by James Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, C. S. A.
One night in the spring of 1863 I was sitting in my tent opposite Suffolk, Virginia
, when there came in a slender, wiry fellow about five feet eight, with hazel eyes, dark hair and complexion, and brown beard.
He wore a citizen's suit of dark material, and except for his stooping shoulders was well formed and evidently a man of great activity.
He handed me a note from Mr. Seddon
, Secretary of War
That was my first meeting with the famous scout, Harrison
, who in his unpretending citizen's dress passed unmolested from right to left through the Federal
army, visited Washington City
, ate and drank with the Federal
officers, and joined me at Chambersburg
with information more accurate than a force of cavalry could have secured.
While my command was at Suffolk
, engaged in collecting supplies from the eastern coasts of Virginia
and North Carolina
, General Burnside
was relieved and General Hooker
put in command of the Federal
Army of the Potomac. General Lee
was not expecting Hooker
to move so early, and gave me no warning until the Federals
moved out to turn his left by Chancellorsville
He then sent urgent demand for me, but it so happened that all my trains were down on the eastern coasts, and I could not move my troops with-out leaving the trains to the enemy.
I made haste to get them back as quickly as possible, and the moment we got them within our lines I pulled up from around Suffolk
, and, recrossing the Blackwater
, started back on my march to join General Lee
Before we got to Richmond
, however, we received dispatches announcing the Confederate
But with these tidings of victory came the sad intelligence that General Stonewall Jackson
was seriously wounded, a piece of news that cast a deep gloom over the army.
On the 9th of May I joined General Lee
at his headquarters at Fredericksburg
At our first meeting we had very little conversation; General Lee
merely stated that he had had a severe battle, and the army had been very much broken up. He regarded the wound accidently inflicted on Jackson
a terrible calamity.
Although we felt the immediate loss of Jackson
's services, it was supposed he would rally and get well.
He lingered for several days, one day reported better and the next worse, until at last he was taken from us to the shades of Paradise.
The shock was a very severe one to men and officers, but the full extent of our loss was not felt until the remains of the beloved general had been sent home.
The dark clouds of the future then began to lower above the Confederates
at that time was confronted by two problems: one, the finding a successor for Jackson
, another, the future movements of the Army of Northern Virginia.
After considering the matter fully he decided to reorganize his army, making three corps instead of two.
I was in command of the First Corps, and he seemed anxious to have a second and third corps under the command of Virginians
To do so was to overlook the claims of other generals who had been active and very efficient in the service.
He selected General Ewell
to command the Second, and General A. P. Hill
for the Third Corps. General Ewell
was entitled to command by reason of his rank, services, and ability.
Next in rank was a North Carolinian, General D. H. Hill
, and next a Georgian, General Lafayette McLaws
, against whom was the objection that they were not Virginians
In reorganizing his army, General Lee
impaired to some extent the morale
of his troops, but the First Corps, dismembered as it was, still considered itself, with fair opportunities, invincible, and was ready for any move warranted by good judgment.
While General Lee
was reorganizing his army he was also arranging the new campaign.
had laid siege to Vicksburg
, and Johnston
was concentrating at Jackson
to drive him away.
was in Tennessee
was in front of him. The force Johnston
was concentrating at Jackson
gave us no hope that he would have sufficient strength to make any impression upon Grant
, and even if he could, Grant
was in position to reenforce rapidly and could supply his army with greater facility.
was doomed unless we could offer relief by strategic move.
I proposed to send a force through east Tennessee
to join Bragg
and also to have Johnston
sent to join him, thus concentrating a large force to move against Rosecrans
, crush out his
Map of the Gettysburg campaign. |
army, and march against Cincinnati
That, I thought, was the only way we had to relieve vicksburg.
admitted the force of my proposition, but finally stated that he preferred to organize a campaign into Maryland
, hoping thereby to draw the Federal
troops from the southern points they occupied.
After discussing the matter with him for several days, I found his mind made up not to allow any of his troops to go west.
I then accepted his proposition to make a campaign into Pennsyl-vania, provided it should be offensive in strategy but defensive in tactics, forcing the Federal
army to give us battle when we were in strong position and ready to receive them.
One mistake of the Confederacy
was in pitting force against force.
The only hope we had was to outgeneral the Federals
Relief map of the Gettysburg campaign.
From a photograph of the original cast made by A. E. Lehman for the Cumberland Valley railroad Company. |
were all hopeful and the army was in good condition, but the war had advanced far enough for us to see that a mere victory without decided fruits was a luxury we could not afford.
Our numbers were less than the Federal
forces, and our resources were limited while theirs were not. The time had come when it was imperative that the skill of generals and the strategy and tactics of war should take the place of muscle against muscle.
Our purpose should have been to impair the morale
of the Federal
army and shake Northern confidence in the Federal
We talked on that line from day to day, and General Lee
, accepting it as a good military view, adopted it as the key-note of the campaign.
I suggested that we should have all the details and purposes so well arranged and so impressed upon our minds that when the critical moment should come, we could refer to our calmer moments and know we were carrying out our original plans.
I stated to General Lee
that if he would allow me to handle my corps so as to receive the attack of the Federal
army, I would beat it off without calling on him for help except to guard my right and left, and called his attention to the battle of Fredericksburg
as an instance of defensive warfare, where we had thrown not more than five thousand troops into the fight and had beaten off two-thirds of the Federal
army with great loss to them and slight loss to my own troops.
I also called his attention to Napoleon
's instructions to Marmont
at the head of an invading army.
A few days before we were ready to move General Lee
sent for General Ewell
to receive his orders.
I was present at the time and remarked that if we were ever going to make an offensive battle it should be done south of the
Potomac — adding that we might have an opportunity to cross the Rappa-hannock near Culpeper Court House and make a battle there.
I made this suggestion in order to bring about a discussion which I thought would give Ewell
a better idea of the plan of operations.
My remark had the desired effect and we talked over the possibilities of a battle south of the Potomac
The enemy would be on our right flank while we were moving north.
's corps was to move in advance to Culpeper Court House, mine to follow, and the cavalry was to move along on our right flank to the east of us. Thus, by threatening his rear we could draw Hooker
from his position on Stafford Heights
Our movements at the beginning of the campaign were necessarily slow in order that we might be sure of having the proper effect on Hooker
was started off to the valley of Virginia
to cross the mountains and move in the direction of Winchester
, which was occupied by considerable forces under Milroy
I was moving at the same time east of the Blue Ridge
's cavalry on my right so as to occupy the gaps from Ashby
on to Harper's Ferry
, moving on through the valley, captured troops and supplies at Winchester
, and passed through Martinsburg
As I moved along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge
we heard from day to day of the movements of Hooker
's army, and that he had finally abandoned his position on Stafford Heights
, and was moving up the Potomac
in the direction of Washington
Upon receipt of that information, A. P. Hill
was ordered to draw off from Fredericksburg
and follow the movements of General Ewell
, but to cross the Potomac
When Hill with his troops and well-supplied trains had passed my rear, I was ordered to withdraw from the Blue Ridge
, pass over to the west of the Shenandoah
and follow the movements of the other troops, only to cross the Potomac
I ordered General Stuart
, whom I considered under my command, to occupy the gaps with a part of his cavalry and to follow with his main force on my right, to cross the Potomac
, and move on my right flank.
Upon giving him this order, he informed me that he had authority from General Lee
to occupy the gaps with a part of his cavalry, and to follow the Federal
army with the remainder.
At the same time he expressed his purpose of crossing the river east of the Blue Ridge
and trying to make way around the right of the Federal
army; so I moved my troops independent of the cavalry, and, following my orders, crossed at Williamsport
, came up with A. P. Hill
, and moved on thence to Chambersburg
before we left Fredericksburg
for the campaign into Maryland
, I called up my scout, Harrison
, and, giving him all the gold he thought he would need, told him to go to Washington City
and remain there until he was in possession of information which he knew would be of value to us, and directed that he should then make his way back to me and report.
As he was leaving, he asked where he would find me. That was information I did not care to impart to a man who was going directly to the Federal
I answered that my command was large enough to be found without
Confederates at a Ford. |
We had reached Chambersburg
on the 27th of June and were remaining there to give the troops rest, when my scout straggled into the lines on the night of June 28th.
He told me he had been to Washington
and had spent his gold freely, drinking in the saloons and getting upon confidential terms with army officers.
In that way he had formed a pretty good idea of the general movements of the Federal
army and the preparation to give us battle.
The moment he heard Hooker
had started across the Potomac
he set out to find me. He fell in with the Federal
army before reaching Frederick
— his plan being to walk at night and stop during the day in the neighborhood of the troops.
He said there were three corps near Frederick
when he passed there, one to the right and one to the left, but he did not succeed in getting the position of the other.
This information proved more accurate than we could have expected if we had been relying upon our cavalry.
I sent the scout to report to General Lee
, who was near, and suggested in my note that it might be well for us to begin to look to the east of the Blue Ridge
was then in command of the Federal
having been relieved.
The two armies were then near each other, the Confederates
being north and west of Gettysburg
, and the Federals
south and south-east of that memorable field.
On the 30th of June we turned our faces toward our enemy and marched upon Gettysburg
The Third Corps, under Hill
, moved out first
and my command followed.
We then found ourselves in a very unusual condition: we were almost in the immediate presence of the enemy with our cavalry gone.
was undertaking another wild ride around the Federal
We knew nothing of Meade
's movements further then the report my scout had made.
We did not know, except by surmise, when or where to expect to find Meade
, nor whether he was lying in wait or advancing.
The Confederates moved down the Gettysburg
road on June 30th, encountered the Federals
on July 1st, and a severe engagement followed.
The Federals were driven entirely from the field and forced back through the streets of Gettysburg
to Cemetery Hill
, which had been previously selected as a Federal rallying-point and was occupied by a reserve force of the Eleventh Corps.