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[103] Lee at the beginning. He had encountered no such genius in the West. His remark that the Army of the Potomac had never been “fought up its full capacity” indicates that he expected quicker results than he got. And the famous sentence from his letter near Spottsylvania on May 11, “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” plainly shows brief anticipations. It took until the following April. And in his own report one reads between the lines something like an apology for these terrible battles. He says: “Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people who mourn the loss of friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country.” His conception was “to hammer continuously ”

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