SHADOWS OF ’64General R.E. Lee and Colonel H.P. Jones
Orange Court House
During the long winter of 1863-64 General Robert E. Lee began to prepare himself and his army for the campaign of 1864. Confederate luck had changed with the huge losses suffered at Gettysburg, and the loss of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville. Food rations were exhausted and Lee knew he needed to get his men moving. His strategy for defense of the South would no longer be guided by what was happening in Virginia. Three Federal Armies were poised to invade Georgia. Receiving many letters from Longstreet who was in east Tennessee, and Johnston in command of the Army of the Tennessee, Lee met with many leaders and officers in an attempt to again outwit the enemy.
Late in the winter a young courier who had ridden an incredible number of miles, and who had ridden one horse to death, reached Lee's headquarters and nearly collapsed. The courier brought word of heavy Federal movements eastward along the Baltimore and Ohio. The enemy was on the move. Sending out new orders, the General returned to his tent to find the young man asleep on his cot. Lee covered him with a blanket, tied the tent flap shut and let him sleep. To General Lee his men always came first. Incidents of this type were well known in the Army of Northern Virginia and many a voice would be heard saying "God-bless-him" as the great General would pass.
On a cold and blustery evening of '64, in a camp near Orange Court House, General Lee met with one of his favorite artillery commanders, Colonel Hilary P. Jones, who had played an important role in the victory at Chancellorsville. Finding that the Colonel had lost his gauntlets, Lee gave him a pair of his own. Lee's generosity and concern for his men would earn him loyalty that few others have enjoyed. A soldier in the Battle of the Wilderness would exclaim "I would charge Hell itself for that old man!"
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