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Meade, a lean, tall, studious, somewhat sharp-tongued man, not brilliant or popular or the choice that the army would have expected, but with a record in previous campaigns which made him seem to Lincoln trustworthy, as he was. A subordinate command in which he could really distinguish himself was later found for Hooker, who now took leave of his army in words of marked generosity towards Meade. All this while there was great excitement in the North. Urgent demands had been raised for the recall of McClellan, a course of which, Lincoln justly observed, no one could measure the inconvenience so well as he.
Lee was now feeling his way, somewhat in the dark as to his enemy's movements, because he had despatched most of his cavalry upon raiding expeditions towards the important industrial centre of Harrisburg. Meade continued on a parallel course to him, with his army spread out to guard against any movements of Lee's to the eastward. Each commander would have preferred to fight the other upon the defensive. Suddenly on July 1, three days after Meade had taken command, a chance collision took place north of the town of Gettysburg between the advance guards of the two armies. It developed into a general engagement, of which the result must partly depend on the speed with which each commander could bring up the remainder of his army. On the first day Lee achieved a decided success. The Northern troops were driven back upon steep heights just south of Gettysburg, of which the contour made it difficult for the enemy to co-ordinate his movements in any attack on them. Here Meade, who when the battle began was ten miles away and did not expect it, was able by the morning of the 2nd or during that day to bring up his full force; and here, contrary to his original choice of a position for bringing on a battle, he made his stand. The attack planned by Lee on the following day must, in his opinion, afterwards have been successful if "Stonewall" Jackson had been alive and with him. As it was, his most brilliant remaining subordinate, Longstreet, disapproved of any
assault, and on this and the following day obeyed his orders reluctantly and too slowly. On July 3, 1863, Lee renewed his attack. In previous battles the Northern troops had been contending with invisible enemies in woods; now, after a heavy cannonade, the whole Southern line could be seen advancing in the open to a desperate assault. This attack was crushed by the Northern fire. First and last in the fighting round Gettysburg the North lost 23,000 out of about 93,000 men, and the South about an equal number out of 78,000. The net result was that, after a day's delay, Lee felt compelled to retreat. Nothing but an actual victory would have made it wise for him to persist in his adventurous invasion.
The importance of this, which has been remembered as the chief battle of the war, must be estimated rather by the peril from which the North was delivered than by the results it immediately reaped. Neither on July 3 nor during Lee's subsequent retreat did Meade follow up his advantage with the boldness to which Lincoln, in the midst of his congratulations, exhorted him. On July 12 Lee recrossed the Potomac. Meade on the day before had thought of attacking him, but desisted on the advice of the majority in a council of war. That council of war, as Lincoln said, should never have been held. Its decision was demonstrably wrong, since it rested on the hope that Lee would himself attack. Lincoln writhed. at a phrase in Meade's general orders about " driving the invader from our soil." "Will our generals," he exclaimed in private, never get that idea out of their heads? The whole country is our soil." Meade, however, unlike McClellan, was only cautious, not lukewarm, nor without a mind of his own. The army opposed to him was much larger than that which McClellan failed to overwhelm after Antietam. He had offered to resign when he inferred Lincoln's dissatisfaction from a telegram. Lincoln refused this, and made it clear through another officer that his strong opinion as to what might have been done did not imply ingratitude or want of confidence towards " a brave and skilful officer, and a
true man." Characteristically he relieved his sense of Meade's omissions in a letter of most lucid criticism, and characteristically he never sent it. Step by step Meade moved on Lee's track into the enemy's country. Indecisive manœuvres on both sides continued over four months. Lee was forced over the Rappahannock, then over the Rapidan; Meade followed him, found his army in peril, and prudently and promptly withdrew. In December the two armies went into winter quarters on the two sides of the Rappahannock to await the opening of a very different campaign when the next spring was far advanced.
The autumn months of 1863 witnessed in the Middle West a varying conflict ending in a Northern victory hardly less memorable than those of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. At last, after the fall of Vicksburg, Rosecrans in Middle Tennessee found himself ready to advance. By skilful manœuvres, in the difficult country where the Tennessee River cuts the Cumberland mountains and the parallel ranges which run from north-east to south-west behind, he turned the flank of Bragg's position at Chattanooga and compelled him to evacuate that town in the beginning of September. Bragg, as he retreated, succeeded in getting false reports as to his movements and the condition of his army conveyed to Rosecrans, who accordingly followed him up in an incautious manner. By this time the bulk of the forces that had been used against Vicksburg should have been brought to support Rosecrans. Halleck, however, at first scattered them for purposes which he thought important in the West. After a while, however, one part of the army at Vicksburg was brought back to General Burnside in Ohio, from whom it had been borrowed. Burnside accomplished the very advance by Lexington, in Kentucky, over the mountains into Eastern Tennessee, which Lincoln had so long desired for the relief of the Unionists there, and he was able to hold his ground, defeating at Knoxville a little later an expedition under Longstreet which was sent to dislodge him. Other portions of the
Western army were at last ordered to join Rosecrans, but did not reach him before he had met with disaster. For the Confederate authorities, eager to retrieve their losses, sent every available reinforcement to Bragg, and he was shortly able to turn back towards Chattanooga with over 71,000 men against the 57,000 with which Rosecrans, scattering his troops in false security, was pursuing him. The two armies came upon one another, without clear expectation, upon the Chicamauga Creek beyond the ridge which lies south-east of Chattanooga. The battle fought among the woods and hills by Chicamauga on September 19 and 20 surpassed any other in the war in the heaviness of the loss on each side. On the second day Bragg's manœuvres broke Rosecrans' line, and only an extraordinarily gallant stand by Thomas with a part of the line, in successive positions of retreat, prevented Bragg from turning the hasty retirement of 'the remainder into a disastrous rout. As it was, Rosecrans made good his retreat to Chattanooga, but there he was in danger of being completely cut off. A corps was promptly detached from Meade in Virginia, placed under Hooker, and sent to relieve him. Rosecrans, who in a situation of real difficulty seems to have had no resourcefulness, was replaced in his command by Thomas. Grant was appointed to supreme command of all the forces in the West and ordered to Chattanooga. There, after many intricate operations on either side, a great battle was eventually fought on November 24 and 25, 1863. Grant had about 60,000 men; Bragg, who had detached Longstreet for his vain attack on Burnside, had only 33,000, but he had one steep and entrenched ridge behind another on which to stand. The fight was marked by notable incidents-Hooker's "battle above the clouds "; and the impulse by which apparently with no word of command, Thomas' corps, tired of waiting while Sherman advanced upon the one flank and Hooker upon the other, arose and carried a ridge which the enemy and Grant himself had regarded as impregnable. It ended in a rout of the Confederates, which was ener
getically followed up. Bragg's army was broken and driven right back into Georgia. To sum up the events of the year, the one serious invasion of the North by the South had failed, and the dominion on which the Confederacy had any real hold was now restricted to the Atlantic States, Alabama, and a part of the State of Mississippi.
At this point, at which the issue of the war, if it were only pursued, could not be doubted, and at which, as it happens, the need of Lincoln's personal intervention in military matters became greatly diminished, we may try to obtain a general impression of his wisdom, or want of it, in such affairs. The closeness and keen intelligence with which he followed the war is undoubted, but could only be demonstrated by a lengthy accumulation of evidence. The larger strategy of the North, sound in the main, was of course the product of more than one cooperating mind, but as his was undoubtedly the dominant will of his Administration, so too it seems likely that, with his early and sustained grasp of the general problem, he contributed not a little to the clearness and consistency of the strategical plans. The amount of the forces raised was for long, as we shall see later, beyond his control, and, in the distribution of what he had to the best effect, his own want of knowledge and the poor judgment of his earlier advisers seem to have caused some errors. He started with the evident desire to put himself almost unreservedly in the hands of the competent military counsellors, and he was able in the end to do so; but for a long intermediate period, as we have seen, he was compelled as a responsible statesman to forego this wish. It was all that time his function first to pick out, with very little to go by, the best officers he could find, replacing them with better when he could; and secondly to give them just so much direction, and no more, as his wisdom at a distance and their more expert skill upon the spot made proper. In each of these respects his occasional mistakes are plain enough, but the evidence, upon which he has often been thought capable of setting