Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

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The dreary winter gradually passed away. Toward the last of April,the two armies, which had been opposite each other for four months,began to move, and, about the first of May, the greatest of Lee'sbattles was fought. My command was on the extreme left, and, as Hookercrossed the river, we followed a raiding party of the enemy's cavalryover toward the James River above Richmond; so I did not see my fatherat any time during the several day's fighting. The joy of our victoryat Chancellorsville was saddened by the death of "Stonewall" Jackson.His loss was the heaviest blow the Army of Northern Virginia eversustained. To Jackson's note telling him he was wounded, my fatherreplied:

"I cannot express my regret at the occurance. Could I have directedevents, I should have chosen for the good of the country to have beendisabled in your stead. I congratulate you on the victory, which isdue to your skill and energy."

Jackson said, when this was read to him,

"Better that ten Jacksons should fall than one Lee."

Afterward, when it was reported that Jackson was doing well, GeneralLee playfully sent him word:

"You are better off than I am, for while you have only lost your LEFT,I have lost my RIGHT arm."

Then, hearing that he was worse, he said:

"Tell him that I am praying for him as I believe I have never prayedfor myself."

After his death, General Lee writes to my mother, on May 11th:

"...In addition to the deaths of officers and friends consequent uponthe late battles, you will see that we have to mourn the loss of thegreat and good Jackson. Any victory would be dear at such a price.His remains go to Richmond to-day. I know not how to replace him.God's will be done! I trust He will raise up some one in his place...."

Jones, in his Memoirs, says: "To one of his officers, after Jackson'sdeath, he [General Lee] said: 'I had such implicit confidence inJackson's skill and energy that I never troubled myself to give himdetailed instructions. The most general suggestions were all that heneeded.'"

To one of his aides, who came to his tent, April 29th, to inform himthat the enemy had crossed the Rappahannock River in heavy force,General Lee made the playful reply:

"Well, I heard firing, and I was beginning to think it was time someof you lazy young fellows were coming to tell me what it was all about.Say to General Jackson that he knows just as well what to do with theenemy as I do."

Jackson said of Lee, when it was intimated by some, at the time hefirst took command, that he was slow:

"He is cautious. He ought to be. But he is NOT slow. Lee is aphenomenon. He is the only man whom I would follow blindfold."

As the story of these great men year by year is made plainer to theworld, their love, trust, and respect for each other will be betterunderstood. As commander and lieutenant they were exactly suited.When General Lee wanted a movement made and gave Jackson an outlineof his plans and the object to be gained, it was performed promptly,well, and thoroughly, if it was possible for flesh and blood to doit.

At the end of May, the Army of Northern Virginia, rested andstrengthened, was ready for active operations. On May 31st GeneralLee writes to Mrs. Lee:

"...General Hooker has been very daring this past week, and quiteactive. He has not said what he intends to do, but is giving out byhis movements that he designs crossing the Rappahannock. I hope wemay be able to frustrate his plans, in part, if not in whole.... Ipray that our merciful Father in Heaven may protect and direct us!In that case, I fear no odds and no numbers."


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