Zzzsustained by Military tests.
By whatever test you try him, Lee
stand alone before him amongst Confederate army commanders.
If marching be the test, no one in a given time marched so much, so far, so fast.
If fighting be the test, no one fought so steadfastly, so continuously, so frequently, so daringly, so stoutly.
If difficulties and odds encountered be the test, no soldier of the war occupied so many to oppose him, or met such great odds, man to man, in open field fight.
If damage done an enemy be the test, none other but Lee
killed, wounded and captured as many men as he had.
If success be the test, no one can count the names of more victories; or of victories that had more effect.
If result be the test, let this be said, that his desperate campaign of 1864 prolonged the life of the Confederacy
a year — the very day
he left the field Grant
marched to victory—and when he fell at last, the general crash came down upon us all. On these deeds done, and well done, I rest his fame.
Will you tell me that Early
failed, and does this bar the door of fame?
If there be a Cedar creek, there is also a Pontine Marsh
, a Waterloo, and an Appomattox.
A great young nation was extinguished like a dying star.
A whole people, genius, valor, patriotism and renown, went down in calamity and ruin.
Does not Providence
cast down the great, the gifted, and the good to demonstrate virtue, and to instruct us to be careless of fortune?
A soldier must take his fate, whether it comes with death, as it did to Charles XII, to Wallerstein, to Gustavus Adolphus
, to Hampden
and Sidney, to Jackson
, to Polk
, to Cleburne
, to Pegram
, to Wolfe
, to Warren
, and Sidney Johnston; whether it comes by wounds, as to Joe Johnston
, whether in gloom and disaster, as to Hannibal
, to Napoleon
, to Lee
But the deed lives.
What did he dare?
What did he do?
‘Ad parebat quo nihil iniquiusest ex eventua famam habiturum,’ said Livy of old, of one who got fame, not from his own deed, but from happy deliverance, and who, in the chance medley and motley wear of this tumultuous sphere, has not learned that the tricks of the fickle goddess which cast down are ever condoned and repaired by the slow and even hand of justice.
Her harsh decrees in one age are revised by the equity of the next age; and all history tells me with its splendid tale of tragic grandeur and pathetic fate that immortality cherishes for its nurslings the wrecks and castaways of fortune.
Failed! That was yesterday; to-day he stands glorious.