Leading Confederates on the battle of Gettysburg.
[continued from our September no.]The papers which we have been publishing on the battle of Gettysburg have attracted great attention and excited wide interest. We hope to add a number of others from distinguised soldiers who were in position to know what occurred, and who have promised to send us their views on the questions propounded by our distinguished foreign critic. In response to our request for a paper from General John B. Hood he sends us a copy of the following letter to General Longstreet. In a note to the Secretary accompanying this letter General Hood says: “It does not cover all the points upon which you desire information, but may prove of interest.” We feel sure that our readers will be glad to have the statement of this gallant and accomplished soldier.
Letter from General John B. Hood.
Suffolk, Va., and of its action in the battle of Gettysburg, in consequence of a  wound which I received in this engagement. In justice to the brave troops under my command at this period, I should here mention another cause for this apparent neglect of duty on my part. Before I had recovered from the severe wound received at Gettysburg, your corps (excepting Pickett's division) was ordered to join General Bragg, in the west, for battle against Rosecranz; my old troops — with whom I had served so long — were thus to be sent forth to another ormy-quasi, I may say, among strangersto take part in a great struggle; and upon an appeal from a number of the brigade and regimental officers of my division, I consented to accompany them, although I had the use of but one arm. This movement to the west soon resulted in the battle of Chickamauga, where I was again so seriously wounded as to cause the loss of a limb. These severe wounds in close successsion, in addition to the all-absorbing duties and anxieties attending the last year of the war, prevented me from submitting, subsequently, a report, as likewise one after the battle of Chickamauga, in which engagement-whilst you led the left wing--I had the honor of commanding your corps, together with the three divisions of the Army of Tennessee, respectively under A. P. Stewart, Bushrod Johnson, and Hindman. Thus, the gallantry of these troops, as well as the admirable conduct of my division at Gettysburg, I have left unrecorded. With this apology for seeming neglect, I will proceed to give a brief sketch from memory of the events forming the subject of your letter: My recollection of the circumstances connected with the attempt, whilst we were lying in front of Suffolk, to reach General Lee in time to participate in the battle of Chancellorsville is very clear. The order directing your corps to move to the support of General Lee was received about the time General Hooker crossed the Rappahannock. Unfortunately, we had been compelled by the scarcity of forage to send off our wagons into North Carolina to gather a supply from that state. A short delay necessarily ensued, as couriers had to be dispatched for the requisite transportation before the troops could move. Every effort, however, was made to get to Lee at the earliest moment. If my memory betrays me not, you repaired in advance of your corps to Petersburg or Richmond, having issued orders for us to march with all possible speed to  Lee on the Rappahannock. I was most anxious to get to the support of my old chief, and made strenuous efforts to do so; but, whilst on a forced march to accomplish this object, I received intelligence of our victory at Chancellorsville, and of Jackson's mortal wound. We, nevertheless, continued our march, and eventually went into bivouac upon the Rapidan, near Gordonsville. After the battle of Chancellorsville, preparations were made for an offensive campaign. Accordingly, my troops moved out of camp, crossed the Rapidan about the 5th of June, 1863, and joined in the general move in the direction of the Potomac. We crossed the river about the middle of the same month, and marched into Pennsylvania. Hill's and Ewell's corps were in advance, and were reported to be in the vicinity of Carlisle. Whilst lying in camp, not far distant from Chambersburg, information was received that Ewell and Hill were about to come in contact with the enemy near Gettysburg. My troops, together with McLaws' division, were put in motion upon the most direct road to that point, which, after a hard march, we reached before or at sunrise on the 2d of July. So imperative had been the orders to hasten forward with all possible speed, that on the march my troops were allowed to halt and rest only about two hours, during the night from the 1st to the 2d of July. I arrived with my staff in front of the heights of Gettysburg shortly after daybreak, as I have already stated, on the morning of the 2d of July. My division soon commenced filing into an open field near me, where the troops were allowed to stack arms and rest until further orders. A short distance in advance of this point, and during the early part of that same morning, we were both engaged, in company with Generals Lee and A. P. Hill, in observing the position of the Federals. General Lee--with coat buttoned to the throat, sabre-belt buckled around the waist, and fieldglasses pending at his side-walked up and down in the shade of large trees near us, halting now and then to observe the enemy. He seemed full of hope, yet at times, buried in deep thought. Col. Fremantle, of England, was ensconced in the forks of a tree not far off, with glass in constant use, examining the lofty position of the Federal army.  General Lee was seemingly anxious you should attack that morning. He remarked to me: “The enemy is here, and if we do not whip him he will whip us.” You thought it better to await the arrival of Pickett's division-at that time still in the rearin order to make the attack; and you said to me, subsequently, whilst we were seated together near the trunk of a tree: “The General is a little nervous this morning; he wishes me to attack; I do not wish to do so without Pickett. I never like to go into battle with one boot off.” Thus passed the forenoon of that eventful day, when, in the afternoon — about three o'clock--it was decided to no longer await Pickett's division, but to proceed to our extreme right, and attack up the Emmettsburg road. McLaws moved off, and I followed with my division. In a short time I was ordered to quicken the march of my troops, and pass to the front of McLaws. This movement was accomplished by throwing out an advanced force to tear down fences and clear the way. The instructions I received were to place my division across the Emmettsburg road, form line of battle, and attack. Before reaching this road, however, I had sent forward some of my picked Texas scouts to ascertain the position of the enemy's extreme left flank. They soon reported to me that it rested upon Round Top mountain; that the country was open and that I could march through an open woodland pasture around Round Top and assault the enemy in flank and rear; that their wagon trains were parked in rear of their line, and were badly exposed to our attack in that direction. As soon as I arrived upon the Emmettsburg road I placed one or two batteries in position and opened fire. A reply from the enemy's guns soon developed his lines. His left rested on or near Round Top, with line bending back and again forward, forming, as it were, a concave line as approached by the Emmettsburg road. A considerable body of troops was posted in front of their main line, between the Emmettsburg road and Round Top mountain. This force was in line of battle upon an eminence near a peach orchard. I found, that in making the attack according to orders, viz: up the Emmettsburg road, I should have first to encounter and drive off this advanced line of battle; secondly, at the base and along the slope of the mountain, to confront immense boulders of stone, so massed together as to form narrow openings, which would  break our ranks and cause the men to scatter whilst climbing up the rocky precipice. I found, moreover, that my division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy, in position on the crest of the high range, of which Round Top was the extreme left, and, by reason of the concavity of the enemy's main line, that we would be subject to a destructive fire in flank and rear, as well as in front; and deemed it almost an impossibility to clamber along the boulders up this steep and rugged mountain, and, under this number of cross-fires, put the enemy to flight. I knew that if the feat was accomplished it must be at a most fearful sacrifice of as brave and gallant soldiers as ever engaged in battle. The reconnoissance by my Texas scouts and the development of the Federal lines were effected in a very short space of time; in truth, shorter than I have taken to recall and jot down these facts, although the scenes and events of that day are as clear to my mind as if the great battle had been fought yesterday. I was in possession of these important facts so shortly after reaching the Emmettsburg road, that I considered it my duty to report to you at once my opinion, that it was unwise to attack up the Emmettsburg road, as ordered, and to urge that you allow me to turn Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear. Accordingly, 1 dispatched a staff officer bearing to you my request to be allowed to make the proposed movement on account of the above-stated reasons. Your reply was quickly received: “Gen'l Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road.” I sent another officer to say that I feared nothing could be accomplished by such an attack, and renewed my request to turn Round Top. Again your answer was: “Gen'l Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road.” During this interim I had continued the use of the batteries upon the enemy, and had become more and more convinced that the Federal line extended to Round Top, and that I could not reasonably hope to accomplish much by the attack as ordered. In fact, it seemed to me the enemy occupied a position by nature so strong — I may say impregnable-that, independently of their flank-fire, they could easily repel our attack by merely throwing and rolling stones down the mountain side as we approached. A third time I dispatched one of my staff to explain fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that you had better come  and look for yourself. I selected, in this instance, my adjutantgeneral, Colonel Harry Sellers, whom you know to be not only an officer of great courage, but also of marked ability. Colonel Sellers returned with the same message: “Gen'l Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road.” Almost simultaneously, Col. Fairfax, of your staff, rode up and repeated the above orders. After this urgent protest against entering into battle at Gettysburg according to instructions — which protest is the first and only one I ever made during my entire military career — I ordered my line to advance and make the assault. As my troops were moving forward, you rode up in person; a brief conversation passed between us, during which I again expressed the fears above mentioned, and regret at not being allowed to attack in flank around Round Top. You answered to this effect: “We must obey the orders of General Lee.” I then rode forward with my line under a heavy fire. In about twenty minutes after reaching the Peach Orchard I was severely wounded in the arm, and borne from the field. With this wound terminated my participation in this great battle. As I was borne off on a litter to the rear, I could but experience deep distress of mind and heart at the thought of the inevitable fate of my brave fellow-soldiers, who formed one of the grandest divisions of that world-renowned army; and I shall ever believe that had I been permitted to turn Round Top mountain, we would not only have gained that position, but have been able finally to rout the enemy. Trusting this sketch, however incomplete, may answer its purpose, I am, respectfully yours,
Letter from Major-General Henry Heth, of A. P. Hill's corps, A. N. V.[The following letter from General Heth was originally addressed to the Secretary of our Society, and was duly forwarded to our distinguished foreign correspondent, whose letter of enquiry to us called it forth. It has been recently published in the Philadelphia Times, but will be none the less acceptable to our readers as one of our Gettysburg series.]
Pennsylvania in 1863, says: “The Army of Northern Virginia, when it invaded the Northern States, was more powerful than it had ever been before.” If---- , in using the term “more powerful,” means that the numerical strength of the Army of Northern Virginia, on this occasion, was greater than ever before, he is wrong, as the subjoined statement of the strength of that army, taken from the official returns now on file in Washington, will show:
It has been said that the morale of an army is to numbers as three to one.
If this be correct the Army of Northern Virginia was never stronger than on entering Pennsylvania, and I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind, that this fact entered very largelyin determining General Lee to make the attack on the 3d of July, at Gettysburg; for there was not an officer or soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia, from General Lee to the drummer boy, who did not believe, when we invaded Pennsylvania in 1863, that it
was able to drive the Federal army into the Atlantic Ocean.
Not that the fighting capacity of its great adversary was under-estimated, but possibly the Army of Northern Virginia had an overweening opinion of its own prowess.
Just here let us take a retrospective view, and consider what the Army of Northern Virginia had in one year accomplished.
In 1862, eighty thousand strong, it attacked the Federal army, one hundred thousand strong, and after seven days fighting drove that army to shelter under its gunboats.
Following up this success, after a series of engagements, Pope was driven across the Potomac.
Then followed the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), when possibly the fighting capacity of the Army of Northern Virginia never shone brighter.
Its numbers reduced by fighting, fatigue, and hard marching to less than forty thousand strong, it gained a drawn battle against its adversary, who numbered nearly, if not quite one hundred thousand men. Then came Fredericksburg, where, with its ranks recuperated to seventy-eight thousand, it hurled across the Rappahannock river an adversary who had crossed with one hundred and ten thousand men. Then follows that most daring and wonderful battle, Chancellorsville, where it again triumphed, fifty thousand strong, against its adversary, numbering one hundred and thirty-two thousand, compelling him again to seek shelter behind the Rappahannock.
After such a series of successes, with such disparity of numbers, is it wonderful that the Army of Northern Virginia and its great leader should have believed it capable of accomplishing any thing in the power of an army to accomplish?
says “it was a mistake to invade the Northern States at all,” and then gives very clearly and concisely his reasons for entertaining this opinion.
Some of the reasons substantiating this view I shall answer hereafter.
I think from ----'s standpoint, and especially looking at the sequel of the invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, he is correct, and I have no doubt that by far the greater number of historians who may follow him will entertain like opinions.
It is, possibly, very natural for myself and other officers who served in the Army of Northern Virginia to permit our judgments to be biased by the opinions of one whom we loved, admired and trusted in, as much as we did, in any opinion entertained by our great Commander.
I will state General Lee's views in
regard to the invasion of Pennsylvania, as given by him to me and to another.
A short time before General Grant crossed the Rapidan, in the spring of 1864, General Lee said to me: “If I could do so-unfortunately I cannot — I would again cross the Potomac and invade Pennsylvania.
I believe it to be tur true policy, notwithstanding the failure of last year.
An invasion of the enemy's country breaks up all of his preconceived plans, relieves our country of his presence, and we subsist while there on his resources.
The question of food for this army gives me more trouble and uneasiness than every thing else combined; the absence of the army from Virginia gives our people an opportunity to collect supplies ahead.
The legitimate fruits of a victory, if gained in Pennsylvania, could be more readily reaped than on our own soil.
We would have been in a few days' march of Philadelphia, and the occupation of that city would have given us peace.”
It is very difficult for any one not connected with the Army of Northern Virginia to realize how straitened we were for supplies of all kinds, especially food.
The ration of a general officer was double that of a private, and so meagre was that double supply that frequently to appease my hunger I robbed my horse of a handful of corn, which, parched in the fire, served to allay the cravings of nature.
What must have been the condition of the private?
After the battle of Gettysburg the President of the Confederate States, desiring to communicate with General Lee, sent Major Seddon, a brother of the Secretary of War, to General Lee's headquarters, when the following conversation took place: General Lee said, “Major Seddon, from what you have observed, are the people as much depressed at the battle of Gettysburg as the newspapers appear to indicate?”
Upon Major Seddon's reply that he thought they were, General Lee continued: “To show you how little yalue is to be attached to popular sentiment in such matters, I beg to call your attention to the popular feeling after the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
At Fredericksburg we gained a battle, inflicting very severe loss on the enemy in men and material; our people were greatly elated — I was much depressed.
We had really accomplished nothing; we had not gained a foot of ground, and I knew the enemy could easily replace the men he had lost, and the loss of material was, if any thing, rather beneficial to him, as it gave an opportunity to contractors to make
At Chancellorsville we gained another victory; our people were wild with delight-I, on the contrary, was more depressed than after Fredericksburg; our loss was severe, and again we had gained not an in inch of ground and the enemy could not be pursued.
After the battle of Chancellorsville matters stood thus: Hooker in my front, with an army more than a hundred thousand strong; Foster preparing to advance into North Carolina; Dix preparing to advance on Richmond from Fortress Monroe; Tyler in the Kanawha Valley preparing to unite with Milroy, who was in the Valley of Virginia, collecting men and material for an advance on Staunton.
To oppose these movements I'had sixty thousand men. It would have been folly to have divided my army; the armies of the enemy were too far apart for me to attempt to fall upon them in detail.
I considered the problem in every possible phase, and to my mind it resolved itself into the choice of one of two things-either to retire on Richmond and stand a siege, which must ultimately have ended in surrender, or to invade Pennsylvania.
I chose the latter.
Milroy was in my route; I crushed him, and as soon as the First corps of my army crossed the Potomac, orders were issued countermanding the advance of Foster and Dix. As soon as my Second corps crossed Hooker loosened his hold, and Old Virginia was freer of Federal troops than she had ever been since the commencement of the war. Had my cavalry been in place my plans would have been very different, and I think the result very different.”
In speaking of the fight of the 3d of July at Gettysburg, General Lee said: “I shall ever believe if General Pender had remained on his horse half an hour longer we would have carried the enemy's position.
After Pender fell the command of his division devolved on an officer3 unknown to the division; hence the failure of Pickett's receiving the support of this division.
Our loss was heavy at Gettysburg; but in my opinion no greater than it would have been from the series of battles I would have been compelled to fight had I remained in Virginia.”
“General Lee,” says Major Seddon, “then rose from his seat, and with an emphatic
gesture said, ‘and sir, we did whip them at Gettysburg, and it will be seen for the next six months that that army will be as quiet as a sucking dove.’
” The Army of the Potomac made no aggressive movement, saving the fiasco known as Mine Run, from the 3d of July, 1863, until General Grant crossed the Rapidan in May, 1864, precisely ten months afterward.
Whatever opinions may be entertained in regard to the details of the Battle of Gettysburg, whether if Stonewall Jackson had been in command of Hill's corps on the first day-July 1st-a different result would have been obtained; whether Longstreet unnecessarily delayed his attack on the second day; whether, as expresses it, “the way in which the fights of the second day were directed does not show the same co-ordination which insured the success of the Southern arms — at Gaines' Mill and Chancellorsville;” whether the fight on the second of July should have been at all; whether the attack on the third, known as “Pickett's charge,” should have been made, or, whether the failure of this attack was due to the fact that General Lee's orders were shamefully disobeyed, in its not being supported, thereby causing him to lose the battle-or, whether General Lee, seeing the great strength of the enemy's position should have turned it, are opinions upon which men will differ; but they sink into insignificance, in my judgment, when compared with the great cause which brought about the failure of the Pennsylvania campaign of 1863.
The failure to crush the Federal army in Pennsylvania in 1863, in the opinion of almost all the officers of the Army of Northern Virginia, can be expressed in five words — the absence of our cavalry.
Train a giant for an encounter and he can be whipped by a pigmy — if you put out his eyes.
The eyes of an army are its cavalry.
Before Ewell crossed the Potomac General Lee wrote to General Stuart, commanding the cavalry, in substance, as follows: “Ewell will cross the Potomac on a certain day, at a certain point.
Hill will follow Ewell, crossing on a given day at a given point; Longstreet will hold the gaps in the mountains and protect the crossing of these two corps; after Hill has crossed Longstreet will vacate the gaps, and follow Hill; on Longstreet vacating the gaps in the mountains, you will seize them and protect Longstreet's crossing; then follow Longstreet, throw yourself on the right flank of the army, watch the enemy, give me all the
information you can gather of his movements, and collect supplies.”
General Stuart, probably thinking he could carry out General Lee's orders, and at the same time make a brilliant dash toward and threatening Washington, worked by his right flank, separating himself from Longstreet, crossing the Potomac between the enemy and Washington city-making a swoop toward Washington, then turning west to join the Army of Northern Virginia, when he found the enemy had crossed the Potomac and were between him and that army.
This necessitated his riding entirely around the Federal army, and brought him, whether from necessity or not, I cannot say, to Carlisle, Pa. From this point he struck south and joined the Army of Northern Virginia, being late in the evening of July second. It is thus evident that so far as deriving any assistance from his cavalry from the — of June to the evening of July 2, it might as well have had no existence.
Every officer who conversed with General Lee for several days previous to the Battle of Gettysburg, well remembers having heard such expressions as these: “Can you tell me where General Stuart is?”
“Where on earth is my cavalry?”
“Have you any news of the enemy's movements?”
“What is the enemy going to do?”
“If the enemy does not find us, we must try and find him, in the absence of our cavalry, as best we can!”
The eyes of the giant were out; he knew not where to strike; a movement in any direction might prove a disastrous blunder.
I have stated above that General Lee's purpose in invading Pennsylvania was to break up the enemy's combinations, to draw him from our own territory, and to subsist his army on that of the enemy's. While this is true, his intention was to strike his enemy the very first available opportunity that offered-believing he could, when such an opportunity offered, crush him. And I here beg leave to differ from--, when referring to the invasion of Pennsylvania, he says: “The proof is that as soon as the latter (Meade) began to move, Lee, who had undertaken nothing but a raid on too large a scale, found himself so inuch endangered that he was obliged to fight an offensive battle on the ground where Meade chose to await him.”
This determination to strike his enemy was not, from the position he found himself, consequent upon invasion, but from a leading characteristic of the man. General Lee, not excepting Jackson, was the most aggressive man in
This cannot and will not be contradicted, I am satisfied.
General Lee, had he seen fit, could have assumed a defensive position, and popular opinion in the Northern States would have forced the commander of the Federal army to attack.
And further, to corroborate the fact that General Lee was not compelled to attack Meade “where Meade chose to wait for him,” 1 will show, I am confident, that the “Battle of Gettysburg” was the result purely of an accident, for which I am probably, more than any one else, accountable.
Napoleon is said to have remarked that “a dog fight might determine the result of a great battle.”
Almost as trivial a circumstance determined the Battle of Gettysburg being fought at Gettysburg.
It is well known that General Meade had chosen another point as his battle-field.
On the 29th of June, 1863, General Lee's army was disposed as follows: Longstreet's corps, at or near Chambersburg; Ewell's corps, which had been pushed east as far as York, had received orders to countermarch and concentrate on Hill's corps, which lay on and at the base of South Mountain; the leading division (Heth's) occupying Cashtown, at the base of the mountain; the cavalry not heard from, probably at or near Carlisle.
Hearing that a supply of shoes was to be obtained in Gettysburg, eight miles distant from Cashtown, and greatly needing shoes for.my men, I directed General Pettigrew to go to Gettysburg and get these supplies.
On the 30th of June General Pettigrew, with his brigade, went near Gettysburg, but did not enter the town, returning the same evening to Cashtown, reporting that he had not carried out my orders, as Gettysburg was occupied by the enemy's cavalry, and that some of his officers reported hearing drums beating on the farther side of the town; that under these circumstances he did not deem it advisable to enter Gettysburg.
About this time Gen. Hill rode up, and this information was given him. He remarked, “the only force at Gettysburg is cavalry, probably a detachment of observation.
1 am just from General Lee, and the information he has from his scouts corroborates that I have received from mine — that is, the enemy are still at Middleburg, and have not yet struck their tents.”
I then said, if there is no objection, I will take my division to-morrow and go to Gettysburg and get those shoes!
Hill replied, “None in the world.”
On July 1st I moved my division from Cashtown in the direction of Gettysburg, reaching the heights, a mile (more or less) from the town, about 9 o'clock A. M. No opposition had been made and no enemy discovered.
While the division was coming up I placed several batteries in position and shelled the woods to the right and left of the town.
No reply was made.
Two brigades were then deployed to the right and left of the railroad leading into Gettysburg, and, with the railroad as a point of direction, were ordered to advance and occupy Gettysburg.
These brigades, on moving forward, soon struck the enemy, which proved to be Reynolds' corps of the Federal army, and were driven back with some loss.
This was the first intimation that General Lee had that the enemy had moved from the point he supposed him to occupy, possibly thirty miles distant.
My division was then formed in a wooded ravine to the right of the railroad, the ground rising in front and in rear.
The enemy was evidently in force in my front.
General Rodes, commanding a division of Ewell's corps en route to Cashtown, was following a road running north of Gettysburg.
Rodes hearing the firing at Gettysburg, faced by the left flank and approached the town.
He soon became heavily engaged, and seeing this, I sought for and found General Lee.
Saying to the General: “Rodes is very heavily engaged, had I not better attack?”
General Lee replied: “No; I am not prepared to bring on a general engagement to-day-Longstreet is not up.”
Returning to my division, I sooa discovered that the enemy were moving troops from my front and pushing them against Rodes.
I reported this fact to General Lee and again requested to be permitted to attack.
Permission was given.
My division numbered some seven thousand muskets.
I found in my front a heavy skirmish line and two lines of battle.
My division swept over these without halting.
My loss was severe.
In twentyfive minutes I lost twenty-seven hundred men, killed and wounded.
The last I saw or remember of this day's fight was seeing the enemy in my front completely and utterly routed, and my division in hot pursuit.
I was then shot and rendered insensible for some hours.
I mention this attack, made by my division on the first of July, and its results, to show,--as far as my observation and opinion goes, that is wrong in supposing that the Federal troops at Gettysburg fought “ten times better than in Virginia.”
troops fought quite as well when we attacked them on the second day at Chancellorsville, and better on the 5th of May in the Wilderness, and again at Spotsylvania Courthouse.
I speak, of course, of my individual experience and observation in those several engagements.4
The fight at Gettysburg on July 1 was without order or system, the several divisions attacking the enemy in their front as they arrived on the field-nor do I see how there could have been a systematic plan of battle formed, as I have, I think, clearly shown that we accidentally stumbled into this fight.
Longstreet's attack on July 2 was, in my judgment, made entirely too late in the day. If it could not have been made earlier, it should not have been made at all. I Was by General Lee's side when this attack was made, and the thought occurred to me then that if Longstreet was successful night would rob him of the legitimate fruits of a victory.
The attack on July 3, known as “Pickett's charge,” made by Pickett's division, numbering some forty-five hundred strong, and my own shattered division, under General Pettigrew, numbering about forty-three hundred muskets, unsupported, was, as was said of the famous charge of the six hundred at Baliklava, “ties grande, mais c'est ne pas la guerre.”
In justice to General Lee it must be here stated that orders were given by him for other troops to attack at the same time, which orders were not obeyed.
Who should shoulder this responsibility I know not. I think the fight of the 3d of July was a mistake; that General Lee should have so manoeuvred as to have drawn MIeade from his stronghold; and such I believe to have been General Lee's views after the fight, as he remarked to me, at Orange Courthouse, during the winter of 1863-64, when, animadverting upon the criticisms made upon the Gettysburg fight, especially
referring to the fight of July 3, “after it is all over, as stupid a fellow as I am can see the mistakes that were made” ; adding, “I notice, however, my mistakes are never told me until it is too late, and you, and all my officers know that I am always ready and anxious to have their suggestions.”
The fact is, General Lee believed the Army of Northern Virginia, as it then existed, could accomplish anything.
Had our cavalry been in position, General Lee would have known of Reynolds' approach in the direction of Gettysburg twenty-four hours before this corps reached Gettysburg.
General Lee could and probably would, had he known the enemy were in motion, have occupied Gettysburg on the 29th or 30th of June, and rendered his position impregnable.
Had our cavalry been in position, General Lee, if he saw proper, could have permitted Reynolds' corps to have occupied Gettysburg as it did-but instead of this corps being unmasked by two brigades of my division, it would have been attacked by Longstreet, Ewell and Hill's corps.
In that case the fate of this corps no one can doubt; and had the enemy thrown forward reinforcements as he did, they would have been crushed in detail.
Had our cavalry been in position, the chances are that the battle never would have been fought at Gettysburg; but whether there or elsewhere, the battle would have been planned and digested with that consummate skill and boldness which characterized the plans of the greatest of American soldiers in his seven days fights around Richmond, his discomfiture of Pope, his Chancellorsville fight, and his series of battles in 1864, from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor.
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