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1 It would, he knew, have been in vain. One cannot but pity the general obliged to pen such sentences as these: ‘The victory already gained was lost by the subsequent bad conduct of the troops. . . It is mortifying to me, General, to have to make these explanations of my reverses; they were due to no want of effort on my part, though it may be that I have not the capacity or judgment to prevent them . . I know that I shall have to endure censure from those who do not understand my position and my difficulties, but I am still willing to make renewed efforts.’ Then, conscious of what was inevitable, he suggested his own dismissal. ‘If you think, however, that the interests of the service would be promoted by a change of commanders, I beg you will have no hesitation in making the change. The interests of the service are far beyond any personal consideration; and if they require it, I ’

1 [100] details of the rebel disaster, given in the text, are taken from Early's letters to Lee at the time, the contents of which he appears to have forgotten, for in his Memoir he denies the completeness of the defeat, and says it was the case of a ‘glorious victory given up by his own troops after they had won it,’ ‘from the fact that the men undertook to judge for themselves when it was proper to retire,’ which, it may be said, beaten troops very generally do. He also scouts the idea that his army was ‘wrecked’ or ‘fled in dismay before its pursuers.’ I have therefore inserted his letters to Lee, in full, in the Appendix, to correct his memory.

One of his later statements, however, is disproved by other documents, doubtless also inaccessible to him when he wrote. He declares in the Memoir that he went into the battle of Cedar Creek with 8,500 muskets, and he admits a loss of 3,000 men, besides stragglers; yet on the 31st of October, twelve days after the battle, he reported officially to Richmond, 10,577 effective infantry, having received no reinforcements in the meantime.

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