Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/412

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

"We perceive in this campaign of General Lee in Georgia and South Carolina results achieved by a single genius equal to those which could have been accomplished by an incalculable force."

General Long, as he says, was on the staff of General Lee during the time in question, but was not in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, subsequently, when it was the theatre of great combined naval and land hostile operations. This entire want of personal knowledge of the actual events of that defence, together with engrossing occupations elsewhere, may supply the explanation why he could fall into the wholly erroneous, and I must add, wrongful conclusions which I have cited, that the historical results of the defence of the coast of South Carolina and Georgia were but consequences of premises which he had witnessed and noted. But to accept his conclusions were to blot out of history nearly two years of skillful and courageous achievements, for the right measurement of which must be taken into consideration not only the vast resources of every description of our adversary, and the consummate ability, as well as untiring determination, with which those resources were hostilely handled, but the constant dearth of defensive resources in which that widely extended and most important department was left, and which made its successful defence, for so long a period, in the strictest sense of the words, the creation and work of the engineer and soldier who commanded the department from October, 1862, to May, 1864—General Beauregard.

The story of that brilliant defence I do not propose to relate, but I must assure General Long and his readers, of what can be readily substantiated, that the works and seacoast defences to which he has assigned so all-embracing an importance, absolutely entered, in no material degree, into the defence of South Carolina and Georgia after October, 1862.

That what General Lee did was in character with the ability of that distinguished man, I do not question for an instant; nor may I doubt that he made all proper dispositions to meet and baffle the comparatively small Federal naval and military forces present, in menace, on the coast when he commanded in that quarter. But the truth of history obliges me to state that the defensive resources which Beauregard (relieving Pemberton) found in the department when he entered upon command, instead of being that "impenetrable barrier" which General Long supposes—opposed to the mighty naval forces of Dupont and Dahlgren, acting in co-opera-