An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

[Notes: Chapter 2]

1 Jackson evacuated Winchester on March 11, 1862.

2 It is remarkable how much of the Federal plans was known at this time at Richmond, and how little of the Confederate plans was known at Washington. This may be in part due to the fact, at which Colonel Marshall hints plainly, that until the end of March 1862 the only Confederate plan was to make a display of strength wherever possible—in other words, bluff.

3 April 26, 1862.

4 See Lee to Mrs. Lee, March 22, 1862: “Our enemies are pressing us everywhere and our army is in fermentation of reorganisation. I pray that the Great God may aid us, and am endeavouring by every means in my power to bring out the troops and hasten them to their destination.”

5 Colonel Marshall has somewhat antedated the development of McClellan’s strength on the Peninsula. McClellan landed at Fortress Monroe on April 2nd, and on the 3rd had disembarked 53,000 men.

6 It must certainly have been “a few days earlier,” as the bill was presented to the Senate by Mr. Wigfall from the Committee on Military Affairs on April 1st, and was read a first and second time on that day. Journal of Congress of Confederate States, vol. II, p. 114.

7 This plan of Lee’s for the utilization of man power in war, formed in April 1862, was substantially that adopted by the United States on its entry into the World War in 1917.

8 The Act was entitled, “An Act to further provide for the public defence,” and was approved on April 16, 1862.

9 It is also probable that the same reasons which induced Congress to send the President a bill for the creation of the office of commander-in-chief influenced that body when it was considering the Conscript Law. As I have pointed out, the failure of the Confederate arms had naturally enough been a cause of criticism of the President, and to this feeling was added some resentment of what was held to be his autocratic action under martial law which he had proclaimed in and around Richmond. Congress may therefore have desired to clip his wings by taking the appointment of officers out of his hands.

Colonel Marshall has here exposed clearly the defects of the military measures of the Confederate Congress which came under his notice, but it must be remembered that the Federal commanders were often even more hampered than were their Confederate opponents. A Conscription Act in the North did not become law until March 3, 1863, nearly a year after the Confederate Act was passed. Its application was accompanied by serious disturbances, and even after it was in force Grant’s operations were seriously prejudiced in 1864 by the necessity of discharging large numbers of experienced men whose period of service had expired. The Confederate Act at least provided for a regular supply of recruits, and for the preservation of existing regiments. In the Northern armies regiments with established reputations were often allowed to expire, and their places were taken by new formations with no knowledge of war.

10 This exemption became law on October 11, 1862.

11 It is evident from this that Marshall, like his chief, was no supporter of slavery. He fought for those “other issues more vital to the Southern people” and in other papers not published here was wont to dwell upon the large proportion of the Southern people who were opposed to the institution of slavery and to point out how inconsiderable was the number of officers and soldiers in the Confederate Army who were slaveholders.

12 One of Lee’s first acts after he was summoned to Richmond by Davis was to endeavor to get this policy reversed, and to make the supplies in these districts available for the army, or at least to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy.

13 Johnston began his retirement from Manassas Junction on March 7, and it resulted in the abandonment of the meat-packing establishment at Thoroughfare Gap, of a number of immobile heavy guns, and of a large amount of stores. Johnston had warned Davis on February 26 that his position could be turned whenever the enemy chose to advance, but he was not furnished with sufficient rolling stock to enable him to get his stores away. The meat-packing establishment had been located without consultation with him, and the heavy guns were sent to him against his wishes. These things had been done before Lee came to Richmond, and were the result of the absence of expert advice at the Headquarters of the Confederacy. Davis was indignant at the loss of the stores, and this consequence of Johnston’s retreat was one of the causes of the friction between the two. The chief responsibility for the loss must rest with Davis.

14 It was to provide for this very contingency that Lincoln insisted on McClellan making adequate provision for the defense of Washington, and when he was not satisfied with this he retained in Northern Virginia McDowell’s corps of McClellan’s army, much to the latter’s indignation.

15 This is not correct. Lincoln authorized the Secretary of War to procure vessels for the transport of McClellan’s army on February 27, eight days before Johnston began to retreat. It is probable, however, that the President’s final approval of McClellan’s plan was hastened by the retirement of the Confederate forces from Manassas.

16 Johnston began his retreat from Yorktown on May 3 and on May 5 fought a rear-guard action with McClellan at Williamsburg.

17 The battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks was fought on May 31 and June 1.

18 Milroy commanded the advance guard of Fremont’s force coming from western Virginia.

19 The village, not the man.

20 Fought June 8th and 9th.

21 The failure of Johnston, who had caught McClellan in an embarrassing position astride the Chickahominy, to gain a more complete success on May 31, was due to a series of delays in the movements of his troops. Here Colonel Marshall accounts for one such delay. The Confederate generals in the early part of the war had a predilection for making the sound of firing by one body of troops the signal for the advance of other bodies. As an expedient, it almost always failed.

22 The order ran: “June 2nd, 1862. By direction of the President, General Robert E. Lee, Confederate States Army, will assume the immediate command of the armies in Eastern Virginia and North Carolina. By command of the Secretary of War—JOHN WITHERS, Assistant Adjutant General.”