[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
previous
Chapter
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
R. E. Lee: A Biography

by Douglas Southall Freeman

published by Charles Scribner's Sons,
New York and London, 1934

The text, and illustrations except as noted, are in the public domain.


[image ALT: link to next section]
next
Chapter

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. I
p605
Chapter XXXVI

An Easy Lesson in Combating Sea-power

His report to the President having been made, the first personal concern of General Lee on his return to Richmond was to visit his wife, whom he had not seen since he had left her at Arlington on April 22, more than six months before. From Ravensworth, Mrs. Lee had gone to visit friends in Loudoun, Fauquier, and Clarke Counties, at Kinloch, Annefield, Meida, and Audley.1 She had been brave in her separation from the home in which she had spent almost all her life, and after she had moved twice she had humorously declared, greatly to her husband's amusement, that the enemy would have to take her, as she would shift her abode no more.2 She had changed her mind, however, and with Robert and Mary, about September 15, she head travelled to the Hot Springs.3 Lee had been anxious for her to reside for the winter with her daughters at some safe and quiet place in North Carolina or Georgia,4 but having a will of her own in such matters, she had gone instead to Shirley, where she was sojourning when her husband reached Richmond. The girls were scattered — Mary on a round of visits, Agnes and Annie at Clydale, Doctor Richard Stuart's plantation in King George County, and Mildred at school in Winchester.5 Robert had unwillingly returned to his studies at the University of Virginia, where his father had seen him en route from western Virginia. Custis had been taken from his engineering work on the Richmond defenses to perform temporary duty at Goldsboro, N. C.6 Rooney was with his command.

It was a delight to Lee to think that his long separation was to be ended in the pleasant atmosphere of his mother's first home, p606 and on November 2 he prepared to go down the river to join Mrs. Lee. Unfortunately, the passenger steamers on the James left in the morning before he could get away, and, as it happened, no government boat was sailing that afternoon. To get to Shirley at all that day, he had to ride, but by the time he got his horse from the stable, darkness was almost upon him and he was unwillingly forced to defer his journey.7 On Monday, November 4, he conferred at length in the evening with the new Secretary of War, the brilliant Judah P. Benjamin, who had succeeded the overworked and disillusioned L. Pope Walker. The next morning he had an appointment with the President, and before the 5th of November was over, news arrived that postponed to the uncertain future all hope of seeing his wife. A large fleet of Federal warships and transports had been gathering in Hampton Roads in October, and on the 20th it had sailed for an unknown destination.8 On November 1, Secretary Benjamin had received an intimation that the flotillas were bound for Port Royal Sound, South Carolina.9 This was soon borne out. Nervous reports from the Palmetto State now told of the arrival of the ships at that destination.10

The departure of the fleet was a relief, because it showed that the Federals were not planning an early advance on Norfolk, or up the Peninsula of Virginia. But any offensive in Port Royal Sound was potentially most serious. The Confederate forces in that quarter were weak on land and almost helpless at sea. The blow seemed to be aimed purposely at a point where the authority of Georgia and of South Carolina met, and it was directed against untrained forces, in a rich country that had not yet been inured to the harsher realities of war. Manifestly, the situation would be a difficult one. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.President Davis for some time had felt that the Southern coast needed additional defenses,11 and he at once directed p607 that it be organized as a single military department. By the same order, and to his complete surprise, Lee was named as commander there.12

Lee doubtless would have preferred some other assignment, but he was delighted at the prospect of field duty, and he proceeded to make his arrangements for immediate departure. However, his experience in western Virginia had shown him the dangers of divided command and indefinite authority; and, though contention over rank was repulsive to his nature, he overcame his reticence for once and asked the President what his position and authority would be at his new post. He was told instanter that he would go to South Carolina as a full general in the regular army of the Confederacy, the senior officer in the department, and with the entire support of the administration. The embarrassment with which he asked the question and the confused modesty with which he received the answer gave Mr. Davis the impression that Lee did not really know what his status was in the Confederate service.13

The announcement that Lee had been chosen to command on the threatened southeastern coast of the Confederacy was not received with general favor. "Granny" Lee, whose tenderness of blood had brought failure in western Virginia, was not the man, in the opinion of many, to conduct a vigorous campaign for the defense of Charleston and Savannah. The opposition to him was not voiced in the Richmond press, but it was so strong that Davis deemed it necessary to advise Governor Pickens of South Carolina, and the chief malcontent of the southeastern states, Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia, that Lee, in his opinion, was the best soldier available for the duty assigned him. Fortunately, Brown had confidence in Lee and so assured the President.14 There were others, a minority, who held that Lee would vindicate the President's confidence in him. That invaluable diarist J. B. p608Jones, the "rebel war clerk," chronicled Lee's appointment to the defense of Charleston and Savannah, and added with assurance, "those cities are safe!" He continued:

"Gen. Lee in the streets here bore the aspect of a discontented man, for he saw that everything was going wrong; but now his eye flashes with zeal and hope. Give him time and opportunity, and he will hurl back the invader from his native land; yes, and he will commend the challenge of invasion to the lips of the North."15

On the morning of November 6, accompanied by a few other officers and attended by Meredith and Perry, Lee left for Charleston, S. C., where he arrived the next day.16 He did not tarry but hastened by special train to Coosawhatchie,17 on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, the station nearest Port Royal Sound. When he arrived he learned that a heavy engagement at the entrance to the sound was in progress between the Federal fleet and the Southern forts, Walker and Beauregard. Excitement was fevered. Nobody at Coosawhatchie knew what had happened or what was to be expected. The commanding officer of the few Confederate troops in that area, Brigadier General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.R. S. Ripley, had ridden down the river to ascertain the situation. Lee took horse as quickly as possible and hurried in the same direction.

During the evening he met General Ripley. His news was bad: the Confederates at Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard had been overwhelmed during the day by the fire from the enemy's ships.18 They had been forced to abandon their crippled guns, and as the United States war vessels could readily cut them off from the mainland, they would have to evacuate their island positions at once.19 It seemed, at the moment, almost another Rich Mountain disaster.

p609 Lee took hold at once and gave orders for the withdrawal of the garrisons and of their supports from the two islands on which the captured forts had been located. Then he went back to Coosawhatchie, established his headquarters in an abandoned house there,20 organized his staff,21 and proceeded to make his first hurried survey of a problem that the nature of the country and the scantiness of his resources rendered exceedingly complex.

From Georgetown, on Winyan Bay, sixty miles below the boundary line between the two Carolinas, the Atlantic coast is broken by a series of sounds and bays as far south as the mouth of the Saint John's River, a distance of fully 300 miles. The inland waterways cut off from the mainland a multitude of islands, some of them mere mudbanks, some of them the fertile plantations of wealthy rice planters and "sea-island" cotton growers. Down to the sounds flow a number of tidal streams, most of which were then navigable for some miles inland. Near the northern end of the most vulnerable part of this coastline was the city of Charleston, centre and symbol of the secessionist movement. Toward the southern end was the rich seaport of Savannah, whence annually were shipped thousands of bales of the cotton that was the Confederacy's sole basis of credit in the markets of the world. Between these two cities ran the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, 100 miles in length, crossing a number of rivers that could be ascended by light vessels to within a few miles of the railroad bridges.22 The Federals had complete control of the waterways, with heavy ships for the deeper channels and gunboats for the upper stretches of the rivers; the Confederates had only four converted steamers, armed with two guns each. Of land forces, Lee found not more than 6800 between the Savannah River and the defenses of Charleston. Around Savannah were about 5500, few of whom could be moved, lest Savannah be unduly exposed. All these troops were widely scattered. Some of them were equipped only in part and had scarcely p610 any efficient field artillery.23 In lower South Carolina was only one battery. The strength of the enemy was as yet undetermined, but the Federal troops were concentrated on well-convoyed transports and could easily be moved to any coastal point selected for attack.

What could Lee do? On the coast were a number of permanent fortifications and new batteries. He did not know how strong these were or how competently garrisoned, but if the fate of Forts Beauregard and Walker was any criterion, they could not, in their existing condition, long withstand the fire of the puissant Federal fleet. Up the rivers he did not have heavy guns to oppose, much less to halt, the approach of the gunboats toward the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.

He determined, in the instant emergency, on three courses of action. The first was to prepare the defenses of Fort Pulaski, of Savannah, and of Charleston for a far more serious bombardment than they had been built to sustain. The second was to obstruct the waterways up whom the Federals might send their ships.24 The third was to assemble the scattered Confederate forces at the most probable points of Federal advance toward the railroad, and, in case of an early attack, to offer such resistance as he could in the field,25 beyond the range of the gunboats. Orders were issued accordingly, and as a first step toward reinforcing his all-too‑feeble army, he asked the War Department if he could utilize temporarily the various units that were passing through Georgia and South Carolina on their way to other fronts. He was promptly given authority to do this, but was reminded that as most of these troops were without arms, they would be of small value to him.26

These three measures of immediate defense called for the most intense activity,27 comparable in many ways to the unrelieved pressure of the mobilization in Virginia. At the outset, fortunately, p611 the Federals showed no signs of leaving their transports or of capitalizing quickly their victory at Port Royal Sound.28 There were, at the same time, some evidences of encouraging activity and co-operation on the Southern side. Brigadier General A. R. Lawton, commanding at Savannah, assured Lee of his gratification at his arrival and pledged support;29 a hurried visit to Savannah and to Fort Pulaski on November 10‑1130 showed Lee that Lawton meant what he said. Governor Brown did not interfere in the least, though he had been disposed to assert some authority over the Georgia coast and was even now arguing with the War Department, which he much distrusted, concerning the return of Georgia volunteers then in Virginia.31 A number of trained naval officers had been sent to the department and were promptly dispatched to Charleston, to Georgia, and to Florida, where they quickly performed admirable service in obstructing the inland waterways.32 In addition, the blockade-runner Fingal came into Savannah on November 13 with a cargo of arms and munitions, from which Lee was authorized to take 4500 Enfield rifles for the use of such new troops as he could collect in Georgia and South Carolina.33

As soon as the first defensive measures were under way, Lee determined to make the most of the continued Federal inactivity and personally to inspect the coast defenses. He went first to Charleston, where he wished to see Governor Pickens about the enlistment of South Carolina state troops in Confederate service. He was there November 13‑15 and part of November 16.34 Conditions were better in the Carolina cities than farther south. In the harbor forts Lee found the best-trained artillerists in the department. They were quite capable of giving the Federal naval gunners shell for shell, but unfortunately, were so few in number p612 and entrusted with so vital a defense that it was doubtful whether any of them could be transferred to other endangered points. Officers at Charleston were not in every instance so well-qualified as the enlisted personnel. The work of obstructing the nearby streams was not progressing rapidly enough. Showing none of the hesitancy that had marked his dealings with the sensitive leaders in western Virginia, Lee shifted a few men of doubtful capacity or questionable habits,35 placed Captain D. N. Ingraham of the navy in general charge of the armament of the batteries, and determined as soon as practicable to name General Ripley to command the Charleston district.36

Lee avoided all publicity in the historic old Carolina port and very cautiously refrained from any discussion of his plans;37 but there was one man, at least, whose inspection he did not escape. Paul Hamilton Hayne was sitting on the parapet of Fort Sumter, observing the sunset — as poets and philosophers should — when Lee arrived to examine the work. "In the midst of the group," wrote Hayne, "topping the tallest by half a head was, perhaps, the most striking figure we had ever encountered, the figure of a man seemingly about 56 or 58 years of age, erect as a poplar, yet lithe and graceful, with broad shoulders well thrown back, a fine justly-proportioned head posed in unconscious dignity, clear, deep, thoughtful eyes, and the quiet, dauntless step of one every inch the gentleman and soldier. Had some old English cathedral crypt or monumental stone in Westminster Abbey been smitten by a magician's wand and made to yield up its knightly tenant restored to his manly vigor . . . we thought that thus would he have appeared, unchanged in aught but costume and surroundings."38

In a spirit less romantic, General Lee held a long conference on the night of November 15 with Governor F. W. Pickens, who came down from Columbia to Charleston for that purpose. Lee wanted five additional regiments of South Carolina troops mustered into Confederate service from the state force that Pickens was maintaining.39 The question to be decided was how the p613 troops were to be armed and for what term they were to be enlisted. This South Carolinians preferred, in the main, the service of their state to that of the Confederacy, but they were anxious to fight. Pickens could arm only a part of them, but the War Department refused to issue rifles to any that did not enlist, as units, for the duration of the war.40 In a single interview, Lee and Pickens agreed on a compromise: South Carolina was to arm two regiments, or the equivalent, of men willing to serve until peace was declared, and Lee was to issue 2500 of the Enfields received on the Fingal to South Carolina commands who pledged a similar period of enlistment. Orders to this effect were issued on November 16,41 and Lee returned to Coosawhatchie. He waited there only long enough to send Ripley to Charleston and to issue a few necessary instructions.42 Then he hurried on to Savannah, arriving after midnight on the 17th, and proceeded thence on a two-day inspection of the Brunswick district and the northern part of the east coast of Florida.43

The examination of these scattered defenses led to the most important decision of Lee's entire stay in the department. He was satisfied, from what he saw, that it was impracticable to defend all the islands and waterways with the forces he then had or could reasonably hope to muster. He accordingly determined on three related steps: first, to withdraw all the guns and garrisons from the minor, outlying positions; second, to strengthen still further and, if possible, to hold the entrance to Cumberland Sound, the approaches to Brunswick, Fort Pulaski, Savannah, and Charleston; and, third, to construct in front of Savannah and the lower end of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad a deep interior line, so drawn that he could concentrate and hold it with the troops at his disposal, while compelling the enemy to fight where the heaviest guns of the warships could not be used.44

In making this last decision, Lee may have been influenced to some extent by his father's strategical theories. While Lee was a small boy, "Light-Horse Harry" had once talked with Charles Carter Lee about the defense of the Atlantic seaboard, specifically p614 of Virginia, against an enemy that controlled the sea. The elder Lee had then said that in case of an attack up the rivers, it would be desirable to withdraw the armed forces from the water front and to take up a line far enough back from the streams to make the guns of the ships useless. Charles Carter Lee doubtless had told his younger brother of his father's views.45

The orders for the withdrawal from the more exposed positions General Lee issued on the ground at the time of his inspection, and he appealed to the War Department to supply his greatest immediate need, that of artillerists and qualified instructors in gunnery.46 For the improvement of the defenses, which he pronounced "poor indeed," he "laid off enough work," as he wrote two of his daughters, "to employ our people for a month." He added: I hope the enemy will be polite enough to wait for us. It is difficult to get our people to realize their position."47

The decision to organize the defense by these successive steps was made about November 19, and was the basis of all that Lee did during the remainder of his service on the southeastern coast. Every day there were new vexations, new developments, new complications, but every day there was effort to speed up the work on the principal forts and obstructions, to further the preparation of the inner line, and to procure and train more troops. It was an unromantic routine of duty, dirt, and drudgery. His ultimate hope, through it all, was that if he built up his force and his fortifications sufficiently, the Federals would be unwilling to leave their ships.48

In the arduous work of persuading proud Southern soldiers to bend their backs to pick and shovel, Lee was greatly aided by the singular irresolution of the commander of the Federal land force, Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman.49 Until November 24 no movement by the enemy interrupted Lee's preparations. Then p615 Flag Officer DuPont landed a force and occupied a part of Tybee Island, at the mouth of the Savannah River, which Lee had evacuated.50 Lee did not turn aside on this account, nor was he especially alarmed. The work of strengthening Fort Pulaski had not progressed so rapidly as he had wished, to be sure, but the river had been obstructed, and Fort Jackson, close to Savannah, had been armed. Lee did not believe that the passage of the river could be forced51 and have attached little importance to the seizure of any of the islands, reasoning that the enemy could easily take any of them that the fleet could approach, but that, having pillaged them, the Federals would not find it worth while to hold them.52 There was, in fact, no certainty in his mind, as yet, that the main attack was to be on Savannah. He sent special warning to General Ripley to be on the alert at Charleston while the Federals were rejoicing over the seizure of Tybee Island.53

The digging of the inner line involved close daily inspection. Lee took it upon himself to supervise the work in front of Coosawhatchie, where the enemy could bring his gunboats close to the railroad.54 When not directly engaged there, he would visit some other part of the line, returning to headquarters for dinner at early candlelight and then working over his official papers until 11 o'clock or midnight.55 It was a gruelling pace. One day he covered 115 miles, 35 of them on Greenbrier, a young gray horse he had seen in western Virginia and had purchased when his owner's command had joined Lee in Carolina.56 The strength and endurance of this fine animal won him the reputation of being a "fine traveller" and ere long his old name was dropped and he became simply Traveller. Often Lee rode alone on Traveller to make inspections and, as a lover of horses, frequently visited the stables and examined the animals attached to the batteries. p616 His comings and goings were so unostentatious that many of the men did not know him. Once he passed a sergeant and a teamster on his rounds. The sergeant duly saluted him, but the teamster, who happened to be deaf, at once inquired of his companion in a loud voice: "I say, Sergeant, who is that durned old fool? He's always a-pokin' round my horses as if he meant to steal one of them."57

On December 2, Lee's journey was down Broad River to organize a light force to cope with marauding parties that were doing much damage to the estates of the planters, despite General Sherman's orders to the contrary.58 Three days later, Lee was at Palmetto Point, where he had a distant view of the fleet, the future movements of which he was hourly pondering. Then, following a futile demonstration by the Federals in the vicinity of Garden's Corner, he went to Charleston again on December 11.59 That visit gave him a touch of the social life he so much enjoyed, for he put up at the Mills House, where he met a number of ladies, including the wife of Major A. L. Long, formerly of Loring's army, who had been named on the general staff at Lee's headquarters. While Lee was chatting very cheerfully in the parlor of the hotel, a great fire swept swiftly across the city and almost cut off escape from the hotel before Lee was conscious of the proximity of the flames. The members of his party had to make their way down a rear stairs, half-choked with smoke, to reach the open air. Lee insisted on carrying the baby of one of the ladies in his arms, and left his baggage to the flames. Fortunately, the hotel escaped destruction, and Lee and his staff found quarters in the home of Charles Alston on the Battery.60

Lee's ready reception at the Alston mansion was typical of the place he had quickly won for himself in South Carolina. His reticence concerning his military plans was generally remarked,61 but his bearing, his activity, his determination to save Charleston p617 from the enemy, and the manifest wisdom of his military arrangements, together with the fact that he was the son of a distinguished defender of South Carolina, made a most favorable impression apparently on every one, with the sole exception of General Ripley. This officer, a native of Ohio and a graduate of West Point, had resigned from the army in 1853 and had entered business in Charleston, the home of his wife. He was portly, of commanding presence, and, except to his friends, was of a pompous manner. A sworn enemy of red tape, he was, as General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard later maintained, of "restless and insubordinate nature,"62 and for some unknown reason took a violent dislike to Lee.63 With the self-control that always marked his acts, Lee ignored Ripley's peculiarities and made the most of his abilities.

For nearly a week Lee studied the city's defenses. He placed new obstructions in the rivers and he changed batteries without removing guns from the principal forts, which he insisted on keeping at full armament in view of the possibility that the enemy contemplated an attack.64 Already he had set up Charleston and its environs as one of the five districts into which he had divided his department.65 Before he had completed this work at Charleston, there came a letter from the adjutant general of the state, with the approval of the governor, placing all the troops of the state at his disposal, without reservation.66 This was a triumph of diplomacy and honest effort. Lee had already received 1400 reinforcements from other states,67 and soon after he returned to Coosawhatchie on December 17 he had notice from Richmond that six regiments of infantry, the Phillips Legion, and two batteries of field artillery were moving to his support. Some of these troops had already been under his command in western Virginia.68

This increment and the pledge of the Carolina state forces greatly improved his prospects, though he was still embarrassed by the shortage of artillery and by the rival purchasing of state p618 and Confederate troops in the same territory.69 Numerical superiority in land forces was shifting, for once, to the Confederate; but on the rivers and deep estuaries, heavy guns were needed to combat the Federal fleet. Lee accordingly began a series of deferential but continuous appeals to the War Department for more large-caliber ordnance.70

Lee was engaged in correspondence on this subject and was pushing hard for the completion of the inner line when he received announcement on December 20 of an event that was later materially to modify his strategic plan. General Ripley telegraphed that Federal warships had convoyed to Charleston more than a dozen old ships loaded with stone and had sunk these in the main ship-channel.71 It was an act that angered Lee as much as almost any happening of the entire war. "This achievement," he wrote the Secretary of War, "so unworthy of any civilized nation, is the abortive expression of the malice and revenge of a people which it wishes to perpetuate by rendering more memorable a day hateful on their calendar"72 — the anniversary of the secession of South Carolina.

Fortunately for the port of Charleston, the sinking of the "stone fleet," as it was called, closed only one of the three ship-channels. It served an almost useful purpose in that it indicated to the Confederates that the enemy apparently wished to "bottle up" Charleston and had no immediate intention of attacking there. Lee, however, did not consider that the action of the enemy lessened the necessity of making Charleston as strong as possible. Fearing, rather, that it might result in a relaxation of effort, he prodded Ripley more vigorously than ever to complete the defenses.73 At the same time, he felt that Ripley would now have opportunity of employing some of his force to protect nearby islands and to break up predatory raids.74 In a larger strategic view, he made ready to meet an attack farther south. p619 Subsequently, he wavered once or twice in this belief,75 but increasingly he concentrated his forces and centred his defensive measures on the Savannah sector.76

In the midst of these preparations, Lee came to the first Christmas of the war. After distributing a few gifts to the children of his officers, and to his servants, he devoted the greater part of the day to writing a series of characteristic letters to the members of his family, with whom he had not had many opportunities of corresponding since he had come to South Carolina. Mrs. Lee had been to Richmond after he had left and had gone to the White House, where Annie had joined her. Rooney and Charlotte were also there.77 These four were the only members of the family who could spend Christmas in the old way.

To one of his daughters he enclosed a gift of money and some violets plucked from the garden of his headquarters. "May God guard and preserve you for me, my dear daughter," he wrote. "Among the calamities of war the hardest to bear, perhaps, is the separation of families and friends. Yet all must be endured to accomplish our independence and maintain our self-government. In my absence from you, I have thought of you very often, and regretted I could do nothing for your comfort. Your old home, if not destroyed by our enemies, has been so desecrated that I cannot bear to think of it. I should have preferred it to have been wiped from the earth, its beautiful hill sunk, and its sacred trees buried, rather than to have been degraded by the presence of those who revel in the ill they do for their own selfish purposes."

This was natural resentment, born of loss and separation, but it was no sooner expressed than his old self-control was asserted: "You see what a poor sinner I am," he added at once, "and how unworthy to possess what was given me; for that reason it has been taken away. I pray for a better spirit, and that the hearts of our enemies may be changed."78

He must have rebuked himself for his mild outburst, for when he came to write Mrs. Lee, later in the day, it was in complete p620 mastery of his emotions: "I cannot let this day of rejoicing pass, dear Mary," he began, "without some communication with you. I am thankful for the many among the past that I have passed with you, and the remembrance of them fills me with pleasure. For those on which we have been separated we must not repine. If it will make us more resigned and better prepared for what is in store for us, we should rejoice. Now we must be content with the many blessings we receive. If we can only become sensible of our transgressions, so as to be fully penitent and forgiven, that this heavy punishment under which we labour may with justice be removed from us and the whole nation, what a gracious consummation of all that we have endured it will be."

He wrote next of his daily routine and of Mrs. Lee's visit to Richmond, but he could not keep his mind from the old mansion where they had spent Christmas in so much cheer in other, happier years. "As to our old home," he said, "if not destroyed, it will be difficult ever to be recognized. Even if the enemy had wished to preserve it, it would almost have been impossible. With the number of troops encamped around it, the change of officers, etc., the want of fuel, shelter, etc., and all the dire necessities of war, it is vain to think of its being in a habitable condition. I fear, too, books, furniture, and the relics of Mount Vernon will be gone. It is better to make up our minds to a general loss. They cannot take away the remembrance of the spot, and the memories of those that to us rendered it sacred. That will remain to us as long as life will last, and that we can preserve."

Then, as he wrote, the old instinct of home asserted itself. If Arlington was lost, where could the family hope to reside? He did not think of the rich plantations of White House and Romancock, but of the dilapidated old mansion associated with the names of his ancestors. "In the absence of a home," he went directly on, "I wish I could purchase 'Stratford.' That is the only other place I could go to, now accessible to us, that would inspire me with feelings of pleasure and local love. You and the girls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we could make enough cornbread and bacon for our support, and the girls could weave us clothes. I wonder if it is for sale and at how much. Ask p621 Fitzhugh to try to find out, when he gets to Fredericksburg."

Mrs. Lee, it seems, had written to him of the hopes of British intervention that had been aroused by England's quick protest against the action of the Federal navy in seizing, on November 8, 1861, the Confederate commissioners John Slidell and James M. Mason aboard the British steamer Trent. "You must not build your hopes [of] peace on account of the United States going into a war with England. She will be very loath to do that, notwithstanding the bluster of the Northern papers. Her rulers are not entirely mad, and if they find England is in earnest, and that war or a restitution of their captives must be the consequence, they will adopt the latter. We must make up our minds to fight our battles and win our independence alone. No one will help us. We require no extraneous aid, if true to ourselves. But we must be patient. It is not a light achievement and cannot be accomplished at once."79 In this spirit he closed a letter that exhibits many of the prime qualities of the man — his self-restraint, his faith in God, his love of home, his logic, and his sense of realities. As he saw great plantations ruined on the Carolina coast, and women and children forced to flee and live in poverty, his wrath sometimes rose. Once he protested, "No civilized nation within my knowledge has ever carried on wars as the United States government has against us." But this was unusual language for him. The Lee of the long Christmas letter to his wife is the Lee of history.

Almost before these Christmas letters had reached their Virginia destination, the decisive year of Lee's life had opened. Before 1862 ended, the general who had never fought a battle was to have four bloody campaigns to his credit, and the people who had shaken their heads at the mention of his name were to be acclaiming him the savior of the South. There was little at Lee's Carolina headquarters to suggest such an early reversal of fortune, but there was much to indicate that a bitter test awaited the Confederacy. The soldiers in Lee's department had reached nearly 25,000,80 and General Henry R. Jackson, Lee's associate in p622 western Virginia, had assured him of the whole-hearted co-operation of the Georgia state troops, the command of which he had assumed.81 On the other hand, the terms of the earliest one-year South Carolina volunteers were expiring, and the failure of some of them to re-enlist had seriously reduced the strength of the Confederates in the first military district between Little River Inlet and the South Santee River.82 Lee saw in this the possibility of a ruinous diminution of the Southern armies in the spring of 1862. He had already addressed the president of the South Carolina convention on the subject,83 and he now wrote Governor Letcher, urging that Virginia pass a law drafting all one-year volunteers who did not re-enlist for the war.84 Even immediately, what availed 25,000 men on a coast of 300 miles, when the enemy had it in his power at any time to concentrate all his force against any one objective by using his fleet? As if in warning of what might be expected, the Federals landed 3000 men at Port Royal Ferry on the very first day of the new year.85 Although they did no great damage, they demonstrated what Lee pointed out to Governor Pickens when he said: "[the enemy] can be thrown with great celerity against any point, and far outnumbers any force we can bring against it in the field."86

In this situation, Lee pressed as vigorously as ever for the completion of the inner line, the obstruction of the rivers, and the strengthening of the principal forts. At the beginning of the second week in January, he went to Savannah and thence on a tour of the east coast of Florida, stopping at Cumberland Island, where he visited the grave of his father for the first time.87 He found much discontent in Florida. General Trapier was in p623 controversy with some of the leading men and was anxious to be relieved. The defenses at the south end of Cumberland Island, which Lee thought he should hold, if possible, were inadequately gunned. New ordnance from Virginia had to be solicited for them.88 "Our defences are growing stronger, but progress slowly," he wrote Custis several days after his return to Coosawhatchie on January 16. "The volunteers dislike work, and there is much sickness among them besides. Guns too are required, ammunition and more men. Still, on the whole, matters are encouraging and if the enemy does not approach in overwhelming numbers, we ought to hold our ground. He is quiescent still. What he is preparing for or when he will strike I cannot discover."89

A week later, some of this doubt was cleared up when Lee was called to Charleston by the news that another Federal fleet had appeared off the harbor. On January 23, the number and purpose of the enemy ships could not be determined because of a storm, but on the 25th and 26th, the weather having cleared, Lee witnessed the sinking of a second "stone fleet" consisting of twelve old merchantmen. This time it was the Maffitt channel the enemy sought to obstruct, with no other result, Lee thought, than to deter ships from running the blockade at night.90 Simultaneously with this second attempt to close Charleston harbor, the Federals began to clear the Confederate obstructions from Wall's Cut on the inland waterway linking Port Royal Sound to the Savannah River. These moves fully convinced Lee that the enemy was preparing for operations somewhere in the vicinity of Savannah.91 In order that he might be in hourly touch with the preparations for the defense of that city and of Fort Pulaski, Lee went to Savannah on the evening of January 28, and by February 3 had transferred his headquarters there. He found p624 an admiring welcome at the homes of the Mackays,92 and the Sorrels, in the hospitality of the Minis family, and in a circle of cultivated, sympathizing friends; but he also found that work which should have been finished by this time had "lagged terribly," to use his own words, and he had to throw himself into its completion with all his energies. Well it was for him that in his days as an army engineer he had been forced to give close personal attention to minutiae, for now if he wanted them carried through he had to keep a hundred small projects under his own eye. Fort Pulaski had been victualled for a siege the day Lee had left Coosawhatchie;93 he followed this with changes in the bearing of some of its guns and with new calls on the War Department for the quick delivery of additional heavy ordnance for nearer batteries;94 he had to arrange to withdraw all cannon from the river below the fort;95 facing attempted profiteering in iron, he was quick to take what the government required and to pay for it at the old price;96 plans had to be made to induce re-enlistment for the war by Georgia troops whose terms were about to expire;97 pourparlers had to be opened with Governor Brown for the destruction of Brunswick, a then deserted resort of rich planters which Lee did not want the enemy to occupy;98 an effort had to be made to get trained artillerists from Charleston in case General Ripley thought they could be transferred without danger to the Carolina city.99 These constituted only a part of the details to which he had to give his personal attention for a reason he confided to Mrs. Lee: "It is so very hard to get anything done," p625 he wrote, "and while all wish well and mean well, it is so [difficult] to get them to act energetically and promptly."100

While Lee was struggling with inertia, incompetence, and a multitude of troublesome duties, the Confederate cause elsewhere had suffered two disasters. On February 6, Fort Henry, on the lower Tennessee River, was captured by a Federal army under a general who then came prominently into the news for the first time, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ulysses S. Grant. A week later, the Union forces, supported by a flotilla of gunboats, invested Fort Donelson, at Dover, Tenn., and on the 15th, after two days' hard fighting, forced 15,000 Confederates to surrender.a General Gideon Pillow, whom Lee had known in the Mexican War, and General John B. Floyd, who had been sent from western Virginia to Tennessee, contrived to get away. The cavalry escaped also, thanks to the vigilance of Colonel Nathan B. Forrest. In other respects, the disaster was complete and shook the hold of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Albert Sidney Johnston on Tennessee. Almost at the same time, on February 8, General Henry A. Wise, with 3000 men, was attacked by an overpowering naval and land force at Roanoke Island, N. C., and was driven from the island with the loss or capture of two-thirds of his little command.

The whole South was depressed, but Lee received the reports without flinching. "The news . . . is not favorable," he said before he heard the worst, "but we must make up our minds to meet with reverses and to overcome them. I hope God will at last crown our efforts with success. But the contest must be long and severe, and the whole country must go through much suffering. It is necessary we should be humbled and taught to be less boastful, less selfish and more devoted to right and justice to all the world."101

The immediate result on Lee's command of the disasters in Tennessee and in North Carolina was a double call from the War Department — to withdraw all units from the islands to the mainland for a more concentrated defense with a smaller force, and, secondly, to abandon Florida, except for the line of the p626 Apalachicola River, and to send the troops from that state to General Albert Sidney Johnston. The first of these orders Lee had already anticipated, except for Cumberland Island, and the second he executed promptly.102

The loss of force amounted to nearly 4000 men,103 and the change in the situation meant, of course, that Lee could expect no further reinforcements. He would be disadvantaged if the Federals made a descent in force, but he made no complaint to the War Department and continued to press with all his energy for the obstruction of the Savannah River and for the better defense of that sector.104 It seemed likely that the Federals who had seized Roanoke Island would seek to take Norfolk in reverse rather than turn their attention to Charleston. Their movement, however, was sufficiently doubtful for Lee to hold at Charleston the whole of Ripley's force, 4569 effectives,105 and to study a further contraction of the lines in that quarter. "I am in favor," he said, "of abandoning all exposed points as far as possible within reach of the enemy's fleet of gunboats, and of taking interior positions, where we can meet on more equal terms. All our resources should be applied to those positions."106

Much remained to be done on the Savannah sector, where it was now apparent the enemy was slowly making preparations to deliver his long-delayed offensive.107 Lee did not believe the troops or the people had been fully aroused to the import of the disaster in Tennessee. In case Savannah were taken, or the railroad were cut, it would be necessary to establish new railroad connections by way of Augusta. Lee urged this strongly on Governor Brown.108 Obstructions in the Savannah River below Augusta were also desirable as a precautionary measure.109

Progress had been substantial but the inner line took form slowly. Anxiety was great as the Federals made ready. When p627 Lee went to church on February 22, the day set aside by the President for fasting and prayer,110 it was in a deepened conviction that the Southern cause rested in hands more powerful than his own. Many an hour he spent in prayer, many a midnight found him awake and wondering what the Federals were doing in the river.111 His messages to his family were blends of hope and doubts, a very complete summary of affairs as he saw them, three months and a half after he had come South. "I am engaged," he said in one of these letters, "in constructing a line of defence at Fort Jackson which if time permits and guns can be obtained, I hope will keep them out."112 And again: ". . . The enemy seems to be slowly making his way to the Savannah River through the creeks and marshes, and his shells now interrupt its navigation. We have nothing that floats that can contend with him, and it is grating to see his progress unopposed by any resistance we can make. The communication with Fort Pulaski is cut. That may in time be reduced, but I am constructing batteries at Fort Jackson which, if our men will fight, will give him trouble to get to the city. His batteries are so numerous and strong that I know they are hard to resist, but if we have the time and guns they ought if vulnerable to be beaten off. . . . The work progresses slowly and it is with the utmost difficulty that it is pushed ahead. . . . The facilities the arms or branches of these waters afford for approach and investment in all directions make it one of the hardest places to defend I ever saw, against light draft boats."113

On March 2, in the same spirit, balancing "buts" and "ifs," he confided to one of his daughters: "I have been doing all I can with our small means and slow workmen to defend the cities and coast here. Against ordinary numbers we are pretty strong, but against the hosts our enemies seem able to bring everywhere, there is no calculating. But if our men will stand to their work, we shall give them trouble and damage them yet."114

p628 On the evening after he wrote this letter, there was handed to Lee a telegram that read as follows:

Richmond, Va., March 2, 1861.

General R. E. Lee,
          Savannah:

If circumstances will, in your judgment, warrant your leaving, I wish to see you here with the least delay.

Jefferson Davis.115

The tone of this message was not that of an order of recall, but in other respects it was as formal and as indefinite as that memorable paper he had received in February, 1861, in Texas. Why did Davis wish to see him? Was it a new command? And why such urgency to have him in Richmond when all signs pointed to an early battle for Savannah? Lee knew no reason for this unexpected summons, but he must have felt it meant his final separation from the coastal command, for he promptly replied that he would leave on the morning of March 4,116 and he gave special and minute instructions to General Lawton concerning the places that remained to be fortified and the measures that should be taken to halt the further progress of the enemy up the Savannah River.117 In the belief that an emergency in Richmond had inspired the President's telegram, Lee disposed of these details so quickly that he was able to start on the evening of the 3d instead of on the 4th. With Taylor and his servants he took the train to Charleston and thence, after a day, to Richmond.118

His mission on the southeastern coast was ended. He never saw Savannah or Cumberland Island or even Charleston again, until he went back, eight years later, prematurely aged and nearing his end, to seek escape from the rigors of a winter in the mountains of Virginia. He had done his work thoroughly. He was fortunate, to be sure, in having as his adversary a man cautious and indecisive, hampered by having to rely for his transport and naval officers who were more interested in maintaining p629 the blockade than in landing an army. He could not have asked a more obliging opponent, one less like the young officer who had used sea-power to the fullest in the Fort Donelson campaign. Making the fullest allowance for Sherman's futility and indecision, Lee nevertheless had prevented the development of an offensive that had threatened serious damage to the Confederate cause. Without the loss of a single soldier from the fire of his enemy, he had held off Sherman from the railroad, and had put so many difficulties in the way of his advance that the Federals had nowhere moved beyond the cover of their warships.

The Unionists battered down Fort Pulaski on April 10‑11, 1862, as Lee had anticipated they might, but, on the basis of what Lee had initiated, later commanders so strengthened Savannah that the Federals did not think its occupation worth the losses its capture would entail. The Confederate flag waved there until, on December 21, 1864, an abler Sherman took it in reverse, at the end of his "march to the sea." The credit for the defensive system that balked the combined Federal land-and‑sea forces in front of Savannah belongs to Lee more than to any one else. The Charleston defenses, however, which held out until February 17, 1865, were not his work. Lee did little to the forts nearest that city and worked chiefly to obstruct adjacent streams and estuaries. General Beauregard had done much for the defenses before he left for Virginia and he later rendered the whole of the fortifications more formidable.119

Lee's inner line along the coast doubtless was much too elaborate and extended to be held by the limited force subsequently available in the department. This, however, was a virtue at the time the works were thrown up. Having a very small army, but charged with safeguarding a lateral railroad that ran behind the greater part of the line, Lee had to design so strong and so deep a defensive system that it could be held by a few regiments until the arrival of reinforcements by way of the railroad.120 It is much to be regretted that no complete description of this line exists and that none can be prepared from the records.

Lee departed from South Carolina with the curious distinction p630 of having been ten months in command of seriously threatened fronts without having fought a single battle. The deaths from wounds during the whole of his direct control of operations in western Virginia and on the southeastern coast could be counted on the fingers of his right hand. It was a period of preparation for action, rather than of action itself, but it was preparation of the most valuable sort. His touch had been more nearly sure. He had not conquered his excessive amiability, as time was to prove, but he had not let it ruin him as a commander. Little of the embarrassment in dealing with grumblers and malcontents that had been shown in western Virginia was apparent in his second command. With Lee as he had been in August, 1861, Ripley might have proved another Loring, for Ripley's language in criticising his commander was so violent that Governor Pickens complained to President Davis.121 But Lee went ahead as though Ripley were not antagonistic,122 and Ripley's slurs, whatever their origin, had no material effect on operations. In close dealings with politicians like Pickens and Brown, Lee was as successful as he had been in winning the good opinion of Letcher of Virginia, and vastly more at ease than in dealing with "political-generals" of the Pillow-Floyd-Wise types.

Much was learned, also, by Lee, while on the coast, about handling larger bodies of men. By successive stages he had come from brief command of a few squadrons of cavalry in Texas to the direction of the unhappy forces in western Virginia, and then to the command of 25,000 men, scattered on a line of 300 miles — and all, to repeat, without having to make quick decisions in the midst of action.

He was lucky, moreover, in having an opportunity of studying how a railroad could be utilized for the movement of troops and how it could be defended. He had learned something of new transportation methods, of course, while doing his part in transporting soldiers to Manassas, to Harpers Ferry, and to Norfolk during April-July, 1861; but the responsibility was entirely his in South Carolina and Georgia. It was a useful lesson, well learned, and it convinced him that the proper defense of a railway p631 did not consist in scattering small bodies of men along its entire length, but in guarding strategic bridges and crossings and in concentrating his main force where it could be moved rapidly to endangered points.

Finally, this command confirmed Lee's faith in the indispensability of earthworks. Charleston and Fort Pulaski had represented the familiar problems of permanent fortifications, which he had studied for years before the war; the defense of Coosawhatchie and the inner line at Savannah called for stout works quickly constructed from the materials at hand. Such works had been little used in America before that time and were despised by the Confederate volunteers as representing labor no white man should do and cover behind which no Southerner should take refuge. Lee had believed in digging dirt ever since he had constructed the naval battery at Vera Cruz, and though his men complained all along the coast, he persisted in giving them the protection of field fortification. He could hardly have had better training for the task that awaited him at the Confederate capital to which he now returned.


The Author's Notes:

1 R. E. Lee, Jr., 35, 42‑43; Mrs. McGuire, 65.

[decorative delimiter]

2 2 Letters and Times of the Tylers, 252.

[decorative delimiter]

3 R. E. Lee, Jr., 44, 49.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Oct. 7, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 50.

[decorative delimiter]

5 R. E. Lee, Jr., 55‑56.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Lee to Mrs. Lee, June 24, 1861; Fitz Lee, 102; O. R., 51, part 2, pp359, 369.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Nov. 5, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 53.

[decorative delimiter]

8 O. R., 6, 186; cf. O. R., 51, part 2, pp354, 360.

[decorative delimiter]

9 O. R., 6, 306, 308.

[decorative delimiter]

10 O. R., 5, 184. The expedition, under Flag-Officer Samuel F. DuPont and Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman, had been authorized in full on Aug. 2, 1861 (O. R., 6, 168). Instructions had been issued on Oct. 12 and 14 (N. O. R., 12, 214, 220) and the fleet, convoying 12,653 troops (O. R., 6, 185) had arrived off Port Royal Sound on Nov. 4, after a stormy voyage (O. R., 6, 185). The immediate aim of the expedition was to seize two important points on the coast and to hold them for the protection of the blockading fleet, but no definite objectives had been selected (O. R., 6, 202, 203).

[decorative delimiter]

11 O. R., 5, 834.

[decorative delimiter]

12 O. R., 6, 309. For Davis's reasons in creating a single department, see Davis to Governor F. W. Pickens, ibid., 313.

[decorative delimiter]

13Davis, 309.

[decorative delimiter]

14Davis, 437; Davis at the Richmond memorial meeting of Nov. 3, 1870, quoted in R. E. Lee, Jr., 53; Brown's answer, O. R., 53, 184; Candler: Confederate Records of Georgia, 3, 141, Jones (L. and L., 152) quoted a report that nearly all the officers in South Carolina united in round-robin of protest against Lee's appointment, to which paper Davis is said to have replied: "If Lee is not a general, I have none that I can send you." In available sources, there is no record of such a communication.

[decorative delimiter]

15 J. B. Jones: A Rebel War Clerk's Diary (cited hereafter as R. W. C. D.), 1, 96. "Challenge" may have been an erroneous transcription of "chalice."

[decorative delimiter]

16 Richmond Examiner, Nov. 7, 1861, p3, col. 1; Richmond Dispatch, Nov. 7, 1861, p3, col. 1, Nov. 8, 1861, p3, col. 6; Charleston Mercury, Nov. 7, 1861. For Perry and Meredith, see R. E. Lee, Jr., 58.

[decorative delimiter]

17 Charleston Mercury, Nov. 8, 1861.

[decorative delimiter]

18 DuPont's report and a good map will be found in N. O. R., 12, 262 ff. An account of the Confederate naval defense, from The Savannah Republican of Nov. 12, 1861, appears in ibid., 295 ff. The military reports are in O. R., 6, 3 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

19 Lee in O. R., 6, 312‑13.

[decorative delimiter]

20 Lee to Annie Lee, Dec. 8, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 57; Long, 141‑42. The late Governor D. C. Hayward of South Carolina advised the writer, Oct. 16, 1930, one authority of A. S. Salley, secretary of the South Carolina Historical Commission, that the house occupied by General Lee, and subsequently destroyed, was probably one that belonged to Mrs. George Chisolm Mackay.

[decorative delimiter]

21 O. R., 6, 312.

[decorative delimiter]

22 Capers in 5 C. M. H., 35‑36, and Samuel Jones in The Siege of Charleston, 70, list the rivers, the bridges, and the more vulnerable points.

[decorative delimiter]

23 The estimate of Ripley's strength is based on his report of Nov. 18, 1861, O. R., 6, 323‑24. For Lawton's strength at Savannah, see O. R., 6, 305. Ripley's September report (O. R., 6, 285) is not clear. On Nov. 19, 1861, Governor Pickens claimed to have 13,100 South Carolina troops from Georgetown to Hardeeville, but his figures were exaggerated. See O. R., 6, 350‑51.

[decorative delimiter]

24 O. R., 53, 186‑87.

[decorative delimiter]

25 O. R., 6, 312‑13; for the warning to Fort Pulaski, see ibid., 6, 32‑33.

[decorative delimiter]

26 O. R., 6, 314, 320.

[decorative delimiter]

27 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Nov. 18, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 54.

[decorative delimiter]

28 They were having much difficulty in getting their supplies ashore (O. R., 6, 188).

[decorative delimiter]

29 O. R., 6, 313‑14.

[decorative delimiter]

30 Charleston Mercury, Nov. 13, 1861; Savannah Press, Jan. 19, 1929, an article by May Wood Cain, quoting Colonel C. H. Olmstead, commanding at Fort Pulaski.

[decorative delimiter]

31 O. R., 6, 307, 315.

[decorative delimiter]

32 O. R., 6, 327; O. R., 53, 186‑87. These men, it seems, had been sent at the instance of General James H. Trapier, commanding at Charleston. See N. O. R., 12, 829.

[decorative delimiter]

33 O. R., 6, 318 ff., 320. Cf. 3 Confederate Records of Georgia, 145. The Fingal was the first ship to reach the Confederacy with supplies sent by Major Caleb Huse, the Southern agent in London. See Caleb Huse: The Supplies of the Confederate Army, 32.

[decorative delimiter]

34 Charleston Mercury, Nov. 15, 1861, recorded the arrival on the afternoon of Nov. 13.

[decorative delimiter]

35 O. R., 53, 191.

[decorative delimiter]

36 O. R., 6, 322.

[decorative delimiter]

37 Charleston correspondence of The Richmond Examiner, Nov. 20, 1861, p3, col. 1.

[decorative delimiter]

38 Quoted in Jones, 359. Hayne stated this was in the "summer of 1861," but it was probably on this visit.

[decorative delimiter]

39 O. R., 6, 321.

[decorative delimiter]

40 O. R., 1, 765.

[decorative delimiter]

41 O. R., 6, 322.

[decorative delimiter]

42 O. R., 6, 323; Lee to Mrs. Lee, Nov. 18, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 54.

[decorative delimiter]

43 Charleston Mercury, Nov. 20, 23, 1861.

[decorative delimiter]

44 O. R., 6, 327, 332 ff.; Long, 140.

[decorative delimiter]

45 George Taylor Lee, son of Charles Carter Lee, to the writer.

[decorative delimiter]

46 O. R., 6, 327.

[decorative delimiter]

47 R. E. Lee to Annie and Agnes Lee, Nov. 22, 1861; Lee to Annie Lee, Dec. 8, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 56, 57. Cf. Lee to R. F. W. Allston, Nov. 17, 1861, MS.: "[the defense of our coast] will require every exertion on our part to defend our property there exposed."

[decorative delimiter]

48 O. R., 53, 194‑95.

[decorative delimiter]

49 This Rhode Islander, with whom Lee had never served in the United States army, was a West Point graduate and was technically proficient, but he underestimated the great advantage that sea power gave him and he consistently magnified his difficulties. Already he had notified Washington that he could not undertake a major operation unless he received twelve additional regiments (O. R., 6, 188, 189, 192).

[decorative delimiter]

50 12 N. O. R., 325; O. R., 6, 32.º General Sherman had no hand in this operation but, on the contrary, argued the very next day that the army should content itself with establishing a firm and secure base on the coast (O. R., 6, 190‑91). A little later he was to advise the Secretary of War that his "professional reputation" as a soldier, "to say nothing of the public interest," would not permit him "to make dashes without object and without lasting results" (O. R., 6, 209).

[decorative delimiter]

51 O. R., 6, 33.

[decorative delimiter]

52 O. R., 6, 329.

[decorative delimiter]

53 O. R., 53, 191.

[decorative delimiter]

54 Long, 139.

[decorative delimiter]

55 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Dec. 25, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 59.

[decorative delimiter]

56 R. E. Lee to G. W. C. Lee, Dec. 29, 1861; Jones, L. and L., 157. Traveller became such a figure in the Confederate army that he and General Lee's other mounts deserve a separate note. It appears as Appendix I-5.

[decorative delimiter]

57 Eggleston, 142 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

58 O. R., 6, 335; Sherman's orders, O. R., 6, 187‑88.

[decorative delimiter]

59 O. R., 5, 195, 196; O. R., 6, 341, 343‑44. Charleston Mercury, Dec. 14, 1861. Lee remained in Charleston until Dec. 16 or 17, for he dated at Charleston on the 16th a letter acknowledging the gift of a mattress from G. B. Stacy of Richmond (MS. MO-1, Confederate Museum; Calendar Confederate Papers, 315).

[decorative delimiter]

60 Long, 135‑36. Taylor's General Lee, 40‑41. There seems to be no foundation for the story, quoted by Miss Katherine C. Stiles, in The Richmond Times Dispatch of Jan. 20, 1907, that Lee directed the fire fighting and halted the spread of the flames.

[decorative delimiter]

61 Richmond Examiner, Dec. 7, 1861, p2, col. 6; Dec. 9, 1861, p2, col. 6.

[decorative delimiter]

62 2 Roman, 276.

[decorative delimiter]

63 See infra, p630; for Ripley's career see 4 C. M. H., 418‑19; Eggleston, 164 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

64 O. R., 6, 344; O. R., 53, 193, 196.

[decorative delimiter]

65 O. R., 6, 345, 347.

[decorative delimiter]

66 O. R., 6, 345; O. R., 53, 199.

[decorative delimiter]

67 O. R., 53, 190, 192.

[decorative delimiter]

68 O. R., 5, 100; O. R., 6, 347, 348, 349; O. R., 53, 198, 199, 201; cf. ibid., 202.

[decorative delimiter]

69 O. R., 6, 335, 336, 337, 339, 340; O. R., 53, 190, 194. Rumors that his gains were offset by the arrival of 30,000 Federal reinforcements had no foundation in fact. Sherman, on the contrary, was lamenting his weakness and was explaining to Washington that he had to choose "on what point of that extended and well-garrisoned line" he would deliver his attack (O. R., 6, 202; O. R., 53, 197).

[decorative delimiter]

70 O. R., 6, 346, 348.

[decorative delimiter]

71 See DuPont's report, N. O. R., 12, 421 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

72 O. R., 6, 42‑43.

[decorative delimiter]

73 O. R., 6, 349, 353, 358, 365.

[decorative delimiter]

74 O. R., 56, 201.

[decorative delimiter]

75 O. R., 6, 351, 369, 370‑71.

[decorative delimiter]

76 He was quite right in doing so, for at the time the channel at Charleston was being blocked General Sherman was contemplating an offensive against Savannah or against that part of the railroad immediately north of the city (O. R., 6, 203‑4, 208).

[decorative delimiter]

77 R. E. Lee, Jr., 56, 58.

[decorative delimiter]

78 Lee to "one of his daughters," Dec. 25, 1861; Jones, L. and L., 156.

[decorative delimiter]

79 R. E. Lee, Jr., 58‑60. These views of the improbability of intervention he elaborated in a letter to Custis, Dec. 29, 1861; Jones, L. and L., 157.

[decorative delimiter]

80 Exclusive of the Fifth District, 22,223, according to IV O. R., 1, 822. Cf. National Intelligencer, Jan. 1, 1862, p3, col. 3, for information from The Richmond Enquirer regarding numbers and dispositions. The Federal force was 14,768 (O. R., 6, 217).

[decorative delimiter]

81 O. R., 6, 362, 365. It is stated (6 C. M. H., 427) that Lee met H. R. Jackson in a Savannah hotel on one of his visits to that city and told him he had much regretted Jackson's resignation from the Confederate service to accept the Georgia command because, at the very time it had been tendered, he had been negotiating with the War Department for Jackson's transfer to his department, as one of two officers he particularly desired to have.

[decorative delimiter]

82 O. R., 6, 360.

[decorative delimiter]

83 O. R., 6, 349.

[decorative delimiter]

84S. H. S. P., 462; O. R., 5, 1022.

[decorative delimiter]

85 5 C. M. H., 39.

[decorative delimiter]

86 O. R., 6, 357.

[decorative delimiter]

87 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Jan. 18, 1862;º R. E. Lee, Jr., 61. Long described the visit, op. cit., 22‑23: ". . . we came to a dilapidated wall enclosing a neglected cemetery. The general then, in a voice of emotion, informed me that he was visiting the grave of his father. He went alone to the tomb, and after a few moments of silence, retraced his steps . . . we returned in silence to the steamer, and no allusion was ever made to this act of filial devotion."

[decorative delimiter]

88 O. R., 6, 364‑65, 367, 368.

[decorative delimiter]

89 R. E. Lee to G. W. C. Lee, Jan. 19, 1862; Jones, L. and L., 158.

[decorative delimiter]

90 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Jan. 28, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 62. The reports of the sinking are in N. O. R., 12, 512 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

91 O. R., 6, 367, 369, 370‑71. For Wall's Cut, see ibid., 6, 85. See also Lee to Mrs. Lee, Jan. 28, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 62; R. E. Lee to G. W. C. Lee, Jan. 19, 1862; Jones, L. and L., 158. Lee was not deceived as to the enemy's plan. Although General Sherman was still undecided whether to attempt a direct advance on Savannah, to cut off Fort Pulaski, or to operate against Fernandina, he had notified the War Department that he had definitely abandoned plans for land operations north of the Savannah River. For the development of Sherman's plan, see O. R., 6, 193 ff., 212, 214, 217, 219‑20, 221; 12 N. O. R., 486, 498, 555, 556.

[decorative delimiter]

92 R. E. Lee to G. W. C. Lee, Jan. 19, 1862; Jones, L. and L., 158. In The Richmond Times-Dispatch of Jan. 20, 1907, Miss Katherine C. Stiles stated that the Mackays put at Lee's disposal the quarters he had so often used when he had been at Cockspur Island, more than thirty years before. He usually spent the evenings there, Miss Stiles said, but would not spend the night for fear he would bring reprisals on the family in case Savannah was captured. This was his practice throughout the war whenever he was close to the enemy, except in Richmond and in Petersburg. General G. Moxley Sorrel noted in his charming Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer (cited hereafter as Sorrel), 77, that Lee listened to the music of Miss Sorrel with much pleasure and frequently in later months inquired about her, always as "my singing bird."

[decorative delimiter]

93 6 C. M. H., 83.

[decorative delimiter]

94 O. R., 6, 375, 389.

[decorative delimiter]

95 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Feb. 8, 1862, R. E. Lee, Jr., 62‑63; O. R., 6, 379.

[decorative delimiter]

96 O. R., 6, 376.

[decorative delimiter]

97 O. R., 6, 376.

[decorative delimiter]

98 O. R., 6, 377, 379, 386‑87, 390, 391, 396; 3 Confederate Records of Georgia, 151‑52, 152‑53, 163‑65.

[decorative delimiter]

99 O. R., 6, 385‑86, 389.

[decorative delimiter]

100 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Feb. 8, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 63‑64.

[decorative delimiter]

101 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Feb. 8, 1862; cf. same to same, Feb. 23, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 64.

[decorative delimiter]

102 O. R., 6, 390, 393‑94, 398, 399, 400.

[decorative delimiter]

103 This brought Lee's strength down to approximately that of his adversary, who had 17,882. O. R., 6, 237, 371.

[decorative delimiter]

104 O. R., 6, 397‑98.

[decorative delimiter]

105 O. R., 6, 376, 391.

[decorative delimiter]

106 O. R., 6, 394; cf. to General Evans, ibid., 394.

[decorative delimiter]

107 For Sherman's final decision, on orders from McClellan, to reduce Fort Pulaski rather than to attack Savannah, see O. R., 6, 225, 226, 235, 236.

[decorative delimiter]

108 O. R., 6, 397.

[decorative delimiter]

109 O. R., 6, 384‑85.

[decorative delimiter]

110 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Feb. 23, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 65.

[decorative delimiter]

111 Lee to Annie Lee, March 2, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 65.

[decorative delimiter]

112 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Feb. 23, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 64.

[decorative delimiter]

113 R. E. Lee to G. W. C. Lee, Feb. 23, 1862; Jones, L. and L., 161‑62.

[decorative delimiter]

114 R. E. Lee to Annie Lee, March 2, 1862; R. E. Lee, Jr., 65‑66.

[decorative delimiter]

115 O. R., 6, 400.

[decorative delimiter]

116 O. R., 53, 221.

[decorative delimiter]

117 O. R., 6, 401.

[decorative delimiter]

118 He reached Charleston the 4th and left on the 5th (Charleston Mercury, March 5, 1862).

[decorative delimiter]

119 2 Roman, 6‑8.

[decorative delimiter]

120 For a critique of the system, in answer to Long's excessive claims for Lee, see Thomas Jordan in 1 S. H. S. P., 403 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

121 O. R., 6, 367.

[decorative delimiter]

122 Cf. his contingent approval of Ripley's proposed operations against North Edisto, O. R., 6, 369.


Thayer's Note:

a battle of Fort Donelson: For an excellent collection of detailed primary sources, see this page.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 16 Oct 13