Lees Lieutenants 3 Volume Abridged: A Study in Command

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9781451656435: Lees Lieutenants 3 Volume Abridged: A Study in Command

A towering landmark in Civil War literature, long considered one of the great masterpieces of military history -- now available in a one-volume abridgment.

Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command is the most colorful and popular of Douglas Southall Freeman's works. A sweeping narrative that presents a multiple biography against the flame-shot background of the American Civil War, it is the story of the great figures of the Army of Northern Virginia who fought under Robert E. Lee.

Dr. Freeman describes the early rise and fall of General Beauregard, the developing friction between Jefferson Davis and Joseph E. Johnston, the emergence and failure of a number of military charlatans, and the triumphs of unlikely men at crucial times. He also describes the rise of the legendary "Stonewall" Jackson and traces his progress in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign and into Richmond amid the acclaim of the South.

The Confederacy won resounding victories throughout the war, but seldom easily or without tremendous casualties. Death was always on the heels of fame, but the men who survived -- among them Jackson, Longstreet, and Ewell -- developed as commanders and men. Lee's Lieutenants follows these men to the costly battle at Gettysburg, through the deepening twilight of the South's declining military might, and finally to the collapse of Lee's command and his formal surrender in 1865. To his unparalleled descriptions of men and operations, Dr. Freeman adds an insightful analysis of the lessons learned and their bearing upon the future military development of the nation.

Accessible at last in a one-volume edition abridged by noted Civil War historian Stephen W. Sears, Lee's Lieutenants is essential reading for all Civil War buffs, students of war, and admirers of the historian's art as practiced at its very highest level.

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About the Author:

Douglas Southall Freeman was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1886, the son of a Confederate soldier. After receiving a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University at the age of twenty-two, he embarked on a newspaper career. He was named the editor of the Richmond News Leader at the age of twenty-nine, a post he would hold for thirty-four years. In 1915, Freeman was commissioned to write a one-volume biography of Robert E. Lee; twenty years later, his four-volume R. E. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. The three volumes of Lee's Lieutenants took him a relatively modest eight years to complete. He won another Pulitzer Prize for his six-volume biography of George Washington, which he finished only hours before his death in 1953.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Opening Guns

1. "Old Bory's Come!"

He would go at once. The request from the President that he come to Richmond offered an opportunity as surely as it conveyed an order. Federal troops had crossed the Potomac. A battle that would assure the triumph of the new Confederacy would be fought ere long in Virginia. At the same time, departure from South Carolina would be regrettable. From the hour of his arrival there, March 6, 1861, the patriots of Charleston had welcomed him. After he forced the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 14, without the loss of a man, they had acclaimed and adopted him. Some of them seemed to find a certain Huguenot kinship in his name -- Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard -- and all of them united to do him honor.

General and staff left on May 29 for Richmond, the newly selected capital of the Confederate States. Multitudes gathered at every station to have a look at the "Hero of Sumter." The journey confirmed everything Beauregard had been told of the incredible popularity he had won by his success in Charleston Harbor. How quickly fame had come to him! When he had resigned from the United States army, February 20, 1861, he had been fifth-ranking captain in the Corps of Engineers and had a brevet as major for gallant conduct in the Mexican War. In his profession he was esteemed; outside of it he was little known till hostilities had been opened at Charleston. Now, seven weeks after the fall of Sumter, he had received the thanks of Congress and the laudation of the Southern press as one of the greatest soldiers in the world. Napoleonic myths had grown up about him. He was said to have warned President Lincoln to remove all noncombatants from Washington by a given date, as if he were determined forthwith to take the city. Not one doubt of his military genius was admitted.

On May 30, ere his train puffed importantly into the station, hundreds of townfolk had gathered there. A carriage and four were waiting to carry the general to the Spotswood Hotel, where a suite had been reserved for him. All the honors that had been paid President Davis upon arrival two days previously were to be repeated for General Beauregard. He was most grateful when he stepped from the car; but, if the committee would permit, he would take a simpler carriage and go quietly to the hotel. Quickly he was wheeled up the hill to the Spotswood. Music and cheers and appeals for a speech were in vain. His mission was war. He must waste no time in needless words.

The next day he conferred with the President and with General R. E. Lee who, in an ill-defined manner, was responsible for military operations in Virginia. Old friends they were, old and admiring. Davis as United States secretary of war had known Beauregard well and, in March 1861, had commended the general to Governor Pickens of South Carolina as "full of talent and of much military experience." In planning immediate steps to combat the fast-developing Federal threat against Virginia, Jefferson Davis felt that he could rely on Beauregard.

No less did the President have self-reliance. He had hurried to Richmond in answer to earnest representations that he and he only could direct aright the defense of the frontier. Montgomery newspapers had reported that Mr. Davis was having his old Mexican War sword sharpened at a gunsmith's in Market Street. A man having his blade made ready of course intended using it. Little doubt was expressed that the President would take the field in person. With others the soldiers would fight and perhaps would win, said the Richmond Examiner, but "with him, the victory would be certain, and chance would become certainty."

The new President felt, as he sat down with Beauregard and Lee, that he had been trained as a soldier and as a commander he had been tried. To his four years of administrative experience as secretary of war he had added that of chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate. Who had so diversified an equipment, who a better reason for self-reliance? He was confident he could discharge in more than a perfunctory sense his prerogative as commander-in-chief of the military forces of the Confederacy.

The third man at the council of May 31 was in public estimation the least distinguished of the three. Robert Lee was the son of a renowned Revolutionary soldier and had enjoyed the high admiration of Winfield Scott. In the Mexican War, Lee's work as an engineer had been brilliant, and when he resigned from the old army he had reached the rank of colonel of cavalry; but he had no such reputation as Beauregard had won at Sumter and no prestige, other than social, that compared with that of Davis.

Inasmuch as Lee had just returned from Manassas, he was asked by the President to explain what had been done to prepare that important railroad junction against the Federals, who, on the night of May 23-24, had crossed the Potomac and seized Alexandria. When Lee explained the situation in northern Virginia, Davis decided that Beauregard should have the post of instant danger, that of the Alexandria line. Beauregard exhibited neither concern nor satisfaction. If that was the post the President wished him to have, he would proceed immediately to Manassas. By way of Hanover Junction, Gordonsville, Orange, and Rappahannock Station, names destined to be written red, he traveled on June 1 to Manassas and assumed command. "Old Bory's Come!" cried the South Carolina troops who had served under him at Charleston. The Virginia recruits, hearing the cheers, sought this first opportunity of observing him.

If they expected a theatrical personality, they were disappointed. What they saw was a small man, forty-three years of age and five feet seven inches in height. He weighed about 150 pounds and had much strength in his slight frame, though often he fell sick. With graying hair, cropped mustache, a good brow, high cheekbones, a belligerent chin, and sallow olive complexion, he was as surely French in appearance as in blood. Imaginative Southern writers already pictured him as the reincarnation of one of Napoleon's marshals, but they said that his eyes, which were his most pronounced physical characteristic, were those of a bloodhound, large, dark, and melancholy. In manner he was quiet but cordial. Privately talkative, he was officially uncommunicative. His tongue manifestly was his ally; it was not equally apparent that his pen was his enemy.

Beauregard proceeded to inspect his troops. In command was Milledge L. Bonham, who had fought the Seminoles and the Mexicans as a citizen-soldier and had resigned his seat in Congress to defend his native South Carolina. Under Bonham were two fine regiments, more than 1,500 of the best young men of the Palmetto State. A regiment of Virginians was being organized by Colonel J. F. Preston, another was being recruited rapidly by Colonel R. S. Ewell, and a third by Colonel Samuel Garland, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. From Alexandria had arrived in retreat a few companies under Colonel G. H. Terrett. At Culpeper, collecting men as rapidly as possible, was Colonel Philip St. George Cocke, a rich planter who had been graduated from West Point in 1832 and had been for two years a lieutenant in the United States army.

The smallness of this force alarmed Beauregard. His position, he explained to the President, his troops, and his service of supply alike were inadequate. "I must therefore," he said, "either be re-enforced at once...or I must be prepared to retire, on the approach of the enemy, in the direction of Richmond...." It would not suffice, Beauregard concluded, merely to exhort the President. The populace must be aroused. To that end, he issued on June 5 a proclamation: "A reckless and unprincipled tyrant has invaded your soil. Abraham Lincoln, regardless of all moral, legal, and constitutional restraints, has thrown his abolition hosts among you, who are murdering and imprisoning your citizens, confiscating and destroying your property, and committing other acts of violence and outrage too shocking and revolting to humanity to be enumerated." Beauregard urged the farmers "to drive back and expel the invaders from your land....I desire to assure you that the utmost protection in my power will be extended to you all."

In their complete reliance upon Davis and Beauregard and the valor of their own sons, Virginians did not understand, in those first furious days of half-organized war, how difficult it was to muster and equip enough men to meet the four offensives that were being forged against their state. Virginia was singularly vulnerable. From the northwest, the north, and the east she could be assailed. The Federals held Fort Monroe on Hampton Roads and commanded the deep water everywhere. In particular, there was danger of joint land-and-water operations against the Peninsula between the James and York rivers. That operation would be no particular threat to Beauregard. Nor was there immediate danger to his front from an expedition in process of organization around Grafton on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, about 120 miles west of Harper's Ferry. Much nearer to Beauregard's line was the prospect of a Federal attack from Pennsylvania and Maryland on Harper's Ferry, where the Shenandoah flows into the Potomac. Loss of Harper's Ferry would endanger Beauregard's position at Manassas. Conversely, if Beauregard's position at Manassas were taken, an adversary might turn westward and cut the line of retreat of the forces at Harper's Ferry.

The Virginia authorities had seized Harper's Ferry and its valuable arms machinery on the night of April 18. In command there was Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, Virginia volunteers. Beauregard probably remembered Jackson, who had been a young artillerist during the Mexican War and been breveted major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Whether or not he recalled the major of the gallant days of '47, Beauregard soon heard of the work Jackson was doing at Harper's Ferry.

The colonel had been professor of physics and instructor in artillery at the Virginia Military Institute. Serious-minded persons at Lexington, the seat of the Institute, respected Jackson's piety, his diligence as a Presbyterian deacon, and his zeal in the religious instruction of the Negroes; the irreverent said he was a "curiosity," a dull teacher who hewed to the line of the text and showed much embarrassment when forced to depart from it. At Harper's Ferry he had been a different, infinitely more competent man. Terse, clear in direction, positive in orders, he was declared to be every inch the soldier. He diligently had been drilling his raw volunteers, and was fast developing to competent performance some of the 8,000 men who had been assembled.

A large invading force might shut up the Confederate troops in the angle made at the Ferry by the rivers, but, for the time, Jackson seemed reasonably safe. The cavalry would give him warning. When Colonel George Deas -- an old inspector of the United States army -- made an official visit to Harper's Ferry, he had noted the alertness of a handsome, spirited young cavalryman, small but vigorous, who was commanding Jackson's mounted outposts. "I am quite confident," Deas reported, "that with the vigilance...exercised by Captain Ashby, no enemy can pass the point which he is directed to observe." Besides, all five of the companies of cavalry, which included Turner Ashby's two, were "in very good condition and quite effective." Their commander was the stocky, broad-shouldered Lieutenant Colonel James E. B. Smart: "Beauty" Smart, the boys at West Point had called him, in tactful tribute to his notorious lack of good looks. Smart had arrived in Richmond from the West on May 7, and, after being assigned to Harper's Ferry, had set out to organize the cavalry.

Beauregard was well acquainted with the officer who had arrived at Harper's Ferry on May 24 and in somewhat unusual circumstances had assumed command. Joseph E. Johnston had been promptly commissioned brigadier general in the Confederate army after declining like rank in the service of Virginia. On reaching the Ferry, where he found Jackson exercising authority under a Virginia commission, Johnston requested Jackson to distribute an order that announced the change of command. Jackson politely but promptly declined to do so. "Until I receive further instructions from Governor Letcher or General Lee," said the former professor, "I do not feel at liberty to transfer my command to another...." General Johnston was not offended by Jackson's refusal. He simply looked among his papers for one that would show he had been assigned to the post. The search was brief. On an application sent him from Richmond the general found this endorsement: "Referred to General J. E. Johnston, commanding officer at Harper's Ferry. By order of Major-General Lee." Shown to Jackson, this was accepted instantly by him as evidence of Johnston's authority. Harper's Ferry formally became a Confederate post.

The correspondence was a trivial incident, but it might have been read even then as an indication of the precise military standard of Colonel Jackson: Authority was bestowed to be exercised; responsibility was not lightly to be shifted; orders were to be obeyed. If this meant that Jackson for the moment had no command, he would await one.

Soon Beauregard heard that Jackson's successor was having difficulties similar to those encountered at Manassas. Neither Johnston's position nor his troops pleased him. As an engineer he saw that Harper's Ferry could be turned, in his words, "easily and effectively from above and below." The volunteers, in his opinion, were utterly lacking in "discipline and instruction." Within a week after assuming command he asked whether it would not be better to withdraw altogether from Harper's Ferry.

Of all this and of much that followed, Beauregard was informed. He listened; he pondered; he planned. French he was...French strategy he would employ, Napoleonic strategy.

2. Magruder and D. H. Hill Emerge

Before the ranks of Beauregard began to swell or his strategy to take form, the actors between the James and York rivers commanded the stage. The Federals were concentrating at Fort Monroe, which apparently they intended to use as a base for operations up the Peninsula. If, simultaneously, the mouth of either the James or the York could be opened, vessels of the United States navy might pass the hastily built forts and might land troops close to Richmond. Thus the commanding officer at the mouth of the York River became from the hour of his assignment a conspicuous figure. Indeed, he long had been that in the old army, not because of rank but because of personality.

John Bankhead Magruder, No. 15 in the somewhat undistinguished class of 1830 at West Point, had procured transfer from the 7th Infantry to the 1st Artillery in 1831, had earned his brevet as lieutenant colonel during the Mexican War, and thereafter held some of the choicest posts in the artillery. At Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island, he had won a great name as a bon vivant and as an obliging host. Whenever celebrities were to be entertained, Colonel Magruder -- "Prince John" -- would tender a dress parade, with full trappings of gold-braided pomp, and this he would follow with a flawless dinner. From Fort Adams he had been transferred to far-off Fort Leavenworth, but there, too, he had held dress parades and reviews, though the spectators might be only Indians or frontiersmen. In the serious work of his profession he directed the new artillery school at Leavenworth and convinced interested juniors that he knew his ranges as thoroughly as his vintages.

The winter of 1860-61 found Magruder and his battery in Washington. When he r...

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