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Notes and Queries.

General Doubleday's Slander of General Armistead once more.

Our readers will remember how effectually we disposed of General Doubleday's slander of General L. A. Armistead, to the effect that he fought on the Federal side at First Manassas, and when dying at Gettysburg confessed that he had come to see that he had ‘wronged his country.’ We sent General Doubleday these proofs that he had [284] wronged a gallant soldier, and had a right to expect that he would hasten to make the amende honorable. How far he has done so we leave our readers to judge from a statement of the facts. We received, in due course of mail, the following letter:

Mendham, New Jersey, March 23d, 1883.
To the Publisher of the Southern Hiistorical Society Papers, Richmond, Va.
Sir,—I enclose you by this mail a copy of the second edition of my book on Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, in which some inaccuracies which were in the first edition have been corrected. As it was printed—through a misunderstanding—before I had an opportunity to correct it, there are still some typographical errors to be found.

I regret that it was in print before I had discovered the mistake in relation to General Armistead's having been at the first battle of Bull Run. Another edition will soon be called for, and I will amend that part of my narrative. I always admired General A. as a gentleman and a soldier, and had no intention of wounding the feelings of his friends. My statement as to his change of views, however, was founded on what was represented to me to be the general tone of his conversation, and I still think I was right in that respect.

Yours, very truly,

From this letter it will appear that he gives up the statement that Armistead fought on the Federal side at First Manassas, but still adheres to the charge, that ‘dying in the effort to extend the area of slavery over the free States, he saw, with a clearer vision, that he had been engaged in an unholy cause, and said to one of our officers, who leaned over him, ‘Tell Hancock I have wronged him, and have wronged my country!’’

In the edition sent us there is a foot-note, written in red ink, after the statement concerning Armistead's action at First Manassas, to the following effect: ‘This is a mistake. A Richmond paper erroneously stated that a Lieutenant Abercrombie, who went over to them, and who had been an officer in the regular army, was engaged on our side in the first battle of Bull Run. Camp rumor made the name Armistead.’

We ought, perhaps, to be duly grateful to General Doubleday for making even this small concession, especially if he sees that it goes into the third edition of his book. And we are greatly obliged to him [285] for thus affording us an explanation of many other most marvellous statements in his very remarkable book. He makes a grave charge against a gallant gentleman, whom he professes to admire and respect, on no higher authority than mere ‘Camp rumor,’ and adheres to a slander against the same gentleman, on the same veracious authority, notwithstanding we have shown that it is morally impossible that the charge can be true. Then, of course, when we read some of the other marvellous statements in General Doubleday's book, we know exactly how to account for them. He got them not from official reports, field returns, or other reliable evidence, but from his trusted authority, ‘Camp rumor,’ and her ally, the ‘Grape-vine telegraph.’ This being understood. General Doubleday's ‘Chancellorsville and Gettysburg’ will soon sink into its merited oblivion.

But as cumulative evidence of the utter falsity of the slander to which General Doubleday still adheres, we give the following statement of the Rev. Theodore Gerrish, (now pastor of the First Methodist Church, Bangor, Maine, but during the war a gallant soldier in the Twentieth Maine Regiment,) author of ‘Reminiscences of the War.’

In a letter to the Secretary, dated March 16th, 1883, Mr. Gerrish says:

‘One of my church members, a very reliable gentleman, whose address is W. H. Moore, Cumberland street, Bangor, was formerly a member of the Ninty-Seventh New York Regiment, which, at Gettysburg, was in Robinson's Division of the First Corps. He was wounded on the third day and taken to a hospital in the rear. General Armistead was brought to the same hospital and placed beside him. Brother Moore had never read the discussions of General Doubleday's statements about General Armistead at Gettysburg, but when I learned that he saw General A., I asked him what opinion he formed of the General from what words he heard him utter. He replied that all who saw him there were strongly impressed upon two points in the General's character: 1. An intense, all-consuming desire for the Confederates to win the battle. 2. To die like a soldier. Brother Moore scouts the idea of General Armistead's making use of any such language as General Doubleday attributes to him. I have given you the substance of his statement, and you can put it into any form or make any use of it you may see fit.’

With thanks to Mr. Gerrish and Mr. Moore for their generous defence [286] of the memory of a gallant Confederate, we add the above to the letters of Colonel R. W. Martin, General Hancock, and General Bingham, and respectfully submit that this testimony refutes, beyond all cavil, the reckless slander which General Doubleday based on ‘camp rumor,’ and to which he clings with a persistence which savors more of the blindness of the partisan than the calmness of the true historian.

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