This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 constitute the indestructible basis of Lee's military fame. You will search in vain in history for a parallel to such uniform, excessive, and prolonged disparity in numbers, such amazing inferiority in all the material and appliances of war, crowned by such a succession of brilliant, though dearly-bought victories. If these considerations in themselves establish Lee's fame, they also vindicate it from the only criticism to which it has been subjected. They justify and explain the comparatively indecisive character of those victories. When the odds are four to five, three to five, three to seven, when every man has fought, and there are no reserves, the victories of the weaker army must of their very nature fail to destroy an adversary of the same proud race, of equal, if of different valor. The events we now approach present Lee in every phase of the consummate commander. Can you imagine an attitude of grander firmness than that in which we see him on Hooker's crossing the Rappahannock? There was a letter from him to the Confederate Secretary of War, written at that moment, which showed him in this mood of heroic calm, waiting for the development of the enemy's purpose, determined to fight, but giving no hint of that tremendous lion-spring at Chancellorsville, which was to pluck out the very heart of the Federal invasion. The plan of that great battle, as happens with many master-works, was struck out at a single blow, in a brief conference with Jackson, on the evening of the 1st of May. An eye-witness has depicted the scene—the solemn forest, the rude bivouac, the grave and courteous commander, heir of all the knightly graces of the cavaliers, the silent, stern lieutenant, with the faith and the fire of Cromwell, the brief interchange of question and answer, the swiftly following order for the movement of the morrow. The facts of the enemy's position and the surrounding topography had just been ascertained. The genius of the commander, justly weighing the character of his adversary, the nature of the country, and the priceless gift in his own hands of such a thunder-bolt of war, such a Titanic force as Jackson, instantly devised that immortal flank march which will emblazon Chancellorsville on the same roll of deathless fame with Blenheim, with Leuthen, with Austerlitz, and Jena. The battle of Chancellorsville will rank with the model battles of history. It displayed Lee in every character of military greatness. Nothing could exceed the sublime intrepidity with which, leaving Early to dispute the heights of Fredericksburg against Sedgwick's
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.