previous next

[152] was able to drive the Federal army into the Atlantic Ocean. Not that the fighting capacity of its great adversary was under-estimated, but possibly the Army of Northern Virginia had an overweening opinion of its own prowess.

Just here let us take a retrospective view, and consider what the Army of Northern Virginia had in one year accomplished. In 1862, eighty thousand strong, it attacked the Federal army, one hundred thousand strong, and after seven days fighting drove that army to shelter under its gunboats. Following up this success, after a series of engagements, Pope was driven across the Potomac. Then followed the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), when possibly the fighting capacity of the Army of Northern Virginia never shone brighter. Its numbers reduced by fighting, fatigue, and hard marching to less than forty thousand strong, it gained a drawn battle against its adversary, who numbered nearly, if not quite one hundred thousand men. Then came Fredericksburg, where, with its ranks recuperated to seventy-eight thousand, it hurled across the Rappahannock river an adversary who had crossed with one hundred and ten thousand men. Then follows that most daring and wonderful battle, Chancellorsville, where it again triumphed, fifty thousand strong, against its adversary, numbering one hundred and thirty-two thousand, compelling him again to seek shelter behind the Rappahannock. After such a series of successes, with such disparity of numbers, is it wonderful that the Army of Northern Virginia and its great leader should have believed it capable of accomplishing any thing in the power of an army to accomplish? says “it was a mistake to invade the Northern States at all,” and then gives very clearly and concisely his reasons for entertaining this opinion. Some of the reasons substantiating this view I shall answer hereafter. I think from ----'s standpoint, and especially looking at the sequel of the invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, he is correct, and I have no doubt that by far the greater number of historians who may follow him will entertain like opinions. It is, possibly, very natural for myself and other officers who served in the Army of Northern Virginia to permit our judgments to be biased by the opinions of one whom we loved, admired and trusted in, as much as we did, in any opinion entertained by our great Commander. I will state General Lee's views in

Creative Commons License
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.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Pope (1)
R. E. Lee (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1863 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: