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‘ [255] and were kept well in hand. But little plundering, and only a few shirking their duty. After that hour all was confusion and disorder. The brigade commanders conducted themselves, each and all, with great coolness and judgment, and are deserving of especial mention for using all possible efforts to check their troops, but without success. The death of the brave and heroic soldier, General Ramseur, is not only a loss to this division, but to his State and country at large. No truer and nobler spirit has been sacrificed in this unjust and unholy war.’ Colonel Winston, at the time commanding the Forty-third and Forty-fifth North Carolina regiments, says that ‘only one man of those regiments in passing through the rich spoils of the enemy's camp fell out of ranks, and he did it to get a hat, and was court-martialed.’ And so far as I observed, the charge of General Early, that the loss of the fruits of our victory in the morning was ascribable to the plundering of the soldiers, is a great injustice. Certainly it is so as applicable to that large body of North Carolinians who were then in his corps, and who upon this, as upon prior and subsequent occasions, proved themselves to be among the best soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia.

What General Lee said in his letter to General Early, dated September 22, 1864, in regard to his strategy as a separate commander, was clear to all, and in the main led to his want of success. Lee said: * * ‘As far as I can judge from this distance, you have operated more with your divisions than with your constituted strength. Circumstances may have rendered it necessary, but such a course is to be avoided if possible.’ When General Forest was asked the cause of his uniform success, he replied: ‘I get there first with the most men.’ If not classic, this is at least epigrammatic.

We cheerfully accept the well merited tribute General Early pays the chivalrous and knightly Ramseur, but it is insisted he is entitled to one still higher. Instead of fighting with a few hundred men, as Early elsewhere says, we see him, in the language of General Grimes, ‘holding his division well in hand,’ officers and men doing their duty faithfully, while the disorder and confusion in other parts of the field hastens the disaster which with troops skillfully handled should not have occurred.

It will be asked if the criticisms of Early's valley campaign are just, why did not General Lee remove him? There are several good reasons why General Lee should have been slow to pursue such a course. Early was a man of superior intelligence, he was earnest in

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Jubal A. Early (5)
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Stephen D. Ramseur (2)
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September 22nd, 1864 AD (1)
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