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 hundred prisoners were taken, which fully made up for those lost by the enemy in the morning. The day was completely turned against the Confederates and night closed with the enemy's infantry occupying their old camps, and his cavalry pursuing the wreck of Early's army. With reference to the disaster of Cedar Creek, Gen. Early published an address to his troops, ascribing to their misconduct the loss of the field, and attemping to break the censure levelled at the commander. He wrote: “I had hoped to have congratulated you on the splendid victory won by you on the morning of the 19th, at Belle Grove, on Cedar Creek, when you surprised and routed two corps of Sheridan's army, and drove back several miles the remaining corps, capturing eighteen pieces of artillery, one thousand five hundred prisoners, a number of colours, a large quantity of small arms and many wagons and ambulances, with the entire camps of the two routed corps; but I have the mortification of announcing to you that, by your subsequent misconduct, all the benefits of that victory were lost, and a serious disaster incurred. Had you remained steadfast to your duty and your colours, the victory would have been one of the most brilliant and decisive of the war; you would have gloriously retrieved the reverses at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and entitled yourselves to the admiration and gratitude of your country. But many of you, including some commissioned officers, yielding to a disgraceful propensity for plunder, deserted your colours to appropriate to yourselves the abandoned property of the enemy; and, subsequently, those who had previously remained at their posts, seeing their ranks thinned by the absence of the plunderers, when the enemy, late in the afternoon, with his shattered columns made but a feeble effort to retrieve the fortunes of the day, yielded to a needless panic, and fled the field in confusion, thereby converting a splendid victory into a disaster.” But this explanation of the conversion of a victory into a disaster, as a personal defence of Gen. Early, is scarcely fair. If soldiers resort to pillaging on a field of victory the commander is the responsible party, unless where it is shown that he resorted to the most extreme measures to restrain a disorder so shameful and plainly deserving death on the spot, and that, despite all efforts, the men had passed completely beyond his control. The broad fact cannot be concealed that for four or five hours Gen. Early was in the condition of a commander who had lost the vigour of pursuit and was satisfied to put up with a half-way success. This disposition to pause in battle and be satisfied with a half victory was not the peculiar story of Cedar Creek. It was the curse of more than one Confederate commander. As Gen. Early counted his victory and paused in his career, the refluent wave of the enemy overtook him, swept away his laurels, and overwhelmed him with an unexpected disaster. The story is not different
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