Let me lay before you, to begin with, some of his most important and distinguished services.
He was a graduate of West Point
, a veteran of three wars, and he took part in the civil war in well-nigh fifty battles and skirmishes.
He was engaged therein at Bull Run
, Malvern Hill
, Cedar Mountain
, Fauquier Springs, Bristoe
, Second Manassas
, Ox Hill
, (or Chantilly
), Harper's Ferry
(or Second Fredericksburg
), Salem Church, Winchester
, Second Bristoe
, Mine Run
, the Wilderness
, the Po
, Parker's Ford, Shepperdstown, Kernstown
again (or Oppequan), Fisher's Hill
, Cedar Creek
and in many less affairs, such as Auburn
, Summerville Ford
and Port Republic
Some of these names stand for several days of battle.
I doubt if there was an officer or soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia who, in the open field, was oftener under fire.
He was the right-hand man of Jackson
, in his corps, and the right-hand man of Lee
, after Jackson
had fallen, and he enjoyed the abiding confidence of both.
He was successively a colonel, a brigadier-general, a major-general and a lieutenant-general, each promotion coming to him unsolicited and unsought, and he commanded with equal ability a regiment, a brigade, a division, a corps, and an army.
It was his brigade which, after a swift march from right to left, at the first battle of Manassas
, broke the last front of resistance offered by the enemy; and General Joseph E. Johnston
says of Colonel Early
, in his narrative of the war: ‘He reached the position intended just when the Federal
army was apparently about to assume the offensive, and assailed its exposed front.
The attack was conducted with too much skill and courage to be for a moment doubtful.
The Federal right was at once thrown into confusion.
A general advance of the Confedrate line, directed by General Beauregard
, completed our success, and won the battle.’
This gave Early
promotion to the rank of brigadier-general.