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Now I affirm, on the contrary, that the reports of Ewell and Early 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 Lee 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's movements. 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 to Carlisle.

1 Since writing the above I have learned that Col. Stribling has made a similar suggestion, but I have not yet seen his paper.

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