Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/160

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156 Southern Historical Society Papers.

that has been written since of that battle, has lessened the convic- tion that, had General Lee's orders been promptly and cordially executed, Meade's center on the third day would have been pene- trated and the Union army overwhelmingly defeated. (Gordon's Reminiscences of the Civil War, p. 160.)

Was the invasion of Pennsylvania a great mistake? So thought the Count de Paris in his able review of the campaign. But Gen- eral Lee never thought it a mistake. In 1864, the next year, he said to General Heth: "If I could do so unfortunately, I cannot I would again cross the Potomac and invade Pennsylvania. I be- lieve it to be the true policy, notwithstanding the failure of last year." For the Confederacy, Gettysburg deferred for one year at least the advance on the Confederate capital, and by so much prolonged the hope of independence.


Was General Robert E. Lee really a great soldier and a great commander?

One might call the roll of the distinguished Federal commanders who, with large advantage of numbers, equipment, resources, credit, and backed by grea^t States, populous and rich, came out to try con- clusions with him. They were George B. McClellan, John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, George Meade, and Ulysses Grant, before whose almost unlimited numbers, at last, the Army of Northern Virginia, without reinforcement, without ammunition and without supplies, fought itself down to nothing.

Another answer might be the battles he fought on the Chicka- hominy, and in the defence of Richmond; of the Second Manassas, of Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and again on the Chickahominy, and the defence of Petersburg. Across these fields are written imperishably the gen- eralship of Lee in all the detail of preparation, in the skilful choice of topographical lines, in strategic movement, in the auda- city of perilous advance, in knowledge of the capacity of his own officers and their troops, in fine perception of the enemy's thought and movement, and in masterly overcoming difficulties that came from inadequate supplies of ordnance, ammunition and army stores of every kind.

Yet another answer would be the four years of continuous and wasting struggle, by a blockaded country, without manufactures* without munitions of war, almost without a navy, without well de-