previous next

[73] that, I may say, the point in the enemy's lines to be seized was most admirably selected, and could it have been successfully held their line would undoubtedly have been forced back, General Meade, the Federal commander, admitting it was the key to his position. The prosecution of the attack on our part upon the 3d, was not in accordance, I believe, with the sound judgment of General Lee, though he admits a belief that it might have succeeded. He told the father of the writer (his brother) that he was controlled too far by the “great confidence felt in the splendid fighting qualities of his people,” and who begged simply “to be turned loose,” and the assurances of most of his higher officers, who believed the position in his front could be carried.

I think our trouble was in not making proper allowance for the great natural strength of the Federal position, immeasurably increased by the thousands of hands unweariedly working with but short intervals from the night of the 1st to the afternoon of the 3d, and defended by an army outnumbering ours by some 30,000 soldiers. I am inclined to the opinion that after the 2d no assault we could have made would have succeeded, however wisely the dispositions for it were executed — however gallantly performed. I do not see either, how, in such close proximity to a largely superior force-skirmish line against skirmish line-“General Lee could have extended his right so as to endanger Meade's communications with Washington,” as suggested by ----. He would have exposed himself to an attack in turn which might have proved fatal — an examination of military history showing such moves can be rarely made, save when superior to your enemy in numbers and protected by favorable ground. After the night of the 2d the alternatives presented to General Lee were to await an attack by the enemy, to attack him, or withdraw from his immediate front in the direction of hi.s own rear.

And now, having answered the questions asked, I hope you will pardon me if I go further and say that if I should be asked “to what can the failure of that campaign on our part be ”


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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Washington (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Fitzhugh Lee (3)
Meade (2)
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.
3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: