GENERAL LEE IN THE WILDERNESS CAMPAIGN
BY CHARLES S. VERNABLE, LIEUTENANT-COLONEL, C. S. A., OF GENERAL LEE'S STAFF
DURING the winter of 1863-64 General Lee's headquarters were near Orange Court House. They were marked by the same bare simplicity and absence of military form and display which always characterized them.
Three or four tents of ordinary size, situated on the steep hillside, made the winter home of himself and his personal staff. It was without sentinels or guards. He used during the winter every exertion for filling up the thin ranks of his army and for obtaining the necessary supplies for his men.
There were times in which the situation seemed to be critical in regard to the commissariat. The supplies of meat were brought mainly from the states south of Virginia, and on some days the Army of Northern Virginia had not more than twenty-four hours' rations ahead. On one occasion the general received by mail an anonymous communication from a private soldier containing a very small slice of salt pork, carefully packed between two oak chips, and accompanied by a letter saying that this was the daily ration of meat, and that the writer having found it impossible to live on it had been, though he was a gentleman, reduced by the cravings of hunger to the necessity of stealing. The incident gave the commanding general great pain and anxiety, and led to some strong interviews and correspondence with the Commissary Department. During the winter General Lee neglected no interest of his soldiers. He consulted with their chaplains and attended their meetings, in which plans for the promotion of special religious services among the men were discussed and adopted.
While he was accessible at all times, and rarely had even one orderly before his tent, General Lee had certain wishes which his aides-d they must conform to. They did not allow any friend of soldiers condemned by court-martial (when once the decree of the court had been confirmed by him) to reach his tent for personal appeal, asking reprieve or remission of sentence.
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