, though not openly cast aside, had been placed in an unworthy position, and was wasting his powers upon work that, under the guidance of General Lee
, almost any subordinate general could have performed.
The fact that Early
, a lieutenant-general, and not General Beauregard
, was selected for the campaign referred to above, proves how deeply rooted was the prejudice prevailing against Beauregard
That General Early
did his utmost to carry out the operation intrusted to him no one will for a moment doubt, and those who know him well, and appreciate his devotion to the cause he was serving, would certainly be the last to cast even a shadow of censure upon him; but it is none the less true that to retrieve the failing fortunes of the South
at that juncture something more than devotion, earnestness, and gallantry was required on the part of the leader of this all-important expedition.
He should have had experience in handling separate, independent commands; rapidity of conception and execution; the power to shape and control events; the unwavering confidence in success which ever forces a like confidence upon an army; the capacity and habit, as it were, of assuming responsibilities; the prestige of acknowledged ability.
These traits were pre-eminent in General Beauregard
, who was available at that time, and whose presence at Petersburg
could certainly have been dispensed with after General Lee
Early in the month of September General Beauregard
had determined to ask for a change of command, when General Whiting
expressed a desire that he should reinspect his defensive works at Wilmington
and the mouth of Cape Fear River
With General Lee
's consent he complied with this request, returning to Petersburg
about the middle of the month.
A few days later he was informed by General Lee
that there was a probability of his being ordered to the command of the Army of Northwestern Georgia, then under General Hood
Though somewhat surprised at such an announcement—for he remembered what answer the President
, two years before, had given to the Congressional delegation asking for his return to the Army of Tennessee 1
—he nevertheless prepared and forwarded to General Lee
the following memorandum: