said, to my surprise, that he thought of attacking General Meade
upon the heights the next day. I suggested that this course seemed to be at variance with the plan of the campaign that had been agreed upon before leaving Fredericksburg
He said: “If the enemy is there to-morrow, we must attack him.”
I replied: “If he is there, it will be because he is anxious that we should attack him — a good reason, in my judgment, for not doing so.”
I urged that we should move around by our right to the left of Meade
, and put our army between him and Washington
, threatening his left and rear, and thus force him to attack us in such position as we might select.
I said that it seemed to me that if, during our council at Fredericksburg
, we had described the position in which we desired to get the two armies, we could not have expected to get the enemy in a better position for us than that he then occupied; that he was in strong position and would be awaiting us, which was evidence that he desired that we should attack him. I said, further, that his weak point seemed to be his left; hence, I thought that we should move around to his left, that we might threaten it if we intended to maneuvre, or attack it if we determined upon a battle.
I called his attention to the fact that the country was admirably adapted for a defensive battle, and that we should surely repulse Meade
with crushing loss if we would take position so as to force him to attack us, and suggested that, even if we carried the heights in front of us, and drove Meade
out, we should be so badly crippled that we could not reap the fruits of victory; and that the heights of Gettysburg
were, in themselves, of no more importance to us than the ground we then occupied, and that the mere possession of the ground was not worth a hundred men to us. That Meade
's army, not its position, was our objective.
was impressed with the idea that, by attacking the Federals
, he could whip them in detail.
I reminded him that if the Federals
were there in the morning, it would be proof that they had their forces well in hand, and that with Pickett
, and Stuart
out of reach, we should be somewhat in detail.
He, however, did not seem to abandon the idea of attack on the next day. He seemed under a subdued excitement, which occasionally took possession of him when “the hunt was up,” and threatened his superb equipoise.
The sharp battle fought by Hill
on that day had given him a taste of victory.
Upon this point I quote General Fitzhugh Lee
, who says, speaking of the attack on the 3d: “He told the father of the writer [his brother] that he was controlled too far by the great confidence he felt in the fighting qualities of his people, who begged simply to be ‘turned loose,’ and ”