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France (France) (search for this): chapter 1.16
ing before that marvellous monument in Berlin, from which Frederick in his habit as he lived looks down in homely greeting to his Prussian people, and seems still to warn them that the art which won empire can alone maintain it, we forget the selfish ambition, the petty foibles, the chilling life—we remember only the valor, the consummate skill, the superhuman constancy of the hero-king. Or if, turning from a career so crowned with final triumph, we recall how, for lack of a like commander, France in our own day has been trampled under foot, we may conceive the devotion with which Frenchmen still crowd about the tomb of Napoleon—a name that, in spite of all its lurid associations, in spite of all the humiliations of the Second Empire, has still had power to lift the French nation, during these latter years, from abasement and despair. Surely there must be something superhuman in the genius of a great commander, if it can make us forgetful of the woes and crimes so often attending i
less than the fortitude of the vanquished shone out over the solemn scene, and softened its tragic outlines of fate and doom. The moderation and good sense of the Northern people, breathing the large and generous air of our western world, quickly responded to Grant's example, and, though the North was afterwards betrayed into fanatical and baleful excess on more than one great subject, all the fiercer passions of a bloody civil war were rapidly extinguished. There was to be no Poland, no Ireland in America. When the Hollywood pyramid was rising over the Confederate dead soon after the close of the contest, some one suggested for the inscription a classic verse, which may be rendered: They died for their country—their country perished with them. Thus would have spoken the voice of despair. Far different were the thoughts of Lee. He had drawn his sword in obedience only to the dictates of duty and honor, and, looking back in that moment of utter defeat, he might have exc
Spottsylvania (Virginia, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
gruesome thickets of the Wilderness. Lee could not drive back his stubborn adversary, but he staggered and stunned and foiled him. Any previous commander of the Army of the Potomac would have retreated. Grant sullenly steals off by night to Spotsylvania. But a lion is there in his path. The road to Richmond is blocked by Lee. Grant's determination to force a passage brings on one of the fiercest and most protracted struggles of the war. For four days out of twelve that raging fire-flood surges about the lines of Spotsylvania. The very forest is consumed by it. How can man withstand its fury? Only by that courage which in its contempt of death is a presage of immortality. On such a field the human spirit rises even in common men to transcendent heights of valor and self-sacrifice, the great soul of the commander moves through the wild chaos like some elemental force, and the terrible majesty of war veils its horrors. Grant cannot take those lines. The solitary advantage wo
Port Royal (South Carolina, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
and Crook, and a numerous and powerful fleet. Let me give two examples of the extraordinary means at his disposal. He never went into camp but that, within an hour or two, every division was placed in telegraphic communication with his headquarters. Lee could only reach the several parts of his army by the aid of mounted couriers. But this is the most striking. On four several occasions Grant shifted his base by a simple mandate to Washington to lodge supplies at Fredericksburg, at Port Royal, at the White House, at City Point. Thus, his communications were absolutely invulnerable. With the boundless wealth at his control, he laid under contribution the resources of the commerce and manufactures of the world, and, combining all the agencies of destruction in the vast host under his command, fired now with something of his own smothered, but relentless passions, he hurled it in repeated and bloody assaults at the heart of the Confederacy. The heart of the Confederacy was th
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
in August, 1861, his turn for active service came in what promised to be a thankless and inauspicious duty. The Confederate arms had been unfortunate in Northwestern Virginia. Garnett had been overwhelmed and defeated. Loring, with large reinforcements, had not pressed forward to snatch the lost ground from an enemy weakened bds, and the army was deprived of its leader. On the afternoon of the next day, about five miles below Richmond, Lee assumed command of that army called of Northern Virginia, but fitly representing the valor and the virtue of every Southern State, that army which henceforth was to be the inseparable partner of his fame, that army winter. The repose of that winter strengthened the Federal army, but weakened Lee's, for he had been obliged to detach Longstreet with two divisions to Southeastern Virginia. Hence the last days of April, 1863, found Lee confronting Hooker's army of 131,000 men with only 57,000 Confederates. If I mention these respective nu
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (search for this): chapter 1.16
re, healthful, brave, consciously following duty as his pole star, and all unconsciously burning with ardor to win a soldier's fame, he entered upon that war with Mexico, which was destined to prove a training-ground for the chief leaders in the conflict between the States. There he soon gave proof of great qualities for war. rage performed by any individual, in his knowledge, pending the campaign. History will record, as Scott himself nobly admitted, that Lee was Scott's right arm in Mexico. I may not dwell on the round of engineering duties which Lee discharged with exactness and fidelity during the years following the Mexican war. Of more interemountain ranges, for an indissoluble union. He knew Northern men in their homes; he knew the bravery of the Northern soldiers who filled our regular regiments in Mexico. He was above the predjudices and taunts of the day, which belittled Northern virtue and courage. He knew that, with slight external differences, there was a su
Austerlitz (Ohio, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
ng order for the movement of the morrow. The facts of the enemy's position and the surrounding topography had just been ascertained. The genius of the commander, justly weighing the character of his adversary, the nature of the country, and the priceless gift in his own hands of such a thunder-bolt of war, such a Titanic force as Jackson, instantly devised that immortal flank march which will emblazon Chancellorsville on the same roll of deathless fame with Blenheim, with Leuthen, with Austerlitz, and Jena. The battle of Chancellorsville will rank with the model battles of history. It displayed Lee in every character of military greatness. Nothing could exceed the sublime intrepidity with which, leaving Early to dispute the heights of Fredericksburg against Sedgwick's imposing force, he himself led five weak divisions to confront Hooker's mighty host. Lee meant to fight, but not in the dark. He meant first to look his adversary in the eye. He meant to see himself how to aim
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
mmortal march to Pope's rear, which Lee approved and ordered. You know how, after prodigies of rapid movement, obstinate fighting and intrepid guidance, the Army of Northern Virginia stood once more united on the plains of Manassas, and there baffled and crushed an adversary, its superior, by one-half in numbers. Again the Federal army turned its back upon the goal of the campaign; again the Federal army bent its march, not to its commander's, but to Lee's imperious will. The invasion of Maryland, the capture of Harper's Ferry attested it, and Lee's victorious sweep was only checked by one of those unlucky accidents inseparable from war. His order for the combined movements of his troops fell into McClellan's hands when the ink upon it was scarcely dry. This precipitated the great battle of Sharpsburg. On that sanguinary field 40,000 Confederates finally repulsed every attack of an army of 87,000 Federal soldiers. On the day following the battle they grimly stood in their lon
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
halled for its defence. His first step was to overrule opinions tending to the retirement of our line. His next was to fortify that line, and to summon to his aid, for a great aggressive effort, all the forces that could be spared in Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In his comprehensive plan for the great day of battle now at hand was embraced that small but heroic band with which Jackson had just defeated three armies, filled the Federal Capital with alarm, and diverted from McClellan off the supply of men and means. The Army of Northern Virginia ceased to be recruited. It ceased to be adequately fed. It lived for months on less than one-third rations. It was demoralized, not by the enemy in its front, but by the enemy in Georgia and the Carolinas. It dwindled to 35,000 men holding a front of thirty-five miles; but over the enemy it still cast the shadow of its great name. Again and again, by a bold offensive, it arrested the Federal movement to fasten on its communica
Charlottesville (Virginia, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.16
e great day of battle now at hand was embraced that small but heroic band with which Jackson had just defeated three armies, filled the Federal Capital with alarm, and diverted from McClellan McDowell's powerful reinforcement. The secrecy with which Lee knew how to wrap this movement was itself a presage of generalship. He not only concealed Jackson's rapid march, so that Shields and McDowell should not follow on his heels, but, by an actual movement by rail of Whiting's division to Charlottesville, he made McClellan believe that he was sending a strong detachment to the Valley. Then, with an army still inferior to its adversary by at least one-fourth, he burst upon McClellan's right wing. By Lee's wise and bold combination, the weaker army showed, at the point of attack, double the strength of the stronger. The Federal general saw his communications snatched from his control, his right wing, after an obstinate and bloody conflict, broken and put to flight, his whole army turni
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