Would Meade attack? Every man in the Army of Northern Virginia put that question to himself on the morning of the 4th of July, and no man knew the answer. If the Federals had the strength to take the initiative, they would find the Confederates frightfully extended, bleeding, and almost without ammunition. Should the Union commander for any reason withhold attack, another dawn would find Lee on his way back to Virginia, moving as fast as he could without endangering his wagon-train.
As the anxious hours passed without any sign of a Union offensive, the plans for the withdrawal took form. Instead of following the long route back to Chambersburg and thence to Hagerstown, the army was to go southwestward to Fairfield and westward to Greencastle. Stuart was to send a brigade or two of cavalry to hold the passes west of Cashtown on the Chambersburg pike, so that the Federal horse could not advance by that line and get ahead of the slower-moving Southern infantry before it reached the Potomac. The rest of the Confederate troopers were to use the Emmitsburg road and protect the rear and left flank of the army. The wounded were to leave as soon as practicable. Hill was to follow. Then Longstreet was to take up the march and was to guard the prisoners. Ewell would cover the rear. All the wagons not used in transporting the wounded were to form a single train, placed midway the column. To prevent all misunderstandings, Lee issued these orders explicitly and in writing.1
A hundred troublesome details absorbed the weary commander of the defeated army. In an effort to relieve himself of the burden of 4000 unwounded prisoners, he dispatched a flag of truce proposing an exchange, but Meade prudently declined.2 Engineers p136 were sent back to select a line in rear of Hagerstown, in case the enemy pursued vigorously;3 the wounded were painfully assembled with great difficulty, and an artillery force was provided to supplement the escort, which consisted of Imboden's cavalry.4 A brief report was prepared for the President.5
To add to the difficulties of the retreat, a torrential rain began to fall ominously about 1 P.M. and delayed the start of the ambulance train.6 Final preparations had to be made in a blinding storm. When at last the wounded were on their way, in rough wagons that were as torturing as the rack,7 fully 5000 sulkers and sick contrived to march with them. Lee could not readily prevent this, but he was most solicitous that no panic or sense of demoralization spread among the troops. When "Sandie" Pendleton brought the daily report of the Second Corps, he said to Lee encouragingly, "General, I hope the other two corps are in as good condition for work as ours is this morning." Lee was fond of "Sandie," but talk of this sort was apt to create dangerous impressions, so he looked steadily at young Pendleton and said coldly, "What reason have you, young man, to suppose they are not?"8 To sustain the morale, he moved about as calmly as if the withdrawal of the army in the face of the foe were a simple summer's-day field manoeuvre. He had little to say, but when he rode past the camps of the Texans and was welcomed with their loyal cheer, he was not too much absorbed in his own sombre thoughts to raise his hat in acknowledgment of their greeting.9 In the afternoon, while the storm raged, Lee, without a tremor visible to any one, surveyed from one of the ridges the tragic scene of the defeat;10 and when, in the evening, he stopped at Longstreet's bivouac on the roadside, his remark was the same as that with which he had met Pickett on the field after the fatal charge: "It's all my fault," he said, "I thought my men were invincible."11 Longstreet had lost his sullenness in the face of the disaster to the army, and though he and Lee did not talk of the battle, Longstreet calmly voiced his sobered opinion to Colonel p137 Fremantle. The assault had failed, he said, because it had not been made with a sufficient number of men. He made no reference then to the rejection of his plan of moving by the right in an effort to get between the enemy and Washington.12
The next day, July 5, was sixteen daylight hours of purgatory. The rain was falling as heavily as ever; the men were muddy, wet, and hungry.13 So slowly did the other corps drag themselves along the blocked road that it was 2 A.M. before Ewell left the field of Gettysburg, and 4 P.M. by the time he reached Fairfield,14 which was •less than nine miles from his starting point. Even then, some of his wagons were lost.15 Ewell was so outraged by this that he wished to turn back and get immediate revenge, but Lee refused to countenance such a foolish adventure. "No, no, General Ewell," he said, "we must let those people alone for the present — we will try them again some other time."16 The rain continued during the night of July 5‑6,17 but as the leading corps was then through the mountains it was able to move, unabashed, at greater speed than it had ever made before in putting distance between itself and its old adversary. "Let him who will say it to the contrary," one Texas recruit confided in a letter to his wife, "we made Manassas time from Pennsylvania."18
At 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 6th, Longstreet's corps, which was then in the van, succeeded in reaching Hagerstown.19 Lee rode with it and found to his vast relief that the ambulance train had arrived at Williamsport that day with the wounded. But the elements had again done battle against the South: the pontoon bridge below the town had been broken up by a raiding party, and the Potomac, swollen by the rains, was far past fording. The army, its wounded and its prisoners, were cut off from Virginia soil. More than that, a mixed force of Federal cavalry and artillery had appeared in the rear and had threatened the capture of the wagons and their pain-racked loads. The teamsters had been organized, however, to support Imboden, two regiments of infantry that had been returning from Winchester had been rushed up, and the attack had been held off until Stuart had p138 arrived with his cavalry. The Federals had then been repulsed.20 Despite this success, the situation was worse than serious. The raging river was so high that some days, perhaps a week, would pass before it was fordable. The country roundabout had already been foraged; few supplies could be collected. Meade, in Lee's opinion, was certainly pursuing in the hope of attacking before he crossed the Potomac. Any long delay would involve another battle in Maryland, and a disaster with the river at flood would mean annihilation.21
Lee's first thought was for his wounded. He gave orders that all the ferry-boats in the vicinity should be collected so that he might use them in transporting the sufferers to the south bank.22 The wagons must wait until the river subsided or until the pontoon bridge could be reconstructed,23 and if Meade attacked, the army must prepare to give battle once more to the Federals.24 Fortunately, the engineers had found and had laid out an admirable defensive line. It extended from Downsville, which lies •three miles south of Williamsport, northward in front of that town to the Conocoheague.º Both flanks were well covered.25
The men in the ranks were not conscious of the danger they faced, or else they defied it. They were in sight of their own country once more and their morale seemed unimpaired, thin as were the ranks.26 "We are all right at Hagerstown," one of Lee's staff officers wrote his sister reassuringly, "and we hope soon to get up another fight."27 Another young soldier maintained, "The army is in fine spirits and confident of success when they again meet the enemy."28 Lee himself reported the condition of the army good "and its confidence unimpaired."29 The bands began to play again,30 and the soldiers renewed their jests. Some of the men were not so mindful as Lee had commanded in respecting the p139 property of the Maryland farmers, and had to be given stern orders not to forage or to steal horses.31 Finding one battalion of artillery burning fence rails, Lee sent for the major and asked if a copy of General Orders No. 73 had reached him. The officer admitted that he had received those famous instructions against damaging the property of civilians. "Then, sir," said Lee, "you must not only have them published, but you must see that they are obeyed."32
In the press of duties in front of Williamsport, Lee found the loss and suffering of his men brought home to him. On June 26, his own son, Rooney Lee, wounded at Brandy Station, had been taken from his bed at "Hickory Hill," Hanover County, by a Federal raiding party, and had been carried to Fort Monroe, where he was held hostage for the good treatment of some Federal officers who had been threatened with death as a measure of retaliation. Lee's warmth of feeling for Rooney made the capture of his son a deep personal sorrow, and he hastened, busy as he was, to send comforting words to the soldier's young wife.33
Not for a moment, however, did Lee let his concern for Rooney or his uneasiness for his troops shake his equanimity. No trace of resentment was there in his dealings with the men who had failed him. He greeted Longstreet cordially as "my old war horse."34 In fact, for months thereafter Lee showed more than usual warmth to Longstreet, as if to make it plain that he did not blame him and did not countenance any whispering against Longstreet that might cause dissension in the army.35 When Captain Ross, the Austrian observer, came to call, Lee talked of Gettysburg as if all the fault had been his own. He told Ross that if he had been aware that Meade had been able to concentrate his whole army, he would not have attacked him, but that the success of the first day, the belief that Meade had only a part of his p140 army on the field, and the enthusiasm of his own troops had led him to conclude that the possible results of a victory justified the risks. He added that his lack of accurate knowledge of the enemy's concentration was due to the absence of Stuart's cavalry.36 In writing to the President, he was full of fight and urged once more that Beauregard's army be brought to the upper Rappahannock for a demonstration on Washington.37 "I hope," he said, "Your Excellency will understand that I am not in the least discouraged, or that my faith in the protection of an all-wise Providence, or in the fortitude of this army, is at all shaken. But, though conscious that the enemy has been much shattered in the recent battle, I am aware that he can be easily reinforced, while no addition can be made to our numbers. The measure, therefore, that I have recommended is altogether one of a prudential nature."38
This was written on the 8th of July. The next night an officer who had escaped from the Federals at Gettysburg arrived with news that the enemy was marching on Hagerstown.39 This confirmed Lee's belief that Meade intended to attack him north of the Potomac,40 and he prepared accordingly. His cavalry were thrown out as a wide screen and the infantry were moved into the lines prepared for them.41 In person he supervised the posting of Longstreet's men; he issued a stirring appeal to the army to meet once more the onslaughts of the enemy.42 He did not lose grip on himself, but to Colonel Alexander, who observed him on many fields, Lee never appeared as deeply anxious as on July 10.43 The wounded and the prisoners were not yet across the river; supplies sufficed only from day to day because the flood waters made it impossible to operate some of the flour mills; forage was p141 getting very scarce, and the horses were subsisting only on grass and standing grain.44
The Federals had been approaching cautiously,45 but by the 12th they grew bolder46 and appeared in considerable strength around Boonsboro and Sharpsburg.47 Lee's mind wavered between hope and anxiety. "Had the river not unexpectedly risen," he wrote his wife, "all would have been well with us; but God, in His all-wise providence, ruled otherwise, and our communications have been interrupted and almost cut off. The waters have subsided to •about four feet, and if they continue, by tomorrow, I hope, our communications will be open. I trust that a merciful God, our only hope and refuge, will not desert us in this hour of need, and will deliver us by His almighty hand, that the whole world may recognize His power and all hearts be lifted up in adoration and praise of His unbounded loving-kindness. We must, however, submit to His almighty will, whatever that may be."48
Lee's prayers seemed answered on the 13th. Jackson's handyman, the resourceful Major J. A. Harman, had torn down old warehouses and had constructed a number of crude boats that had been floated down to Falling Waters, where some of the original pontoon had been recovered.49 With these a crossing had been laid — "a good bridge" in Lee's thankful eyes,50 a "crazy affair" to the more critical Colonel Sorrel.51 The river at Williamsport was still deep but fordable, at last, by infantry. Lee determined not to delay a day in reaching a wider field of manoeuvre on the south shore of the forbidding Potomac. To expedite his movement he decided to use both the ford and the pontoons — Ewell to cross by the former route, and the trains and the rest of the army by the bridge.52 Longstreet demurred at this withdrawal, because there was a chance of fighting a defensive battle on ground to his liking, but Lee overruled him and personally directed the preparations for the crossing.53
p142 That afternoon, as if to defeat the whole difficult enterprise, rain began to descend heavily. By nightfall the river seemed to be pouring from the skies.54 As Ewell's road to Williamsport was hard-surfaced, his progress was steady, but at the ford there was much confusion.55 Nerves grew raw under the strain.56 A new road had been cut to the bridge at Falling Waters and under the downpour this soon became so heavy that the wagons began to stall. Instead of the swift march for which Lee had hoped, there was a virtual blockade.57 Hours passed while drenched and wretched thousands stood wearily waiting for the trains to move on. All night the laboring teams struggled through the mire, and soldiers strained at the hub-deep wheels. Lee sat on his horse at the north end of the bridge, encouraging the men until even his strong frame grew weary.58 "The best standing points were ankle-deep in mud," Longstreet recorded, "and the roads half-way to the knee, puddling and getting worse. We could only keep three or four torches alight, and those were dimmed at times when heavy rains came."59 Toward morning the report was that Ewell's column would soon be in Virginia; but at Falling Waters dawn found the rear of the wagon train still swaying uneasily on the pontoon bridge. Longstreet and Hill were yet to cross, with every prospect of being attacked while on the march. Leaving Longstreet to direct the movement on the north side of the river,60 Lee went to the southern shore to expedite the clearing of the bridge, and there he waited while the survivors of Longstreet's corps tramped through the rain. It was the last time Lee ever passed over that stream as a soldier.
p143 Finally the rear brigade of Longstreet's corps reached the bridge-head. Only Hill and the cavalry remained behind. Lee's anxiety was not wholly relieved, for, while he was grateful that so large a part of the army had escaped, he believed it certain that Meade would attack Hill. When Colonel Sorrel rode up and reported that Longstreet's last file had passed, Lee bade him return and urge the Third Corps to make the utmost haste and not to halt unless compelled to do so. Soon Sorrel came back and announced that the road was clear. Hill, he said, was only •three-quarters of a mile from the bridge.
"What was his leading division?" Lee inquired.
"General Anderson, sir," Sorrel answered.
"I am sorry, Colonel; my friend Dick is quick enough pursuing, but in retreat I fear he will not be as sharp as I should like."
At that moment the echo of a heavy gun rolled up the river gorge. "There!" the General exclaimed. "I was expecting it — the beginning of the attack!"61
But instead of halting or stampeding at the sound, Hill's tired troops continued their steady tramp across the bridge. Ere long General Lee learned that only the rear division, Heth's, was in contact with the enemy, and that it was holding its own. At one time Heth dispatched an officer to request that Pender's division be sent back to reinforce him, but when ordered to continue his movement, he contrived to reach the river with no other loss than that of the stragglers and sick whom he had not been able to push on ahead of him.62 "As the bulk of the rearguard of the army safely passed over the shaky bridge," one observer testified, "as it swayed to and fro, lashed by the current, [Lee] uttered a sigh of relief, and a great weight seemed taken from his shoulders. Seeing his fatigue and exhaustion, General Stuart gave him some coffee; he drank it with avidity, and declared, as he handed back the cup, that nothing had ever refreshed him so much."63
p144 The final operation had been more harrowing, in the opinion of General Lane, than even the first stages of the retreat from Gettysburg.64 Men had become so weary that they had fallen asleep in the rain and mud whenever the column had halted.65 One South Carolina colonel who had been in all of Lee's campaigns, pronounced it the severest march his men had ever made.66 Heth had required twelve torturing hours to cover •seven miles.67 But the retreat was over! The Potomac stood between the battered Army of Northern Virginia and the disappointed Federals. Many were the regrets that the Confederates had been "allowed to escape." Loud were the protests that Meade had not pushed his pursuit vigorously.68
As the army manifestly must have rest, Lee moved it on the 15th to the vicinity of Bunker Hill.69 His expectation was to advance into Loudoun County, but the swollen Shenandoah prevented an early crossing.70 Forced to remain temporarily where he was, Lee sent out men and horses, threshed wheat, carried it to the mills, ground it, and, with the beef captured in Pennsylvania, contrived to give a sufficient ration to the hungry army.71 Thousands of the cavalrymen were dismounted because their horses had not been shod and had become lame. Robertson's brigade had been diminished, chiefly on this account, to a bare 300.72 Lee collected horseshoes as rapidly as practicable, reduced transportation once more, procured corn for animals that had not tasted it since Gettysburg, and did what he could at so great a distance from Richmond to refit the troops.73
Before Lee could make more than a start in the never-ending work of reconstruction, Meade crossed the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge and advanced his cavalry to the passes into Loudoun. Fearing that this might presage an attempt to keep him in the Valley while the enemy moved on Richmond, Lee promptly made counter-dispositions and placed Longstreet in Manassas and p145 Chester Gaps before the enemy could take them.74 With the waters lowered somewhat, a pontoon bridge was then thrown over the Shenandoah, Longstreet's remaining troops crossed, passed through Chester Gap, and reached Culpeper on July 24. Hill followed. Ewell, who was left in the Valley in the hope of picking off a force at Martinsburg, then moved to Madison Courthouse, where he arrived on July 29. A force left at Manassas Gap had an affair with the enemy, but drew off with no great difficulty and rejoined the main army. The enemy shifted to Warrenton, and from that base on the night of July 31-August 1 sent a cavalry column and some infantry across the Rappahannock. The Confederate horse promptly opposed this advance; but as the Federal movement might be the initial step in a manoeuvre to catch him between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, or else to resume operations in front of Fredericksburg, Lee decided to transfer his whole army south of the Rapidan. This was accomplished by August 4, on which date the Gettysburg campaign may be said to have come to its conclusion, with the opposing troops holding almost the very ground whence Jackson had started the first stage of Lee's offensive a year previously.75 The rapid changes of position during this last phase of the campaign were made with little loss and in good spirit. There was, however, the inevitable reaction that follows open campaigning, and among the North Carolina conscripts some desertions occurred.76 To disappointed civilian eyes, the morale of the troops seemed lower than usual.77 Even Major Walter Taylor, who was more familiar with the temper of the tired men, had already p146 been compelled to admit that the army was better satisfied when on Southern soil.78 By the second week in August, this reaction was past, and the spirits of officers and men were high again. "This is a grand old army!" Taylor wrote proudly, soon after Lee's headquarters had been established at Orange and the two armies had become inactive.79 "No despondency here," he exclaimed, "though we hear of it in Richmond."80
Disappointment was, indeed, general at the capital, and there was much questioning throughout the South.81 Lee refused to accept this as justified, and remarked that little value was to be attached to popular judgment of victories or of defeats. He told Major Seddon that after Fredericksburg and again after Chancellorsville, he had been greatly depressed because he could not follow up either success, but the country had been jubilant over the outcome of both battles.82 "As far as I am concerned," he said of one series of hostile complaints, "the remarks fall harmless," but he felt that censure of the army did harm at home and abroad.83 When General Pickett filed a report in which he complained of the lack of support given him in the charge, Lee returned the document. "You and your men have covered yourself with glory," he said, "but we have the enemy to fight and must carefully, at this critical moment, guard against dissensions which the reflections in your report would create. I will, therefore, suggest that you destroy both copy and original, substituting one confined to casualties merely. I hope all will yet be well."84 In p147 preparing his own report the following January, he struck from Major Marshall's draft all specific criticism.85
THE MANNER OF MEN THAT LEE COMMANDED
Flanked on either side by armed Union guards, these prisoners of war were cavalrymen of the Army of Northern Virginia,
captured shortly before the beginning of the Gettysburg campaign.
Their diversity of apparel, ranging from complete uniform to simple civilian attire, was typical of the entire army after 1862.
Despite Lee's example and influence, criticism of the Confederate operations at Gettysburg was not silenced in 1863 and has been expressed at intervals ever since. Where confined to the actual military details of the campaign, this criticism is easily analyzed, for no other American battle has been so fully studied, and concerning none is there more general agreement on the specific reasons for the failure of the losing army.
The invasion itself was, of course, a daring move, but, in the circumstances that Lee faced, politically and in a military sense, it probably was justified. The first mistake was in connection with Stuart's operations. To recapitulate this point, Lee intended to allow his cavalry commander latitude as to where he should enter Maryland. He is not to be blamed for giving Stuart discretion, nor is Stuart justly subject to censure for exercising it. But the Beau Sabreur of the South, by pushing on after he had encountered resistance east of the Bull Run Mountains, violated orders and deprived Lee of his services when most needed. He should have turned back then, as Lee had directed him to do should he find his advance hindered by Federal columns. Stuart erred, likewise, in taking with him all the cavalry brigades that had been accustomed to doing the reconnaissance work of the Army of Northern Virginia. General Lee, for his part, was at fault in handling the cavalry left at his disposal. He overestimated the fighting value of Jenkins's and of Imboden's brigades, which had little previous experience except in raids, and he failed to keep in close touch with Robertson and Jones, who remained behind in Virginia.86 Once in Pennsylvania, Lee's operations were handicapped not only because he lacked sufficient cavalry, but also because he did not have Stuart at hand. He had become dependent upon that officer for information of the enemy's position and plans and, in Stuart's absence, he had no satisfactory form of military intelligence. It is not enough to say p148 with General Early, in exculpation of Stuart, that Lee found the enemy in spite of the absence of his cavalry.87 Had "Jeb" Stuart been at hand, Lee would have had early information of the advance of the Federals and either would have outfooted them to Gettysburg or would have known enough about their great strength to refrain from attacking as he did. The injudicious employment of the Confederate horse during the Gettysburg campaign was responsible for most of the other mistakes on the Southern side and must always remain a warning of the danger of permitting the cavalry to lose contact with an army when the enemy's positions are unknown. In its consequences, the blunder was more serious than that which Hooker made at Chancellorsville in sending Stoneman on a raid when he should have had his mounted forces in front and on the flank of the XI Corps.88
The second reason for the Confederate defeat manifestly was the failure of Ewell to take Cemetery Hill when Lee suggested, after the Federal defeat on the afternoon of July 1, that he attack it. Had Ewell thrown Early forward, without waiting for Johnson, he probably could have taken the hill at any time prior to 4 P.M. or perhaps to 4:30. Ewell hesitated because he was unfamiliar with Lee's methods and had been trained in a different school of command. Jackson, who had always directed Ewell's operations, had been uniformly explicit in his orders and had never allowed discretion unless compelled to do so; Lee always trusted the tactical judgment of his principal subordinates unless he had to be peremptory. Ewell, moreover, was of a temperament to take counsel, and was puzzled and embarrassed when told to capture Cemetery Hill "if practicable." Lee could not be expected to change his system for Ewell, nor could Ewell be expected to change his nature after only two months under Lee.
The third reason for defeat was the extent of the Confederate line and the resultant thinness. Lee's front on the second day, from Hood's right, opposite Round Top, to the left of Johnson, was •slightly more than five miles in length. Communication between the flanks was slow and difficult. Co-ordination of attack p149 was almost impossible with a limited staff.89 Lee should have held to the decision reached late on the afternoon of the 1st and considered again on the morning of the 2d. He should have abandoned all attempts against the Culp's Hill position. By concentrating his attacks from Cemetery Hill to Round Top, he would have increased the offensive strength of his line by at least one-third. In doing this, he would not have subjected himself to a dangerous enfilade from Cemetery Hill, because he had sufficient artillery to put that hill under cross-fire from Seminary Ridge and from Gettysburg. Lee finally discarded the plan of shortening his line on the representation of Ewell that Johnson could take Culp's Hill — an instance where the advantage that would certainly have resulted from a concentrated attack was put aside for the uncertainty of a coup on the flank.
The fourth reason for the defeat was the state of mind of the responsible Confederate commanders. On July 2, Longstreet was disgruntled because Lee refused to take his advice for a tactical defensive. Determined, apparently, to force a situation in which his plan would have to be adopted in spite of Lee, he delayed the attack on the right until Cemetery Ridge was crowded with men, whereas if he had attacked early in the morning, as Lee intended, he probably could have stormed that position and assuredly could have taken Round Top. Longstreet's slow and stubborn mind rendered him incapable of the quick daring and loyal obedience that had characterized Jackson. Yet in the first battle after the death of "Stonewall" it seemed the course of wisdom to substitute the First for the Second Corps as the "column of attack" because its staff and line were accustomed to working together. Longstreet's innate lack of qualification for duty of this type had been confirmed by his period of detached duty. He was never the same man after he had deceived himself into thinking he was a great strategist. It was Lee's misfortune at Gettysburg that he had to employ in offensive operations a man whose whole inclination was toward the defensive.
But this indictment of Longstreet does not relieve Lee of all blame for the failure on the second day at Gettysburg. His greatest weakness as a soldier was displayed along with Longstreet's, p150 for when Longstreet sulked, Lee's temperament was such that he could not bring himself either to shake Longstreet out of his bad humor by a sharp order, or to take direction of the field when Longstreet delayed. No candid critic of the battle can follow the events of that fateful morning and not have a feeling that Lee virtually surrendered to Longstreet, who obeyed only when he could no longer find an excuse for delay. Lee's one positive order was that delivered about 11 o'clock for Longstreet to attack. Having done this much, Lee permitted Longstreet to waste the time until after 4 o'clock. It is scarcely too much to say that on July 2 the Army of Northern Virginia was without a commander.
The conclusion is inevitable, moreover, that Lee allowed operations to drift on the morning of the 2d, not only because he would not deal sternly with Longstreet but also because he placed such unquestioning reliance on his army that he believed the men in the ranks could redeem Longstreet's delay. If Longstreet was insubordinate, Lee was overconfident. This psychological factor of the overconfidence of the commanding general is almost of sufficient importance to be regarded as a separate reason for the Confederate defeat.90
The mind of Ewell was similarly at fault on July 2. Although he had then been given his direct orders by Lee in person, Ewell either did not comprehend the importance of the task assigned him or else he was unable to co-ordinate the attacks of his three divisions, two of which were under commanders almost as unfamiliar with their duties as he was. Ewell's attacks were those of Lee at Malvern Hill, or those of McClellan at Sharpsburg, isolated, disjointed, and ineffective. Had Early and Rodes engaged when Johnson made his assault, there is at least a probability that Early could have held Cemetery Hill. If he had done so, the evacuation of Cemetery Ridge would have been necessary that night, or else Pickett's charge could have been driven home with the help of a shattering Confederate fire from the captured eminence.
Fifth and most fundamental among the reasons for Lee's failure at Gettysburg was the general lack by the reorganized army of co-ordination in attack. Some of the instances of this on July 2 p151 had already been given. To these may be added the failure of A. P. Hill's corps to support the advance of Wright and of Wilcox when the attack of the First Corps reached the front of the Third. General Wilcox maintained that Anderson's division was badly handled then and that the captured ground could have been retained if Anderson had been on the alert.91 Wilcox may have been in error concerning some of the details, but the impression left by the operations of Hill's corps is that they were not unified and directed to the all-important object of seizing and holding Cemetery Ridge. An even greater lack of co-ordination was apparent on the 3d. It was imperative on the last day of the battle that the three corps act together with absolute precision, for every one must have realized that another repulse would necessitate a retreat. Yet the reorganized army did not fight as a single machine. Longstreet could have had Pickett on the field at dawn and could have attacked when Ewell did; but he was still so intent on carrying his own point and moving by the right flank, that he devoted himself to that plan instead of hurrying Pickett into position. When Longstreet would not attack with his whole corps, Lee made the mistake of shifting his attack northward, and of delivering it with parts of two corps. Pickett and Pettigrew advanced together almost as well as if they had belonged to the same corps, but there was no co-ordination of their support. The men at the time — and critics since then — seem to have been so intent on watching the charge that they have forgotten the tragic fact that after the two assaulting divisions reached Cemetery Ridge they received no reinforcements. Probably it was the course of wisdom not to have rushed Anderson forward along with Pickett and Pettigrew, but there has never been any satisfactory explanation why Wilcox's advance was delayed or the whole of Anderson's division was not thrown in when it was apparent that Pickett and Pettigrew would reach the enemy's position. It was probably to this that Lee referred, on the night of July 3, in his conversation with General Imboden.92 There were risks, of course, in hurling all the troops against Cemetery Ridge, and leaving none in reserve, but Lee had done the same thing at Gaines's Mill and at Second Manassas, and in both instances had p152 driven the enemy from the field. Similarly, the advance of the left brigade of Pettigrew's division was ragged and uncertain from the moment it started, yet nothing was done by Hill or by Longstreet to strengthen that flank or to create a diversion. On the front of Ewell that day there was no co-ordination of his attack with Longstreet, or even co-ordination of his own divisions. Two of Ewell's divisions waited while Johnson wore himself out on Culp's Hill during the morning, and then, in the afternoon, those two in turn were repulsed. Ewell was ready to assault when the day was young, but Longstreet was not then willing. When Longstreet at last was forced into action, Ewell was half-crippled.
Lack of co-ordination was displayed in the artillery as well. So much has been written of the volume of the fire delivered against Cemetery Ridge that few students of the battle have stopped to count the batteries that were not utilized. Colonel Jennings C. Wise has computed that fifty-six of Lee's field-pieces were not employed at all on July 3, and that eighty of the eighty-four guns of the Second and Third Corps were "brought into action on a mathematically straight line, parallel to the position of the enemy and constantly increasing in range therefrom to the left or north."93 Nearly the whole value of converging fire was neglected. Furthermore, the Confederates lost the greatest opportunity of the battle when they did not dispose their artillery to blast the Federals from Cemetery Hill. That eminence stands at the northwestern turn of the long Federal line, the "bend of the fish-hook," and is open to attack by artillery on an arc of more than 200 degrees from the northeast, the north, the northward, and the west.º A concentrated bombardment on the 2d would have driven the Federals from the hill and would have made its capture easy. Once in Confederate hands, it could have been a point d'appui for an attack on Cemetery Ridge. A short cannonade of Cemetery Hill on the 3d, more or less a chance affair, played havoc with the Federal batteries stationed there and indicated what might have happened under a heavier fire.94 It is almost incredible that this opening was overlooked by the chief of artillery of the army or by the gunners of the Second and Third p153 Corps. There are only two possible explanations. One is that General Pendleton devoted himself to reconnaissance, chiefly on the right, instead of studying the proper disposition of the guns. The other is that the lines of the two corps chanced to join in front of Cemetery Hill, so that liaison was poor. Neither Colonel Lindsay Walker of the Third nor Colonel John Thompson Brown of the Second seems to have realized to what extent the hill was exposed.
Southern critics of Gettysburg, admitting all these mistakes, have been wont to say that while each error was serious, the battle would not have been lost if any one of the blunders had been avoided. There is a probability at least as strong that few of the mistakes would have occurred if Jackson had not died and a reorganization of the army had not thereby been made necessary. Then it was that Lee was compelled to place two-thirds of the troops under corps commanders who had never directed that many men in battle; then it was that the sentimental demand of the South led him to put at the head of the reduced Second Corps the gallant Ewell who had never served directly under Lee and was unfamiliar with his discretionary methods; then it was that new division commanders were chosen; then it was that the staff, which was always too small, was divided among generals who were unacquainted with the staff personnel, with the troops, and even with the field officers; then it was that Longstreet, by the ill-chance of war, was cast for the rôle of the irreplaceable Jackson and became the appointed leader of the column of attack, the duty of all others for which he was least suited. Read in the light of the aftermath, the story of the reorganization of May, 1863, thus becomes one of the major tragedies of the Confederacy and explains why the death of Jackson was the turning-point in the history of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Such, in brief, were the principal Confederate mistakes at Gettysburg and some of the reasons for them as they appear to the student after seventy years.95 How did those errors appear to Lee? What was his judgment of the battle and of the campaign? p154 Said he: ". . . the loss of our gallant officers and men . . . causes me to weep tears of blood and to wish that I never could hear the sound of a gun again."96 More than 23,000 Southerners had been killed, wounded, and captured by the enemy from the beginning of the campaign at Brandy Station to the return to the lines on the Rapidan (June 9 – August 4).97 Five guns had been lost, approximately fifty wagons and more than thirty flags.98 Lee believed, however, that the enemy had paid a price in proportion,99 and he was far from thinking that the invasion had been fruitless. Much of what he hoped to achieve had been accomplished — the enemy had been driven from the Shenandoah Valley, the hostile forces on the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas had been reduced, the Federal plan of campaign for the summer had been broken up, and there was little prospect of a resumption of the offensive that year by the Union forces in Virginia.100 He was no more prepared to admit a crushing defeat than Meade was to claim one,101 and perhaps he shared the philosophical view later expressed by General Early that if the army had remained in Virginia it would have been forced to fight battles with losses as heavy as those of Gettysburg.102 As criticism spread, Lee was quick to absolve his men of all responsibility for failure to attain the full objective. The army, he wrote Mrs. Lee on July 15, "has accomplished all that could be reasonably expected. It ought not to have been expected to perform impossibilities, or to have fulfilled the anticipations of the thoughtless and unreasonable."103 p155 In his preliminary report of July 31 he said: "The conduct of the troops was all that I could desire or expect, and they deserved success so far as it can be deserved by heroic valor and fortitude. More may have been required of them than they were able to perform, but my admiration of their noble qualities and confidence in their ability to cope successfully with the enemy has suffered no abatement from the issue of this protracted and sanguinary conflict."104 He hoped that the final reports would "protect the reputation of every officer,"105 and he was determined not to blame any of his subordinates. "I know," he said, "how prone we are to censure and how ready to blame others for the non-fulfilment of our expectations. This is unbecoming in a generous people, and I grieve to see its expression."106 He felt that he had himself been at fault in expecting too much of the army. His confidence in it, he frankly confessed, had carried him too far107 — an opinion that was shared by some of the men in the ranks.108 Overlooking all the tactical errors and all the mistakes due to the state of mind of his subordinates, he went straight to the underlying cause of failure when he said it was due primarily to lack of co-ordination. On July 13, in a long letter to President Davis, he summed up his views:
[The army] in my opinion achieved under the guidance of the Most High a general success, though it did not win a victory. I thought at the time that the latter was practicable. I still think that if all things would have worked together it would have been accomplished. But with the knowledge I then had, and in the circumstances I was then placed, I do not know what better course I could have pursued. With my present knowledge, and p156 could I have foreseen that the attack on the last day would have failed to drive the enemy from his position, I should certainly have tried some other course. What the ultimate result would have been is not so clear to me."109
After reflecting fully on the outcome in the comparative quiet of his camp at Orange Courthouse, he decided that he should ask to be relieved of the command of the army. In the course of a deliberately written letter to the President he said:
"The general remedy for the want of success in a military commander is his removal. This is natural, and, in many instances, proper. For, no matter what may be the ability of this officer, if he loses the confidence of his troops disaster must sooner or later ensue.
"I have been prompted by these reflections more than once since my return from Pennsylvania to propose to Your Excellency the propriety of selecting another commander for this army. I have seen and heard of expression of discontent in the public journals at the result of the expedition. I do not know how far this feeling extends in the army. My brother officers have been too kind to report it, and so far the troops have been too generous to exhibit it. It is fair, however, to suppose that it does exist, and success is so necessary to us that nothing should be risked to secure it. I therefore, in all sincerity, request Your Excellency to take measures to supply my place. I do this with the more earnestness because no one is more aware than myself of my inability for the duties of my position. I cannot even accomplish what I myself desire. How can I fulfill the expectations of others? In addition I sensibly feel the growing failure of my bodily strength. I have not yet recovered from the attack I experienced the past spring. I am becoming more and more incapable of exertion, and am thus prevented from making the personal examinations and giving the personal supervision to the operations in the field which I feel to be necessary. I am so dull in making use of the eyes of others I am frequently misled. Everything, therefore, points to the advantages to be derived from a new commander, and I the p157 more anxiously urge the matter upon Your Excellency from my belief that a younger and abler man than myself can readily be obtained. I know that he will have as gallant and brave an army as ever existed to second his efforts, and it would be the happiest day of my life to see at its head a worthy leader — one that would accomplish more than I could perform and all that I have wished. I hope Your Excellency will attribute my request to the true reason, the desire to serve my country, and to do all in my power to insure the success of her righteous cause.
"I have no complaints to make of any one but myself. I have received nothing but kindness from those above me, and the most considerate attention from my comrades and companions in arms. To Your Excellency I am specially indebted for uniform kindness and consideration. You have done everything in your power to aid me in the work committed to my charge, without omitting anything to promote the general welfare. I pray that your efforts may at length be crowned with success, and that you may long live to enjoy the thanks of a grateful people."110
Lee said nothing to any one of this letter, though its language indicates that it was written with an eye to its possible publication in case the President saw fit to relieve him of command. There is not a hint in any other contemporary paper that he had asked to be relieved, though there had been a rumor, about ten days before, that he had resigned.111
He had not long to wait for the President's decision. In a reply to General Pemberton, who had sustained a far worse defeat, Mr. Davis had said on August 9, "My confidence in both [you and Lee] has not been diminished because 'letter writers' have not sent forth your praise on the wings of the press."112 On August 12 or 13, Lee received from Mr. Davis a long answer in which the chief executive deplored the clamor of the times and then continued:
"But suppose, my dear friend, that I were to admit, with all their implications, the points which you present, where am I to p158 find that new commander who is to possess the greater ability which you believe to be required? I do not doubt the readiness with which you would give way to one who could accomplish all that you have wished, and you will do me the justice to believe that if Providence should kindly offer such a person for our use, I would not hesitate to avail of his services.
"My sight is not sufficiently penetrating to discover such hidden merit, if it exists, and I have but used the language of sober earnestness when I have impressed upon you the propriety of avoiding all unnecessary exposure to danger, because I felt our country could not bear to lose you. To ask me to substitute you by some one in my judgment more fit to command, or who would possess more of the confidence of the army, or of the reflecting men of the country, is to demand an impossibility. . . ."113
That ended it! Lee had to go on. Perhaps it was fortunate for the South that his request to be relieved of command did not become known, for the mere suggestion of such a possibility might have created discontent akin to mutiny in the Army of Northern Virginia. There probably was no exaggeration in the statement of one veteran, years afterward, that "the army would have arisen in revolt if it had been called upon to give up General Lee."114
The discussion of Gettysburg, however, did not end with this private exchange of letters. It continued into the winter and to the close of General Lee's life. To Longstreet's credit be it said that he did not criticise his chief at the time or argue in public the alleged virtues of his plan of operations which he continued to believe superior to Lee's. In a letter to his uncle, three weeks after the battle, he expressed willingness to assume his share of the responsibility — all of it, in fact.115 He claimed at a later date that Lee asked him after the campaign, "Why didn't you stop all that thing that day?"116 Subsequently, also, he maintained that Lee p159 told a staff officer of the First Corps in the winter of 1863‑64 that if Longstreet had been permitted to carry out his plan, instead of making the attack on Cemetery Ridge, he would have been successful. In east Tennessee, again, Longstreet showed a friend a letter in which Lee was quoted as saying, "Oh, General, had I but followed your advice, instead of pursuing the course that I did, how different all would have been."117 But in the face of charges that these statements were torn from their context, and in spite of a challenge to produce the originals, Longstreet remained silent.118 Not until General Lee had been dead for years did General Longstreet make the remarkable assertion that he "would and could have saved every man lost at Gettysburg."119 It was still later that Longstreet wrote that Lee was "excited and off his balance" at Gettysburg "and labored under that oppression until enough blood was shed to appease him."120
Since the publication of the official reports and of the narratives of the leading Confederate participants has shown the full measure of Longstreet's sulking, it has often been asked why Lee did not arrest him for insubordination or order him before a court-martial. The answer is quite simple: When Lee said, "It is all my fault," he meant exactly what he said. He undoubtedly considered himself to blame for the result. He was in command. If his orders were obeyed, the fault was with his plan; if his orders were not obeyed he was culpable for permitting them to be disregarded — so he must have reasoned. Even if this had not been his feeling he still would not have rid himself of Longstreet, for the simple reason that he had no one with whom to replace him. Grave as were Longstreet's faults, and costly as his peculiarities proved to be at Gettysburg, he was Lee's most experienced lieutenant and, after Jackson's death, the ablest, once he could be induced to go into action. Had he been removed, any successor then available would have disclosed other faults perhaps more serious. Lee displayed not the slightest difference in his manner toward Longstreet after the campaign: he was as friendly as ever p160 and, as always,121 determined to make the best of his subordinate's idiosyncrasies.
Lee made little comment on Gettysburg during the war. In talking with General Heth, who was one of the few generals in the army whom he called by his first name, Lee expressed conviction that the invasion of Pennsylvania was sound policy, and said that he would again enter that state if able to do so. He also remarked to Heth, when the dicta of the arm-chair strategists were under discussion, "After it is all over, as stupid a fellow as I am can see the mistakes that were made. I notice, however, that my mistakes are never told me until it is too late, and you, and all my officers, know that I am always ready and anxious to have their suggestions."122
When the war had ended, General Lee was still reticent in writing and speaking to strangers about Gettysburg or about any other of his battles, and never went further than to say to them that if the assault could have been co-ordinated success could have been attained.123 In conversation with close friends, he would sometimes be more communicative. In April, 1868, he discussed with Colonel William Allan the invasion of Pennsylvania, explained in some detail his reasons for taking the offensive, and then, according to Allan's contemporaneous memorandum, went on:
"He [Lee] found himself engaged with the Federal Army . . . unexpectedly, and had to fight. This being decided on, victory would have been won if he could have gotten one decided simultaneous attack on the whole line. This he tried his utmost to effect for three days, and failed. Ewell he could not get to act with decision. Rodes, Early, Johnson, attacked, and were hurt in detail. Longstreet, Hill, etc., could not be gotten to act in p161 concert. Thus the Federal troops were enabled to be opposed to each of our corps, or even divisions, in succession. As it was, however, he inflicted more damage than he received, and he broke up the Federal summer campaign."124
Discussing the battle with Governor John Lee Carroll of Maryland, Lee is quoted — though at second-hand — as saying that the battle would have been gained if General Longstreet had obeyed the orders given him, and had made the attack early instead of late. Lee was also credited with saying in the same conversation, "General Longstreet, when once in a fight, was a most brilliant soldier; but he was the hardest man to move I had in my army."125
The literal accuracy of various parts of these statements may be questioned, but it is certain that in the last years at Lexington, as Lee viewed the Gettysburg campaign in some perspective, he concluded that it was the absence of Jackson, not the presence of Ewell or of Longstreet, that made the Army of Northern Virginia a far less effective fighting machine at Gettysburg than at Chancellorsville. Not long before his death, in a long conversation with his cousin Cassius Lee of Alexandria, the General said that if Jackson had been at Gettysburg he would have held the heights that Ewell seized.126 And one afternoon, when he was out riding with Professor White, he said quietly, "If I had had Stonewall Jackson with me, so far as man can see, I should have won the battle of Gettysburg." That statement must stand. The darkest scene in the great drama of Gettysburg was enacted at Chancellorsville when Jackson fell.127
3 3 C. M. H., 420.
4 3 B. and L., 422.
7 3 B. and L., 424.
9 J. M. Polk: Memoirs of the Lost Cause, 18.
10 Fremantle, 254; Ross, 71.
11 W. M. Owen, 256.
12 Fremantle, 274.
13 Malone, 38; White in Richmond Howitzers, 210.
15 Fremantle, 277.
16 White in Richmond Howitzers, 211‑12.
17 Fremantle, 280.
18 J. C. West, 96.
23 3 B. and L., 422.
25 Long MS.; G. B. Davis: From Gettysburg to Williamsport, 3 M. H. S. M., 461‑62.
26 Alexander in 3 B. and L., 367.
27 Walter H. Taylor to his sister, July 7, 1863, Taylor MSS.
28 R. H. McKim: A Soldier's Recollections, 181. Cf. Jones, L. and L., 253: "I never saw the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia more anxious to fight or more confident of victory than they were at Hagerstown. . . ."
30 2 N. C. Regts., 399.
32 37 S. H. S. P., 142.
33 O. R., 27, part 2, pp796‑97; Fremantle, 287; Mrs. McGuire, 224; R. E. Lee, Jr., 98 ff.; personal account of the incident given the writer by Honorable Henry T. Wickham, then a boy at "Hickory Hill"; Jones, 399; Jones, L. and L., 277‑78. Fortunately, Rooney Lee stood the journey without relapse. By Aug. 2, 1863, Lee heard from a returning surgeon that his son was walking about on crutches. Later in the summer, a Federal surgeon in Libby prison sought through Reverend T. V. Moore to arrange a special exchange between Rooney Lee and himself, but Lee opposed such special exchanges and wrote Mr. Moore that he could not seek for his son a favor that could not be asked for the humblest soldier in the army (Jones, 184).
34 3 B. and L., 428.
36 Ross, 80. It was at this time that Lee explained to Scheibert his theory of the high command and his belief that the commanding general should not attempt to direct the battle tactically. See supra, vol. II, p347.
37 O. R., 27, part 2, p300. President Davis and Adjutant General Cooper had already vetoed this proposal, which Lee had advanced before he entered Pennsylvania (see supra, p48º). Unknown to Lee, however, Mr. Davis's answer had been taken from the courier by Captain Ulrich Dahlgren and had been forwarded to General Meade. The assurance this letter gave him that he had nothing to fear in the way of an advance from Virginia on Washington is alleged to have been one of the reasons for Meade's decision to remain at Gettysburg and to receive Lee's final assault there (Alexander, 367; 8 S. H. S. P., 523; O. R., 27, part 1, p75 ff.).
43 Alexander, 439‑40.
45 Meade believed that Lee had taken up a succession of strong positions (C. A. Page: Letters of a War Correspondent, 35).
46 Pearson, James S. Wadsworth, 231.
47 Long MS.
49 3 B. and L., 428.
51 Sorrel, 171.
54 Alexander, 440; Malone, 38; W. H. Stewart: A Pair of Blankets, 113.
56 Major Venable was sent to the ford to report on conditions there. When he came back to headquarters he announced with disgust and in a loud voice that things were going badly at Williamsport. Lee rebuked him hotly for speaking of such an important matter in a tone that could be heard by every passing soldier. The General's manner was so severe that Venable went off in a huff. Busy as Lee was, he observed that he had offended his loyal subordinate, and when he went to his tent to drink a glass of buttermilk, he sent for Venable to join him. The major came but refused to be mollified by the General's oblations. At dawn the next day, when Lee's staff was with him on the south bank, Colonel Venable, still smarting under Lee's reprimand, lay down and went to sleep. Seeing him exposed in the storm, Lee took off his own poncho and quietly put it over the officer. Needless to say, when Venable awakened and found what Lee had done, he forgot his pique and set down the episode in the book of his remembrance as another example of the thoughtfulness of his chief (Long, 301).
Thayer's Note: here the author refers to Charles Venable as both Major and Colonel. I've been unable so far to find out when Venable was promoted. Freeman consistently refers to him as Major thru Vol. II Ch. 27, and as Colonel starting in Vol. III Ch. 14; in the intervening chapters, inconsistently as one or the other, although this is the only place in which he does both in the same brief passage.
57 Longstreet, 429.
58 Cooke, 333.
59 Longstreet, 429.
60 Longstreet, 429‑30.
61 Sorrel, 171‑72.
62 The total number left on the Maryland shore was put at not more than 500, though General Kilpatrick, who commanded the Federal cavalry that attacked Heth, insisted he captured an entire brigade. Heth's heaviest loss was in the person of General Pettigrew, who was mortally wounded in a brush with a small cavalry detachment that was allowed to approach the lines in the belief that it was Confederate (O. R., 27, part 2, pp303‑4, 310, 323‑4, 640 ff.; Long MS.; Lee's Dispatches, 105‑6). Lee put a mild censure in his report on the withdrawal of Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry without notice to Heth, though, as usual, he did not name the responsible officer (O. R., 27, part 2, p323).
63 Cooke, 333.
68 O. R., 27, part 1, pp92‑94; 2 Meade, 134; H. D. Sedgwick: Correspondence of Maj.-Gen. John Sedgwick, 2, 132; H. G. Pearson: James S. Wadsworth, 235 ff.; H. H. Humphreys: Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, 203‑4.
75 Lee's official reports of these movements will be found in O. R., 27, part 2, pp305, 310, 312, in O. R., 29, part 2, p624, and in Lee's Dispatches, 106‑8. Longstreet's report is in O. R., 27, part 2, p362; Ewell's in ibid., 449; Early's in ibid., 472‑73; Hill's in ibid., 609. For the correspondence see O. R., 27, part 3, pp1031, 1035, 1037, 1039, 1040, 1049, 1051, 1075. See also Early, 284 ff.; 1 R. W. C. D., 390 and 2 ibid., 6.
76 G. W. Beale, 120‑21; O. R., 27, part 3, p1052; 2 R. W. C. D., 4. In The American Issue, Virginia Edition, Feb. 21, 1925, an amusing incident of the march to Culpeper was reported. One of Lee's veterans, on passing his home, presented the whole family to the General. The soldier's mother, Mrs. Simms, produced a bottle of old blackberry wine and hospitably asked the General if he would refresh himself. Lee declined but suggested that his staff officers might be glad to taste her vintage. When Mrs. Simms offered it to them, they approved it so heartily that the rearmost had to content himself with wistfully smelling the bottle. The "cup that General Lee declined" has been preserved and was long in the possession of Reverend Doctor B. W. N. Simms, of Waxahatchie, Texas.
77 T. A. Ashby: The Valley Campaigns, 244‑45.
78 Cf. W. H. Taylor, July 17, 1863: "Our men, it must be confessed, are far better satisfied when operating on this side of the Potomac. . . . They are not accustomed to operating in a country where the people are inimical to them, and certainly every one of them is today worth twice as much as he was three days ago. I am persuaded that we cannot without heavy acquisitions to our strength invade successfully for any length of time." (Taylor MSS.).
80 Walter H. Taylor, Aug. 8, 1863 (Taylor MSS.).
81 De Leon, 257.
82 4 S. H. S. P., 153.
83 Lee to Davis, July 31, 1863; Lee's Dispatches, 108‑9.
84 O. R., 27, part 3, p1075. General Pickett either complied with this request or else gave strict instruction that the MS of his report should not be printed, for it has never appeared. When Arthur Crew Inman issued Pickett's war letters in 1928 under the title Soldiers of the South, he even omitted, at the instance of Mrs. Pickett, part of a letter of July 4 in which General Pickett expressed some of the criticisms he made in his report (op. cit., 61‑62n). It is plain that Pickett's complaint was that his attack was not properly supported by Pettigrew and by Trimble. Major Walter Taylor was of the same mind. In a letter of July 17, 1863, to his brother (Taylor MSS.), he attributed Pickett's repulse to the strength of the Federal position — "a sort of Gibraltar" — and to the action "of the division on his left," which, said Taylor, "failed to carry the works in its front and retired without any sufficient cause, thereby exposing Pickett's flanks."
86 It was not, apparently, until after the retreat from Gettysburg had begun that Lee had a just estimate of Imboden's troopers. He then told Stuart "they are unsteady, and, I fear, inefficient" (O. R., 27, part 3, p985).
87 Cf. 4 S. H. S. P., 269‑70.
88 In 1896, General C. A. Battle, in a public address, asserted that Lee ordered Stuart before a court of inquiry for his absence during the Gettysburg campaign, but this was not the case. The court was convened to hear evidence regarding the loss of certain wagons in Fitz Lee's brigade (Taylor MSS.).
89 Cf. Alexander in 4 S. H. S. P., 110.
93 2 Wise, 666‑67.
94 Alexander, 417‑18, 426‑28.
95 The "Gettysburg controversy" of 1876‑79 evoked much bitter but intelligent criticism of the campaign in 4, 5, 6, and 7 S. H. S. P., The material there has never been invalidated. General Trimble supplied a good critique in ibid., 26, 116, and McIntosh in (p154)ibid., 37, 112 ff. Battine, op. cit., is more tactical than strategical in his approach. Curtis's paper in 3 M. H. S. M., 356 ff. and Livermore's in 13 ibid., 487 ff. are authoritative. Alexander's account, op. cit., 363 ff., is admirable in every way.
97 The loss in the infantry and artillery at Gettysburg was 20,486, including prisoners not listed by the Confederates but reported by the Federals. At Winchester, the casualties numbered 252; in the minor engagements, they were 316, and among the cavalry, 1817 (O. R., 27, part 2, pp337, 346, 712 ff.). Estimating the number captured at Falling Waters on July 14 at 500, the total is 23,371.
99 He was correct in this. During the same period from June 9 to Aug. 4, the Federals had lost about 3500 killed, wounded, and captured at Winchester, 200 at Berryville and Martinsburg on the Confederate advance toward the Potomac, and 23,049 at Gettysburg. The casualties in the cavalryº engagements raised the aggregate to 28,129 (O. R., 27, part 1, pp168 ff.; ibid., part 2, p442). Apparently no detailed Federal return was ever made of losses at Winchester.
101 Cf. Meade to his wife, July 8, 1863: "I never claimed a victory, though I stated that Lee was defeated in his efforts to destroy my army" (2 Meade, 133).
103 R. E. Lee, Jr., 108.
105 Lee to Davis, July 31, 1863, Lee's Dispatches, p109.
107 "I alone am to blame in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess and valour." — Lee to Davis, July 31, 1863 (Lee's Dispatches, 110). Cf. Lee to Margaret Stuart, July 26, 1863: "The army did all it could. I fear I required of it impossibilities" (Jones, L. and L., 283). Cf. also Longstreet, 401, quoting General Lee, on the authority of Fitz Lee, as telling Captain Sidney Smith Lee that "he was controlled too far by the great confidence he felt in the fighting qualities of his people, and by assurances of most of his higher officers."
108 Cf. J. C. West, loc. cit.: "I think General Lee never would have attacked the enemy in their position in the mountain side except for the splendid condition of his army, and his confidence in its ability to accomplish anything he chose to attempt." This was a contemporary letter.
109 Lee's Dispatches, 110.
111 1 R. W. C. D., 389.
112 Pemberton MSS., kindly loaned the writer by John C. Pemberton, of New York, through Mrs. H. Pemberton Rhudy of Philadelphia.
114 C. Irvine Walker: Life of General R. H. Anderson (cited hereafter as Irvine Walker), 149‑50.
115 James Longstreet to Doctor A. B. Longstreet, July 24, 1863: Annals of the War, 414‑15.
116 Philadelphia Times, July 27, 1879, p8.
117 Longstreet, 400.
118 5 S. H. S. P., 192, 279; Taylor MSS. It is highly significant that in 3 B. and L., 349, Longstreet himself gave a different version of what Lee was alleged to have said in this letter. He there quoted Lee as saying to him, "If only I had taken your counsel, even on the 3d, and had moved around the Federal left, how different all might have been."
119 3 B. and L., 349.
120 Longstreet, 383‑84.
121 Longstreet in Washington Post, June 11, 1893, p10.
122 4 S. H. S. P., 153, 159‑60.
123 Lee to William McDonald, April 15, 1868: "As to the battle of Gettysburg, I must again refer you to my official accounts. Its loss was occasioned by a combination of circumstances. It was commenced in the absence of correct intelligence. It was continued in the effort to overcome the difficulties by which we were surrounded, and it would have been gained could one determined and united blow have been delivered by our whole line. As it was, victory trembled in the balance for three days, and the battle resulted in the infliction of as great an amount of injury as was received and in frustrating the Federal campaign for the season" (Jones, 266‑67). Cf. also Lee to B. H. Wright, Jan. 18, 1869, printed in Jones, L. and L., 452‑53, without the name of the addressee, which, however, appears in Lee's Lexington letterbook: "The failure of the Confederate army at Gettysburg was owing to a combination of circumstances, but for which success might have been reasonably expected."
124 Allan's memorandum in Marshall, 250.
125 5 S. H. S. P., 193. The "governor" to whom this was reported to have been stated by General Lee is identified from a letter of General Fitz Lee's in the Taylor MSS. Cf. a somewhat similar comment by Lee on Longstreet's slowness quoted by Colonel McIntosh on the authority of Colonel Marshall in 37 S. H. S. P., 106.
126 R. E. Lee, Jr., 415. The reference would seem to be to the attack of Early on the afternoon of July 2, but it is possible that Lee was misunderstood and that he had in mind the opportunity of seizing Cemetery Hill that was lost on the afternoon of July 1.
127 H. M. Field: Bright Skies and Dark Shadows, 303‑4, quoting Professor White. This remark affords an excellent illustration of the manner in which Lee's undramatic observations were sometimes swollen into bombast. Lee's statement to White was simple and characteristically cautious in wording, but in 12 S. H. S. P., 111‑12, the language has been "dressed" to this: "If I had had Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, I should have won there a great victory, and if we had reaped the fruits within our reach, we should have established the independence of the Confederacy." The version given by Jones, op. cit., 156, was almost as rhetorical: "If I had had Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, we should have won a great victory. And I feel confident that complete success there would have resulted in the establishment of our independence."
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