I have become convinced, from the testimony of General Longstreet himself, that attack would have resulted disastrously. “I had,” said that officer to the writer, “Hood and McLaws, who had not been engaged; I had a heavy force of artillery; I should have liked nothing better than to have been attacked, and have no doubt that I should have given those who tried as bad a reception as Pickett received.”On July 4th, Lee, during a heavy storm, withdrew from our front, and on the 11th took up a position at Williamsport, on the Potomac. He was closely followed by Meade, who came up with him on the 12th, and who found him in a position naturally almost impregnable, and strongly fortified. Meade's impulse was to attack at once, but, after consultation with his corps commanders, he abstained from ordering an assault until he could more fully reconnoitre the enemy's position. On the morning of the 14th, a reconnoissance in force, supported by the whole army, was made at daylight; but, on the night of the 13th, Lee had recrossed the Potomac. There was a great deal of clamor at the time, because Meade did not destroy or capture Lee's army at Williamsport; but Meade, conscious that he had acted wisely, always felt that history would do him justice. Had he assaulted, he would certainly have been defeated, and the result would have been disastrous not only to the army, but to the country, for a defeat to our army there would have opened the road to Washington and the North, and all the fruits of Gettysburg would have been dissipated. A brief reference to the subsequent experience of the Army of the Potomac will confirm the truth of this assertion. In May, 1864, we began the campaign with one hundred and fifteen thousand men, and after Spottsylvania Court-House were constantly receiving heavy reinforcements. General Lee had about sixty thousand men. And yet, with this great preponderance of strength, we assaulted the enemy again and again, in positions not so strong as the one held at Williamsport, always without
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.