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[378] enemy would have been routed. This, from the best evidence we have, was the plan and the expectation of General Lee. These having failed, from whatever cause, and Meade having occupied in force the commanding position of Round Top, it must be conceded that it would have been better to withdraw than to renew the attack on the third day. The high morale and discipline of our army, together with the unqualified confidence of the men in their commanding general, excluded the supposition that they would be demoralized by retreat. Subsequent events proved how little cause there was to fear it. It is not admitted that our army was defeated, and the enemy's claim to a victory is refuted by the fact that, when Lee halted on the banks of the Potomac, Meade, instead of attacking as a pursuing general would a defeated foe, halted also, and commenced entrenching.

The battle of Gettysburg has been the subject of an unusual amount of discussion, and the enemy has made it a matter of extraordinary exultation. As an affair of arms it was marked by mighty feats of valor to which both combatants may point with military pride. It was a graceful thing in President Lincoln if, as reported, when he was shown the steeps which the Northern men persistently held he answered, ‘I am proud to be the countryman of the men who assailed those heights.’

The consequences of the battle have justified the amount of attention it has received. It may be regarded as the most eventful struggle of the war. By it the drooping spirit of the North was revived. Had their army been there defeated, those having better opportunities to judge than I or anyone who was not among them, have believed it would have ended the war. On the other hand, a drawn battle, where the Army of Northern Virginia made an attack, impaired the confidence of the Southern people so far as to give the malcontents a power to represent the government as neglecting for Virginia the safety of the more southern states.

In all free governments the ability of its executive branch to prosecute a war must largely depend upon public opinion; in an infant republic this, for every reason, is peculiarly the case. The volume given to the voice of disaffection was therefore most seriously felt by us.

Shattered, it is true, but not disheartened, the Army of Northern Virginia after recrossing the Potomac rose like the son of Terra, with renewed vigor, and entered on the brilliant campaign hereafter to be generally described.

Early in October General Lee, with two corps (Ewell's and Hill's), the First Corps of his army having been temporarily detached for service in Tennessee, crossed the Rapidan to attack the flank of the enemy, or

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