Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/115

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105.
General C. M. Wilcox on the Battle of Gettysburg.

sentation of my course." It was this sly under-current of misrepresentation and repeated and rancorous assaults that forced him against his will to appear in public defence of himself. There is at least a trace of suspicion of disingenuousness in this statement of General Longstreet, for he has given evidence that within less than a month after the battle, and on the tenth day after the Confederate forces had recrossed the Potomac into Virginia, and before he had been "repeatedly and rancorously assailed," that he was not averse, in a semi-confidential way—and with request that it should go no further than to a few intimate friends and relatives—to letting it be known that he did not approve of the battle, but preferred another plan and manner of fighting, that would have led to the capture of Washington, &c., &c. "At least, so far as is given to man the ability to judge, such would have been the result," if his idea had been adopted; and within a year after the termination of the war, we find that he communicated his views very fully to a historian[1] while engaged in writing a history of the Army of the Potomac. He not only freely gave his opinions about the battle to this historian, but he let it be known that he opposed it, as well as the invasion of Pennsylvania, except under certain conditions, and was quite free in his criticisms of General Lee. It is difficult to see why he should plead reluctance at this late date when he was so prompt, and in advance of all others by several years, in making public his opposition to this battle. His revelations to the historian were no doubt made from a consciousness on his part that when all the facts should be known, he would be held to a very great extent responsible for the failure, and desired to forestall or warp public opinion in his favor.

We learn from Mr. Swinton's history of the Army of the Potomac that General Longstreet opposed the invasion of the North, and from his recent contributions to the Weekly Times that he urged an active and aggressive campaign in the Southwest, in Tennessee and Kentucky. On his return from the Suffolk expedition he called on the Secretary of War, in Richmond, and found him engaged in devising a scheme for the relief of Vicksburg, around which General Grant was beginning to concentrate his forces. He dissented from the Secretary and urged the adoption of his own plan of operations. Mr. Seddon yielded only so far as to admit that his idea was good, but adhered to his own plan. On rejoining General Lee he unfolded to him his theory of the campaign for the ensuing


  1. Swinton.