Early had indeed been singularly unsuccessful both in strategy and tactics, but it may be doubted whether another general would have met with better fortune.
had shown himself abundant in resource, instantaneous in acting on his resolves, remorseless in following up a victory; and while himself sleepless in vigilance, prompt to detect every blunder of his enemy.
But beyond these traits, which doubtless contributed in a great degree to his success, he had displayed a rare and fine intellectual ability.
In each of his three great battles he conceived and executed movements remarkable as illustrations of the military art. A left half wheel of the main line, in combination with a flank turning movement, was a favorite manoeuvre, employed both at Winchester
and Fisher's Hill
; it is one that requires the clearest judgment, an unerring eye, an instinctive perception of the situation, and a certainty of design which, united, go far to constitute genius for war. He also exhibited consummate skill in combining great cavalry movements with the evolutions of the entire army in actual battle.
Certainly, by no commander on either side during the war was the cavalry arm employed with more signal success at opportune moments in great engagements, and especially in a way in which infantry could not have been used at all. At Winchester
, it was this combination of massed cavalry with infantry at a critical juncture which decided the day, and the approach of Torbert
's force that sent the rebels ‘whirling through Winchester
;’ while at Cedar Creek
, the charge of Custer
's division converted the rebel defeat into a disastrous rout.
These movements, not planned in advance, but inspired by the circumstances