The Campaigns of General Robert E. Lee, An Address, by Jubal A. Early



Gen. Robert E, Lee,



Washington and Lee University,
January 19th, 1872.




THOUGH conscious of my inability to discharge, in a suitable manner, the duty assigned me on this occasion, yet, when asked to unite in rendering homage to the memory of the great Confederate Captain, I did not feel at liberty to decline the call. I have realized, however, most fully and sensibly, the difficulties of the position I occupy. All the powers and charms of eloquence and poetry combined, have been called into requisition, to commemorate the deeds and virtues of him whose birth-day we celebrate. They are not at my command, and the highest eulogy which I am capable of pronouncing upon the character of our illustrious Chief, must consist of a simple delineation of his achievements, couched in the plain, unadorned language of a soldier, who bore an humble part in many of the events which marked the career to which your attention will be called. I must, therefore, throw myself upon your kind indulgence, and bespeak your patience, while I attempt to give a sketch of those grand achievements which have placed the name of Robert E. Lee among the foremost of the renowned historic names of the world.

I do not propose, my friends, to speak of his youth, his early manhood, or his career prior to our late struggle for liberty and independence. These have been, and will continue to be, far better portrayed by others, and I will content myself with the remark that, together, they constituted a worthy prelude to the exhibition, on a larger theatre, of those wonderful talents and sublime virtues, which have gained for him the admiration and esteem of the good and true of all the civilized world.

Most men seem to have a just appreciation of the domestic virtues, the moral worth, the unselfish patriotism and Christian purity of General Lee’s character; but it has occurred to me that very few, comparatively, have formed a really correct estimate of his marvellous ability and boldness as a military commander, however exalted is the merit generally awarded him in that respect. I will, therefore, direct my remarks chiefly to his military career in our late war, though I am unable to do full justice to the subject. I can, however, contribute my mite; and it may, perhaps, not detract from the interest of what I have to say, when you know that I was a witness of much of which I will speak.

I must, necessarily, go over much of the same ground that has been already explored by others, and repeat something of what I have already said in an address before the “Survivors Association of South Carolina,” and in some published articles. I will, also, have to give you some details and statistics, to show what was really accomplished by our army under the lead and through the inspiration of its great Commander. Flowers and figures of rhetoric may captivate the imagination, but material facts and figures only can convince the judgment, and the latter I will endeavor to render as little tiresome as possible.

The commencement of hostilities in Charleston harbor, the proclamation of Lincoln, calling for troops to make an unconstitutional war on the seceded States, and the consequent secession of Virginia, found General Lee a Lieut. Colonel in the United States army, with a character and reputation which would have ensured him the highest military honors within the gift of the United States Government. In fact, it has been said that the command of the army intended for the invasion of the South was tendered him. However, rejecting all overtures made to him, as soon as he learned the action of his native State, in a dignified manner, and without parade or show, he tendered his resignation, with the determination to share the fate of his State, his friends and kindred. The then Governor, at once, with the unanimous consent of the Convention of Virginia, tendered him the command of all the forces of the State. This he accepted, and promptly repaired to Richmond, to enter upon the discharge of his duties, knowing that this act must be attended with a very heavy pecuniary loss to himself on account of the locality of his estates. Those who witnessed his appearance before the Convention, saw his manly bearing, and heard the few grave, dignified and impressive words with which he consecrated himself and his sword to the cause of his native State, can never forget that scene. All felt at once that we had a leader worthy of the State and the cause.

As a member of the military committee of the Convention, and afterwards as a subordinate under him, I was in a condition to witness and know the active energy and utter abnegation of all personal considerations with which he devoted himself to the work of organizing and equipping the Virginia troops for the field. While he bore no active part in the first military operations of the war, yet, 1 can safely say that, but for the capacity and energy displayed by General Lee, in organizing and equipping troops to be sent to the front, our army would not have been in a condition to gain the first victory at Manassas. I do not, however, intend, by this statement, to detract from the merit of others. The Confederate Government, then recently removed to Richmond, did well its part in bringing troops from the South; and I take pleasure in bearing testimony to the fidelity and ability with which the then Governor of Virginia cooperated with General Lee in his efforts to furnish men as well as the munitions of war.

His first appearance in the field, as a commander, was in Western Virginia, after the reverses in that quarter. The expectations formed in regard to his operations there were not realized, and, though he met with no disaster or defeat to his troops, the campaign was regarded as a failure. The public never thought of inquiring into the causes of that failure, and it is not to be denied that an impression prevailed among those who did not know him well, that General Lee was not suited to be a commander in an active campaign. There were some editors who, while safely entrenched behind the impregnable columns of their newspapers, proved themselves to be as fierce in war as they had been wise in peace, and no bad representatives of the snarling Thersites, and these hurled their criticisms and taunts, with no sparing hand, at the head of the unsuccessful commander. It would be profitless, now, to inquire into the causes of the failures in Western Virginia. It is sufficient to say that they were not attributable to the want of capacity or energy in the commanding General.

He was, subsequently, sent to the Southern sea-board, for the purpose of supervising the measures for its defence, and he proved himself a most accomplished engineer, and rendered most valuable services in connection with the sea-board defences in that quarter.

In March, 1862, he was called to Richmond and assigned to the important position of military adviser to the President. Just before that time the evacuation of Manassas took place, and subsequently the transfer of the bulk of the opposing armies in Virginia to the Peninsula, the evacuation of Yorktown and the line of Warwick River, the battle of Williamsburg, and the transfer of the seat of war to the Chickahominy, in the vicinity of Richmond, occurred.

On the 31st of May and 1st of June, the battle of Seven Pines was fought, and General Johnston was so severely wounded as to be disabled for duty in the field for some time. Fortunately, the eminent and patriotic statesman, who was at the head of the Government, well knew the merits of General Lee, and at once assigned him to the vacant command; and then in fact began that career to which I invite your attention.

When General Lee assumed command of the army, which before that time had borne the name of the “Army of the Potomac,” but was soon re-christened by the name of the “Army of Northern Virginia,” he found the Confederate Capital beleaguered by an army of over one hundred thousand men, with a very large train of field and siege guns, while his own force was very little more than half that of the enemy. Nevertheless, he conceived the idea of relieving the capital of the threatening presence of the besieging army, by one of those bold strategic movements of which only great minds are capable. General Jackson, by his rapid movements and brilliant operations in the Valley, had prevented the march of a column of about forty thousand men, under McDowell, from Fredericksburg on Richmond, to unite with the besieging army; and a part of McDowell’s force, and Fremont’s army from Northwestern Virginia, had been sent to the Valley, for the purpose of crushing Jackson. It was very apparent that Jackson’s force, then consisting of his own command proper, Johnson’s command from Alleghany Mountain, and Ewell’s division, could not long withstand the heavy forces concentrating against it, and that, when it was overwhelmed, the enemy’s troops operating in the Valley and covering Washington, would be at liberty to move on Richmond; while the detachment, from the army defending that city, of a force large enough to enable Jackson to contend successfully, in a protracted campaign, with the forces accumulating against him, would, probably, ensure the fall of the Confederate Capital. Preparations were, therefore, made to attack the besieging army, with the forces covering Richmond and in the Valley, by a combined movement. Some reinforcements were brought from the South, and three brigades were sent to the Valley, for the purpose of deceiving the enemy, and facilitating the withdrawal of General Jackson. Fortunately, that able and energetic commander had been enabled to prevent the junction of Fremont’s army with the troops sent from McDowell’s command, and, taking advantage of their separation and the swollen condition of the water courses, had defeated both forces in succession, and so bewildered their commanders by the rapidity of his movements, that they retreated down the Valley, under the apprehension that Washington was in danger. Leaving all of his cavalry but one regiment to watch the enemy and mask his own movement, General Jackson, on the 17th of June, commenced his march towards the enemy’s lines near Richmond, in compliance with the plan and orders of General Lee; and on the 26th of June, less than four weeks after General Lee had been assigned to the command of the army, his attacking columns swung around McClellan’s right flank, and fell like an avalanche on the besieging army. Next day, Jackson was up, and then ensued that succession of brilliant engagements which so much accelerated McClellan’s famous ≴change of base,” and sent his shattered army to Harrison’s Landing under cover of the gun-boats on the James.

To give you some idea of the boldness and daring of this movement, and the impression it made on the enemy, I will call your attention to some facts and figures.

In his report, dated in August, 1863, and printed in 1864, McClellan gives the strength of the troops under his command at Washington, on the Potomac and within reach, on the 1st of March, 1862, as:

“Present for duty, one hundred and ninety-three thousand one hundred and forty-two.”

A portion of this force had been left to operate in the Valley, another to cover Washington; and he puts the strength of “The Army of the Potomac,” which designation his army bore, on the 20th day of June, 1862, just six days before the battles began, at:

“Present for duty, one hundred and five thousand eight hundred and twenty-five.”

He further says that he had sixty batteries with his army, aggregating three hundred and forty field pieces. Besides these he had a large train of siege guns.

General Lee’s whole force, of all arms, including the troops of Magruder, Huger, Holmes and Jackson, when the latter arrived, did not reach eighty thousand effective men, and of these, Holmes command, over six thousand strong, did not actively engage in any of the battles. There were thirty-nine brigades of infantry in all engaged on our side in the battles around Richmond, inclusive of Holmes command. The strength of twenty-three of them is given in the official reports, and was forty-seven thousand and thirty-four, including the batteries attached to a number of them. In these were embraced the very largest brigades in the army, as for instance, Lawton’s. The sixteen brigades, whose strength is not given, were four of A. P. Hill’s, two of Longstreet’s, two of Huger’s and eight of Jackson’s. Taking the average of those whose strength is given, for the eight brigades of A. P. Hill, Longstreet and Huger, and an average of fifteen hundred for Jackson’s eight brigades—which would be a very liberal estimate, considering the heavy fighting and long and rapid marches they had gone through—and it will give about seventy-five thousand men, including a number of batteries attached to the brigades. The cavalry with the army was less than two brigades, and that, with the artillery not included in the reports of brigades, could not have reached five thousand men. The field guns with our army, which were all that were used, were not near half as many as those of the enemy, and many of them were of inferior mettle and pattern. We had not, then, had an opportunity of supplying ourselves with the improved guns of the enemy. Much the largest portion of our small arms consisted of the smooth bore musket, while the enemy was well supplied with improved rifle muskets.

From the data I have given, you will perceive that I have not underestimated the strength of the forces at General Lee’s command; and this was the largest army he ever commanded. The idea of relieving Richmond, by an attack on McClellan’s flank and rear, was a masterly conception, and the boldness, not to say audacity, of it, will appear when we take into consideration the relative strength of the two armies, and the fact that, in swinging around the enemy’s flank, General Lee left very little over twenty-five thousand men between the Capital and the besieging army. Timid minds might regard this as rashness, but it was the very perfection of a profound and daring strategy. Had McClellan advanced to the assault of the city, through the open plains around it, his destruction would have been ensured. As it was, his only chance for escape was in a retreat through the swamps and forests, which concealed and sheltered his columns on their flight to the banks of the James. Notwithstanding the favorable nature of the country for his escape, McClellan’s army would have been annihilated, had General Lee’s orders been promptly and rigidly carried out by his subordinates. The bloody battle of Malvern Hill would not have been fought; and when it was fought, a crushing defeat would have been inflicted on the enemy, had the plans of the commanding General been carried into execution, as I could demonstrate to you, if it were profitable to enter into such a disquisition. McClellan was glad enough to escape from that field with his shattered forces, though he pretended to claim a victory; and the pious Lincoln gave “ten thousand thanks for it.”

McClellan always insisted that we had overwhelming numbers against him, and this hallucination seems to have haunted him until the close of his career, if he is yet rid of it. On the night of the 25th of June, he telegraphed to Stanton, as follows:

“I incline to think that Jackson will attack my right and rear. The rebel force is stated at two hundred thousand, including Jackson and Beauregard. I shall have to contend against vastly superior odds if these reports be true. But this army will do all in the power of men to hold their position, and repulse any attack.”

In his report, he says:

“The report of the chief of the ‘secret service corps’ herewith forwarded, and dated the 26th of June, [1862,] shows the estimated strength of the enemy, at the time of the evacuation of Yorktown, to have been from one hundred thousand to one hundred and twenty thousand. The same report puts his numbers, on the 26th of June, at about one hundred and eighty thousand, and the specific information obtained regarding their organization warrants the belief that this estimate did not exceed his actual strength.”

He missed it by only one hundred thousand, and his statement shows the impression made on him, by the fighting of our army under General Lee, and which he never got over. All the time he was at his “new base,” he was afflicted with this dread phantom of overwhelming numbers against him, which, according to his account, were being constantly increased, and he begged most earnestly for reinforcements. Halleck, then lately appointed commander-in-chief at Washington, visited Harrison’s Landing about the last of July, and after he got back, he reported, in writing, to the Secretary of War, that McClellan and his officers represented our forces, then, at not less than two hundred thousand, and his own force at about ninety thousand.

A new commander had now appeared in Virginia, on the north of the Rapidan, in the person of Major-General John Pope, whose head-quarters were in the saddle, who had never seen anything of the “rebels” but their backs, and who felt no concern whatever about strength of positions, bases of supplies, or lines of retreat. All he wanted to know, was, where, the “rebels” were, so that he might “go at them;” and he left the lines of retreat to take care of themselves, while the enemy’s country was to be the base of his supplies. His army, according to his own statement, amounted to over forty-three thousand men. General Jackson had been quietly sent up to Gordonsville, with his own and Ewell’s divisions, which were soon followed by that of A. P. Hill. While McClellan was trembling at the idea of vastly superior numbers accumulating against him, Pope telegraphed to Halleck:

“The enemy is reported to be evacuating Richmond, and falling back on Danville and Lynchburg.”

General Jackson soon began to show Pope some things that were entirely new to him. The battle of Cedar Run or Slaughter’s Mountain, was fought on the 9th of August, and “a change came over the spirit” of Pope’s dream. In fact, he began to see some remarkable sights, with which he was destined to soon become familiar. About this time, McClellan sent a despatch to Halleck, in which is this striking passage:

“I don t like Jackson’s movements; he will suddenly appear when least expected.”

There were not many, on that side, who did like General Jackson’s ways. The authorities at Washington were completely bewildered by his new eccentricities, and the evacuation of the “new base,” which had been assumed with so much ability and celerity, was preremptorily ordered.

Burnside soon arrived at Fredericksburg with thirteen thousand men, brought from North and South Carolina, eight thousand of whom, under Reno, were sent to Pope. In the meantime, General Lee had been watching McClellan’s force, and, having become convinced that there was no immediate danger to Richmond, he determined to move against Pope, for the purpose of crushing him before he could be reinforced, and entirely relieving Richmond, by forcing McClellan to go to the defence of Washington. Leaving D. H. Hill’s and McLaws’ divisions, two brigades under J. G. Walker, a brigade of cavalry under Hampton, and some other troops at Drury’s and Chaffin’s Bluffs, to watch McClellan, General Lee moved with the remainder of his army to the Rapidan. Getting wind of the intended movement against him, by the accidental capture of a despatch to Stuart, Pope fell back behind the Rappahannock, and the two armies soon confronted each other on its banks. A raid by Stuart to Pope’s rear, resulted in the capture of the latter’s head-quarters and his correspondence, which latter showed that McClellan’s army was hastening to Pope’s assistance. D. H. Hill, McLaws, Walker and Hampton, were ordered forward at once, and while Pope was looking steadily to the front for the “rebels,” without thought for his base of supplies, and in utter oblivion of any possible line of retreat, General Jackson was sent on that remarkably bold and dashing expedition to the enemy’s rear, for the purpose of destroying Pope’s communications, and preventing the advance of McClellan’s army to his assistance. Pope now found it necessary to look out for his supplies and his line of retreat, and then ensued that series of engagements called “the second battle of Manassas.” Pope had already been joined by two corps of McClellan’s army, Porter’s and Heintzelman’s, the one by the way of Fredericksburg and the other over the railroad; and Jackson’s three divisions, numbering less than twenty thousand men, after cutting the railroad, and destroying several trains of cars and immense stores at Manassas, which could not be removed for want of transportation, withstood for two days, beginning on the 28th of August, Pope’s entire army, reinforced by Reno’s eight thousand men and McClellan’s two corps, while General Lee was moving up with Longstreet’s and Anderson’s commands. Never did General Jackson display his leading characteristics more conspicuously than on this occasion, and he fully justified the confidence of the commanding General, in entrusting him with the execution of one of the most brilliant and daring strategic movements on record. Every attack by Pope’s immense army was repulsed with heavy slaughter, and during the 29th all the fighting on our side was done by Jackson’s corps, except an affair about dusk between a part of McDowell’s corps and the advance of Longstreet’s command, which began to arrive between eleven and twelve in the day, but did not become engaged until at the close, when an advance was made, along the Warrenton Pike, by one of McDowell’s divisions, under the very great delusion that Jackson was retreating. On the morning of the 30th the attacks on Jackson’s position, on the line of an unfinished railroad track, were renewed, and continued until the afternoon, with the same result as the day before. Longstreet did not become engaged until late in the afternoon, when, by a combined attack, Pope’s army was driven across Bull Run in great disorder and with immense loss.

Pope’s report and telegraphic correspondence afford a rich fund of amusement for those acquainted with the facts of his brief campaign in Virginia, but this I must pass over.

He claimed to have entirely defeated and routed Jackson on the 29th, and he actually had one corps commander cashiered, for not cutting off the retreat and capturing the whole force, which he claims to have routed. In a despatch to Halleck, dated 5.30 A.M., on the 30th, he says:

“We have lost not less than eight thousand men, killed and wounded; but from the appearance of the field, the enemy lost at least two to one. He stood strictly on the defensive, and every assault was made by ourselves. The battle was fought on the identical field of Bull Run, which greatly increased the enthusiasm of the men. The news just reaches me from the front that the enemy is retiring toward the mountains. I go forward at once to see. We have made great captures, but I am not able, yet, to form an idea of their extent.”

He went forward, and saw more than was agreeable to him, and found that he had captured a “Tartar.”

In a despatch dated 9.45 P.M., on the 30th, after the great battle of that day was over, he said:

“The battle was most furious for hours without cessation, and the losses on both sides were very heavy. The enemy is badly whipped, and we shall do well enough. Do not be uneasy. We will hold our own here.”

To this Halleck replied on the morning of the 31st:

“You have done nobly. Don t yield another inch if you can avoid it. All reserves are being sent forward.”

Yet, after all of McClellan’s troops, except one division left at Yorktown, had arrived, and before another gun had been fired, Pope telegraphed to Halleck, at 10.45 A.M., on the 31st:

“I should like to know whether you feel secure about Washington, should this army be destroyed. I shall fight it as long as a man will stand up to the work.”

The army that had been so badly whipped on the 30th, was soon advancing against Pope again. Jackson, by another flank movement, struck the retreating army at Chantilly or Ox Hill, and the shattered remains of it, now reinforced by two fresh corps and a division of McClellan’s army, were hurled into the fortifications around Washington.

Major General John Pope had now seen as much of the “rebels” as he cared to look upon, and he disappeared from the scene of action, in many respects, “a wiser if not a better man.” To get him as far as possible from the dangerous proximity, he was sent to the extreme Northwest, to look after the red men of the plains. When we recollect the bombastic proclamations and orders of Pope, at the beginning of his brief campaign, and the rapidity with which he was brought to grief, there appears so much of the ludicrous in the whole that we are almost tempted to overlook the fiendish malignity which characterized some of his orders and acts.

In his report, after saying:

“Every indication, during the night of the 29th, and up to 10 o’clock on the morning of the 30th, pointed to the retreat of the enemy from our front.”

He further says:

“During the whole night of the 29th, and the morning of the 30th, the advance of the main army, under Lee, was arriving on the field to reinforce Jackson, so that, by 12 or 1 o’clock in the day, we were confronted by forces greatly superior to our own; and these forces were being, every moment, largely increased by fresh arrivals of the enemy in the direction of Thoroughfare Gap.” So that this was another case of overwhelming numbers on our side.

Pope’s army was originally, according to his statement, forty-three thousand, and, according to Halleck, forty thousand. He had been reinforced by eight thousand men under Reno; a body of troops from the Kanawha Valley, under Cox; another from Washington, under Sturgis, and all of McClellan’s army, except one division, say eighty-five thousand men. General Lee had then between one hundred and thirty-five thousand and one hundred and forty thousand men to deal with on this occasion. The whole of McClellan’s force was not up at the battle of the 30th, but all of it, except the one division of Casey’s corps, was up by the time of the affair at Ox Hill, on the 1st of September. General Lee’s whole force, at second Manassas, did not exceed fifty thousand men. Neither D. H. Hill’s, nor McLaws’, nor Walker’s division of infantry, nor Hampton’s brigade of cavalry had arrived, and neither of them got up until after the affair at Ox Hill. We had only twenty-nine brigades of infantry and two of cavalry present at second Manassas, one of the latter being very weak. One of the infantry brigades, Starke’s Louisiana brigade, had been formed of regiments attached to other brigades at the battles around Richmond, and another had arrived from the South during July. This latter brigade constituted all the reinforcements, except men returned from convalescence, received after these battles, and was twenty-two hundred strong, the last of July. The whole force in the department of Northern Virginia, on the 31st of July, 1862, was sixty-nine thousand five hundred and fifty-nine for duty. Deduct, rateably, for the twelve infantry brigades, with their proportion of artillery, and the one cavalry brigade absent, besides troops on detached duty at various points, and you will see how General Lee’s army must have been under fifty thousand at second Manassas. Yet it had sent the combined armies of Pope and McClellan into the defences of Washington, in a very crippled condition, and thrown the Government there into a great panic in regard to the safety of that city. Fredericksburg had been evacuated, and the remainder of Burnside’s corps brought to Washington, while a call had been made for three hundred thousand new troops.

Notwithstanding the exhaustion of his troops from the heavy tax on all their energies—the heavy losses in battle, and the want of commissary stores, General Lee now undertook the bold scheme of crossing the Potomac into Maryland, with his army reinforced by the eleven brigades of infantry, under D. H. Hill, McLaws and Walker, and Hampton’s cavalry, which were coming up. On the 3d of September, our army was put in motion, and passing through Leesburg, it crossed over and concentrated at and near Frederick city, by the 7th of the month. This movement threw the authorities at Washington into great consternation and dismay. McClellan had been assigned to the command of all the troops in and around Washington, and the correspondence between himself and Halleck, conducted mostly by telegraph, shows how utterly bewildered they were. Both of them were firmly impressed with the conviction that our numbers were overwhelming, and they did not know where to look for the impending blow. McClellan moved out of the city with great caution, feeling his way gradually towards Frederick, while a considerable force, which was constantly augmented by the arrival of new troops, was retained at Washington, for fear that city should be captured by a sudden coup from the South-side. A considerable force had been isolated at Harper’s Ferry, and General Lee sent Jackson’s corps, McLaws’, Anderson’s and Walker’s divisions, in all twenty-six brigades of infantry, with the accompanying artillery, to invest and capture that place, retaining with himself only fourteen brigades of infantry, with the accompanying and reserve artillery, and the main body of the cavalry, with which he crossed to the West side of the South Mountain. The order directing these movements, by some accident, fell into McClellan’s hands on the 13th, and he hurried his troops forward to attack the small force with General Lee, and relieve Harper’s Ferry if possible. A sanguinary engagement occurred at Boonsboro’ Gap, on the 14th, between D. H. Hill’s division, constituting the rear guard of the column with General Lee, and the bulk of McClellan’s army, and Hill, after maintaining his position for many hours, was compelled to retire at night with heavy loss, the troops sent to his assistance not having arrived in time to repulse the enemy. That night, Longstreet’s and Hill’s commands crossed the Antietam to Sharpsburg, where they took position on the morning of the 15th. In the meantime, Harper’s Ferry had been invested, and surrendered on the morning of the 15th—our victory being almost a bloodless one, so far as the resistance of the garrison was concerned; but McLaws and Anderson had had very heavy fighting on the Maryland side, with a part of McClellan’s army. As soon as General Lee heard of the success at Harper’s Ferry, he ordered all the troops operating against that place to move to Sharpsburg as soon as practicable. Leaving A. P. Hill, with his division, to dispose of the prisoners and property captured at Harper’s Ferry, General Jackson, late in the afternoon of the 15th, ordered his own division and Ewell’s, now under Lawton, to Sharpsburg, where they arrived early on the morning of the 16th. Walker’s two brigades came up later in the day. The ten brigades brought by Jackson and Walker made twenty-four brigades of infantry, with the fourteen already on the ground, which General Lee had with him when the battle of Sharpsburg opened on the morning of the 17th of September. Jackson’s division was placed on the left flank, and Hood’s two brigades, which were next to it on the right, were relieved by two brigades of Ewell’s division during the night of the 16th, and these were reinforced by another very early the next morning. General Jackson’s whole force on the field consisted of five thousand infantry and a very few batteries of his own division. One brigade, my own, numbering about one thousand men and officers, was detached, at light, towards the Potomac on our left, to support some artillery with which Stuart was operating; so that General Jackson had only four thousand infantry in line, and D. H. Hill was immediately on his right, holding the centre and left centre with his division, then three thousand strong. General Lee’s whole infantry force on the field, at the beginning of the battle, did not exceed fifteen thousand men, including Jackson’s and Walker’s commands. On the left and left centre, McClellan hurled, in succession, the four corps of Hooker, Mansfield, Sumner and Franklin, numbering, in the aggregate, fifty-six thousand and ninety-five men, according to his report; and a sanguinary battle raged for several hours, during which, Hood’s two brigades, my brigade, Walker’s two brigades, Anderson’s brigade of D. R. Jones division, and McLaws’ and Anderson’s divisions, successively went to the support of the part of the line assailed, at different points, the last two divisions having arrived late in the morning, during the progress of the battle. And all the troops engaged, from first to last, with the enemy’s fifty-six thousand and ninety-five men, on that wing, did not exceed eighteen thousand men. At the close of the fighting there, our left was advanced beyond where it rested in the morning, while the centre had been forced back some two hundred yards.

In the afternoon, Burnside’s corps, over thirteen thousand strong, attacked our right, and, after gaining some advantage, was driven back with the aid of three of A. P. Hill’s brigades, which had just arrived from Harper’s Ferry. At the close of the battle, we held our position firmly, with the centre slightly forced back, as I have stated. We continued to hold the position during the 18th, and McClellan did not venture to renew the attack. In the meantime, heavy reinforcements were moving to his assistance, two divisions of which, Couch’s and Humphrey’s, fourteen thousand strong, arrived on the 18th, while General Lee had no possibility of being reinforced except by the stragglers who might come up, and they constituted a poor dependence. The Potomac was immediately in his rear, and as it would have been folly for him to have waited until an overpowering force was accumulated against him, he very properly and judiciously retired on the night of the 18th, and re-crossed the river early on the morning of the 19th. A very feeble effort at pursuit by one corps, was most severely punished by A. P. Hill’s division on the 20th.

This was one of the most remarkable battles of the war, and has been but little understood. You will, therefore, pardon me for going somewhat into detail in regard to it. When General Lee took his position on the morning of the l5th, he had with him but fourteen brigades of infantry, besides the artillery and cavalry. The official reports show that D. H. Hill’s five brigades numbered then only three thousand men for duty, and six brigades under D. R. Jones only two thousand four hundred and thirty men. The strength of three brigades is not given, but they were not more than of an average size—and estimating their strength in that way, it would give less than seven thousand five hundred infantry with which, and the artillery and cavalry with him, General Lee confronted McClelland army during the whole of the 15th and part of the 16th. The arrival of Jackson’s and Walker’s commands, did not increase the infantry to more than fifteen thousand men, and they brought very little artillery with them. During the day, McLaws, Anderson and A. P. Hill came up with thirteen brigades, making thirty-seven brigades which participated in the battle. The official reports give the strength of twenty-seven of these, amounting in the aggregate to sixteen thousand nine hundred and twenty-three men. Taking the average for the other ten and they were not more than average brigades, if that and it would give about twenty-three thousand infantry engaged on our side from first to last. The cavalry, consisting of three brigades, which were not strong, was not engaged, and merely watched the flanks. A very large portion of our artillery, which had been used against Harper’s Ferry, had not arrived, and did not get up until after night-fall, when the battle was over. We had in fact comparatively few guns engaged, and the enemy’s guns were not only very numerous, but of heavier mettle and longer range. Taking the whole force, including the cavalry and the artillery, when all of the latter had arrived, and we had less than thirty thousand men of all arms at this battle from first to last. General Lee, in his report, says that he had less than forty-thousand men; but, for reasons that can be well understood, he never did disclose his own weakness at any time, even to his own officers.

When our army started for Maryland, after the affair at Ox Hill, it was out of rations, badly clothed, and worse shod. At the time of the battle of Sharpsburg, it had been marching and fighting for near six weeks, and the straggling from exhaustion, sore feet, and in search of food, had been terrible, before we crossed the Potomac. When it is recollected that the entire force at the end of July, in all the Department of Northern Virginia, was only a very little over sixty-nine thousand men, of which sixty thousand, including D. H. Hill’s, McLaws’ and Walker’s divisions, would be a liberal estimate for all that were carried into the field, you will see that a loss of thirty thousand in battle, from Cedar Run to South Mountain, inclusive, and from the other causes named, is not an unreasonable estimate. In fact, at the end of September, when the stragglers had been gathered up, and many of the sick and wounded had returned to duty, besides the additions from the conscripts, the official returns show only fifty-two thousand six hundred and nine for duty in the whole Department of Northern Virginia.

McClellan, in his report, gives his own force at eighty-seven thousand one hundred and sixty-four in action, and he gives an estimate of General Lee’s army, in detail, in which he places our strength at ninety-seven thousand four hundred and forty-five men and four hundred guns at this battle. Truly, our boys in gray had a wonderful faculty of magnifying and multiplying themselves in battle; and McClellan could not have paid a higher compliment to their valor, and the ability of our commander, than he has done by this estimate of our strength, as it appeared to him.

In giving his reasons for not renewing the battle on the 18th, he says:

“One division of Sumner’s corps, and all of Hooker’s corps, on the right, had, after fighting most valiantly for several hours, been overpowered by numbers, driven in great disorder and much scattered, so that they were for the time somewhat demoralized.”

I have shown how they were outnumbered.

Burnside, in his testimony before the committee on the conduct of the war, said:

“I was told at General McClellan’s headquarters, that our right had been so badly broken that they could not be got together for an attack, and they would have to wait for reinforcements; and that General Sumner advised General McClellan not to renew the attack, because of the condition of his corps; and it was also stated that very little of General Hooker’s corps was left.”

This was on the night of the 17th, after the battle was over. On the 27th, McClellan wrote to Halleck as follows:

“In the last battles the enemy was undoubtedly greatly superior to us in numbers, and it was only by hard fighting that we gained the advantage we did. As it was, the result was at one time very doubtful, and we had all we could do to win the day.”

Win the day, indeed! He had not dared to renew the attack on the 18th, and he did not venture to claim a victory until the 19th, when he found General Lee had re-crossed the Potomac, and then he began to breathe freely and to crow, at first feebly, and then more loudly. Who ever heard of a victory by an attacking army in an open field, and yet the victor was unable to advance against his antagonist who stood his ground?

To give you some idea of the immense difficulties General Lee had to encounter in this campaign, and the wonderful facility the enemy had for raising men, and reinforcing his armies after defeat, through the agencies of the telegraph, railroads and steam-power, let me tell you that a certified statement compiled from McClellan’s morning report of the 20th of September, 1862, contained in the report of the committee on the conduct of the war, shows a grand total present for duty, in the Army of the Potomac, on that day, of one hundred and sixty-four thousand three hundred and fifty-nine, of which seventy-one thousand two hundred and ten were in the defences of Washington, under Banks, leaving ninety-three thousand one hundred and forty-nine with McClellan in the field on that day. A very large portion of this force had been accumulated, by means of the railroads, after the defeat of Pope. You may understand, now, how it was that our victories could never be pressed to more decisive results. It was genius, and nerve, and valor, on the one side, against numbers and mechanical power on the other; even the lightning of the heavens being made subservient to the latter.

You may also form some conception of the boldness of General Lee’s movement across the Potomac, the daring of the expedition against Harper’s Ferry in the face of so large a force, and the audacity with which he confronted and defied McClellan’s army on the 15th and 16th, and then fought it on the 17th, with the small force he had.

Sharpsburg was no defeat to our arms, though our army was retired to the south bank of the Potomac from prudential considerations.

Some persons have been disposed to regard this campaign into Maryland as a failure, but such was not the case. It is true that we had failed to raise Maryland, but it was from no disaster to our arms.

In a military point of view, however, the whole campaign, of which the movement into Maryland was an integral part, had been a grand success, though all was not accomplished which our fond hopes caused us to expect. When General Lee assumed command of the army at Richmond, a besieging army of immense size and resources, was in sight of the spires of the Confederate Capital—all Northern Virginia was in possession of the enemy—the Valley overrun, except when Jackson’s vigorous and rapid blows sent the marauders staggering to the banks of the Potomac for a brief interval; and Northwestern Virginia, including the Kanawha Valley, was subjugated and in the firm grasp of the enemy. By General Lee’s bold strategy and rapid and heavy blows, the Capital had been relieved, the besieging army driven out of the State, the enemy’s Capital threatened, his country invaded, Northern Virginia and the Valley cleared of the enemy, the enemy’s troops from Northwestern Virginia and the Kanawha Valley had been drawn from thence for the defence of his own Capital, a Confederate force had penetrated to Charleston, Kanawha, our whole army was supplied with the improved fire-arm in the place of the old smooth bore musket, much of our inferior field artillery replaced by the enemy’s improved guns, and, in addition to our very large captures of prisoners and the munitions of war elsewhere, the direct result of the march across the Potomac was the capture of eleven thousand prisoners, seventy-three pieces of artillery, and thirteen thousand stand of excellent small arms, and immense stores at Harper’s Ferry. And at the close of the campaign, the Confederate commander stood proudly defiant on the extreme northern border of the Confederacy, while his opponent had had “his base” removed to the northern bank of the Potomac, at a point more than one hundred and seventy-five miles from the Confederate Capital, in a straight line. In addition, the immense army of McClellan had been so crippled, that it was not able to resume the offensive for six weeks. Such had been the moral effect upon the enemy, that the Confederate Capital was never again seriously endangered, until the power of the Confederacy had been so broken in other quarters, and its available territory so reduced in dimensions, that the enemy could concentrate his immense resources against the Capital.

All this had been the result of that plan of operations, of which the invasion of Maryland formed an important part. Look at the means placed at the command of General Lee, and the immense numbers and resources brought against him, and then say if the results accomplished by him were not marvellous? If his Government had been able to furnish him with men and means, at all commensurate with his achievements and his conceptions, he would, in September, 1862, have dictated the terms of peace in the Capital of the enemy. But all the wonderful powers of the mechanic arts and physical science, backed by unlimited resources of men and money, still continued to operate against him.

A certified statement from McClellan’s morning report of the 30th of September, contained in the document from which I have already quoted, showed, in the Army of the Potomac, a grand total of one hundred and seventy-three thousand seven hundred and forty-five present for duty on that day, of which seventy-three thousand six hundred and one were in the defences of Washington, and one hundred thousand one hundred and forty-four, with him in the field; and a similar statement showed, on the 20th of October, a grand total of two hundred and seven thousand and thirty-six present for duty on that day, of which seventy-three thousand five hundred and ninety-three were in the defences of Washington, and one hundred and thirty-three thousand four hundred and forty-three with McClellan in the field.

At the close of October, according to the official returns, now on file at the “Archive Office” in Washington, the whole Confederate force for duty, in the department of Northern Virginia, amounted to sixty-seven thousand eight hundred and five. A considerable portion of this force was not with General Lee in the field.

At the close of October, McClellan commenced a new movement, with his immense army, across the Potomac, East of the Blue Ridge, while General Lee was yet in the Valley. As this movement was developed, Longstreet’s corps, and the cavalry tinder Stuart, were promptly moved to intercept it, Jackson’s corps being left in the Valley. McClellan was soon superseded in {he command by Burn side, and when the latter turned his steps towards the heights opposite Fredericksburg, Jackson was ordered to rejoin the rest of the army. In the meantime, Burnside’s attempt to approach Richmond on the new line had been checkmated, and he soon found himself confronted on the Rappahannock by the whole of General Lee’s army. That army had to be stretched out, for some thirty miles, up and down the river, to watch the different crossings. The enemy began his movement to cross at and near Fredericksburg, on the morning of the 11th of December, and the crossing was resisted and delayed for many hours, but owing to the peculiar character of the country immediately on the South bank, and the advantage the enemy had in his commanding position on the North bank, from whence the wide plains on the South bank, and the town of Fredericksburg, were completely commanded and swept by an immense armament of heavy artillery, that crossing could not be prevented. Our army was rapidly concentrated, and took its position on the heights and range of hills in rear of the town and the plains below; and when the heavy columns of the enemy advanced to the assault on the 13th, first on our right, near Hamilton’s crossing, and then on our left, in rear of Fredericksburg, they were hurled back, with immense slaughter, to the cover of the artillery on the opposite heights, and every renewal of the assault met the same fate. In this battle, we stood entirely on the defensive, except once, when the enemy penetrated an interval in our line near the right flank, and three of my brigades advanced, driving and pursuing the enemy into the plains below, until he reached the protection of his artillery and the main line. Burnside’s loss was so heavy, and his troops were so worsted in the assaults which had been made, that his principal officers protested against a renewal of the attack, and on the night of the 15th, he re-crossed to the North bank.

In this battle, he had all of McClellan’s army, except the twelfth corps, which was eight or ten thousand strong and had been left at Harper’s Ferry, and in lieu of that he had a much larger corps, the third, from the defences of Washington. In his testimony before the committee on the conduct of the war, he says he had one hundred thousand men across the river, and he was doubtful which had the superiority of numbers. In reply to a question as to the causes of the failure of the attack, he frankly said:

“It was found to be impossible to get the men up to the works. The enemy’s fire was too hot for them.”

Our whole force present, was not much more than half that of the enemy, which crossed over to the south side of the river. This signal victory, in which the enemy’s loss was very heavy and ours comparatively light, closed the operations for the year 1862.

Some newspaper critics and fireside Generals were not satisfied with the results of this victory, and thought Burnside’s army ought to have been destroyed before it went back; and there were some absurd stories about propositions alleged to have been made by General Jackson, for driving the enemy into the river. That great soldier did begin a forward movement, about sunset, which I was to have led, but just as my men were moving off, he countermanded the movement, because the enemy opened such a terrific artillery fire from the Stafford Heights and from behind the heavy embankments on the road leading through the bottoms on the southside of the river, that it was apparent that nothing could have lived in the passage across the plain of about a mile in width, over which we would have had to advance, to reach the enemy massed in that road. According to the statements of himself and officers, before the committee on the conduct of the war, Franklin, who commanded the enemy’s left, had, confronting our right, from fifty-five to sixty thousand men, of whom only about twenty thousand had been under fire. The bulk of that force was along the Bowling Green road, running parallel to the river through the middle of the bottoms, and behind the very compact and thick embankments on each side of that road. He had taken over with him one hundred and sixteen pieces of artillery, and there were sixty-one pieces on the North bank, some of which were of very large calibre, so posted as to cover the bridges on that flank and sweep the plain in his front. Some of these were also crossed over to him, and General Hunt, Burnside’s chief of artillery, says, fifty or sixty more pieces could have been spared from their right, if necessary. The attempt to drive this force into the river, would have, therefore, ensured our destruction.

Franklin had eight divisions with him, while at Fredericksburg, confronting our left, were ten divisions, fully as strong, certainly, as Franklin’s eight, and there were quite as many guns on that flank. It is true the enemy’s loss there had been double that in front of our right, but he still had a large number of troops on that flank which had not been engaged. The character of the ground in front of our position, on that flank, was such that our troops could not be moved down the rugged slopes of the hills in any order of battle, and any attempt to advance them must have been attended with disastrous consequences. Burnside’s troops were not so demoralized, as to prevent him from being anxious to renew the attack on the 14th, and the objection of his officers was not on account of the condition of their troops, but on account of the strength of our position. Nothing could have gratified him and his officers more, than for us to have surrendered our advantage and taken the offensive. General Lee, ever ready to strike when an opportunity offered, knew better than all others when it was best to attack and when not to attack.

It is a notable fact about all those people who favored such blood-thirsty and desperate measures, that they were never in the army, to share the dangers into which they were so anxious to rush others.

About the close of the winter or beginning of the spring of 1863, two of Longstreet’s divisions, one fourth of our army, were sent to the South side of James River; and, during their absence, Hooker, who had succeeded Burnside in the command, commenced the movement which resulted in the battle of Chancellorsville, in the first days of May. Throwing a portion of his troops across the river just below Fredericksburg, on the 29th of April, arid making an ostentatious demonstration with three corps on the North bank, he proceeded to cross four others above our left flank to Chancellorsville. Having accomplished this, Hooker issued a gasconading order to his troops, in which he claimed to have General Lee’s army in his power, and declared his purpose of crushing it. Leaving my division, one brigade of another, and a portion of the reserve artillery, in all less than nine thousand men, to confront the three corps opposite and near Fredericksburg, General Lee moved with five divisions of infantry and a portion of the artillery to meet Hooker, the cavalry being employed to watch the flanks. As soon as General Lee reached Hooker’s front, he determined to take the offensive, and, by one of his bold strategic movements, he sent Jackson around Hooker’s right flank, and that boastful commander, who was successively reinforced by two of the corps left opposite Fredericksburg, was so vigorously assailed, that he was put on the defensive, and soon compelled to provide for the safety of his own defeated army.

In the meantime, Sedgwick, whose corps numbered about twenty-four thousand men, and who had a division of another corps with him, making his whole force about thirty thousand, had crossed the river, at and below Fredericksburg, with the portion of his troops not already over, and, by concentrating three of his divisions on one point of the long line, of five or six miles, held by my forces, had, on the 3d of May, after repeated repulses, broken through, immediately in rear of Fredericksburg, where the stonewall w r as held by one regiment and four companies of another, the whole not exceeding five hundred men. General Lee was preparing to renew the attack on Hooker, whose force at Chancellorsville had been driven back to an interior line, when he was informed that Sedgwick was moving up in his rear. He was then compelled to provide against this new danger, and he moved troops down to arrest Sedgwick’s progress. This was successfully done, and on the next day, (the 4th,) three of the brigades of my division, all of which had been concentrated and had severed Sedgwick’s connection with Fredericksburg and the North bank, fell upon his left flank, and drove it towards the river in confusion, while the other troops of ours, which had come from above, closed in on him and forced his whole command into the bend of the river. His w r hole command would now have been destroyed or captured, but night came on and arrested our progress. During the night, he made his escape over a bridge which was laid down for him. General Lee then turned his attention again to Hooker, but he also made his escape, the next night, under the cover of a storm. Thus another brilliant victory was achieved, by the genius and boldness of our commander, against immense odds.

It is a little remarkable that Hooker did not claim, on this occasion, that we had the odds against him; but when he went back, under compulsion, he issued an order, in which he stated, that his army had retired for reasons best known to itself, that it advanced when it pleased, fought when it pleased, and retired when it pleased.

In his testimony before the committee on the conduct of the war, he made this curious statement:

“Our artillery had always been superior to that of the rebels, as was also our infantry, except in discipline; and that, for reasons not necessary to mention, never did equal Lee’s army. With a rank and file vastly inferior to our own, intellectually and physically, that army has, by discipline alone, acquired a character for steadiness and efficiency unsurpassed, in my judgment, in ancient or modern times. We have not been able to rival it, nor has there been any near approximation to it in the other rebel armies.”

This was the impression made by that army under the inspiration of its great leader on “fighting Joe,” as he was called. The impression made on Lincoln, at that time, may be gathered from a telegram sent to Butterfield, Hooker’s chief-of-staff, who was on the North of the river. The telegram was sent, when Hooker had taken refuge in his new works in rear of Chancellorsville, and Sedgwick was cut off in the bend of the river, and is as follows, in full:

Where is General Hooker? Where is Sedgwick? Where is Stoneman?


Hooker had with him what was left of the army of Burnside, except the ninth corps, which had been sent off; but two other corps, the eleventh and twelfth had been added, besides recruits; and his whole force was largely over one hundred thousand men. General Lee’s army, weakened by the absence of Longstreet’s two divisions, was very little if any over fifty thousand men, inclusive of my force at Fredericksburg.

As glorious as was this victory, it, nevertheless, shed a gloom over the whole army and country, for in it had fallen the great Lieutenant to whom General Lee had always entrusted the execution of his most daring plans, and who had proved himself so worthy of the confidence reposed in him. It is not necessary for me to stop here, to delineate the character and talents of General Jackson. As long as unselfish patriotism, Christian devotion and purity of character, and deeds of heroism shall command the admiration of men, Stonewall Jackson’s name and fame will be reverenced. Of all who mourned his death, none felt more acutely the loss the country and the army had sustained than General Lee. General Jackson had always appreciated, and sympathized with the bold conceptions of the commanding General, and entered upon their execution with the most cheerful alacrity and zeal. General Lee never found it necessary to accompany him, to see that his plans were carried out, but could always trust him alone; and well might he say, when Jackson fell, that he himself had lost his “right arm.”

After General Jackson’s death, the army was divided into three corps of three divisions each, instead of two corps of four divisions each, the ninth division being formed by taking two brigades from the division of A. P. Hill and uniting them with two others which were brought from the South. These two brigades constituted all the reinforcements to our army, after the battle of Chancellorsville, and previous to the campaign into Pennsylvania. Longstreet’s two absent divisions were now brought back and moved up towards Culpeper C. H., and General Lee entered on a campaign of even greater boldness than that of the previous year.

While Hooker’s army yet occupied the Stafford heights, our army was put in motion for Pennsylvania, on the 4th of June, Hill’s corps being left for a while to watch Hooker. This movement was undertaken because the interposition of the Rappahannock, between the two armies, presented an insurmountable obstacle to offensive operations on our part, against the enemy in the position he then occupied, and General Lee was determined not to stand on the defensive, and give the enemy time to mature his plans and accumulate a larger army for another attack on him.

The enemy was utterly bewildered by this new movement, and while he was endeavoring to find out what it meant, the advance of our army, Ewell’s corps, composed of three of Jackson’s old divisions, entered the Valley and captured, at Winchester and Martinsburg, about four thousand prisoners, twenty-nine pieces of artillery, about four thousand stand of small arms, a large wagon train, and many stores. It then crossed the Potomac, and one division went to Carlisle, while another went to the banks of the Susquehanna, through York. The two other corps soon followed, and this movement brought the whole of Hooker’s army across the Potomac in pursuit. The two armies concentrated, and encountered each other at Gettysburg, east of the South Mountain, in a battle extending through three days, from the 1st to the 3d of July, inclusive. On the first day, a portion of our army, composed of two divisions of Hill’s corps and two divisions of Ewell’s corps, gained a very decided victory over two of the enemy’s corps, which latter were driven back, in great confusion, through Gettysburg, to the Heights, immediately South and East of the town, known as Cemetery Hill. On the second and third days, we assaulted the enemy’s position at different points, but failed to dislodge his army, now under Meade, from its very strong position on Cemetery and the adjacent hills. Both sides suffered very heavy losses, that of the enemy exceeding ours.

Our ammunition had drawn short, and we were beyond the reach of any supplies of that kind. General Lee therefore desisted from his efforts to carry the position, and, after straightening his line, he confronted Meade for a whole day, without the latter daring to move from his position, and then retired towards the Potomac, for the purpose of being within reach of supplies. We halted near Hagerstown, Maryland, and when Meade, who had followed us very cautiously, arrived, battle was offered him, but he went to fortifying in our front. We confronted him for several days, but as he did not venture to attack us, and heavy rains had set in, we retired across the Potomac to avoid having an impassable river in our rear.

The campaign into Pennsylvania, and the battle of Gettysburg, have been much criticized, and but little understood. The magnanimity of General Lee caused him to withhold from the public the true causes of the failure to gain a decisive victory at Gettysburg. Many writers have racked their brains to account for that failure. Some have attributed it to the fact that the advantage gained on the first day was not pressed immediately; and among them is a Northern historian of the war, (Swinton,) who says: “Ewell was even advancing a line against Gulp’s Hill when Lee reached the field and stayed the movement.” There is no foundation for this statement. When General Lee, after the engagement, reached the part of the field where Ewell’s command had fought, it was near dark, and no forward movement was in progress or contemplated. Two fresh corps of the enemy, Slocum’s and Sickels’, had arrived at 5 o’clock, at least two hours before General Lee came to us after the engagement. There was a time, as we know now, immediately after the enemy was driven back, when, if we had advanced vigorously, the heights of Gettysburg would probably have been taken, but that was not then apparent. I was in favor of the advance, but I think it doubtful whether it would have resulted in any greater advantage than to throw back the two routed corps on the main body of their army, and cause the great battle to be fought on other ground. Meade had already selected another position, on Pipe Clay creek, where he would have concentrated his army, and we would have been compelled to give him battle or retire. Moreover, it is not impossible that the arrival of the two fresh corps may have turned the fate of the day against the troops we then had on the field, had we pressed our advantage. General Lee had ordered the concentration of his army at Cashtown, and the battle on this day, brought on by the advance of the enemy’s cavalry, was unexpected to him. When he ascertained the advantage that had been gained, he determined to press it as soon as the remainder of his army arrived. In a conference with General. Ewell, General Rodes and myself, when he did reach us, after the enemy had been routed, he expressed his determination to assault the enemy’s position at daylight on the next morning, and wished to know whether we could make the attack from our flank—the left—at the designated time. We informed him of the fact that the ground immediately in our front, leading to the enemy’s position, furnished much greater obstacles to a successful assault than existed at any other point, and we concurred in suggesting to him that, as our corps (Ewell s) constituted the only troops then immediately confronting the enemy, he would manifestly concentrate and fortify against us, during the night, as proved to be the case, according to subsequent information. He then determined to make the attack from our right on the enemy’s left, and left us for the purpose of ordering up Longstreet’s corps in time to begin the attack at dawn next morning. That corps was not in readiness to make the attack until four o’clock in the afternoon of the next day. By that time, Meade’s whole army had arrived on the field and taken its position. Had the attack been made at daylight, as contemplated, it must have resulted in a brilliant and decisive victory, as all of Meade’s army had not then arrived, and a very small portion of it was in position. A considerable portion of his army did not get up until after sun-rise, one corps not arriving until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and a prompt advance to the attack must have resulted in his defeat in detail. The position which Longstreet attacked at four, was not occupied by the enemy until late in the afternoon, and Round Top Hill, which commanded the enemy’s position, could have been taken in the morning without a struggle. The attack was made by two divisions, and though the usual gallantry was displayed by the troops engaged in it, no very material advantage was gained. When General Lee saw his plans thwarted by the delay on our right, he ordered an attack to be made also from our left, to be begun by Johnson’s division on Gulp’s Hill, and followed up by the rest of Ewell’s corps, and also by Hill’s. This attack was begun with great vigor by Johnson, and two of my brigades, immediately on his right, which were the only portion of the division then available, as the other two brigades had been sent off to the left to watch the York road, moved forward promptly, climbed the heights on the left of Gettysburg, over stone and plank fences, reached the summit of Cemetery Hill, and got possession of the enemy’s works and his batteries there posted. One of my other brigades had been sent for, and got back in time to be ready to act as a support to those in front: but though Johnson was making good progress in his attack, there was no movement on my right, and the enemy, not being pressed in that direction, concentrated on my two brigades in such overwhelming force as to render it necessary for them to retire. Thus, after having victory in their grasp, they were compelled to relinquish it, because General Lee’s orders had again failed to be carried out; but one of those brigades brought oft four captured battle flags from the top of Cemetery Hill. This affair occurred just a little before dark.

On the next day, when the assault was made by Picket’s division in such gallant style, there was again a miscarriage, in not properly supporting it, according to the plan and orders of the commanding General. You must recollect that a commanding General cannot do the actual marching and fighting of his army. These must, necessarily, be entrusted to his subordinates, and any hesitation, delay or miscarriage in the execution of his orders, may defeat the best devised schemes. Contending against such odds as we did, it was necessary, always, that there should be the utmost dispatch, energy and undoubting confidence in carrying out the plans of the commanding General. A subordinate who under takes to doubt the wisdom of his superior’s plans, and enters upon their execution with reluctance and doubt, will not be likely to ensure success. It was General Jackson’s unhesitating confidence and faith in the chances of success, that caused it so often to perch on his banners, and made him such an invaluable executor of General Lee’s plans. If Mr. Swinton has told the truth, in repeating in his book what is alleged to have been said to him by General Longstreet, there was at least one of General Lee’s corps commanders at Gettysburg who did not enter upon the execution of his plans with that confidence and faith necessary to success, and hence, perhaps, it was that it was not achieved. Some have thought that General Lee did wrong in fighting at Gettysburg, and it has been said that he ought to have moved around Meade’s left, so as to get between him and Washington. It is a very easy matter to criticize and prophecy after events happen; but it would have been manifestly a most dangerous movement for him to have undertaken to pass Meade by the flank with all his trains. In passing through the narrow space between Gettysburg and the South Mountain, we would have been exposed to an attack under very disadvantageous circumstances. I then thought, and still think, that it was right to fight the battle of Gettysburg, and I am firmly convinced that if General Lee’s plans had been carried out in the spirit in which they were conceived, a decisive victory would have been obtained, which perhaps would have secured our independence. Our army was never in better heart, and when it did retire, it was with no sense of defeat. My division brought up the rear of the army, and it did not leave the sight of the enemy’s position until the afternoon of the 5th. One of Meade’s corps followed us most cautiously, at a respectable distance, and when, at Fairfield, near the foot of the Mountain, I formed line of battle to await it, no advance was made. There were none of the indications of defeat in the rear of the army on the march, and when we took position near Hagerstown to await Meade’s attack, it was with entire confidence in our ability to meet it with success.

Meade’s army at Gettysburg numbered at least one hundred thousand men in position. The whole force in the department of Northern Virginia, at the close of May, four days before our movement North began, was sixty-eight thousand three hundred and fifty-two. No reinforcements were received after that time, and, of course, the whole force was not carried out of Virginia. General Lee’s army at Gettysburg numbered considerably less than sixty thousand men of all arms.

This campaign did not accomplish all that we desired, but, nevertheless, it was not unattended with great and advantageous results. It certainly had the effect of deferring, for one year at least, the advance on the Confederate Capital, and had it not been for the fall of Vicksburg at the same time, and the consequent severance of all the States beyond the Mississippi from the Confederacy, for all practical purposes, the public would not have taken as gloomy a view of the results of the campaign as it did.

So far from our army being defeated or broken in spirit, when the invading army of the enemy again advanced into Virginia, Gen. Lee intercepted it, and taking position on the South bank of the Rapidan, effectually prevented any further advance until May, 1864, when, as I will show you, the power of the Confederacy had been so crippled in other quarters, as to allow an unusual accumulation of men and resources against the Army of Northern Virginia.

You must understand that the line of the Rappahannock and the Rapidan was the only practicable line of defence in Northern Virginia, because the possession and control of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, which the enemy’s monitors and iron-clads gave him, without let or hindrance, would enable him to flank and turn any line of defence which might be assumed North of those rivers. Beyond that line General Lee, in 1862, had driven the invading army, and there he had retained it up to the time of which I am speaking. This was all that a defensive policy could accomplish, and it was only when he assumed the offensive, as in the campaigns of Maryland and Pennsylvania, that the enemy could be hurled back on his own border, in order to defend his territory and Capital. The results of the campaign into Pennsylvania left General Lee in possession of his legitimate line of defence, with the enemy’s plans all thwarted for that year. In fact so satisfied was the latter of his inability to accomplish anything, by an attempt to advance on Richmond, that two of Meade’s corps were detached for the purpose of reinforcing Rosecrans at Chattanooga, and General Lee held his own line by such a certain tenure, that he was able to detach Longstreet’s corps, and send two divisions to Bragg, and one, first to the South side of James river, and then to North Carolina. After Longstreet had gone, occurred the movement which caused Meade to retire to Centreville, and about the last of November he crossed the Rapidan and moved to Mine run, but retired just in time to avoid an attack which General Lee had prepared to make on his flank.

At the close of the year 1863, the enemy was no farther advanced in his oft repeated effort to capture the Confederate Capital, than when Manassas was evacuated, early in the spring of 1862; but in the Southwest, the fall of Vicksburg, the disaster at Missionary Ridge, and the failure of the campaign in Eastern Tennessee, had not only severed the trans-Mississippi region from the remainder of the Confederacy, but had left all Kentucky and Tennessee firmly in the power of the enemy, and rendered all the lower basin of the Mississippi practically useless to us. The main army of the West had been compelled to retire to Dalton in the Northwestern corner of Georgia, and, for all useful purposes, the Confederacy was confined to Georgia, North and South Carolina, and the portion of Virginia held by us. It is true that we held posts and had troops in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, but they could contribute nothing to the general defence, and the resources of those States were substantially lost to us, at least so far as operations in Virginia were concerned. This state of things left the enemy at liberty to concentrate his resources against the two principal armies of the Confederacy. Grant was made Commander-in-Chief of all the armies of the enemy in the spring of 1864, and took his position with the Army of the Potomac in the field, while Sherman was assigned to the command of the army at Chattanooga, which was to operate against ours at Dalton.

By the 1st of May, Grant had accumulated an army of more than one hundred and forty-one thousand men on the North of the Rapidan; and General Lee’s army on the South bank, including two of Longstreet’s divisions, which had returned from Tennessee, was under fifty thousand men, of all arms.

Grant’s theory was to accumulate the largest numbers practicable against us, so as, by constant “hammering,” to destroy our army “by mere attrition if in no other way.” Besides the army under Grant, in Culpeper, there were near fifty thousand men in Washington and Baltimore, and the military control of the rail roads and the telegraph, as well as an immense number of steam transports, rendered it an easy matter to reinforce him indefinitely.

On the 4th of May, he crossed the Rapidan on our right to the Wilderness, to get between us and Richmond. General Lee advanced promptly to attack him and thwart his purpose; and then ensued that most wonderful campaign from the Rapidan to the James, in which the ever glorious Army of Northern Virginia grappled its gigantic antagonist in a death struggle, which continued until the latter was thrown off, crippled and bleeding, to the cover of the James and Appomattox rivers, where it was enabled to recruit and renew its strength for another effort.

Two days of fierce battle were had in the Wilderness, and our little army never struck more rapid and vigorous blows. Grant was compelled to move off from our front, and attempt to accomplish his purpose by another flank movement, but General Lee promptly intercepted him at Spotsylvania Court House; where again occurred a series of desperate engagements, in which, though a portion of our line was temporarily broken, and we sustained a loss which we could ill afford, yet Grant’s army was so crippled, that it was unable to resume the offensive, until it had been reinforced from Washington and Baltimore, to the full extent of forty thousand men. But General Lee received no reinforcements, and yet Grant, after waiting six days for his, when they did arrive, was again compelled to move off from us, and attempt another flank movement, under cover of the net work of difficult water courses around and east of Spotsylvania Court House. Never had the wonderful powers of our great Chief, and the unflinching courage of his small army, been more conspicuously displayed than during the thirteen trying days at this place. One of his three corps commanders had been disabled by wounds at the Wilderness, and another was too sick to command his corps, while he himself was suffering from a most annoying and weakening disease. In fact, nothing but his own determined will enabled him to keep the field at all; and it was there rendered more manifest than ever, that he was the head and front, the very life and soul of his army. Grant’s new movement was again intercepted at Hanover Junction, and from that point he was compelled to retire behind the North Anna and Pamunkey, to escape his tenacious adversary by another maneuvre. He was again intercepted at Pole Green Church; and at Bethesda Church, and on the historic field of Cold Harbor, occurred another series of most bloody battles, in which such carnage was inflicted on Grant’s army, that when orders were given for a new assault, his troops in sullen silence declined to move; and he was compelled to ask for a truce to bury his dead. Though largely reinforced from Butler’s army, Grant was now compelled to take refuge on the South side of James River, at a point to which he could have gone, by water, from his camps in Culpeper, without the loss of a man. His original plan of the campaign was thus completely thwarted, and he was compelled to abandon the attempt to take Richmond by the land route, after a loss in battle of more men than were in General Lee’s whole army, including the reinforcements received at Hanover Junction and Cold Harbor, which latter consisted of two divisions, a brigade, and less than three thousand men under Breckenridge, from the Valley. When we consider the of the forces engaged in this campaign, the advantages of the enemy for reinforcing his army, the time consumed in actual battle, it must rank as the most remarkable campaign of ancient or modern times. We may read of great victories, settling the fate of nations, gained by small armies of compact, well-trained and thoroughly disciplined troops, over immense and unwieldy hordes of untrained barbarians, or of demoralized soldiers, sunk in effeminacy and luxury; but where shall we find the history of such a prolonged struggle, in which such enormous advantages of numbers, equipment, resources and supplies, were on the side of the defeated party. The proximity of a number of water courses, navigable for steam vessels and patrolled by Federal gunboats, had enabled Grant to keep open his communications with the sources of his supplies, and to receive constant accessions of troops, so that it was impossible to destroy his army; but if the contest, as in most campaigns of former times, had been confined to the two armies, originally engaged in it, there can be no question but that Grant’s would have been, in effect, destroyed. As it was, his whole movement, after the first encounter in the Wilderness, was but a retreat by the flank, the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the York and Pamunkey, and the James, in succession, furnishing him a new base to retire on, for the receipt of supplies and reinforcements, and the resumption of operations. The boldness and fertility of the strategy employed by our glorious Chieftain, during this campaign, was indeed marvellous; and such was the disparity of numbers that it appears like romance, and men are disposed to turn an incredulous ear when the truth is told. In fact, General Lee, himself, was aware of the apparent improbability, which a true statement of the facts would present, and in a letter to me, during the winter of 1865–6, he said:

“It will be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought.”

Notwithstanding the disparity which existed, he was anxious, as I know, to avail himself of every opportunity to strike an offensive blow; and just as Grant was preparing to move across James River with his defeated and dispirited army, General Lee was maturing his plans for taking the offensive; and, in stating his desire for me to take the initiative with the corps I then commanded, he said:

“We must destroy this army of Grant’s before he gets to James River, if he gets there, it will become a siege, and then it will be a mere question of time.”

He knew well that, with the army Grant then had, he could not take Richmond, but he also knew that, if that army could be placed on the South of the James and East of the Appomattox, where it would be out of the reach of ours for offensive operations, it could be reinforced indefinitely, until by the process of attrition, the exhaustion of our resources, and the employment of mechanism and the improved engines of war against them, the brave defenders of our cause would gradually melt away. In fact, he knew that it would then become a contest between mechanical power and physical strength, on the one hand, and the gradually diminishing nerve and sinew of Confederate soldiers, on the other, until the unlimited resources of our enemies must finally prevail over all the genius and chivalric daring, which had so long baffled their mighty efforts in the field. It was from such considerations as these, that he had made his great and successful effort to raise the siege in 1862; his subsequent campaign into Maryland; and his campaign into Pennsylvania in 1863.

Before the contemplated blow against Grant was struck, the startling intelligence of Hunter’s operations in the Valley was received, and it became necessary to detach, first Breckenridge’s command, and then my corps to meet the new danger threatening all of our communications.

This enabled Grant to reach his new position unmolested, the movement towards which began on the night I received my orders to move by 3 o’clock next morning for the Valley. Finding it necessary to detach my command on a work of pressing urgency, General Lee determined to combine with the movement, a daring expedition across the Potomac, to threaten the enemy’s country and capital; about the conduct and results of which, I will merely say, that there has been much misunderstanding and ignorant misrepresentation. After reaching the South bank of the James, Grant made a dash for the purpose of capturing Petersburg, which was thwarted by the good soldier who had already baffled and defeated Butler. The enemy, now having found it impossible to capture the Confederate Capital in a campaign by land, resorted to a combined operation of his army and navy, by the way of the James. The condition of things in the South and Southwest enabled him to still further strengthen Grant’s army after its junction with Butler’s; and the fall of Atlanta, in September, severed the greater part of Georgia practically from the Confederacy. There were no means of recruiting General Lee’s army, to any considerable extent, after its union with Beauregard’s small force, which, with the division and brigade of the army of Northern Virginia returned at Hanover Junction, and the division received at Cold Harbor, did not reach twenty thousand men, while my corps had been detached. For nine long months was the unequal contest protracted by the genius of one man, aided by the valor of his little force, occupying a line of more than thirty miles, with scarcely more than a respectable skirmish line. During this time, there were many daring achievements and heroic deeds performed by the constantly diminishing survivors of those who had rendered the Army of Northern Virginia so illustrious; but, finally, constant attrition and lingering starvation did their work. General Lee had been unable to attack Grant in his stronghold, South of the James and East of the Appomattox, where alone such a movement was practicable, because a concentration for that purpose, on the East of the latter river, would have left the way to Richmond open to the enemy. When, by the unsuccessful expedition into Tennessee, the march of Sherman through the centre of Georgia to the Atlantic, his subsequent expedition North through South Carolina into North Carolina, and the consequent fall of Charleston and Wilmington, the Confederacy had been practically reduced to Richmond city, the remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the very narrow slips of country bordering on the three railroads and the canal running out of that city into the Valley, Southwestern Virginia and North Carolina, the struggle in Virginia, maintained so long by the consummate ability of our leader, began to draw to a close. To add to his embarrassments, he had been compelled to detach a large portion of his cavalry to the aid of the troops falling back before Sherman in his march Northward, and a portion of his infantry to the defence of Wilmington; and, at the close of March, 1865, Sherman had approached as far North as Goldsborough, North Carolina, on his movement to unite with Grant.

It was not till then that Grant, to whose aid an immense force of superbly equipped cavalry had swept down from the Valley, was able to turn General Lee’s flank and break his attenuated line. The retreat from the lines of Richmond and Petersburg began in the early days of April, and the remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia fell back for more than one hundred miles, before its overpowering antagonist, repeatedly presenting front to the latter, and giving battle so as to check its progress. Finally, from mere exhaustion, less than eight thousand men, with arms in their hands, of the noblest army that had ever fought, “in all the tide of time,” were surrendered at Appamattox to an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men, and the sword of Robert E. Lee, without a blemish on it, was sheathed forever; and the flag, to which he had added such lustre, was furled, to be henceforth embalmed in the affectionate remembrance of those who had remained faithful during all our trials, and will do so to the end.

Who is it that stands out the grandest figure in that last sad scene of the drama? Is it the victor? Victor over what? Can it be possible that any adherent of the cause of our enemies, can recur to that scene at Appomattox Court House without blushing? On that occasion, the vast superiority of the Confederate Commander over his antagonist, in all the qualities of a great Captain, and of the Confederate soldier over the Northern, were made most manifest to the dullest comprehension, and none were made more sensible of it than our adversaries. General Lee had not been conquered in battle, but surrendered because he had no longer an army with which to give battle. What he surrendered was the skeleton, the mere ghost of the Army of Northern Virginia, which had been gradually worn down by the combined agencies of numbers, steam-power, railroads, mechanism, and all the resources of physical science. It had, in fact, been engaged in a struggle, not only against the mere brute power of man, but against all the elements of fire, air, earth and water; and even that all-pervading and subtle fluid, whose visible demonstrations the ancients designated “The thunderbolt of the gods,” had been led submissive in the path of the opposing army, so as to concentrate with rapidity and make available all the other agencies.

It was by the use of these new adjuncts to the science of war, that McClellan and Pope had escaped destruction in 1862; the Federal Capital been saved, after the terrible chastisement inflicted on their armies; Pennsylvania also saved in 1863, and Meade enabled to fight a drawn battle at Gettysburg; Grant’s army preserved from annihilation in 1864, and enabled to reach the welcome shelter of the James and Appomattox; and now, they had finally produced that exhaustion of our army and resources, and that accumulation of numbers on the other side, which wrought the final disaster.

When we come to estimate General Lee’s achievements and abilities as a military commander, all these things must be taken into consideration.

I have now given you a condensed sketch of General Lee’s military career, and I am aware that what I have said falls short of the real merits of the subject. My estimates of the enemy’s strength are taken from their own reports and statements. In the last interview I had with General Lee, since my return to the country, I mentioned to him my estimates of his strength at various times, and he said that they fully covered his force at all times, and in some instances were in excess. They are those I have now given you.

From the facts I have presented, I think you will have no difficulty in discerning that the fall of Richmond, and the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, was the consequence of events in the West and Southwest, and not directly of the operations in Virginia. I say this, without intending to cast any reproach, directly or by implication, on the commanders or the rank and file of our armies operating in those quarters. For them I have a profound respect and admiration, and I am ever ready to receive and acknowledge them as worthy coadjutors and comrades of the Army of Northern Virginia. They had, also, the disadvantages of overwhelming numbers, and the other agencies I have mentioned, to contend against, and a truthful history of their deeds will confer upon them imperishable renown. I do not feel that it is necessary or just to attempt to build up the reputation of the Army of Northern Virginia, or its Commander, at the expense of our comrades who battled so gloriously and vigorously on other fields for the same just and holy cause. What I have said is not mentioned with any such purpose, but simply to note what I conceive to be an apparent and indisputable historic fact, that ought not to be overlooked in a review of General Lee’s military record.

At the close of the war, the deportment and conduct of our noble and honored leader were worthy of his previous history; and in that dignified and useful retirement to which he devoted the remainder of his days, in your midst, the true grandeur of his soul shone out as conspicuously as had his transcendant military genius in his campaigns, but I leave the duty of illustrating that to others.

There have been efforts to draw parallels between our illustrious Chief and some of the renowned commanders of former times, but these efforts have always proved unsatisfactory to me.

“Where shall we turn to find the peer of our great and pure soldier and hero? Certainly, we shall not find one among the mythic heroes of Homer, the wrath of the chief of whom was:

To Greece the direful spring of woes unnumber’d.

Nor shall we find one among the Grecian commanders of a later period, though in the devotion of the hero of Thermopylæ, and the daring of the victor of Marathon, may be found similes for the like qualities in our hero. But there is too much of fable and the license of the heroic verse, in the narrations of their deeds, to make them reliable.

Shall we take Alexander, who, at the head of his serried phalanxes, encountered the effeminate masses of Asia and scattered them like sheep before a ravening wolf? While sighing for new worlds to conquer, he could not control himself, but fell a victim to his own excesses.

In the march of Hannibal, the great Carthagenian patriot and hero, over the Alps, and his campaigns in Italy, we might find a similarity to General Lee’s bold strategy, but the system of warfare in those days, the implements of war, and the mode of maintaining armies in the field, which had neither baggage nor supply trains, but foraged on the country in which they operated, make such a vast difference that the parallel ceases at the very beginning. Besides, Carthage and Rome were then nearly equal in power, and Hannibal was enabled to receive reinforcements from Carthage by sea, as the Carthagenians were a great maritime people; and the hostile neighbors to Rome readily furnished him with allies and auxiliaries.

We will not find in Republican Rome a parallel. Certainly not in Julius Cæsar, the greatest of Roman Generals, who, at the head of the legions of “the mistress of the world,” overran the countries of barbarians, and then turned his sword against the liberties of his country.

We shall search in vain for one among the Generals of the Empire, either before or after its partition; nor shall we find one among the leaders of the barbaric hordes which overran the territories of the degenerate Romans; nor in the dark ages; nor among the Crusaders, who, under the standard of the Cross, committed such crimes against religion and humanity; nor among the chieftains of the middle ages, to advance whose ambitious projects the nations of Europe were, by turns, torn and ravaged.

Perhaps, in the champion of Protestantism, from the North of Europe, Gustavus Adolphus, there might be found no unworthy parallel for our great Leader, as well in regard to purity and unselfishness of character, as heroic courage and devotion, and the comparison has not inaptly been drawn; but the career of the heroic king of Sweden was cut short, by death in battle, at so early a period, and before he had stood the test of adversity, that the materials for completing the parallel are wanting.

Some have undertaken to draw the parallel between our pure Chieftain and Marlborough, who owed his rise, in the first place, to the dishonor of his family and the patronage of a debauched Court favorite. I utterly repudiate that comparison. Besides, Marlborough commanded the armies of the greatest maritime power in the world, in alliance with all the rest of Europe, against France alone. Shall we compare General Lee to the great Napoleon, or his successful antagonist, Wellington? Napoleon was a captain of most extraordinary genius, but success was always necessary to him. As long as he had what Forest, with such terse vigor, if inelegance, would call “the bulge,” he did wondrously, but he could never stand reverses; and the disastrous retreat from Moscow, and the shameful flight from Waterloo, must always be blots on his military escutcheon. He would have been unable to conduct the campaigns of General Lee against the constantly accumulating and ever renewing armies of the enemy, and none of his own campaigns were at all similar to them. He played a bold game for empire and self-aggrandizement, regardless of the lives, liberties or happiness of others, and the first adverse turn of the wheel of fortune ruined him. The hundred days constituted but the last desperate effort of a ruined gambler.

Wellington was a prudent, good soldier, at the head of the armies of a most powerful nation, “the mistress of the seas,” in alliance with all Europe against Napoleon in his waning days. He was emphatically a favorite child of fortune, and won his chief glory in a game against the desperate gambler whose last stake was up, when he had all the odds on his side. “The Iron Duke,” though almost worshipped and overwhelmed with honors and riches by the British nation, does not furnish a suitable parallel for the great Confederate Commander.

In regard to all I have mentioned, and all other renowned military chieftains of other days, in the old world, it must be recollected that they did not have to contend against the new elements in the art of war, which were brought to bear against our armies and their commanders.

Coming now to this side of the water, we may draw a parallel between General Lee and our great Washington in many respects; for in their great self-command, in their patriotism, and in their purity and unselfishness of character, there was a great similarity; but the military operations of General Lee were on so much grander a scale than those of Washington, and the physical changes in the character of the country, wrought by the adaptation of steam-power, the invention of railroads and the telegraph, were so great, that there ceases to be any further points of comparison between them as soldiers. It was the physical difficulty of penetrating the country, backed by the material aid, in men, money and ships of war, of a powerful European nation, which enabled the States to win their independence under Washington; while the facilities for rapid communication and concentration, in connection with the aid received by our enemies, in men and money, from all Europe, which was a recruiting ground for them caused our disasters and lost us our liberties, in a contest in which we stood alone.

There is no occasion to draw a parallel between General Lee and our dead heroes, Sidney Johnston and Jackson. The career of the former, whose dawn gave such bright promise, was unfortunately, cut off so soon that the country at large did not have an opportunity of learning all of which those who knew him believed him to be capable.

Whoever shall undertake to draw a parallel between General Lee and his great Lieutenant, for the purpose of depreciating the one or the other, cannot have formed the remotest conception of the true character of either of those illustrious men, and congenial Christian heroes. Let us be thankful that our cause had two such champions, and that, in their characters, we can furnish the world at large with the best assurance of the rightfulness of the principles for which they and we fought. When asked for our vindication, we can triumphantly point to the graves of Lee and Jackson and look the world squarely in the face. Let them, the descendant of the Cavalier from tide-water, and the scion of the Scotch-Irish stock from the mountains of Northwestern Virginia, lie here, in this middle ground, and let their memories be cherished and mingled together in that harmony which characterized them during their glorious companionship in arms.

Nor would it be at all profitable to institute a comparison between General Lee and any of our living commanders. Let us be rejoiced that those still survive who were worthy defenders of our cause, and not unfit comrades of Lee, Sidney Johnston and Stonewall Jackson.

Shall I compare General Lee to his successful antagonist? As well compare the great pyramid which rears its majestic proportions in the valley of the Nile, to a pigmy perched on Mount Atlas.

No, my friends, it is a vain work for us to seek anywhere for a parallel to the great character which has won our admiration and love. Our beloved Chief stands, like some lofty column which rears its head among the highest, in grandeur, simple, pure and sublime, needing no borrowed lustre; and he is all our own.

And now, my friends, I must add that we are often invoked to turn our backs upon the dead past, to forget dead issues and principles—as if true principles ever die—to surrender our cherished traditions, to give up our civilization, and adopt the progressive civilization of the age. We are also told that our ideas are all obsolete, and asked to adopt the spirit of progress from our enemies, in order to restore the prosperity of our country and start it on a new career of material development and physical power. There are many who are seduced by the flattering visions pictured to them, and it is not to be denied that there exists a feverish desire to emerge from our depressed condition into sudden wealth and prosperity by the adoption of various fanciful schemes.

This spirit bodes no good to our people or our country. The fortunes of no country can be retrieved from such a depression, as ours have experienced, by any sudden or hot house process, and all these ideas of doing it by foreign capital or immigrants, are deceptive. Those of us who deprecate the new theories, are said to be behind the age, and called fossils, fogies and Bourbons, who brood over and live in the past, while we take no thought for the future. They very much mistake us who think that, while we do venerate the past, we are not willing to unite in all proper measures for restoring a sound and wholesome prosperity to our beloved country. We do not, however, think it proper to run the ploughshare over the graves of our fathers, in order to conform to the utilitarian spirit of this age; and we do believe that a people who forget or discard their traditions, are unworthy and unfit to be free. We do not like the progressive spirit of this age, because we are not certain from whence it comes, nor whither it tends. We cannot turn our backs on the graves of our fallen heroes, and we will cherish the remembrance of their deeds, and see that justice is done to their memories, believing that when “recording history,”

Tells of a few stout hearts, that fought and died,
Where duty placed them at their country’s side;
The man that is not moved with what he reads,
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,
Unworthy of the blessings of the brave,
Is base in kind and born to be a slave.

To you, Virginians, I must say, that our ancestors won this country from savage life, and started Virginia on that career which rendered her so prosperous, happy and renowned. That prosperity has not been lost by any fault of ours, but has been torn from us by violence and wrong; and, certainly, in our hands, the glory of the State has suffered no diminution. Have Virginians degenerated so much, that they cannot undertake to restore the prosperity and happiness of their State, without resorting to the maxims and policy of those who have ravaged and desolated their homes, and left their old mother panting and bleeding? Can we not point to the graves of Lee and Jackson, and those who fell fighting under them, and exclaim:

And is thy grandeur done?
Mother of men like these!
Has not thy outcry gone
Where justice has an ear to hear?
Be holy! God shall guide thy spear.

In you, my fair countrywomen, I have faith. I know that you will continue to honor the brave dead, and strew flowers on their graves. Your sex, in all the South, may be relied on to instil the sentiments of honor and patriotism into the hearts of the rising and future generations, and teach them to venerate the memory, emulate the virtues and cherish the principles of those who fell fighting for your homes, your all.

In you and your compeers, my young friends, from all the South, must mainly rest the hope of our country, for restoration to prosperity and happiness. You are fortunate in having the opportunity of being prepared for your future career, here, where lie the remains of two such men as Lee and Jackson, and where you can catch inspiration from the hallowed precincts. Profit by the occasion and go forth into the world, with the determination of following their example and battling for the right, leaving the consequences to your Maker.

And to you, my comrades, survivors of that noble army of which I have spoken, followers of Lee and Jackson, I desire to say a few parting words. I trust it is not necessary for me to urge you to remain true to the memory of your venerated leaders, and the principles for which you fought along with them. If there be any, in all the land, who have proved renegade to their comrades and our holy cause, let them go out from among us with the brand of Cain upon them! But while cherishing the memory of our leaders and our fallen comrades, as a sacred trust, it is not proper that we should indulge in vain regrets or cease the battle of life. Let the holy memories connected with our glorious though unsuccessful struggle, afford stronger incentives to renewed efforts to do our duty; but let us discard all deceptive illusions, and rely upon our own energies and the manhood that, I trust, did not make us unworthy comrades of the illustrious dead. We have a mission to perform and we must not prove recreant to it.

We have also a sacred duty to discharge. It is meet and proper that the tomb of our beloved Commander, in this chapel, shall be suitably decorated and honored. Let it be our especial charge to see that the pious work is accomplished; and let us also see that a monument to his glorious memory is erected at the Confederate Capital, in defence of which his wondrous talents and sublime virtues were displayed, which shall proclaim to all the ages, that the soldiers who fought under him remained true to him in death, and were not unworthy to have been the followers of ROBERT E. LEE.