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[200] treating the chaplains and missionaries with the greatest courtesy and respect. I can testify that, in constant intercourse with our officers, from Generals Lee, Jackson, Ewell, Stuart, A. P. Hill, Early, J. B. Gordon, J. A. Walker, and others of highest rank down to the lowest rank, I was never treated otherwise than with marked courtesy, kindness, and respect, and I usually found them ready to give me their cordial co-operation in my work.

I have dwelt at such length on the morale of Lee's army, because this was the key to its discipline. In the sense in which the term is understood in the regular armies of Europe, or of the United States, we really had no discipline. The degraded punishments resorted to in those armies; the isolation of the officers from the privates; the mere machine performance of duty, and the carrying out of any routine, simply because discipline required it, were almost unknown in our army. The private mingled in freest social intercourse with his officers, and learned to obey them, because he loved them, and loved the common cause for which they fought. Right or wrong (and I do not propose to discuss that question here), the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia enlisted from a thorough conviction that they were defending the principles of constitutional freedom — the humblest private in the ranks could “give a reason for the faith that was in him” --indeed, could make an argument in favor of the justice of his cause, which it would puzzle the ablest lawyer on the other side to answer. And thus they marched forth gayly to battle, and needed not the spur of discipline to drive them on.

Personal devotion to their leaders was also an important element in their discipline and morale. They ceased their loud murmurs against retreating from Darksville without fighting Patterson, because their honored chief ( “old Joe Johnston” ) said it was best not to do so, and they started with the utmost enthusiasm from Winchester to Manassas, because he told them, in general orders, that it was “a forced march to save the country.” They would march, many of them barefooted, thirty or forty miles a day, because “Old Stonewall” said they must “press forward” to accomplish important results, and because he would frequently gallop along the column and give them a chance to cheer him. And they would make the welkin ring with “General Lee to the rear,” while they counted it all joy to fight five times their numbers when the eyes of their idolized chief were upon them. General Hooker was certainly right in testifying that Lee's army had “acquired a character for steadiness and efficiency unsurpassed in ancient or modern ”

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R. E. Lee (4)
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