of actual battle, and executed at the instant when they were of the utmost consequence, evince that innate quality of a great commander which can neither be taught nor acquired; while the charge that Sheridan
led in person at Cedar Creek
, cutting off a large flanking party, as well as his whole conduct in this battle—the magnetic power he exercised over the fugitives, and the manner in which he was able to induce a beaten army to return and rout its victors—all constitute one of the most remarkable instances of personal influence in military history.
telegraphed to the government: ‘Turning what bid fair to be disaster into glorious victory stamps Sheridan
what I have always thought him, one of the ablest of generals.’
His antagonist, however, had not been altogether incompetent.
Early was skilful, if over cautious, in his operations at the mouth of the Valley
, and although he accomplished no more positive results, he nevertheless prevented Sheridan
for some weeks from achieving anything of importance.
He finally blundered, in dispatching two divisions to Martinsburg
, in the presence of a wary opponent.
They were brought rapidly back, it is true, when the danger became manifest; but the mistake undoubtedly contributed to his disaster at Winchester
Early, however, was always quick to return upon Sheridan
's steps, when that commander made a retrograde movement; he was rarely deficient in vigor, and the plan of the battle of Cedar Creek
was full of design as well as boldness; but, judging from results, he must have lacked clearness of judgment and quickness of resource in the turmoil of battle: if he met disaster, it was irremediable;