Zzzcriticisms upon Early.
To say that Early
had faults is to say that he was human; and, as Marshal Turenne
reminds us, ‘to say that he made mistakes, is to say that he made war.’
But even at this day it is difficult to take his problem and its resources and say where or when he might have better brought them in conjunction—the one to solve the other.
To figure on his case at any time was to demonstrate failure; and so many heroic virtues postponed that failure and glorified it that I leave it for others to search for the mistakes and faults.
For my part I am too much filled with honor for the man and the deed to look for or to exploit them, and most of the criticisms upon him are easily answered.
It was said that he should have attacked Hunter
on the 18th of June, the day after he got to Lynchburg
Suffice to answer,
while he and half his corps were there, Rodes
and the other half did not get there until the afternoon of the 18th, and Early
arranged to attack next morning.
Meantime between two suns Hunter
gave leg bail.
It was said he should have captured Hunter
; this is equivalent to saying that Lee
should have captured Pope
, or Hooker
, or Grant
after Cold Harbor.
It was said that he should have captured Washington
; this absurdity has been exposed.
for sending Anderson
's troops back to Lee
before the battle of Winchester
, and two of his own divisions to Martinsburg
As to this criticism, Lee
, as Early
states, requested him to send Anderson
back, and he obeyed.
alike vindicate him from the second.
Early, in fact, got all his troops concentrated for that battle, and Sheridan
says in his report: ‘I had from early in the morning become apprised that I would have to engage Early
's entire army instead of two divisions.’
writes to a critic of Early
, October 10th, that so far as he can judge, Early
has conducted the military operations in the Valley
well; and again, October 14th, that according to his information, General Early
has conducted his operations with judgment, and I am reliably informed that he spoke of Winchester
as one of the best fought battles of the war.
Finally, some say Early
was reckless to meet Sheridan
, and to attack him at Cedar creek
In both cases it was fight or run. To run was to disclose and confess weakness.
In the latter case, to stand was to starve, for he was without rations or forage.
Early had the problem that confronted the Continentals in the Revolution.
He knew he was weak, but when would he be stronger?
‘It may be asked,’ he says, speaking of Cedar creek
, ‘why, with my small force, I made the attack?
I can only say we had been fighting large odds during the whole war, and I knew there was no chance for lessening them.’
Those who dispute this logic had better reassemble the Secession Convention of 1861, and submit the question.
Early was heard upon it before the war was resolved on. After that he took the consequences unmurmuringly.
And well did he vindicate Honest John Letcher
's opinion, when he, as Governor, appointed him a colonel.
Some secession members objected on account of Early
's stubborn unionism.
‘I know Early
,’ replied Letcher
, ‘and if you gentlemen will do as well in the coming struggle, your State will have reason to rejoice.’
If none but those who did as well threw the first stone, it would remain long unflung.