Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/259
General Lee and the Battle of Gettysburg. 258
This compelled a change of plan of General Lee's part, and he re- tirrd still furtlu-r In-hind tin- Kapid.m a^ain. This event demonstra- ted that General Meade no more lacked the nerve to take the offensive under favorable circumstances, when his judgment dictated it, than to resent the unjustifiable bullying of Halleck.
LESLIE J. PERRY. Washington, November 12, 1895.
[From the Richmond Dispatch, Decembers, 1895.]
GENERAL LEE AND THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
HE PLANNED TO FIGHT THERE.
The Concentration of His Forces One Mind Directed All Closing Scenes of First flanassas He Kept His Word.
There is a popular impression throughout the country that the meeting of the two armies at Gettysburg was in large measure an accidental collision. Jefferson Davis, in his "Short History of the Confederate States," says the position was not the choice of either side for a battle-field. The very general belief prevails, also, espe- cially at the South, that the concentration of the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg was brought about by mere chance, and was not part of a deliberate plan of the Confederate commander predi- cated upon his enemy's movements. This is a strange error con- cerning a very important matter, and all the more remarkable because such a view must inevitably lead to the conclusion that the Southern invading force was aimlessly drifting about in the heart of the enemy's country without guidance or definite purpose, and to that extent reflects upon General Lee's capacity as a commander. This aspect of the manner and its bearing upon General Lee's repu- tation as a soldier, of course, has not been considered by those of his admirers who pertinaciously cling to the fallacious accident theory.
As a matter of fact, there was not the remotest element of chance in Lee's march on Gettysburg, as I will presently show. The error had its origin, I believe, in a circumstantial and interesting story connected with the advance of General Harry Heth's Division, which story has gone the rounds of the clubs and the public prints of the