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[170] weakened his loyalty for the cause to which he had pledged his life and honor. This trait of his character shines out with conspicuous brightness and beauty in the closing days of the bitter and bloody struggle. The grand army of Lee was reduced to the last extremity. It had at last worn itself away by continuous victories. That of the Tennessee, snatched from the hands of Johnston at the very moment of giving its decisive blow, had been broken, beaten, and butchered at Franklin after sustaining against overwhelming numbers one of the bloodiest conflicts in the annals of war. So fierce was the conflict that the soldiers snapped their bayonets in each other's faces. The resources of the Confederacy were exhausted. Its armies were almost naked and starving. The spirit of the people was broken, and further resistance seemed madness. Defeat and disaster were certain. Gloom rested like a pall over the whole South. Under these distressing circumstances Johnston was recalled by Lee to the command of the army from which he had been arbitrarily removed. It would have been natural for him to have refused.

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Robert E. Lee (2)
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