There is one incident in the history of the Army of Northern Virginia, so similar in many respects to an incident in the history of the army of Italy, which occurred during that campaign, conceded to be the most successful and splendid of all the campaigns of Napoleon, which so strikingly illustrates the character and spirit of the Confederate soldier, that I cannot forbear repeating it here, though at the risk of telling a twice told tale. The success of the entire Italian campaign turned upon the successful passage of the bridge of Lodi. The Austrian army with its artillery were massed upon the other side, and the narrow pass must be won in the face of the concentrated fire. The French column was formed and ordered to advance. They staggered under the withering fire and retreated; but failure was ruin, the pass must be won. They were rallied, brought back to the charge, but again retreated; yet the pass must be won; when Napoleon himself, and, by his order, Massena, Berthier, Cervoni, Dalmagne and Lannes, placed themselves at the head of the column--“Follow your Generals!” was the order. They followed their Generals, passed the bridge, pierced the Austrian centre, and won the victory. In the earliest dawn of a misty morning — the morning of the memorable 12th of May, 1864--one of those tremendous massed columns, which, from time to time during that frightful campaign, were hurled against the Army of Northern Virginia, dashed against our line with the fury and force of a tornado, and burst it asunder; and, through the breach, poured line after line and column after column, as wave follows wave in ocean storm. In that moment hung suspended the fate of the Army of Northern Virginia. In the instant, just on the spot, that rushing, solid,
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