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[368] ground he found the encampment protected by a heavy abattis, which prevented him from making a sudden charge, as he had expected, not understanding that if he had fired his guns at any distance he would have secured the joint attack of the other detachments, and probably brought about an entire victory. Lee generously forebore to exonerate himself when the newspapers in Richmond criticised him severely, one denying him any other consideration except that which he enjoyed as ‘the President's pet.’

It was an embarrassment to the Executive to be deprived of the advice of General Lee, but it was deemed necessary again to detach him to look after affairs on the coast of Carolina and Georgia, and so violent had been the unmerited attacks upon him by the Richmond press that it was thought proper to give him a letter to the Governor of South Carolina, stating what manner of man had been sent to him. There his skill as an engineer was manifested in the defences he constructed and devised. On his return to Richmond he resumed his functions of general supervisor of military affairs.

In the spring of 1862 Bishop Meade lay dangerously ill. This venerable ecclesiastic had taught General Lee his catechism when a boy, and when he was announced to the Bishop the latter asked to have him shown in immediately. He answered Lee's inquiry as to how he felt by saying: ‘Nearly gone, but I wished to see you once more,’ and then in a feeble voice added: ‘God bless you, Robert, and fit you for your high and responsible duties!’ The great soldier stood reverently by the bed of his early preceptor in Christianity, but the saintly patriot saw beyond the hero the pious boy to whom he had taught the catechism; first he gave his dying blessing to Robert, and then, struggling against exhaustion, invoked Heaven's guidance for the General.

After the battle of Seven Pines Lee was assigned to the command to the army of Virginia. Thus far his duties had been of a kind to confer a great benefit, but to be unseen and unappreciated by the public. Now he had an opportunity for the employment of his remarkable power of generalization while attending to the minutest details. The public saw manifestation of the first, but could not estimate the extent to which the great results achieved were due to the exact order, systematic economy, and regularity begotten of his personal attention to the proper adjustment of even the smallest part of that mighty machine, a well-organized, disciplined army. His early instructor, in a published letter, seemed to regard the boy's labor of finishing a drawing on a slate as an excess of care. Was it so? No

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