Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/145

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg. 137

shadow of right to our adversary's claim of having gained a victory. Their exultation, however, should be tempered with moderation, when we consider that, after one day of absolute quiet, the Confed- erates withdrew from their front without serious molestation, and with bridges swept away, and an impassable river in rear, stood in an attitude of defiance until their line of retreat could be rendered practicable, after which they safely recrossed into Virginia. Then again, so serious was the loss visited upon the Federals in the en- gagements of the first and second days, and so near success was the effort to storm their position on the third day, that they were themselves undecided as to whether they should stand or retreat. In discussing several councils or conferences held by General Meade with his corps commander's, General Sickles testified, be- fore the Committee on the Conduct of the War, that the reason the Confederates were not followed up was on account of differ- ences of opinion whether or not the Federals should themselves retreat, as " it was by no means clear, in the judgment of the corps commanders, or of the General in command, whether they had won or not."

It appears from the official returns on file in the War Depart- ment, that on the 31st of May, 1863, the Army of Northern Vir- ginia numbered : infantry, fifty-four thousand three hundred and fifty-six ; cavalry, nine thousand five hundred and thirty-six ; artil- lery, four thousand four hundred and sixty ; of all arms, sixty-eight thousand three hundred and fifty-two effective. This was imme- diately before the invasion of Pennsylvania, and may be regarded as representing the maximum of General Lee's army in the Get- tysburg campaign. On the 20th of July, 1863, after the return of General Lee to Virginia, his army numbered forty-one thousand three hundred and eighty-eight effective, exclusive of the cavalry corps, of which no report is made in the return of the date last mentioned ; allowing seven thousand six hundred and twelve, a fair estimate for the cavalry, the effective total of the army on the 20th of July was forty-nine thousand. It appears, therefore, that General Lee's loss in the Pennsylvania campaign was about nine- teen thousand.

Concerning the strength of the Federal army, General Meade testified as follows before the Committee on the CAduct of the War (second series, vol. I., p. 337) : " Including all arms of the ser-