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One of the greatest of philosophers has said that ‘in war the moral is to the physical as three to one,’ and when this element is considered, the disparity in numbers and equipment between the two armies shrinks into insignificance, in determining the odds against which the Army of Northern Virginia fought.

It is no vain boast or impeachment of the courage of the Army of the Potomac to declare that the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, standing on their own soil and in defence of their own capital, man for man, were superior to their opponents. But aside from the skill and courage of the officers and men, devotion to their cause, profound faith and love for their commander, and a proud record of glory in arms which none ever surpassed, the Army of Northern Virginia was at that time at a fearful disadvantage compared with the Army of the Potomac, not only in numbers and equipment, but in nearly all conditions and circumstances that fight with the soldier and give power and soul to armies.

The winter of 1864-5 was one of marked severity, making duty of any kind very arduous. The clothing of the Confederate troops, which at best was hardly sufficient, had become threadbare and tattered, and they were often without shoes. Their food during this period consisted chiefly of corn bread, for there was little meat of any kind. Most of the bacon issued to the troops had been imported through Wilmington and other ports. The capture of these places cut off this source of supply, and when the supply on hand was exhausted little could be obtained elsewhere; for the meat in the country was about exhausted and the railroad facilities for hauling it were miserable. Medicines of the simplest kind were extremely scarce; and coffee, tea and sugar were generally rarities even in the hospital. Now and then the commissary department secured some peas and potatoes and sometimes fresh beef; and on this supply the army existed rather than lived during the winter of 1865. A soldier who received a quarter of a pound of bacon, often rancid, and a pound of flour for a day's ration considered himself most fortunate. The effect of this exposure and suffering upon the health of Lee's men, as compared with Grant's, is strongly presented by the sickness in the two armies, as shown by their respective sick lists. Lee's return of February 20, 1865, gives 5,330 sick out of an aggregate of 73,349, while Grant's returns about the same time show a sick list of 5,360 out of

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Custis Lee (2)
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