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By John Esten Cooke

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Extra resources for A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee

Sample text

To take sides with Virginia was to give up Arlington to its fate. There is no proof, however, that this sacrifice of his personal fortunes had any effect upon him. If he could decide to change his flag, and dissolve every tie which bound him to the old service, he could sacrifice all else without much regret. No one will be found to say that the hope of rank or emolument in the South influenced him. The character and whole career of the man contradict the idea. His ground of action may be summed up in a single sentence.

This was on the 19th of April, and on the next day reinforcements were thrown into Fortress Monroe; and the navy-yard at Norfolk, with the shipping, set on fire and abandoned. Lee thus found the Commonwealth in a state of war, and all his energies were immediately concentrated upon the work of placing her in a condition of defence. He established his headquarters in the custom-house at Richmond; orderlies were seen coming and going; bustle reigned throughout the building, and by night, as well as by day, General Lee labored incessantly to organize the means of resistance.

The result was a Federal defeat and retreat down the Valley. Jackson was free to move in any direction; and his army could unite with that at Richmond for a decisive attack upon General McClellan. The attack in question had speedily been resolved on by Lee. Any further advance of the Federal army would bring it up to the very earthworks in the suburbs of the city; and, unless the Confederate authorities proposed to undergo a siege, it was necessary to check the further advance of the enemy by a general attack.

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