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[366]

No proposition could be more absurd than that he was prompted by selfish ambition to join the Confederacy. With a small part of his knowledge of the relative amount of material of war possessed by the North and South, any one must have seen that the chances of war were against us; but if thrice-armed Justice should enable the South to maintain her independence, as our fathers had done, notwithstanding the unequal contest, what selfish advantage could it bring Lee? If, as some among us yet expected, many hoped, and all wished, there should be a peaceful separation, he would have left behind him all he had gained by long and brilliant service, and could not leave in our small army greater rank than was proffered to him in the larger one he had left. If active hostilities were prosecuted, his large property would be so exposed as to incur serious injury, if not destruction. His mother, Virginia, had revoked the grants she had voluntarily made to the Federal Government, and asserted the State sovereignty and independence she had won from the mother-country by the war of the Revolution; and thus, it was regarded, the allegiance of her sons became wholly her own. Above the voice of his friends at Washington, advising and entreating him to stay with them, rose the cry of Virginia calling her sons to defend her against threatened invasion. Lee heeded this cry only—alone he rode forth, as he had crossed the Pedregal, his guiding star being duty, and offered his sword to Virginia. His offer was accepted, and he was appointed to the chief command of the forces of the State. Though his reception was most flattering, and the confidence manifested in him unlimited, his conduct was conspicuous for the modesty and moderation which had always been characteristic of him.

The South had been involved in war without having made due preparations for it. She was without a navy, without even a merchant marine commensurate with her wants during peace; without arsenals, armories, founderies, manufactories, or stores on hand to supply those wants. Lee exerted himself to the utmost to raise and organize troops in Virginia, and when the State joined the Confederacy he was invited to come to Montgomery and explain the condition of his command; but his engagements were so pressing that he sent his second officer, General J. E. Johnston, to furnish the desired information.

When the capital of the Confederacy was removed from Montgomery to Richmond, Lee, under the orders of the President, was charged with the general direction of army affairs. In this position the same pleasant relations which had always existed between them


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