A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee by John Esten Cooke

By John Esten Cooke

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Every train brought additions to this great mass of raw war material; large camps rose around Richmond, chief among which was that named "Camp Lee;" and the work of drilling and moulding this crude material for the great work before it was ardently proceeded with under the supervision of Lee. An Executive Board, or Military Council, had been formed, consisting of Governor Letcher and other prominent officials; but these gentlemen had the good sense to intrust the main work of organizing an army to Lee.

If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back. We should live, act, and say, nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it is the path to peace and honor. "In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that, nearly a hundred years ago, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness--still known as 'the dark day'--a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse.

To transport an army of more than one hundred thousand men by water to the Peninsula was a heavy undertaking; but the ample resources of the Government enabled them to do so without difficulty. General McClellan, who had now been removed from his post of commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States, and assigned to the command only of the army to operate against Richmond, landed his forces on the Peninsula, and, after several actions of an obstinate description, advanced toward the Chickahominy, General Johnston, the Confederate commander, deliberately retiring.

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