Robert E Lee Gettysburg Battle Report

General Robert E Lee / General Robert Lee

The Robert E Lee Gettysburg Battle Report is as generic a report as one will find about a battle considering he was the commanding general, and his losses were great.

Never before had General Robert E Lee been defeated on a battlefield by the Union army, and it stood as his poorest performance of the entire war as a commanding general.

His battle report for the Battle of Gettysburg is a bit puzzling as it lacks good detail and certainly downplays the end result which was total devastation for the Army of Northern Virginia.

July 4, 1863

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, Near Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863

Mr. President:

After the rear of the army had crossed the Potomac, the leading corps, under General Ewell, pushed on to Carlisle and York, passing through Chambersburg. The other two corps closed up at the latter place, and soon afterward intelligence was received that the army of General Hooker was advancing. Our whole force was directed to concentrate at Gettysburg, and the corps of Generals Ewell and A. P. Hill reached that place on the 1st July, the former advancing from Carlisle and the latter from Chambersburg.

The two leading divisions of these corps, upon reaching the vicinity of Gettysburg, found the enemy, and attacked him, driving him from the town, which was occupied by our troops. The enemy's loss was heavy, including more than 4,000 prisoners. He took up a strong position in rear of the town, which he immediately began to fortify, and where his re-enforcements joined him.

On the 2d July, Longstreet's corps, with the exception of one division, having arrived, we attempted to dislodge the enemy, and, though we gained some ground, we were unable to get possession of his position. The next day, the third division of General Longstreet having come up, a more extensive attack was made. The works on the enemy's extreme right and left were taken, but his numbers were so great and his position so commanding, that our troops were compelled to relinquish their advantage and retire.

It is believed that the enemy suffered severely in these operations, but our own loss has not been light.

General Barksdale is killed. Generals Garnett and Armistead are missing, and it is feared that the former is killed and the latter wounded and a prisoner. Generals Pender and Trimble are wounded in the leg, General Hood in the arm, and General Heth slightly in the head. General Kemper, it is feared, is mortally wounded. Our losses embrace many other valuable officers and men.

General Wade Hampton was severely wounded in a different action in which the cavalry was engaged yesterday.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E. Lee,General

His Excellency President Davis

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