At the Wilderness
, May 5, 1864, Grant
made his first assault on Lee
. It fell suddenly at our extreme left on General Edward Johnson
's Division of the Second Corps, and it was pressed back in confusion.
There were no reinforcements on the field.
The fate of Lee
's army was imperilled.
had ridden ahead of his troops which were marching in the direction of the sudden battle; and he sent post haste for Gordon
's Brigade, the nearest at hand.
At double quick it came; under Early
's eye it was formed amidst
shot and shell, and thus that magnificent field marshal, John B. Gordon
, led the counter-charge, which restored the fortunes of a lost field.
The next day, May 6th, Early
, with Gordon
leading again, assaulted Grant
's left flank, and put the boot on the other leg, for the result was the capture of 600 prisoners, including Generals Seymour
Early was with Lee
in both of his northern invasions, and is the only other Confederate general who, himself, led two invasions.
He won the only battle ever won by Confederate arms beyond the borders of the Confederacy
, as witness the defeat of Wallace
, on the Monocacy
, July 9th, 1864.
His three victories in 1864 were the last in which the Army of Northern Virginia drove its foe from the battle-field, as witness Hunter
's flight from Lynchburg
, June 19th; Wallace
's, from Monocacy
, July 9th, and Crook
's, from Kernstown
, August 23d.
He led the expedition which, though the smallest in numbers, came nearest of all to capturing Washington
He made the greatest march of the civil war or of modern war.
He was not finally overcome until the army of his adversary numbered on its rolls more men than the Army of Northern Virginia, under Lee
, inclusive of Early
's own troops and those of Beauregard
; not until those in his immediate front were more than three-fold his own in numbers; not until the cavalry of his enemy were more numerous than his own infantry, and reported more men present than his entire command; not until he had killed, wounded and captured more men than he ever mustered upon a field of battle.