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A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee by John Esten Cooke

By John Esten Cooke

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In front, toward Seven Pines, the chance of success was equally doubtful. The excellent works of the Federal commander bristled with artillery, and were heavily manned. It seemed thus absolutely necessary to discover some other point of assault; and, as the Federal right beyond the Chickahominy was the only point left, it was determined to attack, if possible, in that quarter. An important question was first, however, to be decided, the character of the defences, if any, on General McClellan's right, in the direction of Old Church and Cold Harbor.

This old mansion was a model of peaceful loveliness and attraction. "All around here," says a writer, describing the place, "Arlington Heights presents a lovely picture of rural beauty. The 'General Lee house,' as some term it, stands on a grassy lot, surrounded with a grove of stately trees and underwood, except in front, where is a verdant sloping ground for a few rods, when it descends into a valley, spreading away in beautiful and broad expanse to the lovely Potomac. This part of the splendid estate is apparently a highly-cultivated meadow, the grass waving in the gentle breeze, like the undulating bosom of Old Atlantic.

We should live, act, and say, nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it is the path to peace and honor. "In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that, nearly a hundred years ago, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness--still known as 'the dark day'--a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse. The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and, as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in the general awe and terror.

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