Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Masterpiece of War
Robert E. Lee on Liberty, Tyranny and Freedom:
A Proclamation to the Citizens of Maryland:
"It is right that you should know the purpose that 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 Marylander, 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 has been suppressed; words have been declared offences by an arbitrary decree of the Federal Executive, and citizens ordered to be tried by a 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 to 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

By April 1863, America’s Civil War was two years old and there were two more years of fighting ahead though, of course, none could know this. What everyone did know was that the war was violent and bloody beyond what anyone had expected or would have believed the nation (or two nations) could endure. Neither side was at the point of exhaustion or surrender. The war would certainly go on until .  .  . what?

Nobody quite knew, though an insight of President Abraham Lincoln’s pointed to the brutal truth. His Army of the Potomac, under the command of General Ambrose Burnside, had been defeated at Fredericksburg by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in December 1862. It had been a one-sided affair, with Union soldiers making repeated assaults up a hill against Confederate infantry whose position afforded the protection of a stone wall with artillery behind in support. No Union soldier even reached the wall. The Army of the Potomac suffered more than 12,000 casualties. Lee’s casualties were slightly more than 5,000. It was the most lopsided defeat so far, for an army that had seldom experienced victory. And yet .  .  .

The Army of the Potomac still existed, was still holding its positions in Virginia, and its losses were being made good. Which could not be said for Lee’s army.

So, Lincoln noted, the “arithmetic” of slaughter worked in the Union’s favor. His army could survive a week of Fredericksburgs and the Confederacy could not. Victory would come when he found a general who understood this.


  1. Gen.Lee could be talking about Maryland in this day and age,except for the military commission part,but that will probably be here soon

    1. Gen.Lee could be talking about Maryland in this day and age

      Boggles the mind.

  2. If the order is given from Washington to 'pacify' an area that tries to cast off it's Imperial chains in the near future, one wonders if the Federal commander could write such a missive honestly, and with a clean conscience.

    1. if the Federal commander could write such a missive honestly, and with a clean conscience.

      I'm taking bets on not.:)