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Appendix: the testimony of letters.

I feel reluctant to add a word to what General Early has written of himself and yet his letters, bearing (as many of them do) upon his manuscript, show that there are some things he has left untold which would interest the reader of his life.

My feeling in this matter proceeds from the remembrance of his sentiments on the subject of biography, which he forcibly expressed in a letter written in 1866 to a correspondent who proposed writing an account of his life, saying:

I trust that you will not suspect me of rudeness or a desire to offend when I respectfully request that you omit mine from the list of biographies you propose writing. If I were to furnish you the materials desired, you would become the biographer of my choice, and I would be bound by what you might write. I hope you will understand what I mean, and will not interpret what I say as intended in an offensive sense. I cannot, of course, prevent your writing on any subject you may choose.

If my biography was of sufficient importance to require its being placed before the world, and my wishes were consulted, I would not trust its compilation to any but one who had known me personally and well: you and I are, personally, entire strangers. During my life I have often associated with men who thought they knew me, but who in fact had very little appreciation of my true character. I would not therefore expect it to be understood by one who is a stranger.

Naturally possessing a reserved disposition, and in his bachelor life cut off from the softening influences of familiar intercourse to be found in the home, it was not entirely the fault of others that he was often misunderstood: but as he has said, those who knew him best were the ones who best appreciated him. The opportunity of intimate acquaintance enabled one to fathom the depths of his kindly nature and to discover his real feelings.

In his autobiographical sketch he writes of the mother whose death was the source of grief to her family, but he does not tell of the affection which caused him to [471] choose her companionship preferably to that of any other, nor of the sense of deprivation he felt upon the loss of her tender counsels at the early age of sixteen. His father was a most thoughtful and affectionate parent, but from him, too, he was parted during the crucial period of his youth, though that parent's watchful care followed closely in a correspondence, preserved by the son, during a long life of many vicissitudes.

As the son's character developed, he inspired more and more confidence and respect, until the relations of father and son seemed to become reversed, and, as years wore on, the position of head of the family was insensibly accorded the son. Possessing a sense of right never swayed by impulse, his opinion and advice were never questioned by members of his family. His grandmother, observing the promise of his youth, had said of him that he was born to make a name for himself.

In his nineteenth year, while a cadet at West Point Academy, his sympathies were very much aroused for the Texans in their revolt against the tyranny of Santa Anna, and he wrote urging his father's consent to his joining in their cause. This letter portrays the disposition of the future patriot, and is in part as follows:

The Texans are bound by every principle of self-preservation and are justified by the natural law of rights, as well as by precedent, to declare their independence and to resist the attempt which is being made to annihilate them. And we of the United States are called upon by every principle of humanity, by our love of liberty and our detestation of oppression, to go to the succor of our countrymen and aid in overwhelming the tyrant. Shall we shed tears over the fate of Greece and Poland, yet see our countrymen slaughtered with indifference? The respect we entertain for our forefathers of the Revolution forbids it. The gratitude we owe another country for espousing our cause imperiously commands us to espouse that of the oppressed. The cause of the Texans is more justifiable than was ours. We resisted the usurpation of our lawful government. They are resisting the tyranny and cruelty of an usurped government. Liberty has been driven from the old world and its only asylum is in the new. It is the imperious duty of every one, who in this fair land has received it and its principles unsullied from his ancestors, to extend its dominion and to perpetuate its glorious light to posterity. How can this be done if [472] tyranny more despotic than that which exists in Europe is allowed to exist in our very confines? In succoring the Texans we should consider that we extend the sway of the goddess we worship, that we secure to their progeny the benefits of which we are so tenacious, and secure to oppressed freemen of other countries an asylum which our own country will, ere long, not be able to afford them ....

The great end of all education is to expand the mind and gain a knowledge of human nature. What is more calculated to expand the mind than the espousing and working in the cause of liberty? What better book in which to study human nature than such a variety of characters as I would be constantly thrown with? All things cry out to me to go. Oh, my dear father, will you not give me permission? Do not think that my resolution has been taken unadvisedly, and do not smile at my aspirations. I do not believe that I shall become a Bonaparte or a Bolivar, but he who never aspires, never rises.

I have confined this letter to one subject because my whole soul is taken up with that subject.

General Early returned from Canada to the States in 1869; that winter was devoted to visits among his relatives and friends from whom he had been so long parted. His father died in 1870. In the autobiography he writes of his father as still living: it is therefore presumable that his manuscript was, at least, commenced while he was in Canada.

Previously he had published at Toronto (in 1866), “A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence,” which was written, he states, “under a solemn sense of duty to my unhappy country, and to the brave soldiers who fought under me, as well as to myself.”

His correspondence was very large and in many cases continued during years. Through this runs the story of his unflagging interest and industry in endeavoring to confirm every minutest detail of the narrative he desired to complete. The letters all show the esteem in which he was held. Many of them are written to thank him for contributions, already written, in the defence of the South. Others urge that he prepare a complete history of the war giving the Southern side.

From among these letters the following are selected; not the least of the interest in which proceeds from the fact that they are voluntary offerings, generally from [473] warm personal friends and received in the course of private correspondence.

The first is from the pen of the beloved leader and is followed by tributes from Jefferson Davis, Generals D. H. Hill and W. H. Payne, Colonels Marshall and Johnston, Senator John W. Daniel, Professors Peters and Venable, Dr. McGuire, and others,--if less known to fame,--none the less ardent in the expression of their regard.

Lexington, Va., Nov., 1865.
General J. A. Early: I received last night your letter, which gave me the first authentic information of you I had received since the cessation of hostilities and relieved the anxiety I had felt on your account. I am very glad to hear of your health and safety, and I wish you every happiness and prosperity: you will always be present to my recollections.
I desire, if not prevented, to write a history of the campaigns in Virginia; all of my records, books, orders, etc., were destroyed in the conflagration and retreat from Richmond, only such reports as were printed are preserved. Your reports of your operations in 1864 were among those destroyed. Can you not repeat them and send me copies of such letters, orders, etc., of mine and particularly give me your recollection of our effective strength at the principal battles? My only object is to transmit, if possible, the truth and do justice to our brave soldiers.

Robert E. Lee.

March, 1866.
I am much obliged for the copies of my letters. Send me reports of the operations of your commands in the campaign from the Wilderness to Richmond, at Lynchburg, in the Valley, Maryland, etc. . . . All statistics as regards numbers, destruction of private property by the Federal troops, etc., I should like to have, as I wish my memory strengthened on these points. It will be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought and the destruction or loss of all returns of the army embarrasses me. We shall have to be patient and suffer till a period when reason and charity may resume their sway. At present the public mind is not prepared to receive the truth. I hope in time peace will be restored to the country and that the South may enjoy some measure of prosperity. I fear, however, much suffering is still in store for her and that the people must be prepared to exercise fortitude and forbearance.

Robert E. Lee.

Montreal, Canada.
General J. A. early:
I wish to thank you for your last offering to the cause you served so zealously and efficiently in the field. To vindicate the struggle [474] of the South to preserve their political and social inheritance by truthfully stating events was alike due to those to whom its regeneration must be confided, as well as to those who suffered for that cause. Your career as a commander met my entire approval and secured my admiration. It was such estimate concurrently held by General Lee and myself that led to your selection to command the vitally important and difficult campaign which you have described in your recent publication. The means were known to be disproportionate to the task before you when you marched against General Hunter. That they proved adequate, is glory enough for you and your associates. It would be easy to show, if it were desirable now to enter upon that question, at whose door lies the responsibility of subsequent disasters. You have rendered the more grateful and useful service of showing at whose door it does not belong.

Jefferson Davis.

University of Virginia.
General J. A. early:
I have thought much of this matter of the Army of Northern Virginia, and my earnest, honest belief is that you should write memoirs of its campaigns. I don't know any nobler labor of love, even if you do not publish it.

If you write and leave it unfinished even, I will pledge myself to edit it and have it published as a true memorial of your love and affection for that noble army of martyrs. General Lee ought to have done this thing. Now that he is gone, the duty devolves on you to give the account of all the campaigns in detail from the beginning to the end. This is the only way to defeat the deplorable effects of thousands of books of misapprehension, because nobody has written authoritatively on the subject. I do hope you will take the matter into consideration and undertake the work. I will do everything I can to collect material for you. . . . Your address at Washington and Lee is the best piece of military criticism which has been written on our war, and I beg you earnestly and solemnly as a duty to that old Army of Northern Virginia to write a history of its campaigns; it would be most appropriate and essential.

Charles S. Venable.

University of Virginia.
General J. A. Earl.Y: I write, at the lapse of twenty-five years from the close of the war, on a matter in which you are interested as well as every man who served under you. It is due to yourself and to the truth of history that you should write a minute, calm and complete history of your campaigns, from the time you were detached from the army around Petersburg, in 1864, until the affair at Waynesboro.
My honest conviction is that your campaign will lose nothing by [475] comparison with that of our great Jackson in the same field, and for the following reasons:

(lst) With about 12,000 (perhaps fewer) men you met and defeated Hunter at Lynchburg with an army of 20,000 men. You pursued him, driving him out of Virginia into Kanawha Valley, thus diverting him from the valley of Virginia. He had (I think) two brigades of cavalry,--you did not have over 1,500 cavalry.

(2nd) You made a forced march down the valley, whipping another army of 12,000 men at Monocacy, after driving all the Federal forces out of the valley, marched to the very walls of Washington City, causing the withdrawal of a large force from the front of Lee, for the protection of the city.

(3rd) You fell back into Virginia, when your force reduced by fighting and marching could not have exceeded 9,000 men. Sheridan was sent to meet you with 35,000 or 40,000 men. Up to this period your campaign was brilliantly successful. The disproportion was vastly greater between your forces and Sheridan's than between Jackson's and Shields' at Kernstown. If it had been possible to reinforce you at Winchester to the extent of 20,000, you would have driven Sheridan into the Potomac.

(4th) Now observe. After Kernstown, Jackson fell back up the valley, was reinforced by Ewell; the latter was left to hold Banks in check. Jackson marched with his own force, 4,500 men, took command of Johnston's force of two brigades, 3,500 men, defeated Milroy, 7,000 men, returned centre with Ewell and with a force, now something over 20,000, expelled Banks (who commanded not over 7,000) from the valley. When threatened by Fremont from the west and Shields from the east-each with about 18,000 men-he retired, keeping them in check, and fought with equal numbers, the battle of Port Republic.

Again. At Chancellorsville Jackson, by order of Lee, by a forced and daring march, attacked the right flank of the Federal Army, surprised and routed it. You, by a similar march, surprised and routed the advance forces of Sheridan at Cedar Creek. His remaining force would have been routed had not the troops halted to plunder the captured camp. Who was responsible for this? Those who commanded under you, whose business and duty it was to keep their troops well in hand, and pursue the routed army.

I have thought much of your campaign in the valley when our military affairs were in extremis and think you did all that could have been done. I urge that you will write a full, consecutive history of that campaign, not leaving out of view the service rendered by your cavalry; they acted a most important part in saving Lynchburg until your arrival.

You reached Lynchburg late in the afternoon; the day before [476] your cavalry met the Federal force at New London at 2 o'clock P. M. and held them until night; fell back during the night to the old Quaker Church and there held them till the following night. Had the cavalry not so detained Hunter, he would have captured Lynchburg during the forenoon of the day in which you reached the city. No campaign of the war was superior to this.

William E. Peters.

Lexington, Virginia
General J. A. early:
I throw out a suggestion for your consideration, which would be to the country a matter of inestimable value, for the merit of truth and knowledge. I refer to a history of Virginia. You have given the subject more accurate study than anybody else. Write it out and publish it. I write after a good deal of reflection about it. Though you may not know it, your explicit, lucid pen reflects your mind more accurately always than your tongue, which must banter, willy-nilly.

Wm. Preston Johnston.

New York.
General J. A. early:
More than a year ago in some correspondence with the sons of General R. E. Lee, I was referred to you by General W. H. F. Lee, for information respecting the intention of the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia at the time of the assault on Fort Steadman and Haskell before Petersburg, March 25th, 1865. Although you may not have been actually engaged there, General Lee says you are an authority on all the operations of that army.

George L. Kilmer.

Treasury Department, Washington, D. C.
General J. A. early:
Accept my special thanks for a copy of your narrative of the military operations in the Shenandoah Valley and east of the Blue Ridge. Knowing your strict and straightforward fidelity to the truth makes the perusal all the more interesting.

W. S. Rosecrans.

For the benefit of history, a physician would prolong his life indefinitely.

Richmond, Virginia.
General J. A. early: I leave the city to-night on my way to England, but I cannot go without telling you how glad I am that you have been chosen to deliver the address at Lexington.
I know General Jackson admired you and believe, if he could be consulted in the matter, he would select you to make the address.

I wish you could live forever, if only to keep history straight.

Hunter McGuire, M. D..


There are so many pages devoted to recalling war incidents and exploits that it becomes difficult to make the choice, from among them, of such as might serve to gain the especial interest of the reader; those which disclose critical situations and unconscious heroism, such as these sent from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Farmdale, Kentucky, will best appeal to veterans of the war:

Charlotte, N. C.
General J. A. early:
You remember that I was the cause of your being sent to Ross Pole just before the first Fredericksburg battle. Did you ever notice that Burnside said that Halleck had selected Ross Pole for the crossing of the Federal Army, but that he had taken the responsibility of crossing at Fredericksburg, because Halleck had selected Ross Pole before troops had been sent to guard it, and that as the circumstances had changed he felt at liberty to disobey orders? Your presence at the first place made Burnside cross at Fredericksburg. On that horrible Sunday I rode up with young Morrison from Port Royal to Ross Pole, and found that we did not have even a cavalry picket there, while the Federals were in force on the other side and were working on a batteau bridge. I wrote to General Jackson about the condition of things, and you were sent down. You never rendered more important service ....

You and I were long side by side, and, like you, I was only unpopular with those soldiers who did not do their duty ....

Your letter was full of touching interest to me, who am alive to any incident connected with the rank and file.

I have laid it away for the benefit of my children's children. You are so accurate in statistics, I would be afraid of a blunder, if I differed with you.

In comparing my statistics with yours in my address, I wished to say, “General Early knows more of Confederate history than any man now living, probably for the reason that he has never moved out of the Confederacy” --but I know you did not like some haversack anecdotes which were entirely to your credit, and which endeared you to thousands of our people. You were so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to be considered the wittiest man in the army and doubtless many clever and witty things were put upon you in consequence.

Heaven bless you always!

D. H. Hill.


Kentucky Military Institute, Farmdale, Ky.
General J. A. early:
Captain Sam Gaines went to the reunion at Gettysburg some years ago and while standing at the point taken by you (Hays' and Hoke's brigades on Cemetery Heights) he says a Federal officer, who was also in the battle, told him that your charge was more serious than you or our people seemed to be aware of,--that you really had passed in rear of Meade's headquarters and that Meade and his staff would certainly have been your prisoners had you been supported on your right, so that you could have held the ground you had taken. The officer pointed out the house in which Meade and his staff, virtually for the time (you held the heights) your prisoners, were at the time you made the assault, and that it was in the rear of your position; that it was indeed a crisis with the Federals.

D. F. Boyd, Supt.

In his manuscript, General Early refers to his order for the burning of Chambersburg; this I do not find, but in an article in the Richmond State, June 22nd, 1887, he makes this statement:

The act was done in retaliation for outrages committed by General David Hunter in the Valley of Virginia.

I thought it was time to try and stop this mode of warfare by some act of retaliation, and I accordingly sent a cavalry force to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to demand of the authorities of that town compensation for the houses of Messrs. Hunter, Lee and Boteler, upon pain of having their town reduced to ashes on failure to pay the compensation demanded. The three houses burned were worth fully $100,000 in gold and I demanded that, or what I regarded as equivalent in greenbacks. No attempt was made to comply with my demand and my order to burn the town was executed.

This was in strict accordance with the laws of war and was a just retaliation. I gave the order on my own responsibility, but General Lee never in any manner indicated disapproval of my act, and his many letters to me expressive of confidence and friendship forbade the idea that he disapproved of my conduct on that occasion. It afforded me no pleasure to subject non-combatants to the rigors of war, but I felt that I had a duty to perform to the people for whose homes I was fighting and I endeavored to perform it, however disagreeable it might be.

It may not be out of keeping with General Early's object in writing a history of the war to insert a letter [479] from a former Federal soldier acknowledging kindness received while he was held as prisoner within Southern lines. The one chosen gives the address at the National Military Home in Montgomery County, Ohio:

General J. A. early:
I write in memory of old times and a special act of kindness on your part, when in the midst of battle, with your self-earned brave army around, and General Sheridan's army contending at Cedar Creek, Virginia, October 19th, 1864. I was wounded, early at dawn of day, in the face and right thigh, and was unable to walk on account of my wounds. Your men came to me and asked how long since I was paid off; and then searched me, but I had no money, as I had not lately been paid. One of the men came up to me and took my canteen; just then you came riding along and spoke to me, asking if I was badly hurt. I said “Yes, sir, I am.” I looked earnestly at you and said to you, “Do you allow a man to rob another of the last drop of water he possesses” You replied, “No.” “Well,” I said, pointing to a man who had just robbed me, “there stands the man who took my canteen.”

Straightway you rode up to him, made him give up my canteen, and filled it, yourself, with water for me.

“Now,” said you, “get away to your command.”

Thomas Douglas, Late of Co. G, 12th Reg.

Volumes might be filled from the collection, which in length of time covers the period of his manhood to old age, all attesting respect for the veracity of his character. Perhaps the finest tribute to him comes from the pen of his devoted friend, General Wm. H. Payne, of Warrenton, who writes:

There is no man now living who so entirely commands my respect, or of whose good opinion I am so covetous, as yours. What I most admire in you is your passionate love of truth. I am truly pleased to know that you are to deliver the address on the Jackson statue. So many false conceptions of men and events are cultivated, that one gives up all hope of truth ever having an audience. It is a consolation to know that it will be spoken at Lexington.

The friendship between General Early and Senator Daniel dated from the time the latter became a member of Early's staff.

The acquaintance thus begun ripened into a friendship [480] which never paled, and which afforded General Early great satisfaction. I have selected from a bundle of his letters a hurried note written in 1874 while Senator Daniel was a candidate for Congress,--in order to show the friendly relations existing between these two.

my Dear General:
The three tickets enclosed were elected here to-night by overwhelming majorities. I shall have 60 votes on first ballot. I ask that you will do me the honor to nominate me in convention. It will be glory enough whether I succeed or not. I beg that you will come and help me now. You said, in Richmond, you “raised me.” Come then and stand by your boy.

Yours truly, John W. Daniel.

After an interval of eight years, there is a letter telling of Daniel's desire to write the life of his friend. To accomplish this purpose he seems to have collected a vast deal of material. The answer to his request has not been found.

December 3rd, 1882.
my Dear General:
I have wished to talk with you about a contemplated undertaking in which you are not disinterested. With your permission and good will in the plan, I desire to render such contribution to the history of the war as I may be able to do, in the shape of a volume to bear the title “The Life and Campaigns of Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early.”

I have some elements of qualification in familiarity with some of your campaigns and a very good general knowledge of the conditions under, and means with which you conducted others. My mind continually recurs to the war and not a day passes that its various scenes and phases are not revolved over and over again. It would be a relief to work on the subject, and did you consent to my doing so in the manner indicated, in a year or two I could prepare the work as well as my poor abilities permit: and while, to tell the truth would be ever the uppermost thought, it would be a labor of love to me to recount it in the themes proposed. If for any reason you do not wish me to write such a book, your wishes would of course control me, but unless you object, my mind is made up to the undertaking If you approve there are many things in which I would need your assistance. Think over this matter and let me know your views. Most truly yours,

John W. Daniel.

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