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[514] discomfiture to superior numbers of the enemy, “superior discipline” has been the reason assigned. The compliment is entirely unmerited. The odds against the Confederates in numbers were often two to one, face to face on the field, after all generalship was at its end, and the issue left to equipment, discipline and pluck. In equipment the odds are conceded by all to have been enormously in the enemy's favor, and in discipline they were unfortunately heavy on the same side. The most condensed evidence upon this subject comes from a Northern source. Mr. William Swinton, in his excellent “History of the army of the Potomac,” after a full account of General McClellan's remarkable efforts and success in organizing and disciplining his army, says on page 67: “ ‘Had there been no McClellan,’ I have often heard General Meade say, ‘there could have been no Grant,’ for the army made no essential improvement under any of his successors.” It was common throughout the war to “ascribe a high degree of discipline to the Confederate army, even higher than that of the Army of the Potomac. But the revelations of the actual condition of that army since the close of the war, do not justify this assertion. On the contrary, they show that the discipline of the Army of Northern Virginia was never equal to that of the Army of the Potomac, though in fire and elan it was superior. ‘I could always rely on my army,’ said General Lee at the time he surrendered its remnant at Appomattox Courthouse, ‘I could always rely on my army for fighting, but its discipline was poor.’ At the time of the Maryland invasion Lee lost above twenty-five thousand men by straggling, and he exclaimed, with tears, ‘My army is ruined by straggling.’ Nothing could better illustrate the high state of discipline of the Army of the Potomac than its conduct in such retreats as that on the Peninsula, and in Pope's campaign, and in such incessant fighting as the Rapidan campaign of 1864.”

This comparison is not suggested as any reflection upon the fame of the Federal army, for such reflections upon its adversary are unbecoming to either, and the list of casualties of the Federals (not their list of victories or their final success), will place their absolute courage on its deserved footing; but simply to illustrate in its true light the marvellous pluck of the half-fed and tattered battalions of the Confederates,who certainly never owed a victory to either discipline or equipment.

That clause of the law, which gave a furlough of thirty days, was not only the most acceptable to the men, but it had a happy result in leading to the adoption of a regular system of furloughs, which is the best possible preventive of discontent and desertion, both of which

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H. B. McClellan (2)
S. D. Lee (2)
William Swinton (1)
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