A prewar railroad engineer who directed the Philadelphia & Baltimore Central line, Isaac Trimble was contracted to rejuvenate the Santiago to Havana railroad in Cuba when war began in America.
Writing a post-battle account of battle near Cross Keys in late April 1862, then- brigadier Trimble wrote: “a deadly fire was delivered along our whole front, dropping the deluded victims of Northern fanaticism and misrule by the scores.” During the Second Manassas Campaign, Trimble revealed his soldierly intensity to Stonewall Jackson, stating “Before this war is over, I intend to be either a Major-General or a corpse.”
In the postwar Gen. Isaac Trimble remained a largely unreconstructed Southern man, and no record indicates he ever “swallowed the dog” of allegiance to the victorious Northern government beyond the superficial promises required for parole in 1865.
Southern Independence Would be Secured at Gettysburg
“Isaac Trimble was not to be left out of [the] discussion [regarding Lee at Gettysburg], for his opinions were strong indeed. Trimble prefaced his comments thusly:
“But it is certain that the Confederate commander never for a moment supposed he could take a large army into Pennsylvania and continue there many weeks without fighting a great battle somewhere. This, General Lee hoped to do on ground of his own choice, with deliberate plan, and under circumstances entirely favorable to success. We are to see how these reasonable expectations were defeated by adverse circumstances; disobedience of orders by his commander of cavalry, and want of concerted action and vigorous onset among his corps commanders at critical moments in the assault of each of the three days.”
Trimble was of the opinion that the three days’ fighting at Gettysburg were a draw, and certainly the fact of the two armies at rest, facing one another for the day of July 4th, supports his contention. He also opined . . . that had any one of several errors by the Confederates not occurred, the battle would have been a signal victory for Lee.
Trimble concluded his commentary by the statement that there was “no question” that a victory at Gettysburg “would have secured Southern Independence.”
(Furious, Insatiable Fighter: A Biography of Major-General Isaac Ridgeway Trimble, CSA, David C. Trimble, University Press of America, excerpts pp. 117-119)