FOUR YEARS
WITH
GENERAL LEE:

BEING A SUMMARY OF THE MORE IMPORTANT EVENTS
TOUCHING THE CAREER OF GENERAL ROBERT E.
LEE, IN THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES;

TOGETHER WITH
AN AUTHORITATIVE STATEMENT OF THE STRENGTH OF THE
ARMY WHICH HE COMMANDED IN THE FIELD.

BY

WALTER H. TAYLOR,

OF HIS STAFF, AND LATE ADJUTANT-GENERAL OF THE ARMY
OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

NEW YORK:
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
549 & 551 BROADWAY.
1878.

COPYRIGHT BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
1877.

TO THE
EIGHT THOUSAND VETERANS
(THE SURVIVING HEROES OF THE ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA)
WHO, IN LINE OF BATTLE,
ON THE 9TH DAY OF APRIL, 1865,
WERE REPORTED PRESENT FOR DUTY,
THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
BY

 

THE AUTHOR.

 

THOSE who undertake to write histories do not, I perceive, take that trouble on one and the same account, but for many reasons, and those such as are very different one from another. For some of them apply themselves to this part of learning to show their great skill in composition, and that they may therein acquire a reputation for speaking finely. Others of them there are who write histories in order to gratify those that happen to be concerned in them; and on that account have spared no pains, but rather gone beyond their own abilities in the performance. But others there are who, of necessity and by force, are driven to write history, because they were concerned in the facts, and so cannot excuse themselves from committing them to writing, for the advantage of posterity. Nay, there are not a few who are induced to draw their historical facts out of darkness into light, and to produce them for the benefit of the public, on account of the great importance of the facts themselves with which they have been concerned. Now, of these several reasons for writing history, I must profess the last two were my own reasons also.—JOSEPHUS.

Your Obt Servt R E Lee
New York. D. Appleton & Co.

PREFACE.


IT was my peculiar privilege to occupy the position of a confidential staff-officer with General Lee during the entire period of the War for Southern Independence. From the time he assumed the duties of the position of general-in-chief of the Army of Virginia; through the campaign in the western portion of the State; during the time of his command in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida; while he was charged with the control of the military operations of all the armies of the South, at Richmond; and in all his campaigns, when in command of the Army of Northern Virginia—I had the honor to be at his side. Of necessity, therefore, some facts concerning him and the army movements which he directed are known to me, which are not of public record; and perhaps some value will attach to my statements in regard to those matters of fact which came under my immediate observation, and the recollection of which is still fresh in my memory. I propose to speak of these briefly and with entire candor. The manner of presenting these memoirs will necessarily be very imperfect. It accords neither with my tastes nor the consciousness of my unfitness for me to attempt a work of this character; and, moreover, the duties of my daily life are such as do not permit any continuous or steady devotion to such an under taking.

But the conviction that it is the duty of every one, in possession of material information relative to the late sectional conflict, to do what he can to insure a true understanding of that struggle, silences those personal scruples which would deter me, and impels me to give to the public the following pages. It will be at once seen that it is not my purpose to attempt a review of the military career of General Lee, nor a critical history of the army which he commanded in the field; this will devolve upon the future historian, mine is the more humble task of giving a summary of the more prominent events in the career of the great Confederate leader, together with a comparative statement of the strength of the Confederate and Federal armies that were engaged in the operations in Virginia. Having for a long time supervised the preparation of the official returns of the Army of Northern Virginia, and having been permitted to make a recent examination of a number of those returns, now on file in the archive-office of the War Department at Washington, I am enabled to speak with confidence of the numerical strength of the Confederate forces; my information concerning that of the Federal forces is derived from official documents emanating from the officers and authorities of the United States Government.

W.H.T.

CONTENTS.


 

CHAPTER I.

Organization of the Army of Virginia.—General R. E. Lee assigned to the Command of the State Troops.—Transfer to the Southern Confederacy.

CHAPTER II.

General Lee retained in Richmond as Adviser to President Davis.—Disaster to the Confederate Forces under General Garnett.—General Lee sent to Northwest Virginia.—Lamentable Condition of Affairs in that Department.

CHAPTER III.

Strength and Positions of the Opposing Armies in Northwest Virginia.—General Lee determines to take the Offensive.—Ineffectual Attempt to carry the Positions held by the Federal Troops.—Responsibility for the Failure.

CHAPTER IV.

Affairs in Southwestern Virginia.—Want of Harmony between Generals Floyd and Wise.—General Lee proceeds to that Section.—Preparations to resist General Rosecrans.—Retreat of the Federals.

CHAPTER V.

General Lee repairs to Richmond.—He is ordered to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.—His Return thence to Richmond.—He is charged with the Control of the Military Operations of all of the Confederate Armies.—His Duties in that Position.—General Johnston wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines.—General Lee in Command of the Army of Northern Virginia.—The Seven Days Battles around Richmond.—Strength of the Two Opposing Armies.

CHAPTER VI.

General Lee manœuvres to effect the Withdrawal of General McClellan’s Army.—Jackson engages Pope at Cedar Run, or Slaughter’s Mountain.—Removal of the Federal Army from James River.—The Second Battle of Manassas.—The First Invasion.—Operations in Maryland.—McClellan in Possession of Lee’s Order of Battle.—Boonesboro, or South Mountain.—Capture of Harper’s Ferry by Jackson’s Forces.—Battle of Sharpsburg.—General Lee retires to Virginia.—Incidents illustrating the Devotion to Duty and Great Self-Control of the Confederate Leader.

CHAPTER VII.

Battle of Fredericksburg.—Federal Army One Hundred Thousand strong: Confederate Army Seventy-eight Thousand strong.—Battle of Chancellorsville.—Federal Army One Hundred and Thirty-two Thousand strong: Confederate Army Fifty-seven Thousand strong.

CHAPTER VIII.

The Pennsylvania Campaign.—The Battle of Gettysburg.—Strength of the Opposing Armies.

CHAPTER IX.

General Lee retires to Virginia.—Affair at Bristoe Station.—The Tete-de-Pont.—Mine Run.—General Meade’s Advance and Retreat.ÔDahlgren’s Raid.

CHAPTER X.

General Grant in Command of the Federal Army of the Potomac.—His Advance.—From the Wilderness to Petersburg.—Strength of the Two Armies.

CHAPTER XI.

Siege of Petersburg.—General Lee’s Views as to the Removal of General Johnston from the Command of the Army of Tennessee.—Movements of Sherman’s Army.—Inevitable Result of the Persistent Effort to hold Petersburg and Richmond.

CHAPTER XII.

Evacuation of Petersburg.—General Lee’s Retreat up James River.—Appomattox.—Surrender.—General Lee goes to Richmond.

CHAPTER XIII.

General Lee indicted by the Grand-Jury at Norfolk.—His Advice to the Young Men of Virginia.—His Purpose to write a History of the Army of Northern Virginia.—His Desire to obtain Correct Information of the Strength of that Army.

CHAPTER XIV.

The Strength of the Army of Northern Virginia, taken from the Original Returns now on File in the Archive-Office of the War Department, Washington, D.C.

Address on the Character of General Robert E. Lee