There was a quiet humor

Stiles/Akin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
2,310
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
#1
There was a quiet humor, and upon occasion a keen wit, in General Lee, which was only appreciated by those who came into intimate contact with him. Hon. B. H. Hill, in the speech from which an extract in the previous chapter is taken, gives the following:

“Lee sometimes indulged in satire, to which his greatness gave point in power. He was especially severe on newspaper criticisms of military movements — subjects about which the writers knew nothing.

“We made a great mistake, Mr. Hill, in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake,” he said to me, after General Bragg ceased to command the Army of Tennessee, an event Lee deplored.

“What mistake is that, general?”

“Why, sir, in the beginning we appointed all our worst generals to command the armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers. As you know, I have planned some campaigns and quite a number of battles. I have given the work all the care and thought I could, and sometimes, when my plans were completed, as far as I could see, they seemed to be perfect. But when I have fought them through, I have discovered defects and occasionally wondered I did not see some of the defects in advance.

When it was all over, I found by reading a newspaper that these best editor generals saw all the defects plainly from the start. Unfortunately, they did not communicate their knowledge to me until it was too late.” Then, after a pause, he added, with a beautiful, grave expression I can never forget: “I have no ambition but to serve the Confederacy, and do all I can to win our independence. I an willing to serve in any capacity to which the authorities may assign me. I have done the best I could in the field, and have not succeeded as I could wish. I am willing to yield my place to these best generals, and I will do my best for the cause in editing newspapers, after the fact.”

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Lubliner

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
1,104
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
#2
The public yearned for war, relishing the events read by them in their newspapers. Favorites were chosen, and Jeb Stuart made a beautiful show of performing for them. Beauregard got thoroughly miffed by the same principle as Lee, and would come to publish early on, a direct order to remove them, (Atlanta Constitution), from the premises of encampments, predating the Federal Policy. Richmond, Letcher and Lee, both were thoroughly canvassed by a Jeff Davis spy to ascertain the condition of affairs from late April to the end of May, when (D. B. ?) Duncan disappeared. He had arrived when Alexander Stephens paid respect by visiting there, and sent his reports to the Secretary of War in Alabama, covering 5 weeks with incipient criticism. He disappeared about the time Sam Cooper was in Abingdon. Clandestine reporters such as this one mentioned were very dangerous too. Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
1,104
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
#4
D. G. Duncan was the name, Montgomery, Alabama was the place.
On the newspaper remark, in Chapter 2 of Douglass Freeman's Biography of Lee, the abridgment by Richard Hartwell, in Chapter V on page 124-5, I quote, "Virtually no attempt was made to set up an intelligence system as a part of the general staff. Reports om the general plans and movements of the Federal forces were gleaned from Northern newspapers, or were gathered from travellers and private letters. Some of the most important movements were wrongly reported or were not discovered at all. The Virginia press, in its zeal to inform to readers, informed the enemy as well, and helped to create in Lee a dislike for newspaper methods." End of quote. Beauregard had this order published on June 29, 1861, again I quote the ORA this time, "I beg to request of you that you admonish those under your command not to write anything for public or private use relative to the condition and future operations of this army, for if correct, the enemy will take advantage of it, and if incorrect, it might as well not be communicated, unless for a special purpose, which should be judged of by those in command alone. Moreover the Army Regulations were most positive on that subject, and should be enforced, if still so. I have to request that you would endeavor to find out the author of the last communication referred to that he may be ordered away from the vicinity of this army forthwith. Unless we can maintain secrecy we might as well disband our forces at once under the present circumstances. Yours Truly, Brigadier-General Beauregard, Commanding." End of quote. (Lubliner).
 



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