The Lost Gettysburg Address

The Lost Gettysburg Address by David T. Dixon Page A

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Authors: David T. Dixon
Tags: History
The
man behind this move was Secretary of War John B. Floyd.
    Floyd and Charles Anderson had been friends since childhood,
although they had become distant in recent years as Floyd moved
in lockstep with theBreckenridge set. For months the secretary had
been moving federal arms and munitions into the hands of various
Southern governors, so that local militias could train and prepare for
secession and possible war. Until his resignation from Buchanan’s
cabinet in December 1860, Floyd’s actions had made him one of the most
infamous traitors of the times. But he made at least one strategic
mistake. Knowing that Charles’s brother Robert was a Southerner, and
assuming him in sympathy with secession, Floyd had GeneralScott
assign Robert Anderson to Fort Moultrie at the mouth of Charleston
harbor. That decision would later come back to haunt Floyd.
    Lieutenant Colonel Lee was startled and perplexed by these sudden
developments. Twiggs was clearly infirm. Why would Floyd relieve
Lee of an important command at this critical juncture? What did his
dear friend and mentor General Scott know about this? He did not
wait long for answers, for Scott had been plotting as well. Near the
end of October, Scott produced a paper intended for private
circulation. His monograph outlined potential military strategies for the
United States to consider should the Southern states secede. In
retrospect, the idea was brilliant and simple. The Union would make the
western theater the primary focus of early war efforts. Scott planned
to immediately occupy the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers,
thus severing Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and western Louisiana
from the rest of the Confederacy. Once that was accomplished, the
Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers would be secured in a similar way.
    On December 1, Scott sent these views to Anderson in San Antonio,
asking that he share them with both Twiggs and Lee. Anderson gave
the papers to Twiggs first, who returned them after a week. Twiggs
told Anderson that it was “damned strange that General Scott should
have sent the papers to you.” He then added, “I know General Scott
fully believes that God had to spit on his hands to make Bob Lee
and Bob Anderson, and you are Major Anderson’s brother.” Charles
Anderson then took the package from Twiggs and delivered it
immediately to Lee. A few days after Lee received General Scott’s papers,
he summoned Anderson to his room at the boardinghouse. Charles
brought along friend and confidante Dr. Willis G. Edwards. Lee felt
that the publication of the papers might imply that the federal
government intended to take preemptive military action, and he made
Anderson promise not to publish them. The men talked at length
about the secession crisis.
    Anderson was violent in his denunciation of the Southern
fire-eaters, whom he felt deserved most of the blame for the perilous state
of affairs. Lee replied that “somebody is surely at fault, probably
both factions.” When Anderson restated his opinion and suggested
that a broad-based conspiracy was brewing, Lee remained silent. At
this point, Edwards pointedly asked whether in such cases a man’s
loyalty was due to his home state or to his nation. Lee’s decision
would change the course of history. Lee did not equivocate. Surely
this vexing issue had tortured him for some weeks or even months.
He chose this moment to declare his intentions to two of his close
friends. Lee believed that his first allegiance was due to Virginia. The
conversation ended. Lee made preparations to leave for Fort Mason,
about 112 miles from San Antonio, and await a fate now held firmly
by the very politicians he so loathed. He had scarcely left town when
South Carolina voted to secede.
    Some politicians were working feverishly behind the scenes to
prevent the secession crisis from spreading. In Congress,Senator John
J. Crittenden of Kentucky introduced a compromise bill he had
conceived with the help of Larz Anderson and others, but it

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