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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/366

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358 Southern Historical Society Papers.

And only a very few of the many post bellum witnesses quoted from by him, claim any more than the official reports show. As to the value of these post bellum statements as compared with the " official re- ports," prepared at the time, we cannot do better than to quote from what General Lane said in the article in the Southern Histori- cal Society Papers, before referred to. He says, speaking of his own report of the battle of Gettysburg:

"I am sure the public will consider this official paper, written about a month after the battle, a more valuable historical document than the many recent articles written from memory, which is at all times treacherous, and as every Confederate soldier knows, particu- larly so as regards the incidents, &c., of our heroic struggle for independence."

And then goes on to give instances of the unreliability of these statements from memory.

We have heretofore said we could find no official report of this battle from General Pickett. The following letter explains why this report was not published. It will be found in Series I, Volume XXVII, Part III, page 1075, Reb. Rec., and is as follows:

"Gen* I George E. Pickett, Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL, You and your men have crowned yourselves with glory; but we have the enemy to fight, and must carefully, at this critical moment, guard against dissensions which the reflections in your report would create. I will therefore suggest that you destroy both copy and original, substituting one confined to casualties merely. I hope all will yet be well. I am with respect, your ob't servant,

R. E. LEE, General"

We make no comments on this letter, and when read in the light of the official reports, it would seem to need none.

We do not intend to be misunderstood. We have not done so, and we do not intend to reflect in any way on any of the North Car- olina troops. On the contrary, we think, considering the fact that they were engaged and sustained heavy losses in the first day's bat- tle, and were thus deprived of many of their brigade, regimental md company officers, they behaved with signal gallantry; but our contention, and our only point is, that the present claim set up by North Carolina, that her troops were "farthest to the front" at Gettysburg, is not sustained by the record.