previous next

[261] the battlefield had given better foot-gear (and Johnny always was particular about his under-pinning). When he had his trusty rifle and well-filled cartridge box, he considered himself splendidly clad with half a uniform and a whole pair of shoes. He was self-reliant always, obedient when he chose to be, impatient of drill and discipline, critical of great movements and small movements, the conduct of the highest and lowest officers, from Mars Robert down to the new-fledged lieutenant. He was proud of his regiment, scornful of odds, uncomplaining of fatigue, ungrumbling at short rations, full of strange drollery and mockery at suffering.

Such was the Confederate soldier between ‘61 and ‘62, before battle and disease had swept away the flower of the Southern youth. He had the élan of the Frenchman, the rollicking humor of the Irishman, the steadfastness of the Englishman or German, and the dogged perseverance of the Scotchman. He was ready to charge a battery with the wild Rebel yell or to receive a charge with the imperturbable calmness of Wellington's veterans at Waterloo. He had the best characteristics of the best fighters of the best races of the whole earth. The independence of a country life, hunting, fishing and the mastery of slaves, gave him large individuality and immense trust in himself. Hence he was unsurpassed and unsurpassable as a scout and on the skirmish line. Of the shoulder-to-shoulder courage, born of drill and discipline, he knew nothing, and cared less. Hence, on the battlefield, he was more of a free lance than a machine. Whoever saw a Confederate line advancing that was not crooked as a ram's horn? Each ragged Rebel yelling on his own hook and aligning on himself.

But there is as much need of the machine-soldier as of the self-reliant soldier, and the concentrated blow is always the most effective blow. The erratic effort of the Confederate, grand, brilliant and heroic though it was, yet failed to achieve the maximum result, just because it was erratic. Moreover, two serious evils attended that excessive egotism and individuality, which came to the Confederate through his training, association and habits. He knew when a movement was false and a position was untenable, and he was too little of a machine to give in such cases that whole-hearted service which might have redeemed the blunder. The other evil was an ever-growing one. His disregard of discipline and independence of character made him often a straggler, and the fruit of many a victory was lost by straggling. I believe that with his exalted patriotism, his high sense of honor and his devotion to duty, the Confederate

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Waterloo, Seneca County, New York (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Wellington (1)
Mars Robert (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: