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Early, that amongst our Confederate army commanders he was second only to Lee and Jackson. And who I pray you, may dispute that precedence? We could not say Albert Sidney Johnston, for he never fought a single battle from start to finish; he fell at Shiloh delivering a well-conceived and brave attack; and victory passed from the field with his fall. He lived a glorious hope; he died a glorious martyr; he lives yet a glorious memory, but the deeds he might have done are not. On the same principle, and for reasons, though in far less degree, we could not say, Joseph E. Johnston or Beauregard. They divided honors in our first glorious victory at Manassas, and are entitled to the highest distinction therefor, Johnston manoeuvred well at Yorktown, struck McClellan a parting blow with fine address at Williamsburg, and then, like Albert Sidney Johnston, at Shiloh, fell wounded, as he was pressing the enemy at Seven Pines, when opportunity vanished. For two years he was not again in battle; until 1864, when he took command of a defeated army at Dalton, and conducted a masterly retreat to Atlanta, fighting as he fell back at Dalton, Resaca, New Hope Church, and Kennesaw, and indeed, all along the way, with courage, skill, and effect. Unfortunately removed from the command, ere his plans matured, there was no chance to judge them by the event; and when he returned to a broken but undismayed army, and led it in its last gallant fight, at Bentonville, it was only the prelude of surrender.  General Beauregard defended Charleston and Savannah with great gallantry and engineering skill, but he was engaged in but three great actions during the war—Manassas, in 1861; Shiloh, in 1862; and Petersburg, in 1864. He was victorious in the first, fortune failed him in the second, it perched again upon his banner in the last, when he saved the Cockade City, the very day Early saved Lynchburg, after a three days fight against enormous odds, in one of the best fought battles of the civil war, which followed his skillful ‘bottling up’ of Butler at Drewry's Bluff. But in his case, as in Joseph E. Johnston's, the record is so fragmentary, after Manassas neither of them tried conclusions with an adversary in general engagement (Beauregard at Petersburg excepted), neither of them drove an enemy off the field of conflict—and, whatever their abilities, which undoubtedly were great, they were never put to final tests by uninterrupted campaigns, and can hence not be the subject of satisfactory comparison. Battles unfought and campaigns untried must be left with deeds undone and songs unsung. We may talk forever about the real or assumed greatness of men, but war has only one measure—What did they dare? What did they do? Summing up Early's four years of bloody deeds, of unsurpassed daring, and of long continued and sustained travail, and pointing thereto, who I pray you, presents a record superior in all that tests the soldier and the man?
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