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Copyright 2013, Victoria Heilshorn
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"Texans Always Move 'em!"
On the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, things were not
looking good for General Robert E. Lee and his Confederates.  Union forces under
Ulysses S. Grant were threatening to break Lee’s center.  Just as Lee became
desperate for help, General John Gregg’s Texans arrived to beat back the Union
advance.

The following are eye-witness accounts of what happened next:

“Scarce had we moved a step when General Lee, in front of the whole command, raised
himself in his stirrups, uncovered his gray hairs, and with an earnest voice exclaimed
“TEXANS ALWAYS MOVE THEM!”

“Never before in my lifetime did I ever see such a scene as was enacted when Lee pronounced
these words.  A yell rent the air that must have been heard for miles around.  A currier riding
by my side, with tears coursing down his cheeks exclaimed “I would charge hell itself for that
old man.”

The Texans halted the Federals until reinforcements arrived, thus turning the tide of
the Battle of the Wilderness and giving the Confederates a great victory.

As a Civil War enthusiast, this story is one of my favorites, which is why I chose it for
an artistic subject.  I like it so well because it shows Robert E. Lee in a way that seems
out of character for a man whose sense of duty and self-discipline are legendary.  
Although it has been reported that he was warm, friendly, and even playful at times,
his strict ways paint a picture that, to me, doesn’t seem to include emotional outburst.  

Yet this story illustrates one of those rare moments.  According to accounts, the
General became so excited in the heat of moment that he spurred Traveler and
began charging forward with the troops.  The Texans stop and refused to go any
further until General Lee went back to find safety.  

Robert E. Lee was an honorable man, devoted to God and country.  He was also a
brilliant tactician and military strategist; one of the greatest generals ever to live.  For
all of these things, his memory will always be honored and revered.  But he also
earned the enduring love and respect of his men because he was born to lead and
possessed a true soldier’s heart.  I believe this account is a wonderful example of why
he was loved so much back then, and is still loved by millions even today.

General Robert E. Lee is my favorite figure of the Civil War, and now that I think about
it, of all time.  I truly hope that this artistic rendition of that moment in 1864 does
justice to both history, and to the man whose legend made that moment so worth
remembering and holding dear.
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