A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE.
BY JOHN ESTEN COOKE.
"Duty is the sublimest word in our language."
"Human virtue should be equal to human calamity." LEE. 1876
LEE INVADES MARYLAND.
II. Lee in Maryland
The Southern army was concentrated in the neighborhood of Frederick City by the 7th of September, and on the next day General Lee issued an address to the people of Maryland.
We have not burdened the present narrative with Lee's army orders and other official papers; but the great force and dignity of this address render it desirable to present it in full:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,} NEAR FREDERICKTOWN, _September_ 8, 1862.}
_To the People of Maryland_:
It is right that you should know the purpose that has brought the army under my command within the limits of your State, so far as that purpose concerns yourselves.
The people of the
Confederate States have long watched with the deepest sympathy the wrongs and outrages that have been inflicted upon the citizens of a Commonwealth allied to the States of the South by the strongest social, political, and commercial ties.
They have seen, with profound indignation, their sister State deprived of every right, and reduced to the condition of a conquered province. Under the pretence of supporting the Constitution, but in violation of its most valuable provisions, your citizens have been arrested and imprisoned upon no charge, and contrary to all forms of law. The faithful and manly protest against this outrage, made by the venerable and illustrious Marylanders--to whom in better days no citizen appealed for right in vain--was treated with scorn and contempt. The government of your chief city has been usurped by armed strangers; your Legislature has been dissolved by the unlawful arrest of its members; freedom of the press and of speech have been suppressed; words have been declared offences by an arbitrary desire of the Federal Executive, and citizens ordered to be tried by military commission for what they may dare to speak.
Believing that the people of Maryland possessed a spirit too lofty to submit to such a government, the people of the South have long wished to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke, to enable you again to enjoy the inalienable rights of freemen, and restore independence and sovereignty to your State.
In obedience to this wish, our army has come among you, and is prepared to assist you, with the power of its arms, in regaining the rights of which you have been despoiled. This, citizens of Maryland, is our mission, so far as you are concerned. No constraint upon your free will is intended--no intimidation will be allowed. Within the limits of this army, at least, Marylanders shall once more enjoy their ancient freedom of thought and speech. We know no enemies among you, and will protect all of every opinion. It is for you to decide your destiny, freely, and without constraint. This army will respect your choice, whatever it may be; and, while the Southern people will rejoice to welcome you to your natural position among them, they will only welcome you when you come of your own free will.
R.E. LEE, _General commanding_.
This address, full of grave dignity, and highly characteristic of the Confederate commander, was in vivid contrast with the harsh orders of
General Pope in Culpepper. The accents of friendship and persuasion were substituted for the "rod of iron." There would be no coercive measures; no arrests, with the alternative presented of an oath to support the South, or instant banishment. No intimidation would be permitted. In the lines of the Southern army, at least, Marylanders should enjoy freedom of thought and speech, and every man should "decide his destiny freely, and without constraint."
This address, couched in terms of such dignity, had little effect upon the people. Either their sentiment in favor of the Union was too strong, or they found nothing in the condition of affairs to encourage their Southern feelings. A large Federal force was known to be advancing; Lee's army, in tatters, and almost without supplies, presented a very uninviting appearance to recruits, and few joined his standard, the population in general remaining hostile or neutral.
The condition of the army was indeed forlorn. It was worn down by marching and fighting; the men had scarcely shoes upon their feet; and, above the tattered figures, flaunting their rags in the sunshine, were seen gaunt and begrimed faces, in which could be read little of the "romance of war." The army was in no condition to undertake an invasion; "lacking much of the material of war, feeble in transportation, poorly provided with clothing, and thousands of them destitute of shoes," is Lee's description of his troops. Such was the condition of the better portion of the force; on the opposite side of the Potomac, scattered along the hills, could be seen a weary, ragged, hungry, and confused multitude, who had dragged along in rear of the rest, unable to keep up, and whose miserable appearance said little for the prospects of the army to which they belonged.
From these and other causes resulted the general apathy of the Marylanders, and Lee soon discovered that he must look solely to his own men for success in his future movements. He faced that conviction courageously; and, without uttering a word of comment, or indulging in any species of crimination against the people of Maryland, resolutely commenced his movements looking to the
capture of Harper's Ferry and the invasion of Pennsylvania.
[Footnote 1: The reader will perceive that the intent to _invade_ Pennsylvania is repeatedly attributed in these pages to General Lee. His own expression is, "by _threatening_ Pennsylvania, to induce the enemy," etc. That he designed invasion, aided by the recruits anticipated in Maryland, seems unquestionable; since, even after discovering the lukewarmness of the people there by the fact that few joined his standard, he still advanced to
Hagerstown, but a step from the Pennsylvania line. These facts have induced the present writer to attribute the design of actual invasion to Lee with entire confidence; and all the circumstances seem to him to support that hypothesis.]
The promises of his address had been kept. No one had been forced to follow the Southern flag; and now, when the people turned their backs upon it, closing the doors of the houses in the faces of the Southern troops, they remained unmolested. Lee had thus given a practical proof of the sincerity of his character. He had promised nothing which he had not performed; and in Maryland, as afterward in Pennsylvania, in 1863, he remained firm against the temptation to adopt the harsh course generally pursued by the commanders of invading armies. He seems to have proceeded on the principle that good faith is as essential in public affairs as in private, and to have resolved that, in any event, whether of victory or disaster, his enemies should not have it in their power to say that he broke his plighted word, or acted in a manner unbecoming a Christian gentleman.
Prompt action was now necessary. The remnants of
General Pope's army, greatly scattered and disorganized by the severe battle of Manassas, had been rapidly reformed and brought into order again, and to this force was added a large number of new troops, hurried forward from the Northern States to Washington. This new army was not to be commanded by General Pope, who had been weighed and found wanting in ability to contend with Lee. The force was intrusted to General McClellan, in spite of his unpopularity with the Federal authorities; and the urgent manner in which he had been called upon to take the head of affairs and protect the Federal capital, is the most eloquent of all commentaries upon the position which he held in the eyes of the country and the army. It was felt, indeed, by all that the Federal ship was rolling in the storm, and an experienced pilot was necessary for her guidance. General McClellan was accordingly directed, after General Pope's defeat, to take command of every thing, and see to the safety of Washington; and, finding himself at length at the head of an army of about one hundred thousand men, he proceeded, after the manner of a good soldier, to protect the Federal capital by advancing into upper Maryland in pursuit of Lee.