Say What? Saturday: Quotes in Recognition of the Anniversary of Mine Run, Part 3

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Andy Cardinal

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After Meade called off the attack, both armies continued to face each other throughout the day. Meade's men began fortifying their position, but as one soldier wrote, "It was a ruse only." In the words of Walter Taylor, "General Lee could not believe that after all the display of force General Meade would retire without a battle, and so he waited another day ... hoping Meade would attack...."

The Army of the Potomac withdrew on the night of December 1.

Early the next morning, Captain W. W. Blackford delivered a message to Lee. Lee still did not know that Meade had withdrawn. "Captain, if they don't attack us today, we must attack them!" Lee said. "We must attack them, sir! And you young men must exert yourself. You must exert yourselves, sir!"

But it was too late. The Army of the Potomac had safely recrossed the Rapidan. Lee was sorely disappointed with the missed opportunity and his own performance: "I am too old to command this army. We should never have permitted those people to get away." The Mine Run Campaign was over.
 

connecticut yankee

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I have a lot of problems believing that General Lee actually ever publicly said "I am too old to command..."
Let's consider the primary source of this quote. The source is Charles S. Venable, Lieut. Colonel, C.S.A. of General Lee's staff in his article "General Lee in the Wilderness Campaign" which was written twenty years after the war for publication in the Battles & Leaders series (see Part 4 page 240.)

Venable writes:

"When he (Lee) discovered that Meade had withdrawn, he exclaimed in the presence of his generals," I am too old to command this army; we should never have permitted these people to get away."

In the next line of the article, Venable dramatically claims:

"Some who were standing by felt that in his heart he was sighing for that great " right arm" which he threw around Hooker at Chancellorsville."

Now think about it folks----Can you really imagine Lee "in the presence of his generals" say aloud "I am too old to command..."
Don't you think if he did actually say this in December 1863, he would have again have made an attempt to resign command of the Army of Northern Virginia as he tried to do after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg? Furthermore, there is no other person, let alone a General who ever corroborated the Venable claim. Venable fails to identify the generals present, but incredibly he goes on to emphatically claim that some of these unnamed generals felt Lee was in his heart sighing because of the lose of Stonewall Jackson, eight months earlier.

I just can't buy Venable as a reliable primary source. Can you?!?
 
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Andy Cardinal

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I'm not familiar enough with Venable to make a judgment as to his reliability as a source. I do believe Lee probably blamed himself for waiting a day in the belief Meade would attack, which allowed Meade to escape. So I believe the "We should never have permitted those people get away" portion is at least a true representation of what he expressed afterward.
 
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Rebforever

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I'm not familiar enough with Venable to make a judgment as to his reliability as a source. I do believe Lee probably blamed himself for waiting a day in the belief Meade would attack, which allowed Meade to escape. So I believe the "We should never have permitted those people get away" portion is at least a true representation of what he expressed afterward.
Temperature kept the ice from melting.
 

Rebforever

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I have a lot of problems believing that General Lee actually ever publicly said "I am too old to command..."
Let's consider the primary source of this quote. The source is Charles S. Venable, Lieut. Colonel, C.S.A. of General Lee's staff in his article "General Lee in the Wilderness Campaign" which was written twenty years after the war for publication in the Battles & Leaders series (see Part 4 page 240.)

Venable writes:

"When he (Lee) discovered that Meade had withdrawn, he exclaimed in the presence of his generals," I am too old to command this army; we should never have permitted these people to get away."

In the next line of the article, Veneble dramatically claims:

"Some who were standing by felt that in his heart he was sighing for that great " right arm" which he threw around Hooker at Chancellorsville."

Now think about it folks----Can you really imagine Lee "in the presence of his generals" say aloud "I am too old to command..."
Don't you think if he did actually say this in December 1863, he would have again have made an attempt to resign command of the Army of Northern Virginia as he tried to do after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg? Furthermore, there is no other person, let alone a General who ever corroborated the Venable claim. Veneble fails to identify the generals present, but incredibly he goes on to emphatically claim that some of these unnamed generals felt Lee was in his heart sighing because of the lose of Stonewall Jackson, eight months earlier.

I just can't buy Venable as a reliable primary source. Can you?!?
Small words for a man that took the blame for Gettysburg.
 

Andy Cardinal

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Temperature kept the ice from melting.
Based on what I know about Mine Run, an attack was probably not "practicable." However, Lee also knew the opportunities to really damage the enemy didn't come around very often. Lee often expressed frustration when those opportunities were missed. (Glendale/Frayser's Farm comes to mind; so does the non-attack before Hooker retreated at Chancellorsville, although that probably was an attack better not made.)
 
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Jamieva

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I have a lot of problems believing that General Lee actually ever publicly said "I am too old to command..."
Let's consider the primary source of this quote. The source is Charles S. Venable, Lieut. Colonel, C.S.A. of General Lee's staff in his article "General Lee in the Wilderness Campaign" which was written twenty years after the war for publication in the Battles & Leaders series (see Part 4 page 240.)

Venable writes:

"When he (Lee) discovered that Meade had withdrawn, he exclaimed in the presence of his generals," I am too old to command this army; we should never have permitted these people to get away."

In the next line of the article, Veneble dramatically claims:

"Some who were standing by felt that in his heart he was sighing for that great " right arm" which he threw around Hooker at Chancellorsville."

Now think about it folks----Can you really imagine Lee "in the presence of his generals" say aloud "I am too old to command..."
Don't you think if he did actually say this in December 1863, he would have again have made an attempt to resign command of the Army of Northern Virginia as he tried to do after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg? Furthermore, there is no other person, let alone a General who ever corroborated the Venable claim. Veneble fails to identify the generals present, but incredibly he goes on to emphatically claim that some of these unnamed generals felt Lee was in his heart sighing because of the lose of Stonewall Jackson, eight months earlier.

I just can't buy Venable as a reliable primary source. Can you?!?
Agreed. 2 factors working against Venable here:

#1 time. He wrote that 20 years later. This is his bias coming into play
#2 In the presence of other generals. Nobody else wrote that Lee said that except Venable.

I like you find the quote highly suspect. Now, if you Venable had said he said that after North Anna, way more believable in the scenario presented and how it played out. Mine Run was never really a Lee opportunity to counter punch, having only 2 corps at his disposal and 2 corps commanders he had shaky trust in.
 

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It is possibly a quote from Lee sometime after his attempt to resign, (or before) that Venable had witness of. Six months had passed since Gettysburg, and when thinking back on it twenty years later, the quote was put into a context of Mine Run. I can doubt the quote was specific to this case, but why claim Venable as a witness lacking credibility?
Lubliner.
 
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Jamieva

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It is possibly a quote from Lee sometime after his attempt to resign, (or before) that Venable had witness of. Six months had passed since Gettysburg, and when thinking back on it twenty years later, the quote was put into a context of Mine Run. I can doubt the quote was specific to this case, but why claim Venable as a witness lacking credibility?
Lubliner.
This is a reasonable assumption. All I am claiming is Venable's version that it took place in front of "several generals" because nobody else has this account. Do I believe Lee said that at some point between 1863 and 1865? Definitely. He very well could have expressed it in Venable's presence around the time that Lee offered his resignation to Davis (August). Mine Run is the following December. Those 2 events are also building on a 1863 where Lee started the year in very poor health leading up to Chancellorsville, a fit of bad health that he told his wife it took him months to recover from completely.
 

Andy Cardinal

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This is a reasonable assumption. All I am claiming is Venable's version that it took place in front of "several generals" because nobody else has this account. Do I believe Lee said that at some point between 1863 and 1865? Definitely. He very well could have expressed it in Venable's presence around the time that Lee offered his resignation to Davis (August). Mine Run is the following December. Those 2 events are also building on a 1863 where Lee started the year in very poor health leading up to Chancellorsville, a fit of bad health that he told his wife it took him months to recover from completely.
I've said some things when I've been angry or frustrated.... Although I doubt Lee used some of the vocabulary I use. My point though is I can well believe Lee -- like anybody else -- could have said something of this nature in a moment of frustration.
 
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