So high, indeed, did he elevate the hopes of his countrymen by the brilliant audacity and the tremendous energy he imparted to their last struggles that the catastrophe which he so long averted was scarce expected, and was all the more afflicting when it came; and so did he conceal his own weakness of numbers from the enemy, such alarm and terror did he arouse among them that they scarcely yet believe with what a handful he opposed, retarded and menaced them.
If the soreness of defeat made him for awhile the scapegoat of that impatient and intolerant criticism which ever springs from sudden disappointment and passionately demands a victim, such criticism
was the mere frothing of a frantic hour.
It gradually subsided in the calm of peace, its rude tunes were transformed into those of praise and admiration, and as truth has slowly unrolled the scrolls of history with even pace, justice has demanded and will give reparation.
The history of the late war will be written as the history of no war ever was written before, so ample are the records preserved, and so carefully have they been collected, that it has been well said by General William H. Payne
, who served under General Early
, and than whom I know no more gallant officer or competent judge, that the publication of these records, which has destroyed so many reputations, will only add to his.
It has been said by Colonel Sir W. Butler
, the biographer of General Charles George Gordon
, that ‘it is the victor who writes history and counts the dead, and to the vanquished there only remains the dull memory of an unnumbered and unwritten sorrow.’
But in the case of our war we shall, at least, have the consolation of numbering the dead, as well as the survivors, and the official reports, published by the Government
of the United States
, as well as the opinions of Federal officers who are familiar with his campaigns, are in themselves sufficient to place the name of Early
amongst the greatest soldiers of this or of any age.