Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/73
Cai^ses of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg. 65
General Longstreet to the cause of the Confederacy at Gettysburg or at any other period of the war. I am willing to accord to kim great merit as a fighter, but I think his efficiency on such an occa- sion as that at Gettysburg was materially impaired by a constitu- tional inertia, mental and physical, that very often delayed his readiness to fight. When once ready, and in the fight, he always fought well, sometimes most brilliantly.
You may ask, if I am right in my view of the causes of our failure at Gettysburg, why it was that General Lee did not speak out and place the responsibility where it properly belonged? My reply would be, that it is difficult for one who did not know him personally to understand the wonderful magnanimity of character which induced General Lee often to take the chances of incurring censure himself rather than run the risk of doing possible injustice to another. Hence it was that he preferred to let the entire re- sponsibility for the battle of Gettysburg and its failure rest on his shoulders, rather than attempt to screen himself by casting it upon one or more subordinates, for whose soldierly qualities he had re- spect, notwithstanding their short-comings on that occasion.
In connection with the battle of Gettysburg, I send you, besides the address and articles before mentioned, the official reports of Generals Longstreet and Ewell, as well as my own, in regard to that battle.
In conclusion, I must say that I do not regard the campaign in Pennsylvania as having resulted in such disastrous consequences to our arms as you seem to think attended them. It is true that we failed to win a great battle on the soil of Pennsylvania, but all the enemy's plans for the campaign in Virginia for that year were thwarted, and our army retired across the Potomac self-relying and defiant. When it confronted Meade for several days, near Hagers- town, Maryland, on the retreat, he dared not attack it.
In the following autumn General Lee was able to detach one corps from the army, two divisions of which were sent to the 3