Lee's "Combative Instinct"

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dlofting

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I was skimming through the book "Fighting for the Confederacy" by Edward Porter Alexander and found the following excerpt. This was just after the repulse of Pickett, Pettigrew and Trimble on July 3 at Gettysburg.

"I had with me at the advanced guns, when we ceased firing, Lieut. Colston, & possibly a courier or two, & I remained there to observe what the enemy would do. Soon after Wilcox withdrew, Gen. Lee rode up, entirely unattended. He must have intentionally separated himself from his staff & couriers or some of them would surely have been with him or followed him in a few minutes. And I have no doubt whatever of the object of his visit. He expected Meade to follow the fugitives of Pickett's division, & he intended, himself, to have a hand in rallying them, & in the fight which would follow. He had the combative instinct in him as strongly developed as any man living. No soldier could have looked on at & listened to the fight we had just been making, without a mighty stirring of every fibre in his frame, & a yearning to have some share in it. And the general had come out determined, if there was any more, that he would be in the thick of it. I've sometimes felt sorry that there wasn't! I'd like so to have seen him in it!"

It's interesting to note that Alexander wrote this version of his memoirs primarily for his children and he never expected it to be widely circulated. As a result he quite openly shared his honest opinions and observations.
 

brass napoleon

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Indeed. In fact in his next two major battles there would be several instances when his troops had to intervene to keep him from going into battle.
 
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Eagle eye

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I agree that Gen Lee & most of his staff & veteran troops expected a Union counter-attack. That one did not materialize may have come as somewhat of a surprise to both the confederates & Union Staff & troops (Hancock was one among other Union commanders) that a Union charge was not immeaditaly ordered after Pickets repulse. This is interesting if you recall Lee's "instinct" that Little Mac would not follow up his gains at Antietam Sept 17 or the following day with an all-out charge allowing the CSA army time to organize an orderly retreat across the Potomac.
Instinct about tactics & instinct about enemy commanders were one of Lee's greatest assets.
My own opinion (with all due respect to Gen Lee) was that he was grateful his "instincts" proved correct in both cases.
 
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