Gordonsville and a Grand Review

On April 7, 1864, President Davis ordered Longstreet to move his troops to Charlottesville and there report to Gen. Lee.

The move began by train on April 12 and they had all arrived by April 14. They camped on the grounds of the University of Virginia for a week before moving again. This time they marched northeast to Gordonsville camping in an open woods abounding in wood, water and graze for the horses.

On April 29, the long lines of infantry, including Humphreys’ Brigade and the 13th Regiment, were drawn up in a large, open Orange County valley with extensive pastures for the first grand review Lee had held since after Sharpsburg in 1862.

“When Gen. Lee rode out onto the field at the head of his staff,” historian Robert K. Krick wrote, the artillery boomed out in a salute and “thousands of men in the field were roaring their admiration for the great leader.”

“They were turned out in their ragged best,” independent history Shelby Foote wrote in his civil war trilogy, “leather patched, metal polished, their shot-torn regimental colors newly stitched with the names of unfamiliar Western battles, and when Lee drew rein before them, removing his hat in salute, the color bearers shook their flags like mad and the troops responded with an all-out rebel yell that reverberated from all the surrounding hills, causing the gray-haired generals eyes to brim with tears.”

“It was the last review he ever held,” Longstreet’s chief of artillery Colonel E.P. Alexander, wrote after the war, “and no one who was present could ever forget the occasion….Each man seemed to feel the bond which held us all to Lee. There was no speaking, but the effect was that of a military sacrament, in which we all pledged anew our lives.”

The review lasted for hours, Krick continued, “as the troops were marched past Lee in columns of companies, each unit saluting as it passed the general. The emotional moment was long drawn out.”

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About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in Gen. James Longstreet, Humpreys Mississippi Brigade, The Journey and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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