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[75] on the part of General Longstreet of the aggressive tactics so often pursued by General Lee, which the Telegraph discovers in his book, and to which it gives expression as follows: ‘Yet, we think all readers of this book will admit that, considering the inequality of strength brought into the field by the two belligerents, and of the vast superiority of the North, General Lee was far too fond of fighting. Many extracts might be made from it to show that such is the undoubted opinion of its author.’

Perhaps so. Unquestionably this opinion was shared by Generals McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, and Grant, of the Federal Army of the Potomac.

Now, there is the gist of the London telegraph's version of General Longstreet's criticism of General Lee. Our old chief was too fond of fighting. Well, who else is there in the Army of Northern Virginia who cannot pardon him for that weakness in consideration of the very brilliant results that almost invariably attended his exhibitions of pugnacity? In war it is said that nothing succeeds like success. In General Lee's career his success would seem to attest the good qualities of his generalship, including his tendency to assail his opponents. It was in attestation of his admiration for General Lee's fondness for successful fighting, and in recognition of the brilliant achievements won by his corps in fighting under General Lee's command, that (General Longstreet wrote, ‘All that we have to be proud of has been accomplished under your eye and under your orders.’ The truth is that General Lee was not a wild and reckless fighter, but a discreet and judicious one. When the time arrived to strike he did not hesitate, but gave the blow with force and confidence.

The Telegraph devotes much space to the consideration of General Longstreet's account of the battle of Gettysburg. As is well known, most of the controversy that has occurred since the war between the admirers of General Lee and General Longstreet and his followers has been in regard to the incidents of that campaign. In the discussion of those events intense feeling, and at times even bitterness, has been manifested by both sides; and some of the charges and counter charges made are alike irreconcilable with the general trend of affairs and the unquestionable ability and admitted excellence of each of these great soldiers. Had General Lee lived he would unhesitatingly have accepted his fair share of responsibility for the lack of final success at Gettysburg; but his readiness to assume all blame for failure, even though his lieutenants had failed to do what he had a right to expect

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R. E. Lee (9)
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