Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/43

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"General Lee to the Rear."

am, gentlemen, not brought here by military power, but in obedience to the command of Mary, to abide the sentence of your court."

Every officer of that court-martial felt the force of the prisoner's words. Before them stood, in beatific vision, the eloquent pleader for a husband's and a father's wrongs; but they had been trained by their great leader, Robert E. Lee, to tread the path of duty though the lightning's flash scorched the ground beneath their feet, and each in his turn pronounced the verdict: Guilty. Fortunately for humanity, fortunately for the Confederacy, the proceedings of the court were reviewed by the Commanding-General, and upon the record was written:


"Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia.

"The finding of the court is approved. The prisoner is pardoned, and will report to his company.

"R. E. Lee, General"


During a subsequent battle, when shot and shell were falling "like torrents from the mountain cloud," my attention was directed to the fact that one of our batteries was being silenced by the concentrated fire of the enemy. When I reached the battery every gun but one had been dismantled, and by it stood a solitary Confederate soldier, with the blood streaming from his side. As he recognized me, he elevated his voice above the roar of battle, and said, "General, I have one shell left. Tell me, have I saved the honor of Mary and Lucy?" I raised my hat. Once more a Confederate shell went crashing through the ranks of the enemy, and the hero sank by his gun to rise no more.



"General Lee to the Rear."

By J. William Jones.

General Lee's affectionate regard for those under his charge, and his tender solicitude for their welfare, were equaled only by their admiration and love for him. Unlike some military chieftains, who would sacrifice thousands of men without scruple if their fame demanded it, he was willing at any time to allow his own reputation to suffer in order to preserve his men. His soldiers knew that he would not expose them when he could avoid it; that it was through no fault of his if their rations were scant and their hardships many; and that he regularly robbed his own poorly supplied mess table of luxuries which friends would send him, in