in most respects among the highest examples of the art of war. Plans so general and original in conception and successful in execution point unmistakably to a very high order of military genius.
In the order of nature, comparison with those that follow as well as those that precede is needed to establish the merits of any individual.
A commander may be a great captain compared with his military predecessors, and yet some of his operations be regarded as very faulty by more modern commanders.
Some future historian, with the example before him of a later chieftain who, on a similar field and under similar but improved conditions, may have won more brilliant successes, may be able to determine Sherman
's rank among the commanders of past, present, and future ages.
Sufficient is not yet known in this country of the credit due any one individual for the success achieved in the recent campaigns in Europe
to furnish the means of just comparison between the European
commanders of this generation.
And even between Grant
there are so few points of resemblance in military character or methods, that they must be judged by contrasts rather than by comparison.
Hence it may always be difficult to determine their exact relative merits as military leaders.
Upon this point I forbear, for the present, to express any opinion.
In some other respects Grant
were hardly less in contrast than in their military characteristics.
At the close of the Atlanta campaign
, in his letter of September 12, 1864, Grant
paid to Sherman
the following generous and glowing tribute: ‘In conclusion, it is hardly necessary for me to say that I feel you have accomplished the most gigantic undertaking given to any general in this war, and with a skill and ability that will be acknowledged in history as unsurpassed, if not ’