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January, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 60
low, which were not thought of in the beginning, or, if thought of, would be disavowed, belittled and depreciated. And eminently conservative in his cast of mind and character, every bias of his judgment, as every tendency of his history, filled him with yearning and aspiration for the peace of his country and the perpetuity of the Union. Is it a wonder, then, as the storm of revolution lowered, Colonel Lee, then with his regiment, the Second Cavalry, in Texas, wrote thus to his son in January, 1861: The South, in my opinion, has been aggrieved by the acts of the North as you say. I feel the aggression, and am willing to take any proper steps for redress. It is the principle I contend for, not individual or private benefit. As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accum
March 16th, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 60
waters, and verdant pastures, and many a wildwood scene; and to penetrate its deepest recesses with the halcyon charm that ever lingers about the thought of Home. The host of Arlington. The head of the house established here was a man whom Nature had richly endowed with graces of person, and high qualities of head and heart. Fame had already bound his brow with her laurel, and Fortune had poured into his lap her golden horn. Himself a soldier, and Colonel Appointed Colonel March 16th, 1861. in the army of the United States, the son of that renowned Light Horse Harry Lee, who was the devoted friend and compatriot of Washington in the revolutionary struggle, and whose memorable eulogy upon his august Chief has become his epitaph;—descended indeed from a long line of illustrious progenitors, whose names are written on the brightest scrolls of English and American history, from the conquest of the Norman at Hastings, to the triumph of the Continentals at Yorktown,—he had alre
July 21st, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 60
Meanwhile the Army of Northern Virginia had made a name in history under its famous commander, Joseph E. Johnston, and I cannot speak that name without bowing the homage of my heart to the illustrious soldier and noble gentleman who bears it. Under his sagacious and brilliant leadership, his forces had been suddenly withdrawn from Patterson's front near Winchester, and united with those of General Beauregard at Manassas; and there, led by those two Generals, the joint command had, on July 21st, 1861, routed the Army of the Potomac in the first pitched battle of the war; had given earnest of what the volunteers of the South could do in action, and had crowned the new-born Confederacy with the glory of splendid military achievement. Still later in the progress of events, Johnston had exhibited again his strategic skill in holding Mc-Clellan at bay on the lines of Yorktown, with a force so small that it seemed hardihood to oppose him with it—had eluded his toils by a retreat up the P
eived surrender of his entire army of eleven thousand men, seventy-three cannon, thirteen thousand small arms, two hundred wagons and many stores. But there is no time to rest, for Mc-Clellan presses Lee at Sharpsburg, and there, September 17th, battle is delivered. Upon its eve Jackson has arrived fresh from Harper's Ferry. McClellan's repeated assaults on Lee were everywhere repulsed. He remained on the field September 18th, and then recrossed the Potomac into Virginia. The winter of 1862 comes, and Burnside, succeeding McClellan, assails Lee at Fredericksburg on December 13th, and is repulsed with terrible slaughter. 1863—Chancellorsville. With the dawn of spring in 1863, a replenished army with a fresh commander, Fighting Joe Hooker, renews the onset by way of Chancellorsville, and finds Lee with two divisions of Longstreet's corps absent in Southeast Virginia. But slender as are his numbers, Lee is ever aggressive; and while Hooker with the finest army on the planet,
March, 1862 AD (search for this): chapter 60
k of General, we behold him first in the field in the rugged mountains of Northwest Virginia, restoring the morale lost by the early reverses to our arms in that Department—holding invading columns in check with great disparity of force to meet them—bearing the censures of the impatient without a murmur, and careless of fame with duty done. Later, in the fall of 1861, we find him exercising his skill as an engineer in planning defences along the threatened coast of South Carolina; and in March, 1862, he is again in Virginia, charged by President Davis with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy—in brief, and in some sort, under the President, Commander-in-Chief. But now a year of war had rolled by; no brilliant accomplishment had yet satisfied the public expectation with which he had been welcomed as a Southern leader; and as the fame of revolutionary Captains can only be fed with victories, it is unquestionable that, at this stage of his career, the <
May 5th, 1862 AD (search for this): chapter 60
ederacy with the glory of splendid military achievement. Still later in the progress of events, Johnston had exhibited again his strategic skill in holding Mc-Clellan at bay on the lines of Yorktown, with a force so small that it seemed hardihood to oppose him with it—had eluded his toils by a retreat up the Peninsula, so cleanly conducted, that little was lost beyond the space vacated—had turned and fiercely smitten his advancing columns near the old Colonial Capitol of Williamsburg on May 5th, 1862, and had planted his army firmly around Richmond. Pending the siege of Yorktown, a thing had happened that probably had no parallel in history. The great body of General Johnston's army had reorganized itself under the laws of the Confederacy, while lying under the fire of the enemy's guns, the privates of each company electing by ballot the officers that were to command them. A singular exercise of suffrage was this, but there was a free ballot and a fair count, and an exhibition wor
June 3rd, 1862 AD (search for this): chapter 60
measure, his own great skill had created, opened the opportunity of Lee. Fortunate the State, and great the people from whom sprung two such sons—fortunate the army that always had a leader worthy of it—happy he who can transmit his place to one so well qualified to fill it—and happy likewise he who has had such predecessor to prepare the way for victory. General Lee in command of the Army of Northern Virginia—Richmond, Manassas, Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg. On the 3d of June, 1862, General Lee was assigned to command in person the Army of Northern Virginia; and from that day to April 9th, 1865, nearly three years, he was at its head. And on the page of history now laid open are crowded schemes of war and feats of arms as brilliant as ever thrilled the soul of heroism and genius with admiration,—a page of history that feasted glory till pity cried, no more. Swift was Lee to plan, and swift to execute. Making a feint of reinforcing Jackson in the Valley, star
ginia. The winter of 1862 comes, and Burnside, succeeding McClellan, assails Lee at Fredericksburg on December 13th, and is repulsed with terrible slaughter. 1863—Chancellorsville. With the dawn of spring in 1863, a replenished army with a fresh commander, Fighting Joe Hooker, renews the onset by way of Chancellorsville, 1863, a replenished army with a fresh commander, Fighting Joe Hooker, renews the onset by way of Chancellorsville, and finds Lee with two divisions of Longstreet's corps absent in Southeast Virginia. But slender as are his numbers, Lee is ever aggressive; and while Hooker with the finest army on the planet, as he styled it, is confronting Lee near Chancellorsville, and Early is holding Sedgwick at bay at Fredericksburg, Jackson, who, under Leeet, and ere Meade is aware of this weakening of his opponent's forces, Longstreet is nine hundred miles away, striking a terrible blow at Chickamauga. The year 1863 passes by without other significant event in the story of the Army of Northern Virginia. Meade indeed, once in November, deployed his lines along Mine Run in seem
g that discretion was the better part of valor, he marched back across the Rappahannock, content with his observations. 1864—Wilderness, Spotsylvania, cold Harbor, Petersburg, Lynchburg. But as the May blossoms in 1864, we hear once more the wo1864, we hear once more the wonted strain of spring, tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching, and Grant (who had succeeded Meade), crossing the Rappahannock with 141,000 men, plunges boldly into the Wilderness on May 4th, leading the sixth crusade for the reduction of Richmondiotism stripped itself of every treasure, and heroism fought and bled and died, and all in vain! When the drear winter of 1864 came at last, there came also premonitions of the end. The very seed-corn of the Confederacy had been ground up, as Presid breathed into the arts of peace, yet lived the spirit and was perpetuated the name of the Father of his Country. When in 1864 David Hunter led an invading army against the State from whose blood he sprung, he came not as comes the noble champion ea
September, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 60
he snows of Valley Forge; and the army seemed to live only on its innate, indomitable will, as oftentimes we see some noble mind survive when the physical powers of nature have been exhausted. Like a rock of old ocean, it had received, and broken, and hurled back into the deep in bloody foam those swiftly succeeding waves of four years of incessant battle; but now the rock itself was wearing away, and still the waves came on. A new enemy was approaching the sturdy devoted band. In September, 1864, Atlanta fell, and through Georgia to the sea, with fire and sword, swept the victorious columns of Sherman. In January, 1865, the head of the column had been turned northward; and in February, Columbia and Charleston shared the fate that had already befallen Savannah. Yes, a new enemy was approaching the Army of Northern Virginia, and this time in the rear. The homes of the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Southern States were now in ashes. Wives, mothers and sist
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