04 Jul 2023

Lee’s Gamble

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For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstance which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.

—William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust, 1948.

5 Feedbacks on "Lee’s Gamble"

Lee Also

Last Day at Gettysburg
By Larry Sparks

The gray smoke from the battle
Rollin’ over the hill.
The fires, the dead, the dying
Are in my memory ever still.

Oh, can’t you hear,
Hear that angel band
Singing, “Come home, soldier,
To the Promised Land.”

Longstreet, he stole away and cried
When Lee gave him the orders to attack.
In his mind’s eye he could see
That most of his boys would not be back.


Willy Johnson and me,
Rebel soldiers both from Tennessee.
Willy, he’s lyin’ by my side –
Spoke these words to me, and then he died:

Oh, can’t you hear,
Hear that angel band
Singing, “Come home, soldier,
To the Promised Land.”


Again, why glorify the slave owners? I don’t get it.


John B. Gordon 1832-1904

“As for the South, it is enough to say that perhaps eighty per cent of her armies were neither slave-holders, nor had the remotest interest in the institution. No other proof, however, is needed than the undeniable fact that at any period of the war from its beginning to near its close the South could have saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and returning to the Union.” – Major General John B. Gordon, “Causes of the Civil War”


none of what the good major general says is true. But it’s an old argument, which seems impenetrable to facts.

David Zincavage

In the 1850 census, of the 6,184,477 white residents of the Southern States, only 347,525 were listed as owners, found Nevin. In the 1860 Census, which is on the eve of the Civil War,

There were only 393,975 slave owners in the United States out of a total population of 31,183,582, or 1.26 percent of the population.


U.S president Woodrow Wilson is quoted as saying “the role of slavery became the proclaimed cause of the Civil War because it was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war for Independence into a war waged for the maintenance and extension of slavery”.

If slavery was all the Southern states wanted they could have kept it without a war or firing a shot. The North offered the South the Corwin Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in March 1861 that would have made slavery permanently legal in America if they would rejoin the union. The South refused and the Constitution of the Confederate States of America banned the international slave trade.


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