Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/282

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

from my right, Longstreet will have to make the attack;" and after a moment's pause, during which he held his head down in deep thought, he raised it and added: "Longstreet is a very good fighter when he gets in position and gets everything ready, but he is so slow." The emphasis was just as I have given it, and the words seemed to come from General Lee with pain. I give this expression by General Lee now with great hesitation. I have mentioned it to personal friends often, but have had very great doubts about giving publicity to it, for reasons that will readily occur. But occurrences have taken place and disclosures made which now justify, in my estimation, its publication, if they do not imperatively demand it.[1] As Colonel Taylor has given a version of the conference which is not correct, and refers to Longstreet's name in a relation which it did not bear to that conference, I think the present the proper time for stating all that transpired on that occasion.

Ewell, Rodes, and myself all knew that Longstreet did not move or manœuvre with the celerity that characterized Jackson, and had been transmitted, in a great measure, to the officers and troops who had served under him, and, therefore, we were not surprised to learn that Longstreet was rather slow in his movements; but I was a little startled to hear it from General Lee, with the emphasis he gave the assertion, both in his manner and the intonation of his voice, as well as the time of making it. We knew, however, that Longstreet had a corps of very fine fighting men, equal to any in the army, and we had no doubt that he would be up in time to make the attack, and that it would certainly be made early enough to ensure the victory, for of the latter we did not permit ourselves to doubt for a moment.

The part we proposed to ourselves to perform in achieving that victory, was to follow up the success that might be gained on the right, and pursue and destroy the enemy's forces when they had been thrown in disorder by the capture of the commanding positions on their left. We did not, therefore, by any means, propose to play the part of passive spectators.

The remark of General Lee which I have given, demonstrates the strong conviction he had of the necessity of an attack at a

  1. The appearance in the Philadelphia Weekly Times of General Longstreet's paper on Gettysburg has removed the last scruple on this point.