Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/123

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Gettysburg Pickets Charge. 119

And with it all there are buried memories as dear and as sacred as the ashes of loved ones. No, I have had no heart to open the pages of that sacred yet tragic history. Not until you assigned me the duty of saying something of Pickett's charge at the battle of Gettysburg have I ever read the official or other accounts of that great battle; and when I lately read them my heart bled afresh, and my inward being was shaken to the deepest depths of sad, tearful emotions, and I wished that you had given to another the task you gave to me.

On the i3th day of December, 1862, Burnside lead his great and splendidly equipped army down from the heights of Fredericks- burg, crossed the Rappahannock, and gave battle to Lee. His army was repulsed with great slaughter and was driven back bleed- ing and mangled to its place of safety. The star of Burnside went down and out. General Hooker was called to the command of the Army of the Potomac. After five months of recuperation and con- valescence, with greatly augmented numbers and with every ap- pliance that military art and national wealth could furnish in the perfect equipment of a great army, it was proclaimed with much flourish amidst elated hopes and expectancy, that his army was ready to move. To meet this great host Lee could rely for success only on the great art of war and the unfailing courage of his soldiers. Hooker crossed the Rappahannock and commenced to entrench himself. Lee did not wait to be attacked, but at once delivered battle. The battle of Chancellorsville was fought the most inter- esting battle of the war in which the blended genius of Lee and Jackson illustrated to the world the highest achievement of general- ship in the management of the lesser against the greatly superior force. Again was the Army of the Potomac crushed and driven across the Rappahannock.

And now there arose a great question in the camp and in the council of State. It was a question of statesmanship as well as of arms. The question was answered by Lee withdrawing his army from before Hooker and proceeding through the lower Shenan- doah Valley to Pennsylvania, leaving the road to Richmond open to be taken by the enemy if he should still prefer the policy of ' 'on to Richmond." The motive of this movement was two-fold to relieve Virginia of the enemy by forcing him to defend his own country, and by a possible great victory to affect public opinion of the North, and thus to conquer peace. The first object was