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[291] as long as pure hearts are open to receive the story of a patriot's devotion, a general's skill, or a hero's valor.

Swift marches and desperate encounters, brilliant manoeuvres, stubborn defences, and fiery onsets mark his career all along the pathway of the four years of conflict, and you have only to follow their fiery and bloody trail to find him. In the last of those years—in terrible 1864—when the flames of the incendiary lit the pathway of the reeking sword, he led the forlorn hopes of his country in such splended fashion that it seemed as if Stonewall lived again. He ‘swept across the field of Mars’ with his meagre and decimated battalions, as if invincible hosts trained at his back and assured victory beckoned him to a feast of conquest.

In the midsummer of that year, when the army under Lee lay in the trenches around Richmond, confronted by the army of the Potomac under Grant, and Hunter with 18,000 strong concentrated upon his rear to capture Lynchburg and compel surrender, it was then that Early rushed upon him with such precipitate steps that with half his numbers he drove him into the wilds of West Virginia, and when the one paused panting on the banks of the Ohio the other was thundering at the gates of Washington, and Grant was hastening troops from his army to defend it. Twice during that year did he penetrate into the North with a band scarce more than a skirmish line compared to the masses that were marshalled against him, treading in the dying days of the Confederacy with a firm and equanimious step the paths which Lee and Jackson had trod in the days of strength and triumph, and winning victory where even their conquering footsteps had been halted.

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