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[321] a brighter radiance from their sombre background of suffering and defeat. And this day and on this spot, with heightened pride and undiminished love, the sons of that Old Dominion may still salute her in the patriot Roman's verse—

Salve magna parents frugum, Saturnia tellus,
Magna virum.

This was the land that Lee defended.

Accepting the commission of major-general of the forces of Virginia, he soon passed by the necessary and rapid sway of events into the service of the Confederate States. Virginia had become the battle-ground on which the Confederacy was to win or lose its independence, and Lee could only defend Virginia as a general of the Confederate army.

During the early months of the war he labored unceasingly and with success in the organization of those armies, which stemmed and dashed back the first flood of invasion. Here his patience, his careful and minute attention to details, his knowledge of men, and particularly of those officers of the old army who espoused the Southern cause, his thorough military preparation, and, more than all else, his conviction that the war would be long and desperate, made him an invaluable counsellor of the Confederate Executive. His cooperation with the more fortunate generals, chosen to lead armies in the field, was zealous and cordial, and he did not murmur when at last, in August, 1861, his turn for active service came in what promised to be a thankless and inauspicious duty.

The Confederate arms had been unfortunate in Northwestern Virginia. Garnett had been overwhelmed and defeated. Loring, with large reinforcements, had not pressed forward to snatch the lost ground from an enemy weakened by great detachments. So Lee was sent to Valley Mountain to combine all the elements of our strength, and by a stroke of daring recover West Virginia. The Confederate President was convinced that he was the leader for such a campaign—the opinion of the army and of the people enthuiastically confirmed his choice.

Lee quickly mastered the problem before him by personal reconnoissances, and laid his plans with skill and vigor. But the attack on Cheat Mountain, which a year later would have been a brilliant success, ended in failure and mortification. Lee was able to show to the public but one of the high qualities of a great general—magnanimity

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