Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/348
342 Southern Historical Society Papers.
[From the Richmond (Va.) Dispatch, February' i6 t 1896.!
THE LONGSTREET-GETTYSBURG CONTROVERSY
WHO COMMENCED IT.
The Whole Matter Reviewed by J. William Jones, D. D.
To the Editor of the Dispatch :
You are unquestionably right in the very courteous little differ- ence with the Times as who begun the Longstreet-Gettysburg con- troversy, but you do not put its origin quite far enough back, and omit some very important points in the history of the controversy.
As I have been in a position to know all of the facts, have read and preserved everything of interest that has been published con- cerning these matters (although I have not until quite recently printed anything myself), and as there seems to be a constantly recurring question as to " who fired the first gun," and who is con- tinuing the firing, I ask space for a summary statement of the whole question.
There was in army circles after the battle of Gettysburg a good deal of talk as to the causes of our failure, and it seemed to be very generally understood that the fault was not Lee's, but that his orders had been disobeyed, in that the heights were not carried on the evening of the first day, the attack was not made until the afternoon of the second day, and the troops making the assault on the third day were not properly supported.
But, as Lee, moving among his shattered battalions at Gettysburg, had shown the same superb magnanimity as when at Chancellors- ville he had given the glory of the victory to Stonewall Jackson, and had declared, "This is all my fault; I have lost this battle, and you must help me out of it the best you can," no one was disposed to publish any criticisms of his subordinates. And so after the war there seemed to be a general disposition on the part of leading Con- federates to let the Federal generals do the quarrelling, and to pre- serve among themselves the harmony and good-will counselled by their great commander, and of which he gave so conspicuous an ex- ample.