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‘ [424] as daring as laborious, and of the utmost value. Nor was he less conspicuous in planning batteries and in conducting columns to their stations under the heavy fire of the enemy.’

In his official report of the final operations which captured the city of Mexico, General Scott declares Captain Lee to have been ‘as distinguished for felicitous execution as for science and daring,’ and says again: ‘Captain Lee, so constantly distinguished, also bore important orders from me (September 13), until he fainted from a wound and the loss of two nights' sleep at the batteries.’ When, soon after General Scott's return from Mexico, a committee from Richmond waited on him to tender him a public reception in the Capitol of his native State, he said: ‘You seek to honor the wrong man. Captain R. E. Lee is the Virginian who deserves the credit of that brilliant campaign.’

General William Preston, of Kentucky, says that General Scott told him that he regarded Lee ‘as the greatest living soldier in America,’ and that in a conversation not long before the breaking out of the war, General Scott said with emphasis:

‘I tell you that if I were on my death bed to-morrow, and the President of the United States should tell me that a great battle was to be fought for the liberty or slavery of the country, and asked my judgment as to the ability of a commander, I would say with my dying breath, let it be Robert E. Lee.’

I have been allowed to copy the following autograph letter of General Scott, which illustrates this point:

headquarters of the Army, May 8th, 1857.
Hon. J. B. Floyd, Secretary of War.
Sir,—I beg to ask that one of the vacant Second Lieutenancies may be given to W. H. F. Lee, son of Brevet Colonel R. E. Lee, at present on duty against the Comanches.

I make this application mainly on the extraordinary merits of the father, the very best soldier I ever saw in the field; but the son is himself a very remarkable youth, now about twenty, of a fine stature and constitution, a good linguist, a good mathematician and about to graduate at Harvard University. He is also honorable and amiable, like his father, and dying to enter the army. I do not ask the commission as a favor, though if I had influence I should be happy to exert it in this case. My application is in the name of

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