guard, 
as far as possible, all avenues of approach and wait the 
time of the enemy, I am ready to adopt this course. 
You have, therefore, only to inform me." 

So far from expecting to conquer Confederate inde- 
pendence at Gettysburg, Lee was not sure that he would 
not be forced within the intrenchments at Richmond, 
even if he received reinforcements. It was to avert 
** such a catastrophe " that he ordered the forward move- 

Of this General Hunt says : 


" These operations indicate on the part of General 
Lee either a contempt for his opponent, or a bcHef that 
the chronic terror of the War Department for the safety 
of Washington could be safely relied upon to paralyze 
his movements, or both. On no other hypothesis can 
we account for his stretching his arniy from Fredericks- 
burg to Williamsport, with his enemy concentrated on 
one flank and on the shortest road to Richmond." 

Again General Hunt says : 

*' On June 10, he (General Hooker), learning that 
Lee was in motion and that there were but few troops 
at Richmond, proposed an immediate march on that 
place, from which, after capturing it, he could send the 
disposable part of his force to any threatened point north 
of the Potomac; and he was informed that Lee's army 
and not Richmond was his ' true objective.' " 

The following dispatch from Lincoln to Hooker is 
the one to which Hunt refers sarcastically: 

"... I think Lee's army is your true objective point. 
If he comes toward the upper Potomac, follow on his 
flank. . . ." 

Hunt said: 

"Had he (Hooker) taken Richmond, Peck's large 
force at Suffolk and Keyes's 10,000 men on the Penin- 
sula might have been utilized, and Hooker's whole army 
set free for operations against Lee. 

" It was not now a question of * swapping queens.' 
Washington was safe, being well fortified and sufficiently 


garrisoned, or with available troops within reach, with- 
out drawing on Hooker; and to take Richmond and 
scatter the Confederate government was the surest way 
to ruin Lee's army, ' his true objective.' 

" The same day, June 10, Hooker proposed to march 
on Richmond, Mr. Seddon replied to Lee's letter, con- 
curring in his views. He considered aggressive action 
necessary, ' that all attendant risks and sacrifices must 
be incurred,' and adds : ' I have not hesitated, in co- 
operating with your plans, to leave this city almost 
defenseless.' " 

Lee did not hold Hooker in contempt. He com- 
manded too large an army to be contemptible. But he 
realized, as he had from the first, that if he should be 
thrown on the defensive it would be the beginning of 
the end. The movement was desperate; the alternative, 

Hooker obeyed Lincoln's instructions and marched 
along on Lee's flank. Ewell cleared the Valley of Mil- 
roy's forces and crossed the Potomac June 15. Old 
Virginia was devastated, the rail fences had been burned 
and the grass was short, while in Maryland and Penn- 
sylvania there were " fresh fields and pastures new." 
Ewell met no opposition, and no doubt he and his men 
had the time of their lives while gathering up " uncon- 
sidered trifles " in the way of supplies, cattle, etc., etc., so 
badly needed by their friends in Virginia. 

The advance into Pennsylvania created consternation 
in Harrisburg, Pittsburg, and Philadelphia ; and Lee was 
in hopes that Lincoln would call troops from the South, 
especially from Vicksburg, — which is another proof 
that he did not expect to conquer Confederate independ- 
ence at Gettysburg. But Lincoln met the emergency by 


Facing page 139 


assembling thirty regiments of Pennsylvania militia and 
nineteen regiments from New York, with cavalry and 
artillery at Harrisburg. 

On the 19th of June, Lee, who was at Berryville, Va., 
wrote to Ewell, who was at Hagerstown, Md. : 

" I very much regret that you have not the benefit 
of your whole corps, for, with that north of the Poto- 
mac, should we be able to detain General Hooker's army 
from following you, you would be able to accomplish 
as much unmolested as the whole army could perform 
with General Hooker in its front. H your advance 
causes Hooker to cross the Potomac, or separate his army 
in any way, Longstreet can follow you." 

When Lee wrote this letter it is evident he did not 
know whether or not he would cross the river at all, 
and he certainly did not expect Ewell, even if he had 
his whole corps with him, to conquer Confederate in- 
dependence. His whole object, as he says, was to 
" detain " Hooker ; and he was not particular as to how 
or where he did it. No doubt he would have been con- 
tent to winter up there. But his army was divided, and 
to divide an army in the presence of a larger army, es- 
pecially when a part of it is to operate in the territory 
of a powerful enemy, is a hazardous operation ; but to 
keep it divided for any considerable time is to invite 
disaster. Conditions were of an uncertain character, 
and rather than have them continue so, Lee detemiined 
to put an end to them, by uniting his army in Pennsyl- 
vania, knowing that such a move would compel Hooker 
to make a corresponding one. Hence, in a letter to 
Davis written at Williamsport, June 25, he said: 

" I have not sufficient troops to maintain my com- 


munications and have to abandon them. I think I can 
throw General Hooker's army across the Potomac and 
draw troops from the South, embarrassing their plans of 
campaign in a measure, if I do nothing else, and have to 
return. I still hope all things will end well for us at 

The same day he writes again : 

". . . So strong is my conviction of the necessity of 
activity on our part in military affairs that you will ex- 
cuse my adverting to the subject again, notwithstanding 
what I have said in my previous letter to-day. It seems 
to me that we cannot afford to keep our troops waiting 
movements of the enemy, but should so employ our forces 
as to give occupation to his at points of our selec- 
tion. . . ." 

There is nothing in these letters to indicate that he 
expects to bag Confederate independence at Gettys- 
burg. He abandons his line of communication and car- 
ries with him what ammunition he expects to use, 
certainly not enough for battles and a siege of Washing- 
ton. He was not in pursuit of the ignis fatuus of Con- 
federate independence at Gettysburg — he did not expect 
to end the war there or anywhere. His purpose was 
exactly the reverse, — it was to protract the war. For 
in its prolongation lay the only hope of Confederate 

The campaign was a failure in the estimation of Lee*s 
staff and biographers, not through any fault of Lee's 
but because Stuart took the cavalry on an unauthorized 
raid around Meade's army, leaving " Lee in Pennsyl- 
vania," as Colonel Taylor expresses it, " a giant with 
his eyes put out." 


Speaking of Stuart at Gettysburg, Colonel Taylor says : 

". . . No report had reached General Lee from Gen- 
eral Stuart, who was ordered to give notice of the move- 
ments of the Federal army, should it cross the Potomac; 
and as nothing had been heard from him, General Lee 
naturally concluded that the enemy had not yet left 
Virginia. . . . Great was his surprise and annoyance 
therefore when on the 28th he received information from 
one of his scouts to the effect that the Federal army had 
crossed the Potomac and was approaching South Moun- 
tain. How materially different his plans would have 
been had he been kept informed of the movements of his 
adversaries will never be known. . . ." 

Lee's reports agree with the books of his staff as to 
his ignorance of the movements of the enemy, but they 
probably have the same authors. 

Colonel Taylor says : 

". . . General Lee could not bear to be annoyed with 
the consideration of these matters of routine. . . When 
the staff was first organized a large batch of these papers 
was submitted to him every morning. , . This went on 
for a short time, and then he called me to him and said 
that he would have to put me back in the office. I knew 
what he meant and I acted accordingly. He wished re- 
lief from such annoyance; he had real work to do and 
wished to be rid of these matters of detail." 

Longstreet tells of the scout in his report. He says : 

". . . On the night of the 28th one of my scouts came 
in with the information that the enemy had passed the 


Potomac and was probably in pursuit of us. The scout 
was sent to general headquarters with the suggestion 
that the army concentrate east of the mountain and bear 
down to meet the enemy." 

Yet Longstreet says in his book that he opposed ag- 
gressive action in Pennsylvania. 

The startling report of the scout, according to Long- 
street and Lee's staff, caused a radical change of plans. 
But Colonel Mosby proves that the scout reported at 
Greenwood on the 30th, and not at Chambersburg on the 
28th, and that the alleged change of plans was ordered 
on the 27th. 

Nor was it a change of plan at all — it was simply 
an order for concentration. 

Lee refused to see the scout, which is good evidence 
that he knew the enemy had crossed the river. He left 
cavalry in observation of the Army of the Potomac, and 
his signal corps had a favorable country in which to 

But if he had had neither he would have known 
where the Army of the Potomac was, because its place 
was between him and Washington. 

General Hunt says : 

". . . General Hooker's instructions were to keep al- 
ways in view the safety of Washington and Harper's 
Ferry, and this necessarily subordinated his operations 
to those of the enemy. . . ." 

Lee knew this — it was what he based his strategy 

Lee was disappointed in not finding Stuart at or near 
Chambersburg, and his staff exaggerated the incident in 
order to relieve him of responsibility for their fancied 

Facing page 143 



failure of the campaign. They were so zealous that they 
failed to see that they were exposing their idol to a 
charge of incompetency, for, as Colonel Mosby says, and 
as any one of common sense would say: ". . . If Gen- 
eral Lee did not know when he first arrived at Cham- 
bersburg, and if Longstreet did not know that Hooker 
had crossed the Potomac, then neither was fit to com- 
mand an army, nor an army corps. . . " 

While at Chambersburg Lee knew where the Army 
of the Potomac was, and that is why, on the 27th, he 
recalled Ewell from York. He intended to concentrate 
his army at Cashtown, as his order and the following 
letter show : 

" Greenwood, July i, 1863. 
" Brig. Gen. L D. Imboden. 

"General: I have received your letter of 7 a. m, 
3^esterday from Mercersburg. . . . Upon arriving at 
Chambersburg to-day I desire you to relieve General 
Pickett, who will then move forward to this place. . . . 
My headquarters for the present will be at Cashtown, 
east of the mountain." 

Lee wanted to be where he could invite attack on his 
front, or fall upon any force that might move against 
his line of communication, — such a move as that con- 
templated by Hooker when he asked Halleck for the 
Harper's Ferry garrison. 

Cashtown was clearly indicated. 

Meade did not hear of Ewell's countermarch until the 
1st, because Stuart had cut the wires; but as soon as he 
got the news he issued a general order for his army to 
withdraw to the line of Pipe Creek. 

Neither Lee nor Meade had any use for Gettysburg. 
Lee held it on the 24th of June with Gordon's division. 


and gave it up. Meade held it on the 30th with Buford's 
cavalry, and was going to give it up the next day. The 
only interest the Confederates manifested in the place 
was because they thought it a good town for shoes. 
Pettigrew's brigade marched there from Cashtown on 
the 30th in search of shoes, but instead found Buford's 
cavalry. Gordon's men were there a week before, and 
no doubt got all the shoes that would fit. 

But A. P. Hill, who was at Cashtown, bright and early 
on the morning of the ist sent Heth's and Pender's 
divisions and two battalions of artillery out toward Get- 
tysburg. He said he wanted to " find out what was in 
his front." About the same time Reynolds, who had 
three corps at Emmitsburg, was marching toward Gettys- 
burg. He was not expecting a fight, because he thought 
at that time that Lee was marching north. 

Hetli struck Buford about three miles from Gettys- 
burg. Buford fought his cavalry dismounted and noti- 
fied Reynolds. In this way the battle of the first day 
was precipitated. 

Colonel Mosby says that Hill marched from Cash- 
town without orders, not to " find out what was in his 
front," but to hunt a fight; and he is probably correct, 
for Hill was lonesome without a fight. Then he was 
absolutely devoid of discretion. More than once he led 
his men to certain slaughter, and fell himself at Peters- 
burg as the curtain was falling on the last act of the war 
drama. And so Colonel Mosby makes Hill " responsible 
for bringing upon us the dies irae, dies ilia." 

But it was well known throughout the army that Lee 
was annoyed at not finding Stuart at or near Chambers- 
burg. Colonel Mosby proves that it was impossible for 
him to be there, but Lee had little respect for impos- 


What Lee wanted with Stuart at Chambersburg was 
not to tell him that Hooker had crossed the river, for he 
knew that, but to put him between the two armies ; and 
if Stuart had been there, Pleasonton would have been in 
his front, and the cavalry operations would have pre- 
vented Hill from going to Gettysburg. So while the 
collision was due to Hill's indiscretion, that indiscretion 
would have been impossible if Stuart had been present. 
H Stuart had not cut Meade's wires, there would have 
been no Gettysburg, because the order of withdrawal 
would have been issued sooner, and would have caught 
Reynolds before he left camp on the morning of the 
1st. If Hill had not felt that he needed a fight, — or 
if Stuart had been between the two armies, — there 
would have been no Gettysburg. So Gettysburg was an 
accidental incident of the campaign. 

The real gravamen of the charge that Lee's friends 
make against Stuart, and that Colonel Mosby urges 
against Hill, is that the battle of the ist, in Colonel 
Mosby's words, ". . . compelled Lee to stay at Gettys- 
burg and fight a battle under duress, or retreat, or at 
least appear to retreat. . . ." 

We shall see later on that that was not the reason 
Lee continued fighting at Gettysburg. 
He had a much better reason. 

The battle of the first day ended with Lee's tired troops 
in possession of the field, and the enemy strongly posted 
with reinforcements on Gulp's Hill. 

General Gordon thought the battle ought to have been 
made decisive. He says: 

". . . From the situation plainly to be seen on the 
first afternoon, and from the facts that afterward came 
to light as to the positions of different corps of General 


Meade's army, it seems certain that if the Confederates 
had simply moved forward, following up the advantage 
gained, and striking the separated Union commands in 
succession, the victory would have been Lee's instead of 
Meade's. . . ." 

That is, if the Confederates had taken Culp's Hill, 
and Meade had obligingly marched his separated com- 
mands up so that Lee could beat them in detail, the 
victory might have been Lee's instead of Meade's. But 
it is not by any means certain that the Confederates 
could have carried Culp's Hill; it appeared doubtful. 

General Hunt says : 

*' Ewell's absent division did not arrive until near sun- 
set, when the Twelfth Federal corps and Stannard's Ver- 
mont brigade were up also, and the Third corps arriving. 
In fact an assault by the Confederates was not practic- 
able before 5 :30 p. m. ; and after that the position was 
perfectly secure. For the first time that day the Federals 
had the advantage of position, and sufficient troops and 
artillery to occupy it, and General Ewell would not have 
been justified in attacking without positive orders of Gen- 
eral Lee, who was present and wisely abstained from 
giving them. . . ." 

But if Lee had carried Culp's Hill, Meade, instead of 
marching his separated commands up to have them 
beaten in detail, would have ordered them to concen- 
tration in strong position on the line of Pipe Creek, as 
was his original intention. 

General Hunt says : 

" When Meade learned that Ewell had withdrawn 


Facing page 146 


from the Susquehanna he issued a circular order to Corps 
commanders : 

"'If the enemy assume the offensive, and attack, it 
is my intention, after holding them in check sufficiently 
long to withdraw trains and other impedimenta, to with- 
draw the army from its present position and form a 
line of battle with the left resting in the neighborhood 
of Middleburg and the right at Manchester, the general 
direction being that of Pipe Creek.' " 

Of this position General Hunt says: 

" From Westminster, which is on the Paris ridge, the 
eastern boundary of the valley of the Monocacy, good 
roads led in every direction and gave the place the same 
strategic value for Meade that Gettysburg did for Lee. 
The new line could not be turned by Lee without im- 
minent danger to his own army, nor could he afford to 
advance upon Washington or Baltimore, leaving the 
Army of the Potomac intact behind and so near him. 
That would be to invite the fate of Burgoyne. . . . 

". . . Without magazines, or assured communications, 
Lee would have to scatter his army more or less, in order 
to subsist it, and so expose it to Meade's ; or else keep 
it united, and so starve it, and Meade could compel the 
latter alternative by simple demonstrations. 

" There would be but two courses for Lee, either to 
attack Meade in his chosen position or retreat without 
a battle. . . . 

" In case of defeat Meade's line of retreat would be 
comparatively short, and easily covered, whilst Lee's 
would be for two marches through an open country be- 
fore he could gain the mountain passes. . . ." 

Lee had defeated McClellan at Richmond, Pope at 


Manassas, Burnside at Fredericksburg, and Hooker at 
Chancellorsville ; but in every case they had fallen back 
to strong positions, — McClellan at Harrison's Landing, 
Pope on the south bank of the Potomac, and Hooker 
and Burnside on the north bank of the Rappahannock. 
And they were all in position to resist attack. H Meade 
had been defeated, there was nothing to prevent him 
from doing what his predecessors had so often done with 
the same army. 

Lee said he carried into Pennsylvania what ammuni- 
tion he thought he would need. As he did not get any 
more he would hardly have had enough to take Gulp's 
Hill and demolish all Meade's separated columns as they 
marched up. In fact, he was short of ammunition 
after the 3d day, and did not get any more until July 
10, when he was standing at bay on the river, waiting 
for it to fall so that he could get back into Virginia. 
What little he got then came over in rowboats. 

Then his 70,000 men, after demolishing Meade's 90,- 
000 or 100,000, would have been reduced to, say, 50,- 
000, for a siege of Washington, with the 49 regiments 
that were at Harrisburg behind the intrenchments with 
the garrison already there. Then, as Vicksburg fell on 
the 4th, Grant could have spared, say, 50,000 to save 
Washington. They could have reached Lee's rear in 
three or four days. 

General Gordon says: 

" Calmly reviewing the ind'sputable facts which made 
the situation at Gettysburg and in the Wilderness strik- 
ingly similar, and considering them from a purely mili- 
tary and worldly standpoint, I should utter my 
profoundest conviction were I to say : ' Had Jackson 
been there, the Confederacy had not died,' " 


But Lee was " there." Hearing the guns when he 
arrived at Cashtown, he rode rapidly on to Gettysburg 
and arrived just as the battle ended. He did not think 
it advisable to order an attack on Gulp's Hill, and no 
doubt Jackson would have agreed with him, as he was 
far more discreet than Lee. 

The battle of the first day at Gettysburg was some- 
thing like Jackson's battle at Cedar Mountain. There 
he routed the enemy from the field, occupied it two 
days, then fell back toward Gordonsville. He did not 
feel it incumbent upon him to fight another battle, for 
the enemy was reinforced, just as he was at Gettysburg. 

Had Jackson, Hannibal, Napoleon, and Joshua " been 
there," the Confederacy " had died " just the same. 

Longstreet says that on the afternoon of the first day 
he rode to Lee's headquarters, and after surveying the 
enemy rallying his forces on Cemetery Ridge, and satis- 
fying himself of the strength of the position, he said to 
Lee : " We could not call the enemy to position better 
suited to our plans. All we have to do is to file round 
his left and secure good ground between him and his 

" This," Longstreet continues, " when said, was 
thought to be the opinion of my commander as much 
as my own. I was not a little surprised therefore at 
his impatience as, striking the air with his closed hand, 
he said: *If he is there to-morrow, I will attack 
him.' . . . That he was excited and off his balance was 
evident on the afternoon of the first, and he labored 
under that oppression until enough blood was shed to 
appease him." 

Lee was no doubt as much surprised at Longstreet's 
plan as Longstreet was at Lee's reception of it. 


Lee knew before he reached Gettysburg that what- 
ever he did had to be done at once — that time was the 
essence of the occasion — as the following from Long- 
street's book will show : 

" At Cashtown General Lee found General Hill had 
halted his division, under R. H. Anderson, and his re- 
serve artillery. He had General Anderson called, who 
subsequently wrote me of the interview as follows : 
' About twelve o'clock I received a message notifying 
me that General Lee desired to see me. I found him 
intently listening to the fire of the guns and very much 
disturbed, and distressed. At length he said, more to 
himself than to me: " I cannot think what has become 
of Stuart. I ought to have heard from him long before 
now. He may have met with disaster, but I hope not. 
In the absence of reports from him I am in ignorance as 
to what we have in front of us. It may be the whole 
Federal army, or it may be only a detachment. If it 
is the whole Federal force we must fight a battle here. 
If we do not gain a victory those defiles and gorges we 
passed this morning will shelter us from disaster." ' " 

He realized that if he was to fight, the sooner the 
better, also that he must keep his back up against those 
defiles and gorges ; and therefore he was prompt in re- 
jecting Longstreet's proposal. 

Longstreet contends that his flank movement would 
have called Meade to aggressive battle with the Con- 
federates on good ground of their own selection. But 
it is hardly probable that Meade would have remained 
passive while Lee filed around his left in search of Long- 
street's " good ground." He might have preferred to 
fall back to good ground himself, just as Lee fell back 


after the Wilderness in response to Grant's flank move- 
ment; or he might have decided to attack while Lee 
was executing a difficult movement and unmasking those 
" defiles and gorges," for even if he had been repulsed 
he could have fallen back as his army had done on 
several similar occasions, and just as Lee did after his 

Or suppose Meade had permitted Lee to file around 
his left and occupy in peace and quiet Longstreet's " good 
ground between him and his capital." How comfortable 
Lee would have been, seventy miles north of Washington, 
with a limited supply of ammunition, and " those defiles 
and gorges " exposed to the enemy. 

General Hunt says of Longstreet's plan: 

" It had not been General Lee's intention to deliver 
a battle so far from his base unless attacked, but he now 
found himself, by the mere force of circumstances, com- 
mitted to one. If it must take place, the sooner the 
better. . . . Longstreet indeed urged General Lee in- 
stead of attacking to turn General Meade's left, and by in- 
terposing between him and Washington, and threatening 
his communications, to force him to attack the Confeder- 
ate army in position ; but General Lee probably saw that 
Meade would be under no such necessity ; would have no 
great difficulty in obtaining supplies, and disregarding the 
clamor from Washington, could play a waiting game 
which it would be impossible for Lee to maintain in the 
open country. He could not advance on Baltimore or 
Washington with Meade in his rear, nor could his army 
subsist in a hostile region which would soon swarm with 
additional enemies. His communication could be cut, 
for his recommendation to assemble even a small army 
at Culpeper to cover them had not been complied with. 


A battle was a necessity to Lee, and a defeat would be 
more disastrous to Meade, and less so to himself, at 
Gettysburg than at any point east of it. With the defiles 
of the South Mountain range close in his rear, which 
could be easily held by a small force, a safe retreat 
through the Cumberland Valley was assured, so that his 
army, once through these passes, would be practically on 
the bank of the Potomac, at a point already prepared 
for crossing. Any position east of Gettysburg would 
deprive him of these advantages. It is more probable 
that General Lee was influenced by cool calculation of 
this nature than by hot blood, or that the opening suc- 
cess of a chance battle had thrown him off his balance." 

Meade was on the lookout. He dispatched Halleck: 

"July 2, 1863, 3 p. m. H not attacked, and can get 
any positive information of the position of the enemy 
which will justify me in so doing, I shall attack. If 
I find it hazardous to do so, or am satisfied the enemy 
is endeavoring to move to my rear and interpose be- 
tween me and Washington, I shall fall back on my sup- 
plies at Westminster." 

Longstreet elaborately defends his proposed flank 
movement. He cites General Grant at Petersburg and 
Von Moltke at Metz, but fails to note that General Grant 
had three times as many men as Lee, and Von Moltke 
about twice as many as the French, whereas Lee at Get- 
tysburg was materially inferior in numbers, equipment, 
etc., to Meade. Then, neither Grant's nor Moltke's lines 
of communication were threatened, in fact they were ab- 
solutely secure, while Lee's, such as they were, were in 
imminent danger. 


Longstreet quotes a contributor to Blackwood's Maga- 
zine, who had evidently been deluded by reading his 

" ' If/ said he (Lee) on many occasions, * I had taken 
General Longstreet's advice on the eve of the second day 
of the battle of Gettysburg, and filed off the left corps 
of my army behind the right corps, in the direction of 
Washington and Baltimore, along the Emmitsburg road, 
the Confederates would to-day be a free people.' " 

If Lee ever said this or anything like it, it must have 
been during a fit of aberration. 

I wrote to Gen. Fitz Lee while he was in Cuba, re- 
garding this alleged admission, and he replied: 

" November 5, 1900. Longstreet did not get on the 
field with his troops until the second day's fight. The 
two armies were in such close proximity then that it 
could not be possible to turn Meade's left flank, because 
our transportation would have been in danger of capture 
and our lines of communication with Virginia cut off. 
It was not, however, a practicable move at any time." 

The Count of Paris is prolific in alternatives at Lee's 
disposal, but it is only necessary to name his preference. 
It is : " He, Lee, has the choice to retire into the gaps 
of South Mountain in order to compel Meade to come 
after him." He says that this would have been the best 
plan, " because by preserving the strategic offensive, Lee 
would then secure all the advantages of the tactical de- 

But Meade might have objected to being compelled 
to follow Lee into any traps. He might have preferred 


to leave Lee in the gaps, for it would only have been 
a question of time when he would have been bottled up 
by Meade's reinforcements, which were being rushed 
from every direction. 

Then General Lee says in his report of the time: 

" At the same time we were unable to await an at- 
tack, as the country was unfavorable for collecting sup- 
plies in the presence of an enemy who could restrain 
our foraging parties by holding the mountain passes with 
local and other troops." 

On the 1 2th of July he wrote to Davis from Williams- 

" But for the power the enemy possesses of accumulat- 
ing troops I should be willing to await his attack." 

The battle of the first has been underrated by his- 
torians. It lasted from 8 a. m. to 4 p. m., and was one 
of the most stubbornly contested battles of the war. 
The loss on both sides was heavy, and Meade's greater 
than on the third day. Heth's and Pender's divisions 
were badly used up, and would have been driven back to 
Cashtown had not Rodes, who was marching for concen- 
tration, hearing the guns, changed his direction and come 
to their aid. Even then the battle was doubtful until 
Early, following Rodes, came in on the Federal right 
and rear. 

From Lee's report : 

" More than 5000 prisoners, exclusive of wounded, 3 
pieces of artillery, and some colors were captured. 
Among the prisoners were two brigadier generals, one 
of whom was badly wounded. Our own loss was heavy, 


including a number of officers, among whom were Major 
General Heth slightly, and Brigadier General Scales of 
Pender's division severely, wounded. . . ." 

Meade sustained a heavy loss in the death of General 
Reynolds, and Lee lost General Archer, who was cap- 

The battle of the first did commit Meade to Gettys- 
burg. The intelligence that he had been defeated and 
had retreated, leaving his dead and wounded on the field, 
would have thrown the North into convulsions. Then 
there was a strong sentiment both in the army and the 
country which favored the restoration of McClellan. 
Powerful influences urged it on Lincoln, and while he 
stemmed the tide, he might not have been able to do it 
if Meade had fallen back on Westminster. 

But Lee, after burying his dead and removing his 
wounded, could have drawn his lines in to Cashtown 
without producing the slightest effect in the South; and 
there was, of course, no man in the Confederate army 
that could take his place. And so he had no such rea- 
sons as Meade had for staying at Gettysburg. 

When Lee passed through Cashtown he did not know 
whether he had the Amiy of the Potomac in his front 
or only a detachment; but when he reached Gettysburg 
and saw the enemy retreating he knew it was a detach- 
ment, because he knew that the Confederates present could 
not have routed the Army of the Potomac from the field. 
Any ordinary commander under the circumstances, — 
an unexpected victory calculated to encourage him and 
depress his opponent, who had only a detachment present, 
— would have detemiined to fight it out. And so Lee 
did not have to be " compelled " to fight at Gettysburg. 
Both sound military sense and his inclination, which 


was always to fight if he had half a chance, impelled 

Of the time General Hunt says : 

". . . . Early on the morning of July 2 when nearly 
all the Confederate army had reached Gettysburg or its 
immediate vicinity, a large portion of the Army of the 
Potomac was still on the road. The Second corps and 
Sykes, with two divisions of the Fifth, arrived about 
7 a. m., Crawford's division not joining until noon; 
Lockwood's brigade, two regiments from Baltimore, at 
eight; De Trobrians's and Burling's brigades of the 
Third corps, from Emmitsburg, at nine, and the artil- 
lery Reserve and its large ammunition train from Tarry- 
town at 10.30 a. m. Sedgwick's Sixth corps, the largest 
in the army, after a long night march from Manchester, 
reached Rock Creek at 4 p. m. . . ." 

Now at this time, the morning of the 2d, it is clear 
that Stuart's absence had accidentally given Lee the ad- 
vantage over Meade. 

He had won a considerable victory and had his army 
concentrated while Meade's was scattered. 

It is true that Gettysburg was the result of Stuart's 
absence, but he was not responsible for the conduct of 
the battle; and its conduct is all that there is to regret 
in the entire campaign. 

Lee knew that Meade would decide immediately 
whether or not he would hold the ridge, and if he decided 
to hold it he would order his marching columns to Get- 
tysburg. Every hour would add fortifications and rein- 
forcements to a naturally strong position, therefore the 
sooner he attacked in the morning the better. 

Lee's plan of battle was for Longstreet to attack 
Meade's left, and for Ewell to act in concert by a dem- 


onstration on his right to be developed into an attack if 
opportunity offered. 

But Longstreet was not ready to attack until 5 p. m., 
when Lee must have known that the whole Army of the 
Potomac was on the ridge, and that the advantage for- 
tune had thrown in his way had vanished. If he could 
have resisted his temptation to fight anyhow, he might 
have withdrawn to Cashtown, with a tactical disposition 
to take advantage of any mistake Meade might make if 
he pursued. And even if he had continued the retreat, 
the objects of the campaign would have been secured 
just as they were. But the enemy was in sight, the 
hunt was up, and Hood advanced to the attack. He was 
severely wounded by the artillery fire and General Law 
succeeded to the command of the division. He says : 

". . . Advancing rapidly across the valley ... all 
the time under a heavy fire from the batteries, our front 
line struck the enemy's skirmishers posted along the 
further edge of the valley. Brushing these quickly 
away, we soon came upon their first line of battle run- 
ning along the lower slopes of the hills known as Devil's 
Den, to our left of Round Top, and separated from the 
latter by Plum Run valley. The fighting soon became 
close and severe. Exposed to the artillery fire from the 
heights in front and on our left, as well as to the mus- 
ketry of the infantry, it required all the steadfastness 
and courage of the veterans of the Army of Northern 
Virginia, whose spirits were never higher than then, to 
face the storm. With rapidly thinning ranks the gray 
line swept on until the blue line in front wavered, broke, 
and seemed to dissolve in the woods and rocks on the 
mountain side. 

" The advance continued steadily, the center of the 


division moving directly upon the guns on the hill ad- 
joining Devil's Den on the north, from which we had 
been suffering so severely. In order to secure my right 
flank I extended it well upon the side of Round Top. 
. . . Thus disposed, the division continued to move for- 
ward, encountering as it ascended to the battery on the 
spur and the heights to the right and left of it a most 
determined resistance from the Federal troops, who 
seemed to be continually reinforced. The ground was 
rough and difficult, which rendered an orderly advance 
impossible. Sometimes the Federals would hold one 
side of the huge boulders on the slope until the Confed- 
erates occupied the other side. 

" In some cases my men, with reckless daring, 
mounted to the top of the large rocks in order to get a 
better view and to deliver their fire with better effect. 
One of them. Sergeant Barbee of the Texas brigade, 
having reached a rock a little in advance of the line, 
stood erect on the top of it, loading and firing as coolly 
as if unconscious of danger, while the air around him 
was fairly swarming with bullets. He soon fell help- 
less from several wounds, but he held the rock till the 
litter bearers carried him off. 

" In less than an hour from the time we advanced to 
the attack the hill by Devil's Den, opposite our center, 
was taken with three pieces of artillery that had occupied 
it. The remaining piece was run down the opposite 
slope by the gunners and escaped. . . . 

" Up to this time I had seen nothing of McLaws's di- 
vision, which was to have extended our left, and to have 
moved to the attack at the same time. I therefore halted 
my line. . . ." 

Longstreet says : 


"... I rode to McLaws, found him ready for his 
opportunity, and Barksdale chafing in his wait for the 
order to seize the battery in his front. Kershaw's bri- 
gade advanced and struck near the angle of the enemy's 
line where his forces were gathering strength . . . Mc- 
Laws ordered Barksdale in. With glorious bearing he 
sprang to his work, overriding obstacles and danger. 
Without a pause to deliver a shot, he had the battery. 
Kershaw, joined by Semmes's brigade, responded, and 
Hood's men, feeling the impulsion of relief, resumed 
their bold fight, and presently the enemy's line was 
broken through its length. But his well seasoned troops 
knew how to utilize the advantages of their ground and 
put back their dreadful fire from rocks, depressions, and 
stone fences, as they went to shelter about Little Round 
Top. That point had not been occupied by the enemy, 
nor marked as an important feature of the field. The 
broken ranks sought shelter under its rocks and defiles 
as birds fly to cover. . . . 

". . . The fighting had by this time become tremen- 
dous, and brave men and officers were stricken by 
hundreds. Posey and Wilcox dislodged the forces 
about the Brick House. General Sickles was desper- 
ately wounded! General Willard was dead! General 
Semmes of McLaws's division was mortally wounded ! 
Our left relieved, the brigades of Anderson's division 
moved on with Barksdale, passed the swale, and moved 
up the slope. Caldwell's division, and presently those 
of Ayers and Barnes of the Fifth corps, met and held 
our strongest battle. While thus engaged General 
Sykes succeeded in putting Weed's and Vincent's bri- 
gades and Hazlett's batteries on the summit of Little 
Round Top, but presently we reached Caldwell's division, 
broke it ofif, and pushed it from the field. Of his bri- 


gade commanders Zook was killed, Brook and Cross 
were wounded, the latter mortally. On our side, Barks- 
dale was down, dying, and G. T. Anderson wounded. 
General Hancock reported sixty per cent, of his men 
lost. We had carried Devil's Den, were at the Round 
Top and the Wheat Field, but Ayers's division of regu- 
lars and Barnes's division were holding us in equal 

". . . By a fortunate strike upon Ayers's flank we 
broke his line, and pushed him and Barnes so closely that 
they were obliged to use most strenuous efforts to get 
away without losing in prisoners, as well as their killed 
and wounded. 

" We gained the Wheat Field, and were so close upon 
the gorge that our artillery could no longer sustain their 
fire into it. We were on Little Round Top, grappling 
for the crowning point. The brigade commanders there, 
Vincent and Weed, were killed, also the battery com- 
manders, Hazlett and others ; but their troops were hold- 
ing to their work as firmly as the mighty boulders that 
helped them." 

General Hunt says: 

" The breaking of the Peach Orchard angle exposed 
the flanks of the batteries on its crests, which retired 
firing, in order to cover the retreat of the infantry. 
Many guns of different batteries had to be abandoned 
because of the destruction of horses and men; many 
were hauled off by hand ; all the batteries lost heavily. 
Bigelow's Ninth Massachusetts made a stand close by 
the Trostle House in the corner of the field through 
which he had retired fighting with prolonges fixed. Al- 
though much cut up, he was directed by McGilvery to 


hold that point at all hazards until a line of artillery 
could be formed in front of the wood beyond Plum Run. 
This line was formed by collecting the serviceable bat- 
teries and fragments of batteries that were brought off, 
with which and Dow's Maine battery fresh from the re- 
serve the pursuit was checked. Finally some twenty-five 
guns formed a solid mass, which unsupported by infantry 
held this part of the line, aided Humphreys' movements, 
and covered by its fire the abandoned guns on the field 
until they could be brought ofif, as all were, except perhaps 
one. When, after fully accomplishing its purpose, all 
that was left of Bigelow's battery was withdrawn. It 
was closely pursued by Humphreys' 2ist Mississippi, the 
only Confederate regiment which succeeded in crossing 
the Run. His men had entered the battery and fought 
hand to hand with the cannoneers ; one was killed whilst 
trying to spike a gun, and another knocked down with a 
handspike whilst endeavoring to drag off a prisoner. Of 
the four battery officers one was killed, another mortally, 
and a third. Captain Bigelow, severely wounded. Of 
seven sergeants, two were killed and four wounded ; or 
a total of twenty-eight men, including two missing; and 
eighty out of eighty-eight horses were killed or wounded." 

Longstreet says: 

". . . General Meade thought that the Confederate 
army was working on my part of the field. He led 
some regiments of the Twelfth corps and posted them 
against us, called a division of Newton's corps first from 
beyond Hancock's, and sent Crawford's division, the 
last of the Fifth corps, splitting through the gorge, form- 
ing solid lines, in places behind stone fences, and mak- 
ing steady battle, as veterans fresh in action know so 


well how to make. While Meade's lines were growing, 
my men were dropping ; we had no others to call to their 
aid, and the weight against us was too heavy to carry. 
. . . No other part of our army had engaged! My 
17,000 against the Army of the Potomac! The sun was 
down and with it went down the severe battle. ..." 

He fought troops that were much farther from the 
battle-field on the night of the first than he was, other- 
wise his 17,000 might have been enough. Had he dis- 
played the same zeal and energy that they did, he would 
have occupied Little Round Top without the loss of a 
man. He says it was the " citadel of the field," and, if 
so, should have given him victory. 

General Hunt says : 

". . . General Longstreet was ordered to form the 
divisions of Hood and McLaws, on Anderson's right, 
so as to envelop our left and drive it in. These divisions 
were only three miles off at daylight, and moved early, 
but there was great delay in forming them for battle, 
owing principally to the absence of Law's brigade, for 
which it would have been well to substitute Anderson's 
fresh division, which could have been replaced by Petti- 
grew's, then in reserve. There seems to have been no 
good reason why the attack should not have been made 
by 8 or 9 a. m,, at latest, when the Federal Third corps 
was not all up, nor Crawford's division, nor the artillery 
reserves, nor the Sixth corps, and our lines still very 
incomplete. . . ." 

Ewell on the left had orders only to make a diversion 
in Longstreet's favor, to be converted into attack, if op- 


portunity offered. He looked for the opportunity till 
about sundown, then made an attack, which, like Long- 
street's, met with some success, and might have met 
with more, had not the Federal troops had all day in 
which to strengthen their position. 

The following excerpt is from a review of Long- 
street's book, in the " Journal of the Royal United Serv- 
ice Institution," October, 1897: 

". . . But there is a mass of evidence which goes to 
show that General Lee considered Longstreet responsible, 
and this evidence the latter has certainly not refuted. 
. . . Longstreet is content with the assertion that until 
eleven o'clock he had received no definite orders to at- 
tack. But it was never Lee's practice to issue definite 
orders to his corps commanders. He was accustomed 
to explain his general intentions, and to leave the execu- 
tion in their hands, and if on this occasion he departed 
from his usual custom, it was because Longstreet de- 
clined to move without explicit orders to that effect. . . . 
He was aware that Lee was anxious to attack as early 
as possible ; he was aware that an early attack was essen- 
tial to success; he was aware how the commander-in- 
chief desired his divisions should be placed; and yet, 
until he received a definite order to advance, did abso- 
lutely nothing. He made no attempt to reconnoiter his 
line of march, to bring his troops into position, or to 
initiate the attack in accordance with the expressed wishes 
of his superior. . . ." 

On the afternoon of the ist Lee said to Longstreet, 
" n he is there to-morrow, I will attack him." That 
was enough. Any loyal, zealous, energetic commander 


would have had his troops on the front that night. He 
would not have waited for morning nor orders. Long- 
street was not in the battle of the ist, his troops were 
fresh, and Lee naturally depended on him for the next 
day's battle. 

Facing page 1&5 



T ONGSTREET published an account of the battle in 
•*— ' 1878, and quotes as follows from a letter he re- 
ceived from General Hood in 1875 : 

" General Lee was seemingly anxious you should at- 
tack that morning. You thought it better to await the 
arrival of Pickett's division — at that time still in rear 
— in order to make the attack, and you said to me sub- 
sequently : ' The general is a little nervous this morn- 
ing; he wishes me to make the attack. I do not wish 
to do so without Pickett. I never like to go into battle 
with one boot off.' " 

Longstreet was balky, just as he was at Second Ma- 
nassas when Lee desired him to attack when he arrived 
on the field. In his account of the battle of the 26. he 
attempts to show that his proposed flank movement, 
which had been so unceremoniously turned down by Lee 
the day before, was " in the air." 

He says : " General Hood appealed again and again 
for the move to the right, but, to give more confidence 
to his attack, he was reminded that the move to the right 
had been carefully considered by our chief and rejected 
in favor of his present orders." 

General Hood's letter, from which Longstreet quotes, 
is published in full in General Hood's " Advance and 



Retreat." In It he explains as follows his proposed 
move, and it will be seen that it was entirely different 
from the move that had been " carefully considered by 
our chief ": 

" The instructions I received were to place my division 
across the Emmitsburg road, fonn line of battle, and at- 
tack. Before reaching this road, however, I had sent 
forward some of my picked Texas scouts to ascertain 
the position of the enemy's extreme left flank. They 
soon reported to me that it rested upon Round Top 
mountain ; that the country was open, and that I could 
march through an open woodland pasture around Round 
Top, and assault the enemy in flank and rear; that their 
wagon trains were parked in rear of their line and were 
badly exposed to our attack in that direction. As soon 
as I arrived upon the Emmitsburg road I placed one or 
two batteries in position and opened fire. A reply from 
the enemy's guns soon developed his position. His left 
rested on or near Round Top, with line bending back 
and again forward, forming as it were a concave line, 
as approached by the Emmitsburg road. 

" A considerable body of troops was posted in front 
of their main line between the Emmitsburg road and 
Round Top. This force was in line of battle upon an 
eminence near a peach orchard. I found that in making 
the attack according to orders, viz., up the Emmitsburg 
road, I should have first to encounter and drive off this 
advanced line of battle; secondly, at the base and along 
the slope of the mountain, to confront immense boulders 
of stone, so massed together as to form narrow open- 
ings which would break our ranks and cause the men 
to scatter while climbing up the rocky precipices. I 
found, moreover, that my division would be exposed to 


a heavy fire from the main Hne of the enemy in position 
on the crest of the high range, of which Round Top 

was the extreme left, and, by reason of the concavity of 
the enemy's main line, that we would be subject to a 
destructive fire in flank and rear as well as in front, and 
deemed it at most an impossibility to clamber along the 
boulders of this steep and rugged mountain, and under 
this number of cross fires put the enemy to flight. I 
knew if the feat was accomplished it must be at a most 
fearful sacrifice of as brave and gallant soldiers as ever 
engaged in battle. The reconnaissance of my Texas 
scouts and the development of the Federal lines were 
efifected in a very short space of time; in truth, shorter 
than I have taken to recall and jot down these facts, 
although the scenes and events of that day are as clear 
to my mind as if the great battle had been fought yes- 
terday. I was in possession of these important facts 
so shortly after reaching the Emmitsburg road that I 
considered it my duty to report to you at once my opin- 
ion that it was unwise to attack up the Emmitsburg 
road as ordered, and to urge you to allow me to turn 
Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear. 

" Accordingly, I despatched a staff officer bearing to 
you my request to be allowed to make the proposed 
movement on account of the above stated reasons. Your 
reply was quickly received : * General Lee's orders are 
to attack up the Emmitsburg road.' I sent another offi- 
cer to say that I feared nothing could be accomplished 
by such an attack, and renewed my request to turn Round 
Top. Again your answer was : ' General Lee's orders 
are to attack up the Emmitsburg road.' During this 
interim I had continued the use of the batteries upon 
the enemy and had become more and more convinced 
that the Federal line extended to Round Top, and that I 


could not reasonably hope to accomplish much by the 
attack as ordered. In fact, it seemed to me the enemy 
occupied a position by nature so strong — I may say 
impregnable — that, independently of their flank fire, 
they could easily repel our attack by merely throwing 
and rolling stones down the mountain side as we ap- 
proached. A third time I despatched one of my staff 
to explain fully in regard to the situation, and suggested 
that you had better come and look for yourself. I se- 
lected in this instance my adjutant general, Col. Harry 
Sellers, whom you know to be not only an officer of 
great courage, but also of marked ability. Colonel 
Sellers returned with the same message : ' General Lee's 
orders are to attack up the Emmitsburg road.' Almost 
simultaneously Colonel Fairfax of your staff rode up 
and repeated the above order. After this urgent pro- 
test against entering the battle at Gettysburg, according 
to instruction, which protest is the first and only one I 
ever made during my entire military career, I ordered my 
line to advance and make the assault." 

The move to the right that had been " carefully 
considered by our chief " was an impossible strategic 
movement, /involving a march of the whole army on a 
prospecting expedition for good ground between the 
enemy and his capital ; while that proposed by Hood 
was a simple tactical movement. Then from Long- 
street's account of the reception his plan received from 
" our chief," it does not appear that it was carefully con- 
sidered or that it was considered at all. 

Neither is it by any means certain that Hood's pro- 
posed move would have been a success. He did not 
have the Wilderness to shield his march. Meade would 
have discovered it at once and would have met him with 


superior numbers. Then the whole of the artillery re- 
serve was back there with those wagons, and as the 
country was open Hood would have met with a very 
warm reception. Either Longstreet did not approve of 
Hood's tactics, or else he was sulky because of Lee's 
rejection of his plan. No other interpretation is possi- 
ble, because he knew he had discretion as to tactics. In 
fact at Second Manassas he substituted his own tactics 
for those ordered by Lee for the relief of Jackson, and 
brags of it in his book. 

The battles of the ist and 2d, while not decisive of 
anything, were, on the whole, Confederate successes. 
On both days Meade had been driven from the open 
field and his army had suffered severely. 

Mr. Rhodes says of its condition: 

" The feeling among the officers in Meade's camp that 
night (2d) was one of gloom. On the first day of the 
battle the First and Eleventh corps had been almost 
annihilated. On the second day the Fifth and part of 
the Second had been badly shattered, the Third in the 
words of its commander, who had succeeded Sickles, 
was * used up and not in good condition to fight.' The 
loss of the army had been 20,000 men. Only the Sixth 
and Twelfth corps were fresh." 

So Lee's decision to continue the battle was not alto- 
gether due to his " uncontrollable combativeness." 

The general plan for the 3d was a simultaneous as- 
sault front and flank. Longstreet' s corps was to attack 
the center, and the Second corps the right. One division 
of the 3d corps was at Longstreet's disposal. 

Colonel Long, chief of artillery of the Army of North- 
ern Virginia, says : 


". . . General Lee determined to attack on the third 
day Meade's front where there was a depression through 
which the Emmitsburg road passes. The decision here 
indicated was reached at a conference held during the 
morning on the field in front of and within cannon shot 
of Round Top, there being present Generals Lee, Long- 
street, A. P. Hill, and H. Heth, Col. A. L. Long and 
Major Venable. The plan of attack was discussed, and 
it was decided that General Pickett should lead the as- 
saulting column, to be supported by the divisions of 
McLaws and Hood, and such other force as A. P. Hill 
could spare from his command. The only objection 
offered was by General Longstreet, who remarked that 
the guns on Little Round Top might be brought to bear 
on his right. This objection was answered by Colonel 
Long, who said that the guns on Round Top could be 
suppressed by our batteries. This point being settled, 
the attack was ordered and General Longstreet was di- 
rected to carry it out." 

It was most extraordinary that Colonel Long should 
have made such a statement, and still more so that Lee 
and Longstreet should have credited it, for both of them 
and every artilleryman in the army were painfully aware 
of the superiority of the Federal artillery. Both gen- 
erals frequently referred to the heavier metal and super- 
ior ammunition of the enemy's artillery, of which there 
was no end. 

Longstreet says: 

" In the Army of the Potomac were fifty-one brigades 
of infantry, eight brigades of cavalry, and three hundred 
and seventy guns. The artillery appointments were so 
superior that our officers sometimes felt humiliated when 


posted to unequal combat with their better metal and 
munitions. . . ." 

The Second corps did not wait for Longstreet, but 
attacked early in the morning and was repulsed. Lee's 
plans had gone awry through Longstreet's delay, just 
as on the 2d. The advantages of a simultaneous attack 
were lost, and Meade had several hours in which to 
strengthen his center. 

Longstreet, however, did get his artillery in position 
about one o'clock. 

General Hunt, Aleade's chief of artillery, says : 

". . . Here a magnificent display greeted my eyes. 
Our whole front for two miles was covered by batteries 
already in line, or going into position. They stretched 
apparently in one unbroken mass from opposite the town 
to the Peach Orchard, which bounded the view to the 
left, the ridges of which were planted thick with cannon. 
Never before had such a sight been witnessed on this 
continent, and rarely, if ever, abroad. What did it 
mean? It might possibly be to hold their line while the 
infantry was sent to aid Ewell, or to guard against a 
counterstroke from us ; but it most probably meant an 
assault on our center, to be preceded by a cannonade in 
order to crush our batteries and shake our infantry, at 
least to cause us to exhaust our ammunition in reply, so 
that the assaulting column might pass in good condition 
over the half mile of open ground beyond our effective 
musketry fire." 

Colonel Alexander, chief of artillery of the First corps, 
received the following note from General Longstreet : 

"Colonel: H the artillery fire does not have the 


effect to drive off the enemy, or greatly demoralize him, 
so as to make our effort pretty certain, I would prefer 
that you would not advise General Pickett to make the 

Colonel Alexander says : 

" This note rather startled me. If that assault was 
to be made on General Lee's judgment it was all right, 
but I did not want it made on mine. I wrote to Gen- 
eral Longstreet to the following effect : * General : I 
will only be able to judge the effect of our fire on the 
enemy by his return fire, for his infantry is but little 
exposed to view, and the smoke will obscure the field. 
If, as I infer from your note, there is any alternative 
to the attack, it should be carefully considered before 
opening our fire, for it will take all the ammunition we 
have left to test this one thoroughly; and if the result 
is unfavorable we will have none left for another effort ; 
and even if this is entirely successful, it can only be so 
at a very bloody cost.' To this presently came the fol- 
lowing reply : * Colonel : The intention is to advance 
the infantry if the artillery has the desired effect of driv- 
ing the enemy oft", or having other effect such as to war- 
rant us in making the attack.' " 

Both Longstreet's notes assumed discretion, yet in his 
book he says : 

" The order was imperative. The Confederate com- 
mander had fixed his heart upon it." 

Alexander says: 

"... I hardly knew whether this left me discretion 


or not, but at any rate it seemed decided that the artillery 
must open. I felt that if we went that far we could not 
draw back, but that the infantry must go too. Gen. A. 
R. Wright, of Hill's corps, was with me, looking at the 
position, when these notes were received, and we dis- 
cussed them together. Wright said : * It is not so hard 
to go there as it looks; I was nearly there with my bri- 
gade yesterday. The trouble is to stay there. The 
whole Yankee army is there in a bunch.' " 

Alexander then rode over to Pickett and found him 
sanguine. He then wrote to Longstreet: 

" When our artillery fire is at its best, I will order 
Pickett to charge." 

So that, instead of General Lee's " intentions " being 
carried out, the attack w^as to be ordered when the ar- 
tillery fire was at its best. 

Alexander says : 

". . . Before the cannonade opened I had made up 
my mind to give Pickett the order to advance within 
fifteen or twenty minutes after it began. But when I 
looked at the full development of the enemy's batteries, 
and knew that his infantry was generally well protected 
from our fire by stone walls and swells of the ground, I 
could not bring myself to give the word. It seemed 
madness to launch infantry into that fire, with nearly 
three quarters of a mile to go at midday under a July 
sun. I let the fifteen minutes pass, twenty and twenty- 
five, hoping vainly for something to turn up. Then I 
wrote to Pickett: * If you are coming at all you must 
come at once, or I cannot give you proper support; but 
the enemy's fire has not slackened at all, at least eighteen 
guns are still firing from the cemetery alone.' . . ." 


Here Alexander is urging Pickett to attack simply be- 
cause his ammunition is running low. Colonel Long's 
promise to suppress the batteries on Round Top and 
General Lee's intention to attack only in case they were 
suppressed are entirely lost sight of. 

General Hunt says : 

". . . Thence I rode to the artillery reserve to order 
fresh batteries and ammunition to be sent to the ridge. 
... I now rode on the ridge to inspect the batteries. 
The infantry were lying down on its reverse slope near 
the crest in open ranks waiting events. . . . Our fire 
was deliberate, but on inspecting the chests I found that 
the ammunition was running low, and hastened to Gen- 
eral Meade to advise its immediate cessation, and prepa- 
ration for the assault which would certainly follow. . . ." 

Alexander says: 

". . . Suddenly the enemy's fire began to slacken, and 
the guns in the cemetery limbered up and vacated the 
position. Then I wrote to Pickett urgently : ' For 
God's sake come quick. The eighteen guns are gone. 
Come quick, or my ammunition won't let me support 
you.' Then he said: 'If he does not run fresh bat- 
teries in there in five minutes, this is our fight.' . . ." 

Any artillery driver in the army would have known 
that the guns were going out to make room for fresh 
ones. Hunt would have had a hundred guns in the 
cemetery if he had had position for them. 

Edmund Rice, Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. A., says : 

"From the opposite ridge, three-fourths of a mile 


away, a line of skirmishers sprang lightly forward out 
of the woods, and with intervals well kept moved rapidly 
down into the open fields, closely followed by a line of 
battle, then by another, and by yet a third. Both sides 
watched this never-to-be-forgotten scene, — the grandeur 
of attack of so many thousand men. Gibbon's division, 
which was to stand the brunt of the assault, looked with 
admiration on the different lines of Confederates, march- 
ing forward with easy, swinging step, and the men were 
heard to exclaim : * Here they come ! ' * Here they 
come!' 'Here comes the infantry!' Soon little puffs 
of smoke issued from the skirmish line, as it came dash- 
ing forward, firing in reply to our own skirmishers in 
the plain below, and with this faint rattle of musketry 
the stillness was broken ; never hesitating for an instant, 
but driving our men before it, or knocking them over 
by a biting fire as they rose up to run in, their skirmish 
line reached the fences of the Emmitsburg road. This 
was Pickett's advance, which carried a front of five hun- 
dred yards or more. . . ." 

Alexander says : 

" Meanwhile the infantry had no sooner debouched 
on the plain than all the enemy's line which had been 
nearly silent broke out again with all its batteries. The 
eighteen guns were back in the cemetery, and a storm of 
shells began bursting over and among our infantry. . . ." 

Hunt says : 

" Meanwhile the enemy advanced and McGilvery 
opened a destructive oblique fire, reinforced by that of 
Rittenhouse's six rifle guns from Round Top, which 


were served with remarkable accuracy, enfilading Pick- 
ett's lines. The steady fire from McGilvery and Rit- 
tenhouse on their right caused Pickett's men to drift in 
the opposite direction, so that the weight of the assault 
fell upon the position occupied by Hazard's batteries. 
. . . The enemy advanced magnificently, unshaken by 
the shot and shell which tore through their ranks from 
the front and from our left. . . . When our canister 
fire and musketry was opened upon them it occasioned 
disorder, but they still advanced gallantly until they 
reached the stone wall, behind which our troops lay. 
Here ensued a desperate conflict, the enemy succeeding 
in passing the wall and entering our lines, causing great 
destruction of life, especially among the batteries." 

General Hunt says : 

". . . The losses in the batteries of the Second corps 
were very heavy. Roty and Gushing were killed and 
Woodruff mortally wounded at their guns. ... So great 
was the destruction of men and horses that Gushing's 
and Woodruff's United States, and Brown's and Arnold's 
Rhode Island batteries, were consolidated to make two 
serviceable ones." 

The attacking column, — consisting of Pickett's divi- 
sion, Heth's, commanded by Pettigrew, and Wilcox's 
brigade of Anderson's division, — numbered 15,000. 
Heth's division soon fell back in disorder. Pender's di- 
vision, which had advanced, fell back ; and Wilcox, seeing 
that the attack was hopeless, failed to advance. General 
Lee intended that Hood and McLaws should participate 
in the attack; and Anderson, commanding one of Hill's 
divisions, was at Longstreet's call, but he used none of 
these troops in the attack. 


General Webb, who commanded the brigade in front 
of Pickett, says : 

". . . The enemy advanced steadily to the fence, driv- 
ing out a portion of the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteers. 
General Armistead passed over the fence, with probably 
over a hundred of his command and with several battle 
flags. . . ." 

From the report of Colonel Aylett, commanding Armi- 
stead's brigade of Pickett's divisions : 

". . . The brigade moved across the open field for 
more than half a mile, receiving, as it came in range, 
fire of shell, grape, canister, and musketry, which rapidly 
thinned its ranks; still it pushed on until the first line 
of the enemy, strongly posted behind a stone wall, was 
broken and driven from its position, leaving in our hands 
a number of pieces of artillery. By this time the troops 
on our right and left were broken and driven back, and 
the brigade was exposed to a severe musketry fire from 
the front and both flanks and an enfilading artillery fire 
from a rocky hill some distance to the right. No sup- 
ports coming up, the position was untenable, and we were 
compelled to retire, leaving more than two-thirds of our 
bravest and best killed or wounded on the field. . . . 
This report would fail in completeness and in the ren- 
dition of justice to signal valor and heroic behavior were 
it omitted to notice particularly the gallant conduct of 
our brigade commander, L. A. Armistead. Conspicuous 
to all, fifty yards in advance of his brigade, waving his 
hat upon his sword, he led his men upon the enemy, 
with a steady bearing which inspired all breasts with en- 
thusiasm and courage, and won the admiration of every 


beholder. Far in advance of all, he led the attack till 
he scaled the works of the enemy and fell wounded in 
their hands, but not until he had driven them from their 
position and seen his colors planted over their fortifica- 
tions. . . ." 

Our artillery fire was a blunder. Hunt says it was 
more dangerous behind the ridge than on its crest. In 
other words, it did some damage at Meade's headquar- 
ters and among the trains; but it did not help Pickett. 
It divulged the point of attack, and was a waste of am- 
munition that might have proved fatal. Our experience 
from Bull Run to Petersburg taught that artillery fire, 
unless at men on their feet or at batteries in the open, is 
practically harmless. 

Rhodes says: 

" * It was a most terrific and appalling cannonade,' 
said Hancock. But it did little damage. The Union 
soldiers lay under the protection of stone walls, swells of 
the ground, and earthworks, and the projectiles of the 
enemy passed over their heads, sweeping the open ground 
in their rear." 

General Schurz thought that Meade should have or- 
dered a counter attack — he calls it the " lost oppor- 
tunity." A question of this nature must always remain 
an open one, because in actual battle almost anything 
may happen ; but if General Schurz had been on our side, 
he would not have been so sanguine. There was noth- 
ing in the behavior of our men that indicated expectation 
or fear of a counter attack. Even Pickett's men that 
were left came in leisurely, and would have been well 
pleased to reciprocate the reception they had received, 


Facing page 17 


Of the whole of our corps (Longstreet's) only Pickett's 
division of less than 5,000 had suffered to any consider- 
able extent in the attack. We would have had more guns 
against Meade than he had against Pickett, for like 
McClellan at Malvern Hill we had positions and good 
open ground in front, and with canister at short range 
our guns were as good as Meade's. 
General Hunt says : 

" The advance of the Confederate brigades to cover 
Pickett's retreat showed that the enemy's line opposite 
Cemetery Ridge was occupied by infantry. Our own 
line on the ridge was in more or less disorder as the 
result of the conflict, and in no condition to advance a 
sufficient force for a counter assault. The largest bodies 
of organized troops available were on the left, and Gen- 
eral Meade now proceeded to Round Top and pushed 
out skirmishers to feel the enemy in its front. An ad- 
vance to the Plum Run line of the troops behind it would 
have brought them directly in front of the numerous 
batteries which crowned the Emmitsburg Ridge, com- 
manding that line and all the intervening ground ; a 
further advance, to the attack, would have brought them 
under additional heavy flank fires. McCandless's bri- 
gade, supported by Nevin's, was, however, pushed for- 
ward, under cover of the woods, which protected them 
from the fire of all these batteries ; it crossed the Wheat 
Field, cleared the woods, and had an encounter with 
a portion of Benning's brigade, which was retiring. 
Hood's and McLaws' divisions were falling back under 
Longstreet's orders to their strong position, resting on 
Peach Orchard and covering Hill's line. It needs but 
a moment's examination of the official map to see that 
our troops on the left were locked up. As to the center. 


Pickett's and Pettigrew's assaulting divisions had fromed 
no part of A. P. Hill's line, which was practically intact. 
The idea that there must have been ' a gap of at least 
a mile ' in that line, made by throwing forward these 
divisions, and that a prompt advance from Cemetery 
Ridge would have given us the line itself, or at least the 
artillery in front of it, was a delusion. A prompt coun- 
ter-charge after a combat between two small bodies of 
men is one thing; the change from the defensive to the 
offensive of an army, after an engagement at a single 
point, is quite another. This was not a ' Waterloo de- 
feat,' with a fresh army to follow it up, and to have 
made such a change to the offensive, on the assumption 
that Lee had made no provision against a reverse, would 
have been rash in the extreme. An advance of twenty 
thousand men from Cemetery Ridge in the face of the 
hundred and forty guns then in position would have been 
stark madness ; an immediate advance from any point, 
in force, was simply impracticable, and before due prepa- 
ration could have been made for a change to the offensive, 
the favorable moment — had any resulted from the re- 
pulse — would have passed away." 

Hunt says: 

" General Lee now abandoned the attempt to dislodge 
Meade; intrenched a line from Oak Hill to Peach Or- 
chard; started all his impedimenta to the Potomac in 
advance, and followed with his army on the night of 
July 4, via Fairfield. This compelled Meade to take the 
circuitous routes through the lower passes ; and the stra- 
tegic advantage to Lee and disadvantages to Meade of 
Gettysburg were made manifest. General Meade has 
been accused of slowness in the pursuit. This charge 


is not well founded ; he lost no time in commencing nor 
vigor in pushing it. 

" On the morning of the 4th he ordered French, at 
Frederick, to seize and hold the lower passes, and put 
all the cavalry, except Gregg's and Mcintosh's brigades, 
in motion to harass the enemy's anticipated retreat and 
to destroy his trains and bridges at Williamsport. It 
stormed heavily that day, and the care of the wounded 
and burial of the dead proceeded, whilst the enemy's line 
was being reconnoitered. So soon on the 5th as it was 
certain that Lee was retreating, Gregg was started in 
pursuit on the Chambersburg pike, and the infantry, — 
now reduced to a little over 47,000 effectives, short of 
ammunition and supplies, — by the lower passes. The 
Sixth corps taking the Hagerstown road, Sedgwick re- 
ported the Fairfield pass fortified, a large force present, 
and that a fight could be had ; upon which, on the 6th, 
Meade halted the rest of the infantry and ordered two 
corps to his support, but soon learning that although 
the pass could be carried it would cause too much delay, 
he resumed the march, leaving Mcintosh and a brigade 
of the Sixth corps to follow the enemy through the Fair- 
field pass. 

" On the evening of the 4th Kilpatrick had a sharp 
encounter with the enemy in Monterey pass, and this was 
followed by daily cavalry combats on the different routes, 
in which much damage was done to trains and many 
captures of wagons, caissons, and prisoners effected. 
On the 5th French destroyed the pontoon bridge at Fall- 
ing Waters. On the 6th Buford attacked at Williams- 
port and Kilpatrick toward Hagerstown, on his right, 
but as Imboden's train guard was strong, Stuart was 
up, and Longstreet close by, they had to withdraw. The 
enemy proceeded to construct a new bridge, and intrench 


a strong line covering Williamsport and Falling Waters. 
There were heavy rains on the 7th and 8th, but the in- 
fantry corps reached Middletown on the morning of the 
9th, received supplies, crossed the mountains that day, 
and at its close the right was at Boonsboro, and the left 
at Rohrersville, on the road to Hagerstown and Will- 
iamsport. The river was now greatly swollen and un- 
fordable, and Halleck on the loth advised Meade to 
postpone a general battle until his army was concentrated 
and his reinforcements up; but Meade, fully alive to the 
importance of striking Lee before he could cross the 
Potomac, advanced on that day and the nth; and on 
the 1 2th pushed forward reconnaissances to feel the 

" After a partial examination, made by himself and 
his chiefs of staff, and of engineers, which showed that 
its flanks could not be turned, and that the line, so far 
as seen by them, presented no vulnerable points, he de- 
termined to make a demonstration in force on the next 
morning, the 13th, supported by the whole army, and 
to attack if a prospect of success offered. On assembling 
his corps commanders, however, he found their opinion 
so adverse that he postponed it for further examination, 
after which he issued the order for the next day, the 
14th. On advancing that morning, it was found that 
the enemy had abandoned his line and crossed the river, 
partly by fording, and partly by a new bridge. A care- 
ful survey of the enemy's intrenched line after it was 
abandoned justified the opinion of the corps commanders 
against an attack, as it showed that an assault would 
have been disastrous to us. It proved also that Meade 
in overriding that opinion did not shrink from a great 
responsibility, notwithstanding his own recent experience 
at Gettysburg, when all the enemy's attacks on even par- 


tially intrenched lines had failed. If he erred on this 
occasion, it was on the side of temerity. . . . 

" But the hopes and expectations excited by the vic- 
tory of Gettysburg were as unreasonable as the fears 
that had preceded it; and great was the disappointment 
that followed the * escape ' of Lee's army. It was 
promptly manifested, too, and in a manner which indi- 
cates how harshly and unjustly the Army of the Po- 
tomac and its commanders were usually judged and 
treated ; and what trials the latter had to undergo whilst 
subjected to the meddling and hectoring of a distant su- 
perior, himself but too often the mere mouthpiece of an 
irresponsible clique, from which they were not freed 
until the general-in-chief accompanied it to the field. 

" That same day, before it was possible that all the 
circumstances could be known, three telegraphic dis- 
patches passed between the respective headquarters. 
First, Halleck to Meade : ' I need hardly say to you 
that the escape of Lee's army without another battle has 
created great dissatisfaction in the mind of the Presi- 
dent, and it will require an active and energetic pursuit 
on your part to remove the impression that it has not 
been sufficiently active heretofore.' Second, Meade to 
Halleck : * Having performed my duty conscientiously 
and to the best of my ability, the censure of the Presi- 
dent (conveyed in your dispatch of i p. m. to-day) is in 
my judgment so undeserved that I feel compelled most 
respectfully to ask to be relieved immediately from the 
command of the army.' Third, Halleck to Meade: 
* July 14. My telegram stating the disappointment of 
the President at the escape of Lee's army was not in- 
tended as a censure, but a stimulus to an active pursuit. 
It is not deemed a sufficient cause for your application 
to be relieved.' " 


The command of the Army of the Potomac the first 
three years of the war was a " job," as Lincoln called it, 
that was not sought by the officers of that army. The 
army carried Washington, — the old man of the sea, — 
on its back; and the commanders had to shoulder not 
only their own blunders, but those of Lincoln and Hal- 

An officer who held a " responsible and confidential 
position at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac 
and in the War Department " writes in the Century for 
November, 1886: "Lincoln apparently yielded to the 
views of those in charge of the military department of 
affairs, and therefore Halleck confidentially inquired of 
Reynolds if he was prepared to accept the command. 
Reynolds replied that he expected to obey all lawful 
orders coming to his hands, but as the communication 
seemed to imply the possession of an option in himself, 
he deemed it his duty to say frankly that he could not 
accept the command in a voluntary sense, unless a liberty 
of action should be guaranteed to him considerably be- 
yond any which he had reason to expect." 

The command of the army had been refused by 
Reynolds, Hooker had thrown it up in disgust, and at 
the eleventh hour it was thrust upon Meade. Hunt says : 
" He spent the day (28) in ascertaining the position of 
his anny." 

July I, when he was ordering the scattered columns 
to concentration on Pipe Creek, the battle of the first 
day was raging. When he heard of it he rode to Gettys- 
burg, arriving, as Rhodes says, " at one in the morning, 
pale, tired-looking, hollow-eyed, and worn out from want 
of sleep, anxiety, and responsibility." He found Rey- 
nolds killed, the battle lost, and himself committed to 
new ground. He did not know but that Lee would at- 


tack in full force at daylight, and did know that his own 
marching columns would be late. At this moment 
Meade was the grandest figure on the Union side of 
the war; but we hear less of him than we do of Lincoln's 
Gettysburg address. 

Pickett's charge is generally considered " the battle of 
Gettysburg," whereas it was only an incident of the bat- 
tle, just as Malvern Hill was an incident of the Seven 
Days' battles. The critical moment at Gettysburg was 
not when Pickett made his charge, nor on the afternoon 
of the I St, but it was on the morning of the 2d. 

The attack on the afternoon of the 2d was impetuous 
and desperate, and if it had been timed in the early 
morning when a good part of Meade's army was on 
the road, when his lines were incomplete and Little 
Round Top unoccupied, there is little doubt that Lee 
would have won the battle. 

Lee was of course conscious of Longstreet's misman- 
agement and probably had it in mind when writing as 
follows in his letter of resignation shortly after Gettys- 
burg: "In addition, I sensibly feel the growing failure 
of my bodily strength. I have not yet recovered from 
the attack I experienced last spring. I am becoming 
more and more incapable of exertion, and am thus pre- 
vented from making personal supervision o'f the oper- 
ations in the field which I feel to be necessary. I am 
so dull that in making use of the eyes of others I am 
frequently misled." 

The " Official Records " give the returns of the Army 
of Northern Virginia on the 31st of May, 1863 : Infan- 
try 59,457, cavalry 10,292, artillery 4,702, total 74,451. 
Ewell's losses in the Valley and Stuart's in Pennsylvania 
must have reduced Lee's strength at Gettysburg to less 
than 70,000 men. The same authority gives the strength 


of the Army of the Potomac June 30, 1863, j^st before 
the battle as 104,256, and the losses as: Army of the 
Potomac; Killed, 3,155; Wounded, 14,529; Missing-, 
5,365; Total, 23,049. Army of Northern Virginia: 
Killed, 2,592; Wounded, 12,709; Missing, 5,150; Total, 

Lee says in his report : " It is not yet In my power 
to give a correct statement of our casualties, which were 
severe, including many brave men, and an unusual pro- 
portion of distinguished and valuable officers. Among 
them I regret to mention the following general officers : 
Major Generals Hood, Pender, and Trimble severely, 
and Heth slightly, wounded. General Pender has since 
died. . . . Brigadier Generals Barksdale and Garnett 
were killed, and Brigadier General Semmes was mortally 
wounded. . . . Brigadier Generals Kemper, Armistead, 
Scales, G. T. Anderson, Hampton, J. M. Jones, and Jen- 
kins were also wounded. Brigadier General Archer was 
taken prisoner. General Pettigrew, though wounded at 
Gettysburg, continued in command until he was mortally 
wounded near Falling Waters. . . ." 

Lee took desperate chances in the battle of Chancel- 
lorsville rather than fall back on Richmond. In his 
letter of June 8 to Mr. Seddon already quoted, he states 
clearly the object of the campaign: "Unless it (the 
Army of the Potomac) can be drawn out in a position 
to be assailed it will take its own time to strengthen 
itself to renew its advances upon Richmond and force 
this army back within the intrenchment of that city." 
It was " to prevent such a catastrophe " that he took the 
still further desperate chances of stretching his army 
from Fredericksburg to Williamsport, with Hooker prac- 
tically between him and defenseless Richmond. 

In this letter to Mr. Seddon we have the object of the 


Facing page 187 


campaign clearly stated in Lee's own words, and the fol- 
lowing letter of July 12 to President Davis, written when 
he was standing on the Potomac waiting for it to fall 
so that he could recross into Virginia, shows that he con- 
sidered the object of the campaign fully accomplished: 

"Mr. President: I have nothing of moment to add 
to what I have said in my letter of the loth. So far 
everything goes well. The army is in good condition, 
and occupies a strong position, covering the Potomac 
from Williamsport to Falling Waters. . . . The river 
has now fallen to four feet, and a bridge, which is being 
constructed, I hope will be passable to-morrow. Should 
the river continue to subside, our communication with 
the south bank will be opened by to-morrow. Had the 
late unexpected rise not occurred, there would have been 
no cause for anxiety, as it would have been in my power 
to recross the Potomac on my first reaching it, without 
molestation. Everything would have been accomplished 
that could have been reasonably expected, the Army of 
the Potomac would have been thrown north of that river, 
the forces invading the coasts of North Carolina and 
Virginia diminished, their plan of the present campaign 
broken up, and before new arrangements could have 
been made for its resumption, the summer would have 
ended. I still trust that a kind Providence will cause 
all things to work together for our good. 

" Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

" R. E. Lee, 
" General. 

" His Excellency Jefferson Davis, 
" President Confederate States." 

In his letter to Davis he savs that " had the late unex- 


pected rise not occurred, there would have been no cause 
for anxiety, as it would have been in my power to 
recross the Potomac on my first reaching it, without 
molestation. Everything would have been accomplished 
that could have been reasonably expected." As he 
crossed the river the next day unmolested everything 
was accomplished that could have been reasonably ex- 

After Lee's return to Virginia he wrote to a relative 
as follows : " I knew that crossing the Potomac would 
draw them off, and if we could only have been strong 
enough we should have detained them. But God willed 
otherwise, and I fear we shall soon have them all back. 
The army did all it could. I fear I require of it impos- 
sibilities, but it responded to the call nobly and cheer- 
fully, and though it did not win a victory, it conquered 
a success." 

The campaign of 1862 enabled Lee to get his army 
out of the last ditch at Richmond. The campaign of 
1863 enabled him to keep it out. Therefore the arniy as 
Lee says " conquered a success," and the campaign ac- 
complished everything that could have been reasonably 
expected, or for that matter unreasonably expected. 
Nor were other results of the campaign inconsiderable. 
Ewell defeated and drove the enemy from the valley, 
capturing 4000 prisoners, 25 cannon, 11 standards, 250 
w^agons, 400 horses, and a large quantity of stores and 
small arms. He and Stuart also secured great quanti- 
ties of supplies in Pennsylvania, which were all badly 
needed by the Confederate army. Virginia was relieved 
for a time of the presence of the devastating armies, so 
that altogether the campaign was not a failure, but one 
of Lee's grandest successes. 


^^^ -^ ^y;^^^.tr.^C^ ' 

Facing page 191 



IN the last months of 1863 there was a campaign of 
strategy which ended in Meade's retreat from Mine 
Run, to which point he had advanced in light march- 
ing order in the hope of surprising Lee. Instead, he 
found Lee strongly intrenched and prepared. He hesi- 
tated, and Lee decided to attack on the 2d of December ; 
but Meade retreated. Lee pursued, but Meade escaped. 

Now General Grant appeared upon the scene. He 
was commander-in-chief, not only of the Army of the 
Potomac, but of all the armies of the United States. 
He came up from the Southwest where his successes had 
been of great material value, but had been easily attained. 
He always had superior numbers, always encountered 
inferior commanders, and always had the cooperation 
of the navy. The whole Vicksburg campaign, Donelson, 
and Chattanooga cost him only 15,351 men, whereas he 
lost in the single battle of the Wilderness 17,666 men, 
and in the campaign 69,326, or four times his loss in 
obtaining all his successes in the Southwest. The fact 
is that with the exception of Shiloh, where he was sur- 
prised and worsted by Johnston, and discredited by the 
testimony of Buell and other officers, he had never seen 
any fighting of any consequence. He says of Chatta- 
nooga: ". . . The victory at Chattanooga was won 
against great odds, considering the advantage the enemy 
had of position, and was accomplished more easily than 
was expected by reason of Bragg's making several grave 



mistakes : first, in sending away his ablest corps com- 
mander with over 20,000 troops ; second, in sending away 
a division of troops on the eve of battle; third, in placing 
so much of a force on the plain in front of his impreg- 
nable position. . . ." 

So the victory was not won by superior generalship or 
by hard fighting, but was due to Bragg's stupid blun- 

The impregnable position Grant speaks of, — the crest 
of the ridge, — was won by a wonderful charge. Grant 
asked Thomas by whose order the troops moved. " By 
their own, I fancy," he replied. 

Now the fact is that ridge was easy. Bragg was like 
a coon in the top of a tree with branches down to the 
ground and easy to climb. The troops went without or- 
ders because it was easy — the proof is that in the whole 
battle, including the wonderful charge, Grant's total loss 
was only 5815 men. The charge must have been well- 
nigh bloodless. 

At Chattanooga Grant had 60,000 men against Bragg's 
40,000; yet he says the victory was won against great 

His greatest success, — that of Vicksburg, — was easy. 
His entire loss, including the five battles or skirmishes 
in May, was only 7536, which is conclusive proof that 
he met with little resistance. 

In his book, among a hundred other misrepresenta- 
tions, he says : "... In the east the opposing forces 
stood in substantially the same relations toward each 
other as three years before, or when the war began. . . . 
No substantial advantage had been gained by either 
side. . . ." 

We shall see how utterly devoid of truth this state- 
ment is. 


When Lee confronted McClellan at Richmond he had 
80,000 men against McClellan's 100,000, and his army 
was fairly well clad and provisioned. 

Colonel Taylor says : 

" The official records show that General Grant had 
something over 140,000 men on the ist of May, 1864, 
with which to commence his campaign against General 
Lee, of which number 120,000 were actually put into 
battle ; while General Lee had, with which to oppose this 
vast host, less than 65,000, including the command of 
General Longstreet that had now returned to him after 
the campaign in Tennessee. These figures are not exag- 
gerated in the least. Let him who doubts search the 
official records. (See 'Report of the Secretary of War 
to the First Session of the 39th Congress,' vol. i, 1865- 
1866, pp. 3-5, 55.) General Badeau gives the strength 
of the army opposing General Lee as 119,981." 

None of Grant's predecessors had authority over a 
man outside of their lines, but Grant had unlimited au- 

He says : 

". . , As a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, 
or to act in support of it, the Ninth army corps, over 
20,000 strong, under General Burnside, had been rendez- 
voused at Annapolis, Md. This was an admirable posi- 
tion for such a reinforcement. The corps could be 
brought at the last moment as a reinforcement to the 
Army of the Potomac, or it could be thrown on the sea- 
coast south of Norfolk in Virginia or North Carolina, 
to operate against Richmond from that direction. . . ," 


" In Field, Culpeper C. H., 
"April 9, 1864. 
" Ma J. Gen. Geo. G. Meade, commanding Army of 
the Potomac : . . . Gilmore will join Butler with about 
10,000 men from North Carolina. Butler can reduce 
his garrison so as to take 23,000 men into the field di- 
rectly to his front. The force will be commanded by 
Maj. Gen. W. F. Smith. With Smith and Gilmore, But- 
ler will seize City Point and operate against Richmond 
from the south side of the river. . . . 

" U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

". . . My general plan was to concentrate all the force 
possible against the Confederate armies in the field. 
There were but two such, as we have seen, east of the 
Mississippi and facing north. The Army of Northern 
Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee commanding, was on the 
south bank of the Rapidan river, confronting the Army 
of the Potomac; the second, under Gen. Joseph E. Johns- 
ton was at Dalton, Georgia, opposed to Sherman, who 
was still at Chattanooga. . . . Accordingly, I arranged 
for a simultaneous movement all along the line. Sher- 
man was to move from Chattanooga, Johnston's army 
and Atlanta being his objective points. Crook, com- 
manding in West Virginia, was to move from the mouth 
of the Gauley river with a cavalry force and some artil- 
lery, the Virginia and Tennessee railroad to be his ob- 
jective. Either the enemy would have to keep a large 
force to protect their communications or see them de- 
stroyed, and a large amount of forage and provisions, 
which they so much needed, fall into our hands. Sigel 
was in command in the Valley of Virginia. He was to 
advance up the Valley, covering the north from an in- 


vasion through that channel as well while advancing as 
by remaining near Harper's Ferry. Every mile he ad- 
vanced also gave us stores on which Lee relied. Butler 
was to advance by the James river, having Richmond 
and Petersburg as his objectives." 

The Army of the Potomac was a grand army. Grant 
had nothing to do with its creation. It was handed over 
to him organized, disciplined, and more lavishly supplied 
than any army the world had ever seen. He had never 
seen such an army. 

He says of it : 

" There never was a corps better organized than was 
the quartermaster's corps with the Army of the Potomac 
in 1864. . . . To overcome all difficulties the chief quar- 
termaster, Gen. Rufus Ingalls, had marked on each 
wagon the corps badge, with the division color, and the 
number of the brigade. At a glance the particular bri- 
gade to which any wagon belonged could be told. The 
wagons were also marked to denote the contents ; if am- 
munition, whether for artillery or infantry; if forage, 
whether grain or hay; if rations, whether bread, pork, 
beans, rice, sugar, coffee, or whatever it might be. 
Empty wagons were never allowed to follow the army or 
stay in camp. As soon as a wagon was empty it would 
return to the base of supply for a load of precisely the 
same article that had been taken from it. . . ." 

Speaking of the field telegraph sei"vice. he says: 

" Nothing could be more complete than the organiza- 
tion and discipline of this body of brave and intelligent 
men. Insulated wires, insulated so that they would 


transmit messages in a storm, on the ground, or under 
water, were wound upon reels making about two hun- 
dred pounds weight of wire to each reel. . . . The mules 
thus loaded were assigned to brigades, and always kept 
with the commands they were assigned to. . . . The 
moment the troops were put into position to go into 
camp, all the men connected with this branch of service 
would proceed to put up their wires. A mule loaded 
with a coil of wire would be led to the rear of the near- 
est flank of the brigade he belonged to, and would be 
led in a line parallel thereto, while one man would hold 
an end of the wire and uncoil it as the mule was led 
off. . . . This would be done in the rear of every bri- 
gade at the same time. The end of all the wires would 
then be joined, making a continuous wire in the rear of 
the whole army. . . . Before leaving Spottsylvania I 
sent back to the defenses of Washington over one hun- 
dred pieces of artillery, with horses and caissons. This 
relieved the roads over which we were to march of more 
than two hundred six-horse teams, and still left us more 
artillery than could be advantageously used. In fact, 
before reaching the James river, I again reduced the ar- 
tillery with the army largely. . . ." 

Then, too, Grant practically commanded the navy that 
held the coast and every river in the Confederacy. What 
a tremendous array against two little worn-out Confed- 
erate armies, the condition of which is shown by the fol- 
lowing letters : 

" Headquarters, January 2, 1864. 
" His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, 
" President Confederate States, 

" Richmond. 
"Mr. President: . . . We are now issuing to the 


troops a fourth of a pound of salt meat and have only 
three days' supply at that rate. . . . 
" I am, with great respect, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

" Headquarters, 
" Army Northern Virginia, 

*' January 18, 1864. 
" Brig. Gen. A. R. Lawton, 

" Quartermaster General, Richmond. 
"General: The want of shoes and blankets in this 
army continues to cause much suffering, and to impair 
its efficiency. In one regiment, I am informed, there are 
only fifty men with serviceable shoes, and a brigade that 
recently went on picket was compelled to leave several 
hundred men in camp who were unable to bear the ex- 
posure, being destitute of shoes and blankets. . . . 
" I am, with great respect, 

" Your obt. svt., 

" R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

" Headquarters, April 12, 1864. 
" Mr. President: My anxiety for provisions for the 
army is so great that I cannot refrain from expressing 
it to your Excellency. I cannot see how we can operate 
with our present supplies. . . . We have rations for the 
troops to-day and to-morrow. . . . 
" I am, with great respect, 

" Your obt. svt., 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 


" Headquarters, April 16, 1864. 
" Gen. Braxton Bragg: 

" General: I have received your letter of the '13th, 
enclosing copy of a communication from Colonel Gorgas, 
in reference to the large proportion of artillery with this 
army. I have never found it too large in battle, and it 
has generally been opposed by about three hundred pieces 
of the enemy, of larger caliber, longer range, and with 
more effective ammunition. If, however, its equipment 
overtaxes the means of the Ordnance Department, or, 
as you suggest, its supply of horses cannot be kept up, 
that decides the question, and no argument on the sub- 
ject is necessary. . . . 

" R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

Grant had a " substantial advantage " in not having 
to write such letters as these. In the history of the 5th 
Massachusetts there is a letter from which the following 
is taken : 

". . . To-day I was up to Brandy Station. You can 
form no idea of the bustle and confusion at this depot 
when the army is getting ready to move. It looked to 
me as if a thousand or more wagons were waiting to 
load, and there were immense piles of ammunition and 
all kinds of ordnance stores, etc., etc., and piles of boxes 
of hard bread as high as two and three-story houses. 
It reminded me some of a wharf in New York, with 
twelve or fifteen ships loading and unloading. . . ." 

Gen. Morris Schafif, assistant to the chief of ordnance 
of the Army of the Potomac, says : 

Facing page 199 


". . , While I do not wish to encumber the narrative 
with a burden of figures, yet it may interest the reader 
to know that we had in the Army of the Potomac, the 
morning we set off on the great campaign, 4300 wagons 
and 835 ambulances. There were 34,981 artillery, cav- 
alry, and ambulance horses, and 22,528 mules, making 
an aggregate of 57,419 animals. The strength of the 
Army of the Potomac was between ninety-nine and one 
hundred thousand men. Burnside, who caught up with 
us the second day of the Wilderness, brought with him 
about twenty thousand more. . . ." 

The fact is that a substantial advantage, — more than 
that, a decisive advantage, — had been gained by the Army 
of the Potomac before Grant came to Virginia, as the 
following letter shows : 

" Headquarters, 
" Army of Northern Virginia, 

"October 19, 1863. 
" Hon. Jas. A. Seddon, 

" Secretary of War, Richmond, Va. 
"Sir: If General Meade is disposed to remain 
quiet where he is, it is my intention, provided the army 
could be supplied with clothing again, to advance and 
threaten his position. Nothing prevented my continu- 
ing in his front but the destitute condition of the men, 
thousands of whom are barefooted, a greater number 
partly shod, and nearly all without overcoats, blankets, 
or warm clothing. . . . 

" Very respectfully 
" Your obt. svt, 
"R. E. Lee." 


This means, of course, that Lee was deprived of the 
only advantage he ever had, that of threatening Wash- 
ington. It was the turning point in the war, and was 
reached before Grant came to Virginia, as the date of 
this letter shows. 

Grant crossed the Rapidan without opposition. Lee 
thought he might repeat the miracle of Chancellorsville 
and determined to hazard an attack. On the morning 
of the 5th of May he advanced in two columns, Ewell 
on the Orange Court House road, and Hill on the Plank 
Road. Ewell soon struck the enemy's outposts and, while 
forming his line of battle, Jones's brigade in making 
a change of position was attacked by a large Federal 
force, which advanced through the dense undergrowth. 
General Jones was killed, with a loss of several hundred 
of his men. The next fight was about 4 p. m., when 
the Federals attacked the Confederate position and were 
repulsed. The next morning Hill was heavily attacked, 
Heth and Wilcox being driven back and thrown into 

Things were looking very blue for the Confederates 
when Longstreet came swinging down the plank road in 
double column at a double-quick. The Texans led, 800 
strong, and half of them went down, but the battle was 
restored and the enemy driven to his position of the 
previous night. Longstreet now advanced three brigades 
against the enemy's right flank, and he himself attacked 
in front. Hancock was badly beaten and thrown back 
toward the Brock road, which Lee desired to secure, 
but just at the critical moment Longstreet was wounded 
by his own men. The resulting disorder and delay en- 
abled the enemy to form a strong line of breastworks 
built of logs. 

About 4 p. m. Lee attacked. The battle raged furi- 


ously, the woods on fire. The Confederates broke into 
the Federal breastworks in places but were quickly driven 
out. This attack ended the battle. The game was 
blocked, and Grant on the night of the 7th resumed his 
march toward Spottsylvania. Warren led the Federal 
army, and Anderson the Confederate. Stuart worried 
Warren and enabled Anderson to reach Spottsylvania 
ahead of him. Both armies intrenched and nothing of 
importance happened on the 9th, but on the loth Grant 
sent Hancock, Warren, and Burnside against Lee's left 
center. The first charge was made about 10 a. m., an- 
other about 3 p. m., but both were repulsed with the 
slaughter that Grant became familiar with in Virginia. 
About 5 p. m. another, more reckless than the others, 
was made and repulsed with terrible loss, while the Con- 
federates suffered very little. Ewell's left was also as- 
saulted late in the day, and his line, held by Dole's bri- 
gade, broken; but Daniel, Stewart, and Gordon came to 
the rescue, and the Federals were driven out with great 

That Grant was surprised and scared by the resistance 
he encountered is manifest in the following dispatch to 
Washington : 

" May 10. The enemy hold our front in very 
strong force and evince a strong determination to inter- 
pose between us and Richmond to the last. I shall take 
no backward step. . . . We can maintain ourselves at 
least and in the end beat Lee's army, I believe. Send 
to Belle Plain all the infantry you can rake and scrape. 
With present position of the armies, ten thousand men 
can be spared from the defenses of Washington, besides 
all the troops that have reached there since Burnside's 


He thinks he can " maintain " himself at least and in 
the end beat Lee's army, provided he gets all the infantry 
" you can rake and scrape." 

" Near Spottsylvania, C. H., 

"May II, 1864, 8.30 a. m. 
" Maj. Gen. Halleck, 

" Chief of staff, Washington, D. C. 
" We have now ended the 6th day of very hard fight- 
ing. The result up to this time is much in our favor. 
But our losses have been heavy, as well as those of the 
enemy. We have lost up to this time eleven general 
officers killed, wounded, and missing, and probably 20,- 
000 men. ... I propose to fight it out on this line, if 
it takes all summer. The arrival of reinforcements here 
will be very encouraging to the men, and I hope they 
will be sent as fast as possible, and in as great numbers. 
... I am satisfied the enemy is very shaky, and are only 
kept up to the mark by the greatest exertion on the part 
of their officers, and by keeping them intrenched in every 
position they take. 

" U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

This is the celebrated " Fight it out on this line, if it 
takes all summer " letter, but as any one can see it is 
above all else a plea for help. 

He wanted reinforcements " to encourage the army," 
though " the result up to this time is much in our favor." 
He is " satisfied the enemy is very shaky," but he wants 
reinforcements " as fast as possible and in as great num- 
bers." It is not true that the Confederate officers made 
any special effort to keep the men " up to the mark." 


Lee was now in an unenviable position. Outnumbered 
two to one, he held a line of no natural strength. Both 
flanks were open to attack and if his opponent had been 
a strategist the war would have ended at Spottsylvania 
instead of at Appomattox. Lee was on his guard against 
a flank movement, and ordered two batteries out of an 
angle on Ewell's front, as it would have been difficult 
to extricate them in an emergency. Johnson's division 
occupied the angle, and on the night of the nth he be- 
came alarmed at the enemy's movements in his front 
and sent couriers to Lee requesting the return of the 
guns. They were ordered back, but before they got into 
position Hancock, at daylight on the 12th, overwhelmed 
Johnson and caught the guns harmless in the road. 
The Federal troops poured into the breach. They came 
en masse. Lee rushed Gordon's, Rodes's, and Ram- 
seur's divisions, and some of Long's artillery in to stop 
the advance, and wanted to lead the troops, but he was 
turned back by the men. 

Of the fight that ensued G. N. Galloway, historian 
of the Sixth corps, says : 

" Just as the day was breaking, Barlow's and Birney's 
divisions of Hancock's corps pressed forward upon the 
unsuspecting foe, and leaping the works, after a hand 
to hand conflict with the bewildered enemy in which guns 
were used as clubs, possessed themselves of the intrench- 
ments. . . . The rain was falling in torrents, and held 
the country about in obscurity. . . . Under cover of the 
smoke-laden rain the enemy was pushing large bodies 
of troops forward, determined at all hazards to regain 
the ground. . . . The smoke, which was dense at first, 
was intensified by each discharge of artillery to such an 


extent that the accuracy of our aim became very un- 
certain, but nevertheless we kept up the fire in the sup- 
posed direction of the enemy. Meanwhile they were 
crawling forward under cover of the smoke, until, reach- 
ing a certain point, and raising their usual yell, they 
charged gallantly up to the very muzzles of our pieces, 
and reoccupied the angle. Upon reaching the works, 
the Confederates for a few moments had the advantage, 
and made good use of their rifles. Our men went down 
by the score; all the artillery horses were down; the 
gallant Upton was the only mounted officer in sight. 
Hat in hand, he cheered his men, and begged them to 
hold ' this point.' All his staff had been killed, wounded, 
or dismounted. At this moment, and while the open 
ground in rear of the works was choked with troops, 
a section of Battery C, 5th U. S. artillery, was brought 
into action and increased the carnage by opening at 
short range with double charges of canister. This stag- 
gered the apparently exultant enemy. These guns were 
run up by hand close to the angle, fired again and again, 
and were only abandoned when all the drivers and can- 
noneers had fallen. ... In a few moments the two 
brass pieces of the 5th artillery, cut and hacked by the 
bullets of both antagonists, lay unworked with their muz- 
zles projecting over the enemy's works and their wheels 
half sunk in the mud. Between the lines, and near at 
hand, lay the horses of these gims completely riddled. 
The dead and wounded were torn to pieces by the canister 
as it swept the ground where they had fallen. . . . Our 
losses were frightful. . . . About midnight, after twenty 
hours of constant fighting, Lee withdrew from the con- 
flict, leaving the angle in our possession." 

Lee withdrew after he had effectually checked the ad- 


vance of the enemy, and established a strong line a Httle 
way in rear of the angle. 

It will be noticed that the historian says " the open 
ground in rear of the works was choked w'ith troops." 
That was Grant's method of fighting, — main strength 
and awkwardness. While the open ground in rear of 
the works was choked with troops Lee was alarmed for 
the safety of his left, for word kept coming up the line: 
" All right on the center, look out on the left." After 
ten o'clock in the morning Lee had every man he could 
get on the center and could not have spared a man to 
reinforce his left. 

Senator Grimes wrote on the i8th of May : " Thus 
far we have won no victory. We have suffered a terrible 
loss in killed and wounded (nearly 50,000) and Lee is in 
an impregnable position. . . ." 

Grant's " fight it out on this line, if it takes all sum- 
mer " letter produced the desired effect, as he received 
40,000 reinforcements. 

On the 20th of May he started for Hanover Junction, 
but Lee was there ahead of him. The North Anna 
river was Lee's line of defense. Warren on the right 
and Hancock on the left crossed the river. Burnside 
tried to cross at a point intermediate between Warren 
and Hancock, but was driven back. Grant was now in 
the position Lincoln advised Hooker against when he 
said : " I would not take any risk of being entangled 
upon the river, like an ox jumped half over a fence and 
liable to be torn by dogs front and rear, without a fair 
chance to gore one way or kick the other." 

Hancock and Warren had been worsted in the fight- 
ing, and Burnside had been prevented from crossing at 
all. " Grant," write Nicolay and Hay, " was completely 
checkmated." Yet he sent the following dispatch: 


" QuARLEs Mill, Va. 

"May 26, 1864. 
" Major General Halleck, 
" Washington, D. C. 
". . . Lee's army is whipped ... A battle with them 
outside intrenchments cannot be had. 

"U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

On the same night, the 26th, he withdrew Warren and 
Hancock back across the river, otherwise he might have 
had a fight with the Confederates outside of the breast- 

Grant now marched down the North Anna to the 
Pamunkey and crossed that river on the 28th. 

His next effort to beat Lee was to be made at Cold 
Harbor. The fight began on the afternoon of the ist 
of June by an attack on Kershaw's and Hoke's divisions. 
The Confederates were driven in, but fell back only a 
little way and checked the advance of the enemy. The 
2d was passed by both armies in preparation for the 
coming battle, of which We have the following accounts. 

General McMahon, U. S. V., chief of staff to General 
Wright, Sixth corps, says : 

" Before daylight (2d June) the Army of the Poto- 
mac stood together once more almost within sight of the 
spires of Richmond, and on the very ground where, 
under McCldlan, they had defended the passage of the 
river they were now endeavoring to force. . . . Every 
one felt that this was to be the final struggle. No 
further flanking marches were possible. Richmond was 
dead in front. No further wheeling of corps from right 
to left by the rear, no further dusty marches possi- 

Facing page 207 


ble on that line even if it ' took all summer.' The 
general attack was fixed for the afternoon of the 
2d, and all preparations had been made when the 
order was countermanded and the attack postponed un- 
til half-past four the following morning. Promptly at 
the hour named on the 3d of June the men moved from 
the slight cover of the rifle-pits, thrown up during the 
night, with steady, determined advance, and there rang 
out suddenly on the summer air such a crash of artil- 
lery and musketry as is seldom heard in war. No great 
portion of the advance could be seen from any particular 
point, but those of the three corps that passed through 
the clearings were feeling the fire terribly. Not much 
return was made at first from our infantry, although 
the fire of our batteries was incessant. The time of 
actual advance was not over eight minutes. In that 
little period more men fell bleeding as they advanced 
than in any other like period of time throughout the 
w^ar. A strange and terrible feature of this battle was 
that as the three gallant corps moved on, each was en- 
filaded while receiving the full force of the enemy's 
direct fire in front. The enemy's shell and shot were 
plunging through Hancock's battalions from his right. 
From the left a similarly destructive fire was poured in 
upon Smith, and from both flanks on the Sixth corps 
in the center. 

" At some points the slashings and obstructions in 
the enemy's front were reached. Barlow, of Hancock's 
corps, drove the enemy from an advance position, but 
was himself driven out by the fire of their second line. 
R. O. Tyler's brigade (the Corcoran Legion) of the 
same corps swept over an advance work, capturing 
several hundred prisoners. One officer alone, the colonel 
of the 164th New York (James P. McMahon), seizing 


the colors of his regiment from the dying color- 
bearer as he fell, succeeded in reaching the para- 
pet of the enemy's main works, where he planted 
his colors and fell dead near the ditch, bleeding from 
many wounds. Seven other colonels of Hancock's com- 
mand died within those few minutes. No troops could 
stand against such a fire, and the order to lie down was 
given all along the line. At points where no shelter 
was afforded the men were withdrawn to such cover as 
could be found, and the battle of Cold Harbor, as to 
its result at least, was over. Each corps commander 
reported and complained to General Meade that the other 
corps commanders, right or left, as the case might be, 
failed to protect him from enfilading fire by silencing 
batteries in their respective fronts ; Smith, that he could 
go no farther until Wright advanced upon his left ; Han- 
cock, that it was useless for him to attempt a further 
advance until Wright advanced upon his right; Wright, 
that it was impossible for him to move until Smith and 
Hancock advanced to his support on the right and left 
to shield him from the enemy's enfilade. Shortly after 
midday came the order to suspend for the present all 
further operations, and directing corps commanders to 
intrench, * including their advance positions,' and direct- 
ing also that reconnaissances be made, * with a view to 
moving against the enemy's works by regular ap- 

" The field in front of us, after the repulse of the 
main attack, was indeed a sad sight. I remember at one 
point a mute and pathetic evidence of sterling valor. 
The 2d Connecticut Heavy Artillery, a new regiment 
eighteen hundred strong, had joined us but a few days 
before the battle. Its uniform was bright and fresh, 
therefore its dead were easily distinguished where 


they lay. They marked in a dotted line an ob- 
tuse angle, covering a wide front, with its apex 
toward the enemy, and there upon his face, still in death, 
with his head to the works, lay the colonel, the brave 
and genial Col. Elisha S. Kellogg. 

" When night came on, the groans and moaning of 
the wounded, all our own, who were lying between the 
lines, were heartrending. Some were brought in by 
volunteers from our intrenchments, but many remained 
for three days uncared for beneath the hot summer suns 
and the unrefreshing dews of the sultry summer nights. 
The men in the works grew impatient, yet it was against 
orders and was almost certain death to go beyond oui* 
earthworks. An impression prevails in the popular 
mind, and with some reason perhaps, that a commander 
who sends a flag of truce asking permission to bury his 
dead and bring in his wounded has lost the field of bat- 
tle. Hence the reluctance upon our part to ask a flag 
of truce. In effect it was done at last on the evening 
of the third day after the battle, when, for the most part, 
the wounded needed no further care, and our dead had 
to be buried almost where they fell. 

" The work of intrenching could only be done at night. 
The fire of sharpshooters was incessant, and no man 
upon all that line could stand erect and live an instant. 
This condition of things continued for twelve days and 
nights; sharpshooters' fire from both sides went on all 
day; all night the zigzags and parallels nearer to the 
enemy's works were being constructed. In none of its 
marches by day or night did that army suffer more than 
during those twelve days. Rations and ammunition 
were brought forward from parallel to parallel through 
the zigzag trenches, and in some instances where reg- 
im.ents whose term of service had expired were ordered 


home, they had to leave the field crawling on hands and 
knees through the trenches to the rear. At nine o'clock 
every night the enemy opened fire with artillery and mus- 
ketry along his whole line. This was undoubtedly done 
under suspicion that the Army of the Potomac had seen 
the hopelessness of the task before it and w^ould with- 
draw in the night-time for another movement by the 
flank, and, if engaged in such a movement, would be 
thrown into confusion by this threat of a night attack. 
However, no advance was made by the enemy. 

" Another strange order came about this time. It 
opened with a preamble that inasmuch as the enemy had 
without provocation repeatedly opened fire during the 
night upon our lines, therefore, at midnight of that day, 
the corps commanders were directed to open fire from all 
their batteries generally upon the enemy's position and 
continue it until daylight. This was coupled with the 
proviso that if in the opinion of a corps commander the 
fire would provoke a return from the enemy which would 
inflict severe damage upon his troops, then he was ex- 
empted from the operation of the order. The com- 
manders of the three corps holding the front communi- 
cated with one another by telegraph with this result : 
Smith was satisfied that the fire which he w^ould pro- 
voke would inflict upon him disproportionate damage. 
Hancock for the same reason did not intend to open 
fire unless the fire provoked by the other corps reached 
his lines. Wright adopted the same rules of action. 
Twelve o'clock came and the summer night continued 
undisturbed. . . ." 

General Law describes the battle in his front at the 
point of attack on the afternoon of the ist: 

" The line here had been straightened, leaving the old 


line, a salient, open to the enemy. Our troops were 
under arms and waiting when with misty light of open 
morning the scattering fire of our pickets announced the 
beginning of the attack. As the assaulting column swept 
over the old works a loud cheer was given, and it rushed 
on into the marshy ground in the angle. Its front 
covered little more than the line of my own brigade of 
less than a thousand men ; but line followed line until 
the space enclosed in the old salient became a mass of 
writhing humanity upon which our artillery and musketry 
played with cruel effect. . . . On reaching the trenches 
I found the men in fine spirits, laughing and talking as 
they fired. Then, too, I could see more plainly the 
terrible havoc made in the ranks of the assaulting column. 
I had seen the dreadful carnage in front of Marye's 
Hill at Fredericksburg, and on the old railroad cut which 
Jackson's men held at Second Manassas, but I had seen 
nothing to exceed this. It was not war, it was murder. 
When the fight ended more than a thousand men lay 
in front of our works, either killed or too badly wounded 
to leave the field. The loss of my command was fifteen 
or twenty, mostly wounded about the head or shoulders, 
myself among the number. . . . The result of the action 
in the center, which has been described, presents a 
fair picture of the result along the line — a grand ad- 
vance, a desperate struggle, a bloody and crushing 

" Cold Harbor, June 5, 1864. 
" AIajor General Halleck, 

" Chief of staff of the Army, 
" Washington. 

"... I now find, after over thirty days of trial, the 
enemy deems it of the first importance to run no risk 
with the armies they now have. They act purely on 


the defensive, behind breastworks, or feebly on the of- 
fensive immediately in front of them, and where, in case 
of repulse, they can instantly retire behind them. 

" U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

This dispatch must have been a great surprise to 
Lincoln, because Grant says in his " Memoirs " that 
"Lee's army was the first great object — with the cap- 
ture of his army Richmond would necessarily follow." 
Lincoln had also declared that Lee's army was the " true 
objective." Lee's army was Grant's " true objective," 
and, strange to say, the " true objective " did not come 
out of its breastworks to attack Grant in his. Lincoln 
probably thought that as Grant had started out in quest 
of the " true objective " and had all the advantage in 
initiative and everything else, and an army twice as 
large as the *' true objective," he would not expect any 
favors of the " true objective." That he was in his 
breastworks is proven by the following excerpt from his 
memoirs : 

" It may be as well here as elsewhere to state two 
things connected with all the movements of the Army of 
the Potomac; first, in every change of position, or halt 
for the night, whether confronting the enemy or not, 
the moment arms were stacked the men intrenched 
themselves. ... It was wonderful how quickly they 
could in this way construct defenses of considerable 
strength. . . ." 

" Cold Harbor, 
"June 3, 1864, 12.30 p. m. 
" Major General Meade, 
" Commanding A. P. 
" The opinion of corps commanders not being san- 


guine of success in case an assault is ordered, you may 
direct a suspension of farther advance for the present. 
Hold our most advanced positions and strengthen them. 
Whilst on the defensive our line may be contracted from 
the right if practicable. . . . 

" \\>ight and Hancock should be ready to assault in 
case the enemy should break through General Smith's 
lines, and all should be ready to resist an assault. 

" U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

On the 26th of May Lee's army was " whipped," and 
would not fight out of its intrenchments ; and on the 3d 
of June, eight days later. Grant is on the defensive be- 
hind breastworks against that army. So it looks very 
much as if the dispatch of the 26th of May was as ap- 
plicable to his own army as to Lee's. 

Grant was now in an awkward position, but the James 
river that saved McClellan from destruction in 1862 
offered him the means of escape and an opportunity to 
capture Petersburg. 

On the 1 2th he commenced the movement and on the 
1 6th had crossed the James river. 

On the 14th of June he telegraphed to Halleck: 

" The enemy show no signs yet of having brought 
troops to the south side of Richmond. I will have 
Petersburg secured, if possible, before they get there in 
much force. . . ." 

Some of Grant's admirers say that he outgeneraled Lee 
in getting away and across the river. It was a very 
easy thing to do. The country in Grant's rear and the 
James river were in his possession. The country was 


flat and wooded, and there was no possible way for Lee 
to know that he was moving on Petersburg. The first 
intimation came from Beauregard, who was in command 
at Petersburg; but even then Lee could not take the 
chances. He had to be certain that the move across the 
river was a bona fide one before he could uncover Rich- 
mond on the north side. Grant's army was large enough 
to leave a strong rear-guard in his elaborate fortifications, 
so that there was no appearance of change on Lee's front 
until the movement was completed. Grant's " fight it 
out on this line, if it takes all summer " came to an 
inglorious end at Cold Harbor before the summer had 
fairly commenced. 
Rhodes says: 

" It is said that the hurling of his men against Lee 
in chosen and fortified positions was unnecessary, as 
the roads in number and in direction lent themselves tO' 
the operation of turning either flank of the Confederate 
army. . . ." 

". . .To assault all along the line," writes General 
Walker, " as was so often done in the summer of 1864, 
is the very abdication of leadership." See " Life of Gen- 
eral Hancock." 

Rhodes says: 

". , .The loss of Grant from May 4 to June 12 in the 
campaign from the Rapidan to the James was 54,929, 
a number nearly equal to Lee's whole army at the com- 
mencement of the Union advance ; that of the Confeder- 
ates is not known, but it was certainly very much less. 
Nor do the bare figures tell the whole story. Of this 
enormous loss the flower of the Army of the Potomac 


contributed a disproportionate share. Fighting against 
such odds of position and strategy, the high-spirited and 
capable officers were in the thick of danger, and of the 
rank and file the veterans were always at the front ; they 
were the forlorn hope. The bounty jumpers and mer- 
cenaries skulked to the rear. The morale of the soldiers 
was much lower than on the day when, in high spirits, 
they had crossed the Rapidan. The confidence in Grant 
of many of the officers and of most of the men had been 
shaken. In the judgment of many military critics, Grant 
had not been equal to his opportunities, had not made the 
best use of his advantages, and had secured no gain com- 
mensurate with his loss." 

H. Thurston Peck, in his " Twenty years of the Re- 
public," says : 

" Placed at the head of the Army of the Potomac, he 
fought the useless and bloody battle of the Wilderness, 
that name of horror, from which he was forced back 
with a loss of 20,000 men. At Spottsylvania he made 
three desperate frontal attacks upon a strongly fortified 
position, with no result except a lavish loss of life. Then 
came the crowning blunder of Cold Harbor, when again 
the Confederates' intrenchments were assaulted from the 
front, and when within an hour 12,000 Union soldiers 
fell. It was here that Grant, unmoved by the frightful 
loss of life, ordered a third charge, and the army re- 
mained motionless, refusing to obey. Even Grant him- 
self in after years spoke of Cold Harbor with remorse. 
In this one campaign, which earned for him the title of 
* The Butcher,' he lost more men than Lee had in his 
entire army. ..." 

The lines at Petersburg were held by Beauregard with 


2500 men. On the 15th Grant's advance, 16,000 strong, 
came up at 9 a. m., but did not attack until 7 p. m. 
Beauregard lost about one and a half miles of intrench- 
ments and sixteen guns. Hancock came up at night. 
During the night Beauregard built a temporary line, 
throwing out the part that had been captured. The next 
morning he had 14,000 men against Hancock's 48,000. 
Hancock captured four of Beauregard's redans. On the 
17th he captured another redan, four guns, and 600 pris- 
oners, and the Confederates recaptured one redan and 
1000 prisoners. The Fifth corps and one division of the 
Sixth now came up. At night Beauregard withdrew to 
a line that had been in preparation forty-eight hours. At 
4 a. m. on the i8th the Second, Fifth, and Ninth corps 
attacked, with the Sixth in reserve. The whole Army 
of the Potomac was up, while reinforcements on the way 
to Beauregard were only 12,000 and were from three 
to five hours away. Meade's orders were to " assault 
by all the corps with their whole force, and at all haz- 
ards and as soon as possible." 

Rhodes says : 

". . .Grant and IMeade were now on the ground, and 
on June 16, 17, and 18 ordered successive assaults, which 
failed to take Petersburg, and resulted in a loss of about 
10,000 men. Owing to the much greater number of the 
Union soldiers, the attempt on the first two days was 
feasible ; but the work, according to one of Grant's staff, 
was not * equal to our previous fighting, owing to our 
heavy loss in superior officers.'. . ." 

On the 19th Grant ordered the army to rest under 

Rhodes says : 


" The Army of the Potomac was worn out. The con- 
tinual fighting for forty-five days at a disadvantage and 
without success, and the frequent marches by night, had 
exhausted and disheartened the men. . . . Indeed, a 
reconstruction and reorganization of the Army were 
necessary; these were made during the many weeks of 
inaction from June 18 to the spring of 1865, covered by 
the siege of Petersburg, which now commenced. . . ." 

Senator Grimes wrote: 

"June 19. Grant's campaign is regarded by mili- 
tary critics as being thus far a failure. He has lost a 
vast number of men, and is compelled to abandon his 
attempt to capture Richmond on the North side and cross 
the James river. The question is asked significantly, 
* Why did he not take his army south of the James river 
at once, and thus save seventy-five thousand men ? ' " 

On the 2 1st Grant sent the Second and the Sixth corps 
to extend his left, and Wilson, with 6000 cavalry, to de- 
stroy the Weldon, and to cut the Southside and Danville 
railroads. Lee attacked and defeated the two corps, and 
captured 1740 prisoners, four guns, a large quantity of 
small arms, and eight flags. Wilson fared still worse. 
His trains were fired and abandoned and his artillery 
and a large number of prisoners captured. He was glad 
to get back to the Union lines, with the remnant of his 
command hotly pursued by the Confederate cavalry. 

On the 2d of July Congress passed a resolution re- 
questing the President to appoint a day of " humiliation 
and prayer," that the people may " confess and repent 
of their manifold sins, implore the compassion and for- 
giveness of the Almighty, that, if consistent with His 


will, the existing rebellion may be suppressed," and " im- 
plore Him as the Supreme Ruler of the world not to 
destroy us as a people." The President " cordially " 
concurred, and the first Thursday in August was the ap- 
pointed day. 

" From " Chattanooga to Petersburg," by General 
*' Baldy " Smith : 

" July lo. In a confidential conversation with Gen- 
eral Grant I tried to show him the blunders of the late 
campaign of the Army of the Potomac, and the terrible 
waste of life that had resulted from what I considered 
a want of generalship in its present commander. Among 
other instances, I referred to the fearful slaughter at 
Cold Harbor on the 3d of June. General Grant went 
into the discussion, defending General Meade stoutly, 
but finally acknowledged, to use his own words, * that 
there had been a butchery at Cold Harbor, but that he 
had said nothing about it because it could do no good.' " 

Rhodes says : 

" Hardly any one now, I think, would speak of this 
campaign and its blunders as Meade's ; they were Grant's. 
Neither is it clear why Smith, July 10, 1864, should have 
imputed the responsibility for them to Meade, unless he 
was hitting Grant over Meade's shoulders." 

Lee's ruling passion was strong in death, and so he 
ordered Early to threaten Washington. 
Rhodes says : 

"If Early had profited by the moment of consterna- 
tion, he could have gone into Washington early on 


July II. He says there were only 20,400 men in the 
defenses, nearly all raw troops." 

If Early had been alone, no doubt he could have gone 
in and put up at Willard's. But as he had a tired army 
strung out on the roads it would have taken time to 
change from the line of march to the line of battle, and 
two divisions of the Sixth corps arrived from City Point 
at noon, long before Early could have made his dispo- 
sition for attack. 

Lee's tangible reason for sending Early to threaten 
Washington was to induce Grant to repeat Cold Harbor. 
He said : " It is so repugnant to Grant's principles and 
practice to send troops from him that I had hoped, be- 
fore resorting to it, he would have preferred attacking 

Another Cold Harbor at that time might have resulted 
in the triumph of the peace party, and Lee was mindful 
of the necessity of doing anything " honorable to aid 
that party." 

The fact is that Early had no thought of taking Wash- 
ington, and made no disposition of his forces with that 
intention, nor was Washington at that or any other 
time in danger of capture. 

Rhodes says: 

" Despondency and discouragement are words which 
portray the state of feeling at the North during the 
month of July, 1864, ^"d the closer one's knowledge of 
afifairs the gloomier was his view ; but the salient facts 
put into every one's mind the pertinent question, Who 
shall revive the withered hopes that bloomed on the open- 
ing of Grant's campaign? See New York World, July 
12. Yet this journal was fair in its treatment of Grant." 


Referring to Grant's dispatch to Sherman in which 
he said, " I shall make a desperate effort to get a position 
which will hold the enemy without the necessity of so 
many men," Lincoln telegraphed to Grant on the 17th of 
July: " Pressed as we are, by lapse of time, I am glad 
to hear you say this; and yet I do hope you may find a 
way that the effort shall not be desperate in the loss of 

The next day he called for 500,000 men, and ordered 
a draft after September 5 for the unfilled quotas. 

In the latter part of July, Lieut. Col. Henry Pleasants, 
of the 48th Pennsylvania regiment, conceived the idea 
of blowing up a Confederate salient that was only about 
500 feet from his position. By the 23d his mine was 
completed and charged with 8000 pounds of powder. 
On the 28th Grant sent Hancock and Sherman with the 
second corps and two divisions of cavalry to the north 
of the river to cause Lee to send troops to oppose them. 
Hancock had orders to return secretly in the night by 
the 29th. 

The mine was exploded on the morning of the 30th. 
The Confederate line was blown up, leaving a hole, or 
crater as it is called, 135 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 
30 feet deep. Two hundred Confederates were killed. 
Burnside's troops were massed immediately in front of 
the crater, then the Ninth and the Eighteenth corps; 
Hancock with the Second corps was to support the at- 
tack. The Confederate force holding the lines at Peters- 
burg was 13,000, while Grant had 65,000 for the assault. 
The assault was led by Ledlie's division of the Ninth 
corps, followed by Ferrero's negro division. Some idea 
of the demoralization Grant had wrought in the Army 
of the Potomac may be had from the following receipts 


from articles written by soldiers of Ledlie's division who 
were in the crater: 

George L. Kilmer, of the Ninth corps, in the Century, 
September, 1887, says: 

" First, there was a feeling that the soldiers had been 
pushed persistently into slaughter pens from the Wilder- 
ness down, and needlessly sacrificed by such methods. 
Second, there was a determination to rebel against fur- 
ther slap-dash assaults. . . ." 

Major William H. Powell, of the Ninth corps, in the 
Century, September, 1887: 

". . . With the notable exception of Gen. Robert B. 
Potter, not a division commander was in the crater or 
connecting lines, nor was there a corps commander on 
the immediate scene of action. . . . 

" There was no means of getting food or water to 
them (the men), for which they were suffering. The 
midsummer sun shone upon their heads until waves of 
moisture produced by the exhalations from this mass 
slowly arose in perceptible horizontal layers ; wounded 
men died there begging piteously for a drink of water, 
a drop of which was not to be had, for the men had long 
since drained their canteens. Soldiers extended their 
tongues to dampen their parched lips until they seemed 
to hang from their mouths like those of thirsty dogs, and 
yet they were kept waiting in those almost boiling caul- 
drons, suffering with thirst and worse, and with their all 
night preparations and their fearful morning work. . . . 
" Previous to this last movement I had again left the 
crater and gone to General Ledlie, and had urged him to 
try to have something done to the right and left of the 


crater, saying that every man who got into the trenches 
to the right or left of it used them as a means of escape 
to the crater, and the enemy was re-occupying them as 
fast as our men left. All the satisfaction I received was 
an order to go back and tell the brigade commanders to 
get their men out and press forward to Cemetery Hill. 
This talk and these orders, coming from a commander 
sitting in a bomb-proof inside the Union lines was dis- 
gusting, ..." 

George L. Kilmer says: 

". . . Then the colored troops broke and scattered, 
and pandemonium reigned. The bravest lost heart, and 
the men who distrusted the negroes vented their feelings 
freely. Some colored men came into the crater, and 
there they found worse fate than death in the charges. 
It was believed among the whites that the enemy would 
give no quarter to negroes or to the whites taken with 
them, and so to be shut up with blacks in the crater was 
equal to a doom of death. . . ." 

Major Powell says: 

". . . It was now evident that the enemy did not fear 
a demonstration from any other quarter, as they began 
to collect troops for a decisive assault. On observing 
this, I left the crater and reported to General Ledlie, 
whom I found seated in a bomb-proof with General 
Ferrero, that some means ought to be devised for with- 
drawing the mass of men from the crater, without ex- 
posing them to the terrible fire which was kept up by the 
enemy; that if some picks and shovels could be found, 
the men in an hour could open a covered way by which 
they could be withdrawn; that the enemy was making 


Facing- page 223 


every preparation for a determined assault on the crater, 
and, disorganized as the troops were, they could make 
no permanent resistance. Not one implement of any 
kind could be found; instead, the proposition was re- 
ceived with disfavor." 

About 2 p. m. the Confederates charged and put an 
end to the suffering. They found nearly 2000 men alive 
and dead in the crater. 

The military court censured Ledlie, Burnside, Wilcox, 
Ferrero, and Colonel Bliss, and expressed their judg- 
ment to the effect that in the absence of the commanding 
general the whole force should have been under the com- 
mand of one officer. 

But the commanding general was not absent. At 10 
a. m. Grant telegraphed to Halleck that he was just from 
the front. He had left his cowardly generals in bomb- 
proofs and his men in the crater, and ridden leisurely 
to his comfortable headquarters at City Point, 

Rhodes says : 

" There is little or no evidence, so far as I know, ex- 
hibiting the dejection of Grant at the failure of the high 
hopes and expectations which filled his soul when he 
crossed the Rapidan. His sturdy disposition and strong 
will, the detennination that he must succeed, prevented 
probably the admission to himself of failure, and even 
if they had not, his stolid countenance would have con- 
cealed it. Yet two circumstances seem to indicate that 
the bitterness of disappointment was his share. It was 
commonly believed in the army that his misfortunes had 
driven him again to drink, and on this account and others, 
Butler, with crafty method, acquired a hold on him which 
prevented him from acting for the best interests of the 


". . . The intense gloom displayed itself in two forms, 
in eagerness for peace and in dissatisfaction with Lin- 
coln. * I know,' wrote Greeley to Lincoln, August 9, 
* that nine-tenths of the American people, North and 
South, are anxious for peace, peace on almost any terms, 
and utterly sick of human slaughter and devastation. 
... I beg you, implore you, to inaugurate or invite pro- 
posals for peace forthwith. And in case peace cannot 
now be made, consent to an armistice for one year, each 
party to retain unmolested all it now holds, but the rebel 
ports to be opened. Meantime let a national convention 
be held, and there will surely be no more war at all 

". . . Thomas A. Scott, who was always ready to 
help efficiently the government in a time of trouble, and 
who now offered the services of himself and his railroad, 
telegraphed from Philadelphia to Stanton : ' The apathy 
in the public mind is fearful. It might well be doubted 
whether men in sufficient numbers and money in a suffi- 
cient amount would be forthcoming to complete the work 
of conquering the South.' " 

Among many absurdities in Grant's " Memoirs " is 
the following: 

" Criticism has been made by writers on the campaign 
from the Rapidan to the James river that all the loss of 
life could have been obviated by moving the army there 
on transports. Richmond was fortified and intrenched 
so perfectly that one man inside to defend was more than 
equal to five outside besieging or assaulting. To get 
possession of Lee's army was the first great object. 
With the capture of his army, Richmond would neces- 
sarily follow. It was better to fight him outside of his 


stronghold than in it. If the Army of the Potomac had 
been moved bodily to the James river by water, Lee 
could have moved a part of his forces back to Richmond, 
called Beauregard from the South to reinforce it, and 
with the balance moved on to Washington. Then, too, 
I ordered a move, simultaneously with that of the Army 
of the Potomac, up the James river by a formidable army 
already collected at the mouth of the river. ..." 

Lee's strategy all through the war was designed to 
keep his army out of " his stronghold," because he knew 
he did not have men enough, and could not get supplies 
enough, to hold it. 

McClellan moved his army by water to the White 
House on the Pamunkey river in 1862, and no attempt 
to take \A^ashington was made. At his best Lee never 
attempted to take Washington, for it, too, was fortified, 
and stronger than Richmond ever was. It is not likely 
he would have attempted it when the Confederacy was 
on its last legs and a " formidable army moving up the 
James river." 

Grant had three alternatives. First, he could trans- 
port his army to City Point by water. Second, he could 
march by his left flank to that point, avoiding battle un- 
less attacked, in which event he would have had what he 
so much desired, — 'the enemy in the open. Third, he 
could move directly on Lee's army, with his object to 
get possession of it and end the war. He chose 
the third alternative. He made no mistake. It was 
sound military sense, for there was no reason to sup- 
pose that the Army of Northern Virginia in its worn 
and tattered condition could longer resist the magnificent 
Army of the Potomac, double its strength in numbers. 
This, then, was Grant's real reason for his direct march 


on Lee. He thought, and had every reason to think, he 
could beat Lee in a pitched battle and end the war. 

He admits his disappointment. He admits that he 
expected " to get possession of Lee's army " in the fol- 
lowing dispatch : 

" Cold Harbor, June 5, 1864. 
" Major General Halleck, 

" Chief of Staff of the Army. 
". . . Without a greater sacrifice of human life than 
I am willing to make, all cannot be accomplished that I 
had designed. . . . 

" U. S. Grant, 
" Lieutenant General." 

Rhodes says : 

" Grant had hoped to destroy or defeat totally Lee's 
army north of Richmond, and, failing to do either, had 
decided to transfer his troops to the south of the James, 
and from that quarter besiege the Confederates in their 
capital. . . ." 

When Grant crossed the Rapidan he expected to gain 
a decisive victory and end the war. In that he made a 
most disastrous failure, so when he comes to write his 
report he says : " Second, to hammer continuously 
against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, 
until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should 
be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the 
loyal section of our common country to the constitution 
and the laws of the land." 

It will be seen that he substitutes for the original ob- 
ject, the " capture of Lee's army," attrition, which had 


become a condition in his army at any rate before it was 
a theory in his reports. 

The campaign of 1864 was the last of Lee's campaigns, 
the end of the war, and of his career. 

Steam and electricity had accelerated military oper- 
ations, and consequently all modern wars have been of 
short duration; but Lee in his last campaign, though 
overwhelmed with numbers and resources, succeeded in 
prolonging the war another year, making it the longest 
of modern wars. 

Any one who studies the campaign of 1864 will be 
puzzled. He will not know whether to pronounce Lee 
the greatest general that ever lived, or Grant the poorest. 

Lee's staff officers, Fitz Lee, and other friends of Lee 
wrote books in which they charged Longstreet with being 
slow at Gettysburg and in the Wilderness ; so when Long- 
street came to write his book he was not content to con- 
fine himself to a refutation of these charges, but furiously 
assailed their authors and General Lee himself. His 
criticisms of Lee are intemperate and in some cases 
ridiculous; but they and the stupidity of the books of 
Lee's staff officers and generals, together with the fact 
that he failed to conquer Confederate independence in the 
Maryland or Pennsylvania campaign, cause historians to 
form an estimate of him of which the following quota- 
tion from Rhodes is a fair example : 

" His victories on his own soil were extraordinary ; 
but if we compare his campaigns of invasion with those 
bf Napoleon, we shall see how far he fell short when 
he undertook operations in an unfriendly country, al- 
though the troops that followed him were in fighting 
qualities unsurpassed. ' Except in equipment,' writes 


General Alexander, * I think a better army, better nerved 
up to its work, never marched upon a battle-field.' With 
such soldiers, if Lee had been as great a general as Na- 
poleon, Gettysburg had been an Austerlitz, Washington 
and the Union had fallen. ..." 

Creasy, in his " Decisive Battles of the World," says : 

". . . The strength of the army under the Duke of 
Wellington at Waterloo was 49,608 infantry, 12,402 
cavalry, and 5645 artillerymen with 156 guns. But of 
this total of 67,655 men scarcely 24,000 were British, a 
circumstance of very serious importance, if Napoleon's 
own estimate of the relative value of the troops of differ- 
ent nations is to be taken. In the Emperor's own words, 
speaking of this campaign: *A French soldier would 
not be equal to more than one English soldier, but he 
would not be afraid to meet two Dutchmen, Prussians, 
or soldiers of the Confederation.' There were about 
6000 men of the old German Legion with the Duke; 
these were veteran troops, and of good quality. Of the 
rest of the army the Hanoverians and Brunswickers 
proved themselves worthy of confidence and praise. But 
the Nassauers, Dutch, and Belgians were almost worth- 
less ; and not a few of them were justly suspected of a 
strong wish to fight, if they fought at all, under the 
French eagles rather than against them. . . . 

" Napoleon's army at Waterloo consisted of 48,950 
infantry, 15,765 cavalry, 7232 artillerymen, being a total 
of 71,947 men, and 246 guns. They were the flower 
of the National forces of France; and of all the numer- 
ous gallant armies which that martial land has poured 
forth, never was one braver, or better disciplined, or 
better led than the host that took up its position at 
Waterloo on the morning of the i8th of June, 181 5. . . ." 


Napoleon, according to his own statement, had the 
advantage over Wellington in numbers, while Lee was 
at least 22,200 men weaker than Aleade. Napoleon's 
arms, ammunition, equipment, etc., were fully equal to 
or superior to Wellington's, as France was the great 
military nation of the age, while Lee's were very much 
inferior to Meade's. Meade's position at Gettysburg 
was far stronger than Wellington's at Waterloo. Na- 
poleon's line of communication was safe; Lee's in immi- 
nent peril. So that before arriving at the conclusion 
that had Lee been a Napoleon, " Gettysburg had been an 
Austerlitz, Washington and the Union had fallen," it 
would be well to inquire why Napoleon did not make an 
Austerlitz of Waterloo. 

Napoleon lost his army and himself. His retreat was 
the most disgraceful and disastrous on record. 

Of it Colonel Lemonnier-Delaposse says: 

" What a hideous spectacle ! The mountain torrent, 
that uproots and whirls along with it every momentary 
obstacle, is a feeble image of that heap of men, of horses, 
of equipages, rushing one upon another; gathering be- 
fore the least obstacle which dams up their way for a 
few seconds, only to form a mass which overthrows 
everything in the path which it forces for itself. Woe 
to him whose footing failed in that deluge ! He was 
crushed, trampled to death! . . . 

" We drew near Beaumont, when suddenly a regiment 
of horse was seen debouching from a wood on our left. 
The column that we followed shouted out, * The Prus- 
sians ! The Prussians ! ' and galloped off in utter dis- 
order. The troops that thus alarmed them were not a 
tenth part of their number, and were in reality our own 
8th Hussars, who wore green uniforms. But the panic 


had been brought even this far from the battle-field and 
the disorganized column galloped into Beaumont, which 
was already crowded with our infantry. . . . 

" Being still anxious to procure some food for the 
general and ourselves, even if it were but a loaf of am- 
munition bread, I left the house and rode into the town. 
I saw pillage going on in every direction ; open caissons, 
stripped and half broken, blocked up the streets. The 
pavement was covered with plundered and torn baggage. 
Pillagers and runaways, such were all the comrades I 
met with. Disgusted at them, I strove, sword in hand, 
to stop one of the plunderers ; but more active than I, 
he gave me a bayonet stab in my left arm, in which I 
fortunately caught his thrust, which had been aimed full 
at my body. He disappeared among the crowd through 
which I could not force my horse. My spirit of disci- 
pline had made me forget that in such circumstances the 
soldier is a mere wild beast. But to be wounded by 
a fellow countryman after having passed unharmed 
through all the perils of Ouatre Bras and Waterloo! 
This did seem hard indeed. . . ." 

Lee stood in front of Meade all day on the 4th, and 
then retreated slowly to the Potomac, where he con- 
fronted him until the 13th. 

Lee never expected to capture Washington and con- 
quer Confederate independence. We have it in his own 
words : 

" Headquarters Orange County, 

" February 3, 1864. 
" His Excellency Jefferson Davis, 
" President Confederate States. 
" Mr. President : The approach of spring causes 


me to consider with great anxiety the probable action of 
the enemy's army and the possible operations of ours in 
the ensuing campaign. If we could take the initiative 
and fall upon them unexpectedly, we might derange their 
plans and embarrass them the wdiole summer. ... If 
I could draw Longstreet secretly and rapidly to me, I 
might succeed in forcing General Meade back to Wash- 
ington, and exciting sufficient apprehension at least for 
their position to weaken any movement against ours. 
. . . We are not in condition, and never have been, in 
my opinion, to invade the enemy's country with a pros- 
pect of permanent benefit. But we can alarm and em- 
barrass him to some extent, and thus prevent him from 
undertaking anything of magnitude against us. . . . 
" I am, with great respect, 

" Your obedient servant, 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

This letter also shows that if Lee had been strong 
enough he would have repeated his strategy of 1862 and 
1863, and would have prolonged the war another year. 

Grant says : 

". . . Anything that could have prolonged the war a 
year beyond the time that it did finally close would prob- 
ably have exhausted the North to such an extent that 
they might then have abandoned the contest and agreed 
to a separation. . . ." 

" Frederick the Great," says Carlyle, " always got to 
know his man, after fighting him a month or two, and 
took liberties with him or did not take them accordingly." 
The same thing has been said of Lee, but without reason. 


Lee took liberties with Lincoln's generals before he had 
fought them a month or two, because he knew that they 
carried Washington, " the old man of the sea," on their 

Rhodes, in speaking of Lee's operations against Pope, 
says : " He devised a plan contrary, the military critics 
say, * to the recognized principles of strategy.' " Macau- 
lay expresses the same idea regarding Peterborough's 
generalship in Spain. 

Sir Edward Hamley says : 

" Nothing is more common than to find in writings on 
military matters reference to the * rules of war,' and 
assertions such as that some general ' violated every prin- 
ciple of war,' or that some other general owed his success 
to * knowing when to dispense with the rules of war.' 
It would be difficult to say what these rules are, or in 
what code they are embodied. . . . Jomini expresses vir- 
tually the same view. 

". . . Clausewitz has declared that the theory of the 
art of war is valuable just in so far as it assists to guide 
a man through the vast labyrinth of military experience, 
and to prepare his mind to be ready to act for itself under 
the emergencies of actual war; but he adds, it must re- 
nounce all pretensions to accompany him on to the field 
of battle. . . ." 

From all of which it would appear that there are no 
" rules of war " nor " recognized principles of strategy," 
and that even the theory of the art of war should be left 
at home, and brains and energy substituted. 

Lee's apparent recklessness and his disregard of the 
" rules of war " and " recognized principles of strategy " 
are easily accounted for. 


He realized from the first that the only hope of suc- 
cess was in prolonging the war, and that the only way 
to prolong it was to threaten Washington. 

If he had lost Richmond, he could not have threatened 
Washington. Not only that, but the Army of the Po- 
tomac would have been relieved of the defense of Wash- 
ington, and would have been free to operate against the 
armies in the South. 

Then, too, Lee's army, deprived of the support of 
Richmond and Virginia, would have grown weaker every 
day. Therefore, his whole object during the entire war 
was to keep the Army of the Potomac away from Rich- 
mond; and in doing that he had to resort to strategy 
which appeared reckless in the extreme, but which was 
nevertheless absolutely necessary. 

Now, if we consider in addition his natural disposition, 
we can easily account for all his reckless strategy and 

Longstreet says of it : 

" As a commander he was much of the Wellington * up 
and at 'em ' style. He found it hard, the enemy in sight, 
to withhold his blows. . , . When the hunt was up, his 
combativeness was overruling." 

The absurd fear that he would capture Washington 
was his main stay. But for it the war would have been 
fought on other lines. Some of the scares of the Wash- 
ington authorities were really ludicrous. 

In General Hooker's testimony on the conduct of the 
war he says : 

" I may here state that while at Fairfax Court House 
my cavalry was reinforced by that of Major General 


Stahel. The latter numbered 6100 sabres, and had been 
engaged in picketing a line from Occoguan river to 
Goose creek. This line was concentric to, and a portion 
of it within, the line held by my army. 

" The force opposed to them was Mosby's guerillas, 
numbering about 200 (Mosby says 30) ; and, if the re- 
ports of the newspapers were to be believed, this whole 
party was killed two or three times during the winter. 

" From the time I took command of the Army of the 
Potomac there was no evidence that any force of the 
enemy, other than that above named, was within one 
hundred miles of Washington ; and yet the planks on 
the chain bridge were taken up at night during the greater 
part of the winter and spring." 

Mosby was perched in the mountains, and Washington 
was as scared of him as an old hen would have been 
had he been a chicken hawk. 

But the old Merrimac gave them the scare of their 

Rhodes says : 

". . . The next morning, in Washington, Seward, 
Chase, Stanton, and Wells hastened to the White House 
to confer with the President. . . . Stanton was especially 
excited. * I have no doubt,' he said, ' that the monster 
is at this moment on her way to Washington.' Looking 
out of the window, which commanded a view of the Po- 
tomac for many miles, he continued, ' Not unlikely we 
shall have from one of her guns a shell or cannon ball 
in the White House before we leave this room.' . . ." 

Creasy says : 

". . . Niebuhr, after referring to the military * blun- 


ders ' of Mithridates, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, 
Pyrrhus, and Hannibal, uses these remarkable words : 
' The Duke of Wellington is, I believe, the only general 
in whose conduct of war we cannot discover any im- 
portant mistakes.' . . ." 

Artemus Ward, in explaining the failure of an enter- 
prise, said : " I tried to do too much — and did it." 
So it was with Mithridates, Frederick, Napoleon, Pyr- 
rhus, Hannibal, and Lee. In Lee's Maryland campaign 
he might have been content to let Antietam go. The 
capture of Harper's Ferry alone would have been a splen- 
did climax of the glorious campaign which had raised 
the siege of Richmond, driven Pope into Washington, 
and thrown McClellan's splendid army from the James 
river to Maryland, and prolonged the war a year. The 
Gettysburg campaign commenced with the miracle of 
Chancellorsville, followed by the miracle of throwing 
Hooker's army from Fredericksburg to Pennsylvania. 
It prolonged the war another year, and Lee could have 
contented himself with the victory of the first day as 
the grand climax of the campaign. 

Jackson was probably as pugnacious as Lee, but he 
had the will power to suppress his inclinations. 

" God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell 

" Through the blessing of an ever kind Providence I 
passed Strasburg before the Federal armies under Gen- 
eral Shields and Fremont effected the contemplated junc- 
tion in my rear." 

Jackson could thank God for helping him run away 
as heartily as for a victory. 


Creasy says, speaking of Napoleon's opinion of Han- 
nibal : 

". . . Napoleon said at St. Helena that Caesar was a 
great soldier, but he had Roman veterans against the 
barbarian Gauls; Alexander was a great soldier, but he 
conquered the Persian hordes with the trained troops of 
Greece ; while Hannibal created an army from hetero- 
geneous material, and led it successfully against the 
trained veterans of Rome. He therefore considered 
Hannibal the greatest military genius of ancient times. 
He places Frederick the Great first in rank of modern 
generals, because he held out for seven years against the 
armies of Austria, Russia, France, and Sweden. It will 
be seen that Napoleon formed his estimate of soldiers 
largely on the odds against them, rather than on success 
in the abstract. . . ." 

It is doubtful if any general ever fought under such 
disadvantages as Lee. Always inferior in numbers, 
arms, ammunition, supplies of subsistence and transpor- 
tation, he had six rivers on his flank all in possession of 
the enemy's powerful navy, which accomplished more 
in the subjugation of the Confederacy than did the 
armies. But for the James river McClellan's army would 
have been destroyed in 1862; and had there been no 
James, Pamunkey, and York rivers, and no Chesapeake 
bay, Grant would have found himself in an awkward 
position in 1864. 

After Gettysburg, in September, Longstreet was or- 
dered to Tennessee. He wrote to Lee as follows : 

" If I did not think our move a necessary one, my 
regrets at leaving you would be distressing to me, as 
it seems to be with the officers and men of my command. 


Believing it to be necessary, I hope to accept it and my 
other personal inconveniences cheerfully and hopefully. 
All that we have to be proud of has been accomplished 
under your eye and under your orders. Our affections 
for you are stronger, if it is possible for them to be 
stronger, than our admiration for you." 

This was written of course before Longstreet wrote 
his book, and it would be better for his reputation if he 
had never written anything else. 

From Harper's Weekly: 

" As we have several times pointed out, there was no 
a priori ground for supposing that Mr. Roosevelt, being 
the son of a Southern woman, would share the antipathy 
with which Southerners used to be regarded by some of 
the Northern abolitionists; while, as a matter of fact, 
he has made no secret of his admiration for the incom- 
parable gallantry displayed by the Confederates in their 
struggle for separate political existence. He has re- 
corded in print his conviction that ROBERT E. LEE 
was the greatest military genius ever produced by the 
English-speaking race. In other words, the President 
has ranked the Confederate commander-in-chief above 
Cromwell, Marlborough, and Wellington, whom he 
would place in the same category with Grant. The cir- 
cumstance that Grant beat Lee in the end no more proves 
the former to have been the greater general than the 
superiority of Scipio Africanus to Hannibal is shown 
by the outcome of the battle of Zama, or than that of 
Wellington to Napoleon is attested by the latter's defeat 
at Waterloo." 

Creasy says : 


" * Twice,' says Arnold, * has there been witnessed the 
struggle of the highest individual genius against the re- 
sources and institutions of a great nation; and in both 
cases the nation has been victorious. For seventeen 
years Hannibal strove against Rome; for sixteen years 
Napoleon strove against England; the efforts of the first 
ended at Zama, those of the second at Waterloo.' ..." 

Now we may add a third. Lee strove against the 
United States, and his effort ended at Appomattox. 
Hannibal, Napoleon, and Lee, the greatest military 
geniuses, all suffered defeat in the end, because even 
genius itself is not proof against main strength and 



CITY POINT was an ideal base. At the confluence 
of the James and the Appomattox, just below Rich- 
mond and Petersburg, — a harbor which accommodated 
Grant's fleet, a forest of masts, — within a few hours of 
Fortress Monroe, Baltimore, Washington, and New 
York, it was, with all navigable waters in possession of 
the United States navy, absolutely safe against a power 
with no navy. But its superlative preeminence lay in 
the fact that it was within easy reach of the arteries, the 
railroads, that were vital to Lee's army and Richmond. 
Nicolay and Hay say: 

". . . Grant was every day pushing his formidable 
left wing nearer the only roads by which Lee could es- 
cape ; Thomas was threatening the Confederate communi- 
cation with Tennessee ; Sheridan was moving for the 
last time up the Valley of the Shenandoah to abolish 
Early; while from the South the redoubtable column of 
Sherman, — the men who had taken Vicksburg, who had 
scaled the heights of Chattanooga, and having marched 
through Georgia had left Savannah loyal and Charleston 
evacuated, — were moving Northward with the steady 
pace and irresistible progress of a tragic fate. . . ." 

As Grant extended his left wing Lee extended his 
right until his " stronghold," as Grant called it, was 
thirty miles long and across two rivers, and so weak that 



in places in the woods where it could not be seen it was 
held with a picket line. 

Nicolay and Hay say of the Army of the Potomac : 

". . . It was a great army; it was the result of all 
the power and wisdom of the Government. . . ." 

To oppose this " great army " Lee had about 50,000 
men, and they were deserting by the hundred every 
night, partly because of hunger, but more generally be- 
cause their homes in the South were now in the enemy's 
lines, and they were anxious as to the fate of their 
families at the hands of the negroes and such barbarians 
as Sherman. 

An idea of the condition of Lee's army may be had 
from the following correspondence : 

" Headquarters 
" Army of Northern Virginia, 

" September 2, 1864. 
" His Excellency Jefferson Davis, 
" President Confederate States. 
" As matters now stand we have no troops available 
to meet movements of the enemy, or strike when oppor- 
tunity presents, without taking them from the trenches 
and exposing some point. The enemy's position enables 
him to move his troops to the right or left without our 
knowledge until he has reached the point at which he 
aims, and we are then compelled to hurry our men to 
meet him, incurring the risk of being too late to check 
his progress, and the additional risk of the advantage he 
may derive from their absence. This was fully illus- 
trated in the late demonstration north of the James river, 
which called troops from our line there, who, if present, 
might have prevented the occupation of the Weldon rail- 


road. These rapid and distant movements also fatigue 
and exhaust our men, greatly impairing their efficiency 
in battle. . . . Our ranks are constantly diminishing by 
battle and disease, and few recruits are received. The 
consequences are inevitable, and I feel confident that the 
time has come when no man capable of bearing arms 
should be excused. 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

F. G. Ruffin, Subsistence Department, C. S. A., says: 

". . . On the 5th of December, 1864, I brought the 
condition of things to the attention of the Secretary of 
War, appending a statement of the subsistence on hand, 
which showed that we had nine days' rations for General 
Lee's army. I quoted General Lee's letter to the com- 
missary general, that day received, in which he stated 
his men were deserting on account of short rations. 
But no action was taken. On December 14, nine days 
afterward. General Lee telegraphed to Mr. Davis that 
his army was without meat. Fortunately disaster was 
momentarily averted by the timely arrival of supplies at 

General Lee sent the following telegram to the Secre- 
tary of War, the Hon. James A. Seddon : 

" Headquarters 
"Army of Northern Virginia, 

" January 11, 1865. 
" There is nothing within reach of this army to be im- 
pressed. The country is swept clean. Our only reliance 
is on the railroad. We have but two days' supplies. . . . 

" R. E. Lee." 


On the 15th of January a combined naval and land 
force captured Fort Fisher and closed the port of Wil- 
mington. For nearly three years after all other ports 
were closed an occasional blockade runner, loaded with 
cotton, got away from Wilmington, and one occasionally 
got in with supplies of subsistence, arms, and munitions 
of war. The loss of Wilmington was a greater disaster 
than the loss of Vicksburg or Atlanta, for, little as the 
commerce was, it was vital to the Confederacy. 

General Lee issued the following circular : 

" Headquarters 
" Army of Northern Virginia, 

" January 25, 1865. 
" To arm and equip an additional force of cavalry 
then in need of carbines, revolvers, pistols, saddles, and 
other accouterments of mounted men. ... I therefore 
urge all persons not in the service to deliver promptly 
to some of the officers designated below such arms and 
equipment (especially those suitable for cavalry) as they 
have, and to report to those officers the names of such 
persons as neglect to surrender those in their posses- 
sion. . . . 

"R. E. Lee, 

Grant says : 

". . . It was my belief that while the enemy could 
get no more recruits, they were losing at least a regiment 
a day, taking it throughout the entire army, by deser- 
tions alone. Then by casualties of war, sickness, and 
other natural causes their losses were much heavier. It 
was a mere question of arithmetic to calculate how long 
they could hold out while that rate of depletion was going 


on. Of course long before their army would be thus 
reduced to nothing, the army which we had in the field 
would have been able to capture theirs. . . ." 

Notwithstanding Grant was assured of success in the 
spring, he was anxious for immediate peace and it was 
through his influence that Lincoln came to Fortress Mon- 
roe to meet the Confederate Commission in the Hampton 
Roads Conference. 

From the message, in cipher, of President Lincoln to 
the House of Representatives on the Hampton Roads 
Conference : 

" War Department. 

" The following telegram, received at Washington at 
4.25 a. m., February 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., 
February i, 1865: 
'' ' To Hon. E. M. Stanton, 
" ' Secretary of War. 

" ' Now that the interview between Major Eckert, 
under his written instructions, and Mr. Stephens and 
party has ended, I will state confidentially, but not offi- 
cially, to become a matter of record, that I am convinced, 
upon conversation with Messrs. Stephens and Hunter, 
that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to 
restore peace and Union. I have not felt at liberty to 
express even views of my own, or to account for my 
reticence. This has placed me in an awkward position, 
which I could have avoided by not seeing them in the 
first instance. I fear now their going back without any 
expression to any one in authority will have a bad influ- 
ence. At the same time I recognize the difficulties in 
the way of receiving these informal commissioners at 
this time, and I do not know what to recommend. I am 
sorry, however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an inter- 


view with the two named in this dispatch, if not all three 
now within our lines. . . . 

" ' U. S. Grant, 
" ' Lieutenant General.' " 
" This dispatch of General Grant changed my purpose, 
and accordingly I telegraphed to him and the Secretary 
of War as follows : 

" ' War Department, Washington, 

" ' February 2, 1865. 
" ' To Lieutenant General Grant, 
" * City Point, Va. 
" * Say to the gentlemen that I will meet them per- 
sonally at Fortress Monroe as soon as I can get there. 
(Sent in cipher 9 a. m.) 

" ' Lincoln.' " 

Grant was tired of " the job." Unlike Lee, he never 
had any love for a military life. Finance was more con- 
genial, but he was not as lucky in Wall street as he had 
been in the field. 

The Hampton Roads conference was the result of 
two visits of Mr. Francis P. Blair, the " Warwick " of 
the Republican party, to Richmond. His object was to 
oppose the French occupation of Mexico, and in that 
way end the Lincoln war. While disclaiming any au- 
thority, he gave Mr, Davis to understand that the 
Washington Government was in accord with his plan. 
Accordingly, Judge Campbell, Mr. Stephens, and Mr. 
Hunter were designated to attend the conference, which 
amounted to nothing. 

Stephens says : 

". . . He (Lincoln) persisted in asserting that he 
could not enter into any agreement upon this subject, 
nor upon any other matters of that sort, with parties in 


arms against the Government. Mr. Hunter interposed, 
and, in illustration of the propriety of the Executive en- 
tering into agreements with persons in arms against the 
acknowledged rightful authority referred to, repeated 
instances of this character between Charles I, of Eng- 
land, and the people in arms against him. Mr. Lincoln 
in reply to this said: ' I do not profess to be posted in 
history. On all such matters I will turn you over to 
Seward. All I distinctly remember about the case of 
Charles I is that he lost his head in the end.' " 

Mr. Davis was very much disappointed, and thought 
that Mr, Lincoln had been influenced by the fall of Fort 

When Stephens returned from the Hampton Roads 
conference Davis called a public meeting at the African 
church. Stephens says of Davis's speech : 

" The occasion and the effect of his speech, as well as 
the circumstances under which it was made, caused the 
minds of not a few to revert to like appeals by Rienzi and 
Demosthenes. While it was well calculated to awaken 
associations and suggest comparisons of that sort, it, 
nevertheless, by the character of its policy, equally re- 
minded me of the famous charge of the ' Six Hundred ' 
at Balaklava, of which some one — I forget who — in 
witnessing it, said, in substance : * It is brilliant ; it is 
grand ; but it is not war.' However much I admired the 
heroism of the sentiments expressed, yet in his general 
views of policy to be pursued in the then situation I 
could not concur. I saw nothing to prevent Sherman 
himself from proceeding right on to Richmond and at- 
tacking Lee in rear, to say nothing of any movements 
by Grant, who then had an army in front, of not much, 
if any, under 200,000 men. Lee's forces w^ere not over 


one- fourth that number. Sherman's army when united 
with Schofield's and Terry's, which were joining him 
from Wilmington, North CaroHna, would be swelled to 
near 100,000, . . . When the program of action, thus 
indicated by Mr, Davis in our interviews as well as in 
his message and the speech referred to, was clearly re- 
solved upon, I then, for the first time, in view of all the 
surroundings, considered the cause as utterly hope- 
less. . . ," 

Stephens refused to speak at the African church meet- 
ing and also at one in the Capitol Square a few days 
later. He says : 

" I declined because I could not undertake to impress 
upon the minds of the people the idea that they could 
do what I believed to be impossible, or to inspire in them 
hopes which I did not believe could ever be realized. 
... It was then I withdrew from Richmond. ... I 
left Richmond in no ill humor with INIr. Davis. (9th of 

Stephens was solitary and alone in his opinion. The 
Governrhent, the soldiers in the army, and the people in 
Richmond were firmly of the opinion that the war would 
go on indefinitely and ultimately result in independence. 
It was an unaccountable hallucination, 

" Headquarters 
" Army of Northern Virginia, 

" February 8, 1865. 

" Hon. Jas. A. Seddon, Secretary of War, 

" Richmond, Va. 

"Sir: All the disposable force of the right wing of 

the army has been operating against the enemy beyond 

Hatcher's Run since Sunday. Yesterday, the most in- 

c/yy^z^ c-^vz^.r^^^^^<^^^^^^>c^ 

Facing page 247 


clement day of the winter, they had to be retained in line 
of battle, having been in the same condition the two 
previous days and nights. I regret to be obliged to state 
that under these circumstances, heightened by assaults and 
fire of the enemy, some of the men had been without meat 
for three days, and all were suffering from reduced ra- 
tions and scant clothing, exposed to battle, cold, hail and 
sleet. I have directed Colonel Cole, chief commissary, 
who reports he has not a pound of meat at his disposal, 
to visit Richmond and see if nothing can be done. If 
some change is not made and the Commissary Depart- 
ment reorganized, I apprehend dire results. . . . Our 
cavalry has to be dispersed for want of forage. Fitz 
Lee's and Lomax's divisions are scattered because sup- 
plies cannot be transported where their services are re- 
quired. I had to bring W. F. Lee's division forty miles 
Sunday night to get him in position. , . . 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

" Headquarters, Petersburg, 

" February 2.2, 1865. 
" Hon. J. C. Breckinridge, 

" Secretary of War, Richmond. 
". . . The cavalry and artillery of the army are still 
scattered for want of provender, and our supply and 
ammunition trains, which ought to be with the army in 
case of a sudden movement, are absent collecting sup- 
plies in West Virginia and North Carolina. You will 
see to what straits we are reduced. But I trust to work 
out. " With great respect, 

" Your obt. servant, 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 


" Headquarters, Petersburg, 

"March 17, 1865. 
" Hon. J. C Breckinridge, 

" Secretary of War, Richmond. 
". . . Now I do not see how I can sustain even our 
small force of cavalry around Richmond. I have had 
this morning to send Gen. W. H. F. Lee's division back 
to Stony Creek, whence I had called it in the last few 
days, because I cannot provide it with forage. . . . 

"R. E. Lee, 
" General." 

There was at least one pleasant incident in the siege 
of Richmond. 

Nicolay and Hay say: 

" We may assume that it was the anticipated important 
military events rather than the presence of Capt. Robert 
T. Lincoln at Grant's headquarters which induced the 
general on the 20th of March, 1865, to invite the Presi- 
dent and Mrs. Lincoln to make a visit to the camp near 
Richmond ; and on the 22d they and their younger son, 
Thomas, nicknamed * Tad,' proceeded in the steamer 
River Queen from Washington to City Point, where 
General Grant with his family and staff were occupying 
a pretty group of huts on the bank of the James river, 
overlooking the harbor, which was full of vessels of all 
classes, both war and merchant, with wharves and ware- 
houses on an extensive scale. Here, making his home 
on the steamer that brought him, the President remained 
ten days, enjoying what was probably the most satisfac- 
tory relaxation in which he had been able to indulge 
during his whole presidential service. . . ." 

City Point was not only an ideal base, but a convenient 
pleasure resort for Mr. Lincoln and his family. 




*'. . . The success of the Federal army in breaking 
the lines of Petersburg had rendered the retreat of the 
Confederate force imperative. An effort to hold Rich- 
mond, with every line of communication with the South 
broken or in imminent peril, would have been madness. 
But by abandoning his works and concentrating his 
army, which still amounted to about 30,000 men. Gen- 
eral Lee might retire to some natural stronghold in the 
interior, where the defensible features of the country 
would enable him to oppose Grant's formidable host 
until he could rally strength to strike an effective 
blow. . . ." 

Lee was not strong enough to hold Grant with a rear- 
guard, so his only hope was to make a run for it, and 
that is what he attempted. Lee had four broken-down 
half-starved horses to a gun; Grant, six splendid well-fed 

Mrs. Mary A. Fontaine, describing the burning of 
Richmond, says : 

" May 7. I was just trying to describe the scenes on 
the 3d of April. About eight o'clock, after some thirty 
cavalrymen had taken possession of Richmond, hoisted 



their flag", etc., the artillery came dashing up Broad street; 
positively the fat horses came trotting up that heavy 
hill, dragging the cannon as though they v^ere light car- 
riages. The trappings were gay, and I commenced to 
realize the fearful odds against which our gallant little 
army had contended. . . ." 

If these " fearful odds " were so apparent to a woman, 
it does appear that Davis and Lee should have taken 
them into consideration. 

Then Lee was encumbered with his wagon train, while 
Grant could leave his to follow. Grant's overwhelming 
force and superior mobility enabled him not only to 
pound Lee's flank and rear, but to march around him 
and intrench in his front. Sheridan, with his 13,000 
mounted riflemen, easily rode ahead and intrenched on 
his line of retreat. Thirteen thousand breech-loaders 
were more than a match for Lee's army, wasted as it 
was; but the infantry was also up in time to oppose a 
continuation of the retreat. 

Then if Lee had reached General Long's " natural 
stronghold in the interior " with the remnants of his 
30,000 men, he would have found himself surrounded by 
Federal armies. 

Grant says : 

"... I expected, with Sherman coming up from the 
South, Meade south of Petersburg and around Rich- 
mond, and Thomas's command in Tennessee with depots 
of supplies established in the eastern part of that state, 
to move from the direction of Washington or the Valley 
towards Lynchburg. We would then have Lee so sur- 
rounded that his supplies would be cut off entirely, mak- 
ing it impossible for him to support his army." 


These armies could have surrounded Lee in General 
Long's " natural stronghold " as well as at Richmond, 
and with better results, because at Richmond Lee could 
get ammunition at any rate, whereas in General Long's 
" natural stronghold " it would have been impossible. 
Neither could he have gotten supplies, because natural 
strongholds never produce them — they have to be 
brought in from the outside. 

Nicolay and Hay say : 

". . . General Lee after the first shock of the breaking 
of his lines soon recovered his usual sang-froid, and bent 
all his energies to saving his army and leading it out 
of its untenable position on the James to a point from 
which he could affect a junction with Johnston in North 
Carolina. . . . Even in the ruin of the Confederacy, 
when the organized revolt which he had sustained so 
long, with the bayonets of his soldiers, was crashing 
about his ears, he was able still to cradle himself in the 
illusion that it was only a campaign that had failed ; that 
he might withdraw his troops, form a junction wath 
Johnston, and continue the war indefinitely in another 
field. Whatever we may think of his judgment, it is 
impossible not to admire the coolness of a general, who, 
in the midst of irremediable disaster such as encompassed 
Lee on the afternoon of the 2d of April, could write 
such a letter as he wTote to Jefferson Davis under date 
of three o'clock. He began it by a quiet and calm dis- 
cussion of the question of negro recruitment; promised 
to give his attention to the business of finding suitable 
officers for the black regiments ; hoped the appeal Mr. 
Davis had made to the governors would have a good 
effect ; and altogether wrote as if years of struggle and 
effort were before him and his chief. He then went on 


to narrate the story of the day's catastrophe and to give 
his plans for the future. He closed by apologizing for 
' writing such a hurried letter to your Excellency ' on the 
ground that he was ' in the presence of the enemy, en- 
deavoring to resist his advance.' At nightfall his prepa- 
rations were completed. He mounted his horse and rid- 
ing out of the town dismounted at the mouth of the road 
leading to Amelia Court House, the first point of rendez- 
vous where he had directed supplies to be sent, and stand- 
ing beside his horse, the bridle reins in his hand, he 
watched his troops file noiselessly by in the darkness. . . ." 

A junction with Johnston was as impossible as a re- 
treat to General Long's " stronghold," and even if it had 
been accomplished, the result would have been equally 
disastrous. Johnston and Lee, with their little half- 
starved armies, would have been between the hosts of 
Grant and Sherman, and without supplies or ammunition. 

General Gibbon wrote from Appomattox : 

". . . We have had to supply Lee's army with rations, 
they being entirely without any. As for the poor horses 
and mules, many of them will die for want of forage. 
They look terribly thin and worn down. Some of the 
men have had nothing to eat for three days but parched 
corn, and I cannot help respecting men who have fought 
so long and so well in support of their opinions, however 
WTong I may think them. . . ." 

General Johnston, writing in his " Narrative of Mili- 
tary Operations " of his conference with Dr. Davis at 
Greensboro, N. C., after the surrender of Lee, says : 

". . . Being desired by the President to do it, we com- 


pared the military forces of the two parties to the war. 
Ours, an army of about 20,000 infantry and artillery, 
and 5000 mounted troops; those of the United States, 
three armies that could be combined against ours, which 
was insignificant compared with either Grant's of 180,000 
men, Sherman's of 110,000 at least, and Canby's of 
60,000, odds of seventeen or eighteen to one, which in 
a few weeks could be more than doubled. I represented 
that, under such circumstances, it would be the greatest 
of human crimes for us to attempt to continue this war; 
for, having neither money nor credit, nor arms but those 
in the hands of our soldiers, nor ammunition but that in 
their cartridge boxes, nor shops for repairing arms or 
fixing ammunition, the effect of our keeping the field 
would be, not to harm the enemy, but to complete the 
devastation of our country and the ruin of its peo- 
ple. . . ." 

Of Mr. Davis, General Basil W. Duke writes as fol- 
lows, and this was of course after the surrender of Lee 
and Joe Johnston : 

". . . At Abbeville, South Carolina, Mr. Davis held a 
conference with the officers in command of the troops 
composing his escort, which he himself characterized as 
a ' Council of War.' ... I had never seen Mr. Davis 
look better or show to better advantage. He seemed in 
excellent spirits and humor; and the union of dignity, 
graceful affability, and decision which made his manner 
usually so striking was very marked in his reception of 
us. After some conversation of a general nature, he 
said : * It is time that we adopt some definite plan upon 
which the further prosecution of our struggle shall be 
conducted. I have summoned you for consultation. I 


feel that I ought to do nothing now without the advice 
of my military chiefs.' He smiled rather archly as he 
used this expression, and we could not help thinking that 
such a term addressed to a handful of brigadiers, com- 
manding altogether about three thousand men, by one 
who had been so recently master of legions, was a pleas- 
antry : yet he said it in a way that made it a compliment. 

" After we had each given at his request a statement 
of the equipment and condition of our respective com- 
mands, Mr. Davis proceeded to declare his conviction 
that the cause was not lost any more than hope of Ameri- 
can liberty was gone amid the sorest trials and most dis- 
heartening reverses of the Revolutionary struggle ; but 
that energy, courage, and constancy might yet save all. 
* Even,' he said, ' if the troops now with me be all that 
I can for the present rely on, three thousand brave men 
are enough for a nucleus around which the whole people 
will rally when the panic which now afflicts them has 
passed away.' 

" He then asked that we should make suggestions in 
regard to the future conduct of the war. We looked at 
one another in amazement, and with a feeling alike to 
trepidation, for we hardly knew how we should give ex- 
pression to views diametrically opposed to those he 
uttered. Our respect for Mr. Davis approached venera- 
tion, and notwithstanding the total dissent we felt and 
were obliged to announce to the program he had indi- 
cated, that respect was rather increased than diminished 
by what he said. I do not remember who spoke first, 
but we all expressed the same opinion. We told him 
frankly that the events of the last four days had removed 
from our minds all idea or hope that a prolongation of 
the contest was possible. The people were not panic- 
stricken, but broken down and worn out. We said that 


an attempt to continue the war after all means of sup- 
porting warfare were gone would be a cruel injustice to 
the people of the South. We would be compelled to live 
on a country already impoverished, and would invite its 
further devastation. We urged that we would be doing 
a wrong to our men if we persuaded them to such a 
course, for if they persisted in a conflict so hopeless they 
would be treated as brigands and would forfeit all chance 
of returning to their homes. 

" He asked why then were we in the field ? We 
answered we were desirous of affording him an oppor- 
tunity of escaping the degradation of capture, and per- 
haps a fate that would be direr to the people than even 
to himself, in still more embittering the feeling between 
the North and the South. We said we would ask our 
men to follow us until his safety was assured,- and would 
risk them in battle for that purpose, but would not fire 
another shot in an effort to continue hostilities. He de- 
clared abruptly that he would listen to no suggestion 
which regarded only his own safety. He appealed 
eloquently to every sentiment and reminiscence that 
might be supposed to move a Southern soldier, and urged 
us to accept his views. We remained silent, for our con- 
victions were unshaken ; we felt responsibility for the 
men who had so heroically followed us ; and the painful 
point had been reached when to speak again in opposition 
to all that he had urged would have approached alterca- 
tion. For some minutes not a word was spoken. Then 
Mr. Davis arose and ejaculated bitterly that all was in- 
deed lost. He had become very pallid, and he walked 
so feebly as he proceeded to leave the room that Gen- 
eral Breckinridge stepped hastily up and offered his arm." 

Of all the hallucinations of the Confederate leaders, 


the most miraculous of all was that they could retreat 
from Richmond and continue the war indefinitely. To 
account for it, we must abandon the theory of free agency 
and accept something like the following ideas from Dr. 
Draper's " Intellectual Development of Europe " : 
". . . He sees that a Supreme power has been using 
him for unknown ends, that he was brought into the 
world without his own knowledge, and is departing from 
it against his own will. . . ." 

And Shakespeare says : " All the world's a stage, and 
all the men and women merely players." 

If Davis and Lee were actors, and the Supreme pov^-er 
an evil power, stage manager, and prompter, we can 
understand the attempted retreat. 

It is well to remember, however, that Lee was not a 
statesman, nor a man of affairs. He was a soldier pure 
and simple, and, like the " good knight "' Bayard, " sans 
peitr ef sans reproche." 


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