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Lee in the Wilderness.

From the point of view of the military student Lee's consummate feats of generalship were performed in the gloom of the Wilderness. On this ground he presented an always unbroken front against which Grant dashed his battalions in vain. Never were Lee's lines here broken; the assailants must always shift their ground to seek a fresh opportunity for assault. At this spot on the battlefield of the Wilderness the opposing forces lay within twenty-four feet of each other all night. The soldiers, too, had learned by this 1864 campaign to carry out orders with judgment of their own. The rank and file grew to be excellent connoisseurs of the merits of a position. ‘If they only save a finger it will do some good,’ was General Longstreet's reply, when his engineer officers complained that their work on Marye's Hill was being spoiled by being built higher by the gunners of the Washington artillery—who had to fight behind them. For this reason the significance of the lines as shown in many war maps is often very puzzling to the students of to-day, who have never seen the actual field of operations and have no other guide. Much of the ground disputed by the contending forces in our Civil War was quite unlike the popular conception of a battlefield, derived from descriptions of European campaigns, or from portrayals of the same, usually fanciful. For at this variety of warfare, Lee was a master, as well as on the rolling open plains of the Virginia farm. The portrait of Lee opposite was taken during the campaign preceding this test of the Wilderness. The reproduction here is directly from the photograph—taken at Lee's first sitting in war-time, and his only one ‘in the field.’ Reproductions of this picture painted, engraved, and lithographed were widely circulated after the war. The likeness was much impaired.

Where Lee stood supreme—the Wilderness in 1864

Lee in the field the best known portrait


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Robert E. Lee (8)
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