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By John Esten Cooke

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Additional resources for A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee

Sample text

The old Puritan, whose example he admired so much, was not more calm and resolute. " From this species of digression upon the moral constituents of the individual, we pass to the record of that career which made the great fame of the soldier. The war had already begun when Lee took command of the provisional forces of Virginia, and the collisions in various portions of the Gulf States between the Federal and State authorities were followed by overt acts in Virginia, which all felt would be the real battle-ground of the war.

The war began in Virginia with the evacuation and attempted destruction of the works at Harper's Ferry, by the Federal officer in command there. This was on the 19th of April, and on the next day reinforcements were thrown into Fortress Monroe; and the navy-yard at Norfolk, with the shipping, set on fire and abandoned. Lee thus found the Commonwealth in a state of war, and all his energies were immediately concentrated upon the work of placing her in a condition of defence. He established his headquarters in the custom-house at Richmond; orderlies were seen coming and going; bustle reigned throughout the building, and by night, as well as by day, General Lee labored incessantly to organize the means of resistance.

Thus Richmond would be half encircled by Federal armies. General McClellan, if permitted by the Confederates to carry out his plan of operations, would soon be in command of about two hundred thousand men, and with this force it was anticipated he would certainly be able to capture Richmond. Such was the Federal programme of the war in Virginia. It promised great results, and ought, it would seem, to have succeeded. The Confederate forces in Virginia did not number in all one hundred thousand men; and it is now apparent that, without the able strategy of Johnston, Lee, and Jackson, General McClellan would have been in possession of Richmond before the summer.

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