Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
REPLY TO GENERAL LONGSTREET.
battle north of the Potomac -- the battle of Falling Waters-- where the lamented Pettigrew fell.
Davis's Mississippi brigade, that fought so gallantly on the first day, and crossed bayonets with the Iron Brigade, had a prominent part in the grand charge. The 2d Mississippi of that brigade lost half of its men on that day, but was still intact, ready and willing to fight, and its courage in the great charge has become a matter of history. Its battle-flag is in the possession of the old color-bearer, who lives at Blossom Prairie, Texas, and has the names of more than a score of battles stamped on it.
Scales's and Lane'sNorth Carolina brigades, commanded by General Isaac R. Trimble, belonged to General W. D. Pender's division of A. P. Hill's corps, and were 2500 strong. General Pender was mortally wounded on the second day. When General Lee saw the men of Scaler's brigade, bleeding from wounds received on the first day, he said, "Many of these poor fellows should go to the rear." When a brigade would fight under such circumstances as Scales's did, it ought not to be robbed of its military fame. General Trimble was wounded in the charge.
PRAIRIE GROVE, TEX.
A REPLY TO GENERAL LONGSTREET. BY WILLIAM ALLAN, COLONEL, C. S. A.
GENERAL LONSTREET'S account of Gettysburg [see pp. 244, 339] is notable for its mistakes as well as for its attitude toward General Lee and others.
First. The statement that General Lee passed over more deserving officers from other States in order to give the command of his corps to Virginians is an unworthy attack upon a man who was as singularly free from such prejudices as he was from self-seeking, either during the war or after it. Lee said in a letter to President Davis, October 2d, 1862, at the close of the Antietam campaign:
"In reference to commanders of corps with the rank of lieutenant-general, of which you request my opinion, I can confidently recommend Generals Longstreet and Jackson, in this army. My opinion of the merits of General Jackson has been greatly enhanced during this expedition. He is true, honest, and brave; has a single eye to the good of the service, and spares no exertion to accomplish his object. Next to these two officers I consider General A. P. Hill the best commander with me. He fights his troops well and takes good care of them. At present I do not think that more than two command-ors of corps are necessary for this army."
This was Lee's judgment after a campaign in which both the Hills and McLaws had served, and long before there was any question of making either of them a lieutenant-general. It would be about as just to accuse Lee of undue partiality to Georgia in making Longstreet his senior lieutenant, as it is to accuse him of partiality to Virginia in selecting A. P. Hill rather than D. H. Hill or McLaws for the command of his Third Corps.
Second. In regard to the battle of Gettysburg: The first day's fight was brought on unexpectedly to Lee. In the absence of Stuart he was not aware of the proximity of the Federal army. The first day's operations were very successful. Two of the seven infantry corps of the Federal army were virtual]y demolished, having been defeated and driven in disorder completely from the field, leaving many killed and wounded and several thousand prisoners to the victors.
Third. It was at the close of this day's work that General Lee, in view of its results, and of the indications it gave of the position of the Federal army, decided to follow up the fight. General Longstreet advised a movement across Meade's front to threaten his left and rear. Such a movement would have been difficult in the absence of Stuart it could not have been executed in the position then occupied by the army with sufficient promptness to surprise Meade; and if successful it simply would have forced the Federal army back to some position nearer Baltimore and Washington where the issue of battle was still to be tried. General Longstreet begs the question when he assumes that Meade would then have been obliged to attack at a disadvantage. General Lee decided that this plan did not promise as good results as to follow up the partial victory already gained. More than one- fourth of the Federal army was beaten. (Of the First and Eleventh corps that had numbered 20,931 on June 30th, not 5700 were in line on July 2d.) That army was not concentrated, and hours must elapse before its full strength could be marshaled for battle. The absent portions would reach the field jaded by forced marches, to meet the depressing news of the defeat of their comrades. Doubt and uncertainty would prevail, increased perhaps by the fact that the present Federal commander was so new in his place. Lee's troops were much more nearly up, only Pickett's division and Law's brigade being out of reach. Not to press the Union army was to lose the greater part of the advantage of the first day's victory. The Federals would soon recover from their depression if not pressed, and his own troops would be disappointed. Lee believed if he could attack early on the second day he would have but part of the Federal army to deal with, and that if he could repeat his success of the first day the gain would be great. He therefore determined upon attack. On the night of the 1st (not on the forenoon of the 2d, as General Longstreet has it)he decided, after a conference with Ewell and his division commanders, to make the attack early next day from his right with Longstreet's two divisions that were within reach, this attack to be supported by Hill and Ewell. (See Ewell's and Early's reports: Early's paper in "Southern Historical Society Papers," Vol. IV., p. 214; and Long's "Memoirs of Lee.")
Fourth. General Longstreet would have us infer that he was not ordered by General Lee to attack early on the second day; but that his memory is at