FROM THE LINE OF FIREGenerals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet
In The Battle Of The Wilderness - May 6, 1864
As wildfires burned in the background, General Robert E. Lee rode up to General James Longstreet. Describing his long time friend and commander, Longstreet said, "Lee's blood was up and when his blood was up there was no stopping him."
Moments earlier, Lee had attempted to go side by side in line of battle with his Texas brigade. Wildfires blazed across much of the contested ground as the critical moment of the Battle of the Wilderness had arrived. General Ulysses S. Grant's Federal army began to break through Lee's lines. Lee was desperate to find help. As if on cue, the lead brigade of one of Longstreet's divisions, General John Gregg's Texans had unexpectedly arrived and immediately without missing a step closed ranks and formed a battle line to meet the Federal onset. Lee called out to the veterans, "Who are you boys?" "Texas boys," the men yelled back. Exhilarated that his best troops were now on the field of fire, General Lee stood up in his stirrups and exclaimed, "Hurrah for Texas! Texans always move them!"
With a shout that could be heard for a mile the line moved forward. Caught up in the moment Lee also spurred his horse Traveler forward. The commander of the entire Army of Northern Virginia was now advancing into the line of fire as a combat soldier. The veteran Texans realizing the folly of Lee's intentions, yelled at him to go back, but Lee pushed forward. A sergeant grabbed Traveler's reins saying, "We won't go on unless you go back!" Major Venable of Lee's staff rode up and yelled, "General Longstreet is at hand!" This brought Lee back to reality and his other responsibilities. As General Lee rode up next to his "Old War Horse", Longstreet tactfully mentioned the danger the two leaders were in and advised moving westward a short distance to safety. The two commanders rode off having turned a perilous morning into a victorious afternoon.
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