Our infantry suffered for officers often, for such had been the fatality that the remnants of fourteen Virginia regiments had been put in one little brigade under Terry; Hays's and Stafford's brigades had been consolidated likewise—and often there was not even a field officer in a brigade—while regiments were under lieutenants. Not a single brigadier of the Second Corps who commanded in the beginning of the campaign was there scathless to witness its close. No reflection, indeed, can be cast upon Early's soldiers of any arm of the service. They could well say—
'Tis not in mortals to command success,Nor did soldiers ever have a truer friend than Early. He was untiring in making provision for them, and his eulogy of them is praise indeed. ‘I believe,’ says he, ‘that the world never produced a body of men superior in courage, patriotism and endurance to the private soldiers of the Confederate armies. I have repeatedly seen these soldiers submit with cheerfulness to privations and hardships which would appear to be almost incredible; and the wild cheers of our brave men (which was so different from the studied huzzahs of the Yankees) when their lines sent back opposing hosts of Federal troops, staggering, reeling and flying, have often thrilled every fibre of my heart, I have seen with my own eyes ragged, barefooted and hungry Confederate soldiers perform deeds which if performed in days of yore by mailed warriors in glittering armor, would have inspired the harp of the minstrel and the pen of the poet.’ Through the vista of vanished years I seem to see them now. There they go along the road and over the fields with almost shoeless feet, their slouch hats, their gray jackets, and their battle-flags all tattered and torn, but their steps proud and elastic and their high, expectant faces all eager for the fray. Hark! There rings out o'er the rattling musketry and the thundering cannon their lofty cheer—yonder they are—we see them through the smoke drifts now as they stand defiant and dauntless amidst dead, dying and falling comrades, weather—beaten and bronzed, sweat—begrimed and powder-stained, half-starved, half-clothed—without reward, without complaint, asking for nothing but orders—fearing nothing but defeat, hoping nothing but victory. I believe them entitled to eternal glory and everlasting life.
We have done better—we have deserved it.