Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/260
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
Seldom has an army entered upon a campaign under more hopeful auspices. The victories of Fredericksburg, December, 1862, and of Chancellorsville the following May, had inspired the Army of Northern Virginia with confidence in itself and with renewed faith in the genius of its great commander. It had been strengthened by the return of the two divisions of Longstreet's corps. It had been skilfully reorganized. In a word, it was the finest army Lee had ever commanded, although not the largest; better equipped and armed than ever before; thoroughly disciplined. The organization of the Confederate artillery has been pronounced by distinguished Federal authorities "almost ideal;" although it was far inferior in number of pieces and weight of metal to the artillery of the Union Army. Col. Fiebiger, Professor of Engineering at the U. S. Military Academy, says: "If the dfferences of the two armies are fairly weighed, the chances of success in the campaign about to be opened, were in favor of General Lee, notwithstanding his numerical inferiority." Gen. Long, of Gen. Lee's staff, says: "The Army of Northern Virginia appeared the best disciplined, the most high spirited and most enthusiastic army on the continent. The successful campaign which this army had recently passed through, inspired it with almost invincible ardour."
Again, he says: "Everything seemed to promise success and the joyful animation with which the men marched north after the movement actually began, and the destination of the army was communicated to them, appeared a true pressage of victory."
Gen. Lee himself said: "Never was there such an army; it will go anywhere and do anything if properly led." Upon which Chas. Francis Adams remarks: "This is not an exaggerated statement. I do not believe any more formidable or better organized force was ever set in motion than that which Lee led across the Potomac in 1863. It was essentially an army of fighters, and could be depended upon for any feat of arms in the power of mere mortals to accomplish; they would blench at no danger."Nevertheless, in spite of these favorable auspices the campaign did not achieve victory. Why then did it fail? If any