Zzzfour years of conflict.
He who fought this good fight was amongst the last of the statesmen to cling to peace and union, and he was among the first when his State was invaded, to enter the ranks of war, offering his services the very day the convention adjourned, and making no condition of rank as to their acceptance; and, the sword once drawn, none wielded a trustier blade, or returned it more slowly or reluctantly to the scabbard.
Amidst the thunders of Manassas
in the victorious dawn of the young nation struggling to be free, he won his first renown; and from that day to the sunset guns of the Lost Cause
he illustrated its genius, its self-sacrifice, and its prowess with deeds that will live
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.
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
had trod in the days of strength and triumph, and winning victory where even their conquering footsteps had been halted.