The Old Gray Fox
by John Paul Strain
General Robert E. Lee & Staff
Near Clark’s Mountain - Winter of 1863-64
For the first three months of 1864 General Lee and his staff routinely rode 20 miles
through the mountains and foot hills of Orange County Virginia inspecting the
winter quarters of his army. Lee’s staff members included Major Walter Taylor,
Major Charles S. Venable, and Major Charles Marshall. Occasionally
accompanying Lee was his old friend and secretary, Armistead Lindsay Long, who
was now a Brigadier General placed in command of the artillery in General
Ewell’s Second Corps.
General Lee had an abundance of work to do during these winter months.
Preceding battles had lost him many of his best commanding officers, such as
Generals Jackson, Pender, Armistead and Pettigrew. Many other officers had been
taken out of action with crippling wounds. The slow process of promotion
bothered experienced officers ready to take on higher rank. It was General Lee’s
job to re-organize and prepare his army for the critical and decisive campaign that
was to come. Affectionally know by his troops as “The Old Gray Fox”, General
Lee had big plans for his army when the season changed, believing like his men,
the war could still be won.
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