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[538] city crowded with a servile race who looked to the approach of the besiegers to set them free—and this place was left by the authorities and the army to await the entrance of its conqueror—without one soldier to keep order, or restrain pillage, or claim protection, or exchange military formalities with the captors. The so-called government fled in dismay and disgrace, and the conduct of the army was little better towards its capital in this emergency. Lee was as derelict as Davis, and equally with him deserved the execrations which the other received.1 For Lee was general-in-chief, and knew of the flight of his superiors; he knew the destitution and desperation of the inhabitants; he was a soldier, and knew what horrors often come upon besieged cities when at last they fall. Yet he left not a company, not a squad, behind. He made no pretence of surrendering the forts or their armament, and therefore ran the risk of exasperating the victors; thus saving his military pride at the expense of his military honor. He did not attempt to protect the miserable wretches whom he abandoned, a prey to all the anguish of expectation and despair. His generals followed his example and his orders;2 they withdrew after dark, and set fire to the warehouses in the most crowded part of the city as they fled; and

1 I was sent to Richmond immediately after the close of this campaign, and found the inhabitants indignant at the conduct of Davis, and eager to learn of his capture. ‘Haven't they caught him yet?’ ‘What will they do with him?’ ‘Won't they hang him?’ were the constant inquiries of men and women whose sympathy had been entirely with the rebellion.

2 ‘What I did was in obedience to positive orders that had been given to me. . . . I did not exceed, but fell short of my instructions.’—Letter of General Ewell, written at Fort Monroe while he was a prisoner. 1865.

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Fitz Hugh Lee (2)
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