Page:A memoir of the last year of the War of Independence, in the Confederate States of America.djvu/142
vigour, and a full determination to make available every ele- ment of success.
Immediately after the battle of Cedar Creek, I had written a letter to General Lee, stating my willingness to be relieved from command, if he deemed it necessary for the public in- terests, and I should have been content with the course pur- sued towards me, had his letter not contained the expressions of personal confidence in me which it does; for I knew that, in everything he did as commander of our armies. General Lee was actuated solely by an earnest and ardent desire for the success of the cause of his country. As to those among my countrymen who judged me harshly, 1 have not a word of reproach. When there was so much at stake, it was not unnatural that persons entirely ignorant of the facts, and forming their opinions frcm the many false reports set afloat in a time of terrible war and public suffering, should pass erroneous and severe judgments on those commanders who met with reverses.
I was not embraced in the terms of General Lee's surrender or that of General Johnston, and, as the order relieving me from command had also relieved me from all embarrassment as to the troops which had been under me, as soon as I was in a condition to travel, I started on horse-back for the Trans-Miss- issipi Department, to join the army of General Kirby Smith, should it hold out ; with the hope of at least meeting an honor- able death while fighting under the flag of my country. Before I reached that Department, Smith's army had also been sur- rendered, and, without giving a parole or incurring any obli- gation whatever to the United States authorities, after a long, weary, and dangerous ride from Virginia, through the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missis- sippi, Arkansas and Texas, I finally succeeded in leaving the country ; a voluntary exile rather than submit to the rule of our enemies.
J. A. EARLY