Now I affirm, on the contrary, that the reports of Ewell
are irreconcilable with the accuracy of the date
of this famous letter.
Nobody can reconcile this letter, as dated (June 28th, 7:30 A. M.), with the indisputable facts of the campaign.
The genuineness of the letter is undisputed—it is in the well known handwriting of Col. Venable
, of Lee
's staff—but the accuracy of the date is called in question.
Suppose it to have been written on June 29th, and it is then in complete harmony with Gen. Lee
's report, with the statements of his staff on the points at issue, and with the reports of Gen. Longstreet
, Gen. Ewell
and Gen. Early
Now this famous letter turns out to have been copied in the letter-book of General Lee from memory
, by Col. Charles Venable
It is marked thus: ‘From memory—sketch of a letter
It is not the original letter.
It was copied afterwards sometime before July 1—the date of the next letter.
It cannot therefore have the same authority as the original would have.
Especially on the question of date, it is more liable to error.
Let us now suppose that there was a mistake in the date, and that it should have been dated ‘June 29th, 7:30 A. M.,’ instead of ‘June 28th, 7:30 A. M.’1
Then the first order to Ewell
to march back from Carlisle
written ‘last night,’ would be dated June 28th, not June 27th.
If this hypothesis harmonizes with the Reports of Ewell
and with the dates when the Divisions of the 3rd Corps began their march to Cashtown
, then the probability of its correctness becomes very strong.
It seems to me it does thus harmonize.
Consider that such a dispatch was of supreme importance, and would therefore be sent as fast as a courier could carry it. Col. Marshall
testifies that it was long after 10 P. M., June 28th, when he found Gen. Lee
in conference with the scout who brought the intelligence of Hooker
Even if the dispatch was not sent until midnight, Gen. Ewell
might easily have received it by 6 in the morning, for it is, as Col. Mosby
reminds us, only 30 miles from Chambersburg