Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/283
Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg. 275
very early hour in the morning, and of promptness and celerity in making it; and it has a very great significance in the light of subsequent results.
We were then given to understand that the attack should begin from our right at daylight in the morning, or as soon thereafter as practicable, and that a diversion should be made on our flank to favor it, with the direction to make that diversion a real at- tack on discovering any disorder or symptoms of giving way on the enemy's part which latter is what is meant by a favorable opportunity.
This is substantially a correct narrative of what was said and concluded upon at the conference referred to, and it will be seen that Colonel Taylor is under a serious misapprehension in regard to it.
I do not wish it to be understood, by any means, that I claim for myself, or for Ewell, Eodes, and myself conjointly, the origi- nation of the plan that was adopted for the battle, or that Gen. Lee consulted us for the purpose of being governed by our views. He did not regard his officers as mere machines to execute his will, but he treated them as thinking beings, capable of reasoning, and even aiding him by their suggestions about matters with which they were familiar, in arriving at his conclusions. He had likewise a profound knowledge of human nature, and it was his custom to talk freely to officers about movements they were to make, get their views about the proper mode of making them, in order to ascertain whether they could be relied upon for the work in hand, adopt any judicious views they might suggest, and leave them under the impression that they were carrying out plans in the formation of which they had some part; for he knew that one of the very first elements of success was a confidence on the part of an officer entrusted with a movement in its feasibility, and therefore sought to enlist all his energies in the task entrusted to him by a little humoring of his self-love.
He sought information from us on this occasion about the mat- ters mentioned because he thought we possessed it, and he heard with attention our suggestions, because he expected us to perform an important part in the ensuing operations. From the very na- ture of things, he could not rely on his own observation to find out everything necessary to enable him to discharge the functions