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Yet, on the 23d day of the same April, he issued his general orders No. 1 from his headquarters in Richmond, Virginia :

“In obedience to orders from his Excellency John Letcher, Governor of the State, Major-General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the military and naval forces of Virginia.”

To us in the United States of America this seems a sudden descent from the sublime to the ridiculous. Virginia had neither an army or navy, and such were forbidden to States by the Constitution which Lee had often sworn to maintain. (Article 1, Section 10.)

I have before me, in print, another letter, dated Arlington, Va., April 20th, 1861, addressed “My dear Sister,” and signed “R. E. Lee,"reciting that “the whole South is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn, and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have foreborn and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I would take part against my native State. With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the army, and, save in defense of my native State, with the hope that my poor services will never be needed, I hope I never may be called on to draw my sword. I know

you will blame me, but you must think as kindly of me as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right.”

Now, at these dates, April 20th and 23d, 1861, the State of Virginia had not yet concluded “secession.” According to McPherson, page 7, the convention in secret session adopted, April 17th, an ordinance of secession, but on April 25th that same convention adopted and ratified the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, “this ordinance to cease to have legal effect if the people voting on the ordinance of secession should reject it.” The actual vote did not take place till June 25th,—128,884 for secession and 32,134 against it. How far Lee's defection had aided to create this majority is still the question. (See " Twenty Years in Congress,” Blaine, Vol. 1, page 302.)

We all sympathize with the struggles of a strong man in the


toils of other ambitious men, of less principle, who had use for Lee in their contemplated conspiracy. At that date there was a Virginia claiming sovereignty and the constitutional right to secede; but there was also a Confederacy embracing many States already in rebellion. Lee unquestionably took the oath to Virginia and the command of her “army and navy," then a myth, but it is a popular belief that he never took the oath of allegiance to the “ Confederacy,” although when General Johnston was wounded and disabled at “Fair Oaks,” June 1st, 1862, General Lee did succeed him, and did command the Army of Northern Virginia under the Confederate Government till the end at Appomatox.

His sphere of action was, however, local. He never rose to the grand problem which involved a continent and future generations. His Virginia was to him the world. Though familiar with the geography of the interior of this great continent, he stood like a stone wall to defend Virginia against the “Huns and Goths” of the North, and he did it like a valiant knight as he

He stood at the front porch battling with the flames whilst the kitchen and house were burning, sure in the end to consume the whole. Only twice, at Antietam and Gettysburg, did he venture outside on the “ offensive defensive.” In the first instance he knew personally his antagonist, and that a large fraction of his force would be held in reserve; in the last he assumed the bold “ offensive,” was badly beaten by Meade, and forced to retreat back to Virginia. As an aggressive soldier Lee was not a success, and in war that is the true and proper test. “ Nothing succeeds like success." In defending Virginia and Richmond he did all a man could, but to him Virginia seemed the “ Confederacy," and he stayed there whilst the Northern armies at the West were gaining the Mississippi, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, Georgia, South and North Carolina, yea, the Roanoke, after which his military acumen taught him that further tarrying in Richmond was absolute suicide.

Such is the military hero which General Wolseley would place in monument side by side with Washington, “the father of his country-First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” All that is good in the character of Gen. Robert E. Lee is ours, and we will cherish it, and we will be charitable to his weaknesses, but so long as the public record tells of U. S. Grant and George H. Thomas, we cannot be at a loss for


heroes for whom to erect monuments like those of Nelson and Wellington in London, well worthy to stand side by side with the one which now graces our capitol city of “George Washington.”

In 1861 General Lee was a colonel of cavalry on leave of absence at his home at Arlington, and U. S. Grant was an humble citizen of Galena, Illinois, toiling to support his family. He at first gave little heed to the political murmurs creeping over the land by reason of the election of Mr. Lincoln, and the talk of secession at the South ; but when the telegraph announced that the United States flag had been fired on in Charleston Harbor, he roused up, presided at a public meeting of his fellow citizens, instructed them how to organize themselves into a company of soldiers, and went along with them to Springfield. In due time he was made colonel of a regiment of volunteers, conducted it to Missouri, and in December, 1861, reached Cairo, Illinois. His career from that day to this is familiar to every school-boy in the land. He moved in co-operation with the gun-boat fleet up the Tennessee to Fort Henry, which was captured ; to Fort Donelson, where a fortified place with its entire garrison of 17,000 men surrendered without conditions ; then on to Shiloh, where one of the bloodiest and most successful battles of the war was fought, which first convinced our Southern brethren, who had been taught that one Southern man was equal to five Yankees, that man to man was all they wanted—then Vicksburg, Chattanooga, everywhere victorious, everywhere successful, fulfilling the wise conclusion of Mr. Lincoln that he wanted “ military success.” Then he was called for the first time in his life to Washington to command an army of perfect strangers, under new conditions, and in a strange country. Casting his thoughts over a continent, giving minute instructions for several distinct armies from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, himself assuming the hardest share, he began a campaign equal in strategy, in logistics, and in tactics to any of Napoleon, and grander than any ever contemplated by England. His personal action in crossing the Rapidan in the face of Lee's army, fighting him in the Wilderness, “ forward by the left flank,” to Spottsylvania, to Richmond, and Petersburg, was the sublimity of heroism. Of course, he had a superiority of numbers and resources, but nothing like the disproportion stated by General Wolseley. At Vicksburg he began in May, 1863, the movement with less numbers than Pemberton surren



dered to him along with Vicksburg in July. At Chattanooga he
attacked his enemy in the strongest position possible; so strong,
indeed, that Bragg, a most thorough and intelligent soldier, re-
garded it as unassailable, and had detached Longstreet's corps to
Knoxville, of which mistake Grant took prompt advantage, and I
never heard before that Bragg thought the pursuit after his defeat
was not quick and good enough to suit him; and, finally, when
Lee was forced to flee from his intrenchments at Richmond and
Petersburg by Sheridan's bold and skillful action at Five Forks,
I believe it is conceded that the pursuit by Sheridan and Grant
was so rapid that Lee was compelled to surrender his whole army.
Grant's “strategy” embraced a continent, Lee's a small State;
Grant's " logistics" were to supply and transport armies thousands
of miles, where Lee was limited to hundreds. Grant had to con-
quer natural obstacles as well as hostile armies, and a hostile
people ; his “tactics" were to fight wherever and whenever he
could capture or cripple his adversary and his resources; and when
Lee laid down his arms and surrendered, Grant, by the stroke of
his pen, on the instant gave him and his men terms so liberal as to
disarm all criticism. Between these two men as generals I will
not institute a comparison, for the mere statement of the case
establishes a contrast.

I offer another name more nearly resembling General Lee in
personal characteristics, General George H. Thomas, probably
less known in England, but who has a larger following and
holds a higher place in the hearts and affections of the American
people than General Lee. He, too, was a Virginian, and when
Lee resigned from the army in 1861, Thomas succeeded him as
Colonel of the Second Regular Cavalry. A graduate of West
Point of the class of 1840, who had served his country in the
Florida War, in the Mexican War, and in campaigns against
hostile Indians, rising with honor and credit through all the
grades, at each stage taking the usual oath to defend the United
States against all her enemies whatsoever, foreign and domestic.
When the storm of civil war burst on our country, unlike Lee, he
resolved to stand by his oath and to fight against his native State,
to maintain the common union of our fathers. In personal ap-
pearance he resembled George Washington, the father of our
country, and in all the attributes of manhood he was the peer of
General Lee, as good, if not a better, soldier, of equal intelligence,

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the same kind heart, beloved to idolatry by his Army of the Cumberland, exercising a gentle, but strict, discipline, never disturbed by false rumors or real danger, not naturally aggressive, but magnificent on the defensive ; almost the very counterpart of his friend, General Lee, but far excelling him in the moral and prtriotic line of action at the beginning of the war. Lee resigned his commission when civil war was certain, but Thomas remained true to his oath and his duty, always, to the very last minute of his life.

During the whole war his services were transcendent, winning the first substantial victory at Mill Springs in Kentucky, January 20th, 1862, participating in ‘all the campaigns of the West in 1862– 3-4, and finally, December 16th, 1864, annihilating the army of Hood, which in mid winter had advanced to Nashville to besiege him. In none of these battles will General Wolseley pretend there was such inequality of numbers as he refers to in the East.

I now quote from General Garfield's eloquent tribute of respect to his comrade, and commander General George H. Thomas, addresed to the Army of the Cumberland at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 25th of November, 1870, shortly after the General's death, which tribute has gone into recorded history, never to be effaced :

“When men shall read the history of battles, they will never fail to study and admire the work of Thomas during that afternoon (at Chickamauga, September 20th, 1863). With buttwenty-five thousand men, formed in a semi-circle, of which he, bimself, was the centre and soul, he successfully resisted for more than five hours the repeated assaults of an army of sixty-five thousand men, Aushed with victory and bent on his annibilation.

“ Towards the close of the day his ammunition began to fail. One by one of his Division Commanders reported but ten rouuds, five rounds, and two rounds left. The calm, quiet answer was returned, 'Save your fire for close quarters, and when your last shot is fired give them the bayonet.' On a portion of his line the last assault was repelled by the bayonet, and several hundred rebels were captured. When night had closed over the combatants, the last sound of battle was the booming of Thomas' shells bursting among his baffled and retreating assailants.

“He was indeed the Rock of Chickamauga, against which the wild waves of battle dashed in vain. It will stand forever in the annals of his country that there he saved from destruction the Army of the Cumberland. He held the road to Chattanooga. The campaign was successful. The gate of the mountains was ours."

Nashville, on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864, was General Thomas's most important battle, where he was in supreme command-of which General Garfield says :

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“Nashville was the only battle of our war which annihilated an army. Hood

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