"It's bad. It's damned bad."
- Abraham Lincoln's first reaction to the Union Army's rout at First Manassas
"They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance"
- Union General John Sedgwick spoke these words just moments before being shot dead by a confederate sniper at Spotsylvania
"He looked as though he ought to have been, and was, the monarch of the world"
- Description of Robert E. Lee
"Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything"
- Abraham Lincoln directed this remark to George B. McClellan, who had excused his lack of action in the fall of 1862 due to tired horses. McClellan was removed from command shortly there-after.
"He will take more chances, and take them quicker, than any other general in the country--North or South"
- A contemporary so described Robert E. Lee
"Look at Jackson's brigade! It stands there like a stone wall!"
- Confederate General Barnard E. Bee of South Carolina gave this description of Stonewall Jackson's brigade at First Manassas *
"It's just like shooting squirrels, only these squirrels have guns"
- A Federal veteran so instructed new recruits in musket drill
"Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't be caught in this trap"
- A captured Union soldier described Stonewall Jackson in this way
"a tyrannical, hot-headed vulgarian"
- A subordinate so described Nathan Bedford Forrest
"The time for compromise has now passed, and the South is determined to maintain her position, and make all who oppose her smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel"
- Jefferson Davis used these words in his inaugural speech on February 16, 1861
"a damned old goggled-eyed snapping turtle"
- Subordinate officers so described Union General George Meade
"Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee River"
- Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston made this unfulfilled prophecy shortly before the Confederate defeat at Shiloh, which cost Johnston his life
"I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation"
- Robert E. Lee spoke these words to his army's chaplains
"Really, Mr. Lincoln, I have had enough of this show business"
- Ulysses S. Grant used these words to decline to attend a White House party in his honor, so that he may return to the front
"The rebels are out there thicker than fleas on a dog's back!!"
- An excited Union officer used these words to report the advance of Confederate forces at Shiloh
"Hello, Massa; bottom rail on top dis time"
- A black Union soldier spoke these words to a Confederate prisoner he recognized--his former master
"No, no. Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees"
- Stonewall Jackson spoke these words on May 10th, 1863, just before pneumonia took his life **
"It is well that war is so terrible--we should grow too fond of it"
- Robert E. Lee gave this observation while watching thousands of Union soldiers sent to the slaughter at Fredericksburg
"Strike the tent!"
- Robert E. Lee spoke these words in delirium, shortly before he passed away on
October 12, 1870 **
"I shall come out of this fight a live major general or a dead brigadier."
- Confederate Brigadier General Albert Perrin made this oath on the eve of the Battle of Spotsylvania, where he was killed in action.
"General, get up--dress quick--you are a prisoner!"
- Confederate partisan John S. Mosby directed this order to General Edwin H. Stoughton after rousing the General from his bed at Union headquarters.
"In the name of God and humanity I protest!"
- Confederate General John Bell Hood lodged this complaint against General William T. Sherman's orders to have the citizens of Atlanta leave the city following its capture by Union forces.
"General, if you put every [Union soldier] now on the other side of the Potomac on that field to approach me over the same line, I will kill them all before they reach my line."
- General James Longstreet made this vow to Robert E. Lee as countless Federal assaults were beaten back by Longstreet's men at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
"If you surrender you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I haveto storm your works you may expect no quarter."
- Nathan Bedford Forrest routinely issued this warning to opposing forces and often received his desired result.
"Every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few minutes before."
- A Union officer who survived the Battle of Antietam gave this description of the destruction of a Confederate force posted in a cornfield there.
"All this has been my fault."
- Robert E. Lee repeatedly spoke this line to the survivors of Pickett's Charge as they stumbled back to Confederate lines.
"Whoever saw a dead cavalryman?"
- Infantry troops often uttered this sarcasm in criticism of the cavalry, who were said to fight so rarely that they seldom left casualties behind.
"If you bring these leaders to trial it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution secession is not rebellion."
- Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court privately delivered this opinion on charging captured Confederate officers with treason.
"The dead covered more than five acres of ground about as thickly as they could be laid."
- A Confederate survivor so described the Union dead at the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.
"Hold on with a bull-dog whip and chew and choke as much as possible."
- Abraham Lincoln offered Ulysses S. Grant this encouragement during the latter's grueling Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65.
"It's all a damned mess! And our two armies ain't nothing but howling mobs!"
- A captured Confederate private gave this description of the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864.
"My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me."
- Stonewall Jackson
"I am now considered such a monster, that I hesitate to darken with my shadow, the doors of those I love, lest I should bring upon them misfortune."
- Robert E. Lee gave this appraisal of his image to a friend shortly after his surrender at Appomattox in 1865.
"General, unless he offers us honorable terms, come back and let us fight it out!"
- James Longstreet said this to Robert E. Lee as he rode off to discuss terms for surrender with General Grant at Appomattox.
"I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but am able to whip all hell yet."
- Union General John M. Corse made this peculiar boast after sustaining a head wound at the Battle of Allatoona in 1864.
"We talked the matter over and could have settled the war in thirty minutes had it been left to us."
- A common Rebel soldier made this statement after fraternizing with a Union soldier between the lines.