Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/161

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Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg. 153

in regard to the invasion of Pennsylvania, as given by him to me and to another. A short time before General Grant crossed the Rapidan, in the spring of 1864, General Lee said to me : " If I could do so unfortunately I cannot I would again cross the Potomac and invade Pennsylvania. I believe it to be our true policy, not- withstanding the failure of last year. An invasion of the enemy's country breaks up all of his preconceived plans, relieves our coun- try of his presence, and we subsist while there on his resources. The question of food for this army gives me more trouble and un- easiness than every thing else combined ; the absence of the army from Virginia gives our people an opportunity to collect supplies ahead. The legitimate fruits of a victory, if gained in Pennsylvania, could be more readily reaped than on our own soil. We would have been in a few days' march of Philadelphia, and the occupation of that city would have given us peace." It is very difficult for any one not connected with the Army of Northern Virginia to realize how straitened we were for supplies of all kinds, especially food. The ration of a general officer was double that of a private, and so meagre was that double supply that frequently to appease my hunger I robbed my horse of a handful of corn, which, parched in the fire, served to allay the cravings of nature. What must have been the condition of the private ?

After the battle of Gettysburg the President of the Confederate States, desiring to communicate with General Lee, sent Major Sed- don, a brother of the Secretary of War, to General Lee's headquar- ters, when the following conversation took place : General Lee said, " Major Seddon, from what you have observed, are the people as much depressed at the battle of Gettysburg as the newspapers ap- pear to indicate ? " Upon Major Seddon's reply that he thought they were. General Lee continued : " To show you how little value is to be attached to popular sentiment in such matters, I beg to call your attention to the popular feeling after the battles of Freder- icksburg and Chancellors ville. At Fredericksburg we gained a battle, inflicting very serious loss on the enemy in men and mate- rial ; our people were greatly elated I was much depressed. We had really accomplished nothing ; we had not gained a foot of ground, and I knew the enemy could easily replace the men he had lost, and the loss of material was, if any thing, rather benefi- cial to him, as it gave an opportunity to contractors to make 2