In May, 1861, this gentleman and another, obtained a passport from General Scott
to go to Richmond
, to see if they could do anything to promote pacification.
In the course of the interview, General Scott
spoke in the highest terms of Lee
as a soldier and a man, stated that he had rejected the supreme command of the United States Army, and expressed his confidence that Lee
would do everything in his power to avert war, and would, if a conflict came, conduct it on the highest principles of Christian civilization.
He cheerfully granted the passport and said: ‘Yes, go and see Robert Lee
. Tell him for me that we must have no war, but that we must avert a conflict of arms until the sober second thought of the people can stop the mad schemes of the politicians.’
In the interview which these gentlemen had with General Lee
he most cordially reciprocated the kindly feelings of General Scott
, and expressed his ardent desire to avert war and his willingness to do anything in his power to bring about a settlement of the difficulties.
But he expressed the fear that the passions of the people North and South had been too much aroused to yield to pacific measures, and that every effort at a peaceful solution would prove futile.
Alluding to Mr. Seward
's boast that he would conquer the South
in ‘ninety days,’ and to the confident assertions of some of the Southern
politicians that the war would be a very short one, General Lee
said with a good deal of feeling:
‘They do not know what they say. If it comes to a conflict of arms the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians do not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources and patient perseverance of the North
Both sides forget that we are all Americans
and that it must be a terrible struggle if it comes to war. Tell General Scott
that we must do all we can to avert war, and if it comes to the worst we must then do everything in our power to mitigate its evils.’
Alas! that the wishes and aspirations of these two great soldiers could not have been realized.
Men will differ as to whether Scott
was right in the course which each thought proper to pursue on the only great question which ever divided them, but all must admire that pure friendship which neither time nor circumstances could break.