To oppose this movement (of August 14th), which was in heavy force, our cavalry division was moved over to the north side, together with infantry and artillery, and we had a very lively time for several days. In the engagement on the 15th of August I was shot in the arm and disabled for about three weeks. The wound was a very simple one-- just severe enough to give me a furlough, which I enjoyed intensely. Time heals all wounds, it is said. I remember it cured mine all too soon, for, being on a wounded leave, provided it did not keep one in bed, was the best luck a soldier could have. I got back the last of September, and in passing stopped to see my father. I take from General Long a pen-picture of him at this time, which accords with my own recollection of his appearance:
"...General Lee continued in excellent health and bore his many cares with his usual equanimity. He had aged somewhat in appearance since the beginning of the war, but had rather gained than lost in physical vigour, from the severe life he had led. His hair had grown gray, but his face had the ruddy hue of health, and his eyes were as clear and bright as ever. His dress was always a plain, gray uniform, with cavalry boots reaching to his knees, and a broad-brimmed gray felt hat. He seldom wore a weapon, and his only mark of rank was the stars on his collar. Though always abstemious in diet, he seemed able to bear any amount of fatigue, being capable of remaining in his saddle all day and at his desk half the night."
I cannot refrain from further quoting from the same author this beautiful description of the mutual love, respect, and esteem existing between my father and his soldiers:
"No commander was ever more careful, and never had care for the comfort of an army given rise to greater devotion. He was constantly calling the attention of the authorities to the wants of his soldiers, making every effort to provide them with food and clothing. The feeling for him was one of love, not of awe and dread. They could approach him with the assurance that they would be received with kindness and consideration, and that any just complaint would receive proper attention. There was no condescension in his manner, but he was ever simple, kind, and sympathetic, and his men, while having unbounded faith in him as a leader, almost worshipped him as a man. These relations of affection and mutual confidence between the army and its commander had much to do with the undaunted bravery displayed by the men, and bore a due share in the many victories they gained."
Colonel Charles Marshall, in his address before the "Association of the Army of Northern Virginia," also alludes to this "wonderful influence over the troops under his command. I can best describe that influence by saying that such was the love and veneration of the men for him that they came to look upon the cause as General Lee's cause, and they fought for it because they loved him. To them he represented cause, country, and all."
All persons who were ever thrown into close relations with him had somewhat these same feelings. How could they help it? Here is a letter to his youngest daughter which shows his beautiful love and tenderness for us all. Throughout the war, he constantly took the time from his arduous labours to send to his wife and daughters such evidences of his affection for them:
"Camp Petersburg, November 6, 1864.
"My Precious Life: This is the first day I have had leisure to answer your letter. I enjoyed it very much at the time of its reception, and have enjoyed it since, but I have often thought of you in the meantime, and have seen you besides. Indeed, I may say, you are never out of my thoughts. I hope you think of me often, and if you could know how earnestly I desire your true happiness, how ardently I pray you may be directed to every good and saved from every evil, you would as sincerely strive for its accomplishment. Now in your youth you must be careful to discipline your thoughts, words, and actions. Habituate yourself to useful employment, regular improvement, and to the benefit of all those around your. You have had some opportunity of learning the rudiments of your education--not as good as I should have desired, but I am much cheered by the belief that you availed yourself of it-- and I think you are now prepared by diligence and study to learn whatever you desire. Do not allow yourself to forget what you have spent so much time and labour acquiring, but increase it every day by extended application. I hope you will embrace in your studies all useful acquisitions. I was much pleased to hear that while at 'Bremo' you passed much of your time in reading and music. All accomplishments will enable you to give pleasure, and thus exert a wholesome influence. Never neglect the means of making yourself useful in the world. I think you will not have to complain of Rob again for neglecting your schoolmates. He has equipped himself with a new uniform from top to toe, and, with a new and handsome horse, is cultivating a marvellous beard and preparing for conquest. I went down on the lines to the right, Friday, beyond Rowanty Creek, and pitched my camp within six miles of Fitzhugh's last night. Rob came up and spent the night with me, and Fitzhugh appeared early in the morning. They rode with me till late that day. I visited the battlefield in that quarter, and General Hampton in describing it said there had not been during the war a more spirited charge than Fitzhugh's division made that day up the Boydton plank road, driving cavalry and infantry before him, in which he was stopped by night. I did not know before that his horse had been shot under him. Give a great deal of love to your dear mother, and kiss your sisters for me. Tell them they must keep well, not talk too much, and go to bed early.