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In a public address delivered in Baltimore soon after the death of General Lee, Hon. Reverdy Johnson said that he ‘had been intimate with General Scott, and had heard him say more than once that his success in Mexico was largely due to the skill, valor and undaunted energy of Lee. It was a theme upon which he (General Scott) liked to converse, and he stated his purpose to recommend him as his successor in the chief command of the army. I was with General Scott in April, 1861, when he received the resignation of General Lee, and witnessed the pain it caused him. It was a sad blow to the success of that war, in which his own sword had as yet been unsheathed. Much as General Scott regretted it, he never failed to say that he was convinced that Lee had taken that step from an imperative sense of duty. General Scott was consoled in a great measure by the reflection that he would have as his opponent a soldier worthy of every man's esteem, and one who would conduct the war upon the strictest rules of civilized warfare. There would be no outrages committed upon private persons or private property which he could prevent.’ A prominent banker of New York, who was very intimate with General Scott, has given me a number of incidents illustrating Scott's high opinion of Lee. On one occasion, a short time before the war, this gentleman asked him, in the course of a confidential interview: ‘General, whom do you regard as the greatest living soldier?’ General Scott at once replied: ‘Colonel Robert E. Lee is not only the greatest soldier of America, but the greatest soldier now living in the world. This is my deliberate conviction, from a full knowledge of his extraordinary abilities, and if the occasion ever arises Lee will win this place in the estimation of the whole world.’ The General then went into a detailed sketch of Lee's services, and a statement of his ability as an engineer, and his capacity not only to plan campaigns, but also to command large armies in the field, and concluded by saying: ‘I tell you, sir, that Robert E. Lee is the greatest soldier now living, and if he ever gets the opportunity, he will prove himself the greatest captain of history.’
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