Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/62
54 Southern Historical Society Papers.
the assertions in regard to the " rumored order for a sunrise attack." (Southern Historical Society Papers, January- February, 1878, page
Hood's statement, however, in Early'smind, was given a different interpretation. Early re-entered the lists, in the pages of the South- ern Historical Society Papers, and cited Hood's letter as the last link in his chain of evidence to prove that Longstreet was ordered to make an attack in the early morning of July 2d. Hood's letter, said Early, indicated the partial execution of Lee's order in the ac- tual arrival of Longstreet's troops upon Seminary Ridge between dawn and sunrise. "If there had before remained any doubt," wrote Early, " as to who was responsible for the failure to strike the blow at the proper time, the very clear and explicit statement by General Hood, which is a most valuable contribution to the history of the battle, would settle that doubt beyond dispute, I think. Gen- eral Hood's statement furnishes information not before given in regard to the time of the arrival on the ground of Longstreet's troops, and renders it very certain that the orders for the attack to begin were given very early in the morning, if not the night before." (Southern Historical Society Papers, December, 1877, page 269.) ' ' Hood got up before sunrise, and he gives several circumstances tending to show that General Lee was anxious to make the attack at once." (Idem, June, 1878, page 280.) At the same time, Early set forth a detailed statement of the conference held after the close of the battle of July ist ; he expressed the opinion that Stuart and Ewell were not responsible for the loss of the field, and reiterated, as his final conclusion, the charge that Longstreet was responsible for the failure, because he was ' ' so persistently averse to the attack and so loth to take the steps necessary to begin it." (Idem, De- cember, 1877, page 291.) Early 's conclusion is based apparently upon the following interpretation of Hood's note: That Hood's di- vision, bringing up the rear of Longstreet's marching column, in obedience to Lee's previous command, actually arrived at Lee's headquarters in readiness for battle before sunrise; that Lee wished to make the attack upon the instant; that Longstreet's opposition to the plan of attack was made while the troops were thus at hand and ready for orders, and that in view of this opposition by Longstreet, General Lee delayed, and did not give peremptory orders to advance into battle until a much later hour about n o'clock. (Idem, December, 1877, pages 291-292.)
At this point in his line of reasoning the thought evidently arose