Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/70

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64 Southern Historical Society Papers.

and countermarches, that could possibly be brought into play to make up a magnifying maze of movements and motives, were required to deceive and bewilder him. With Magruder it was not a question of strength in arms, but of strength in skill, in audacity, in military diplomacy. He was equal to it all. Here, there, everywhere, by night and by day, he showed himself to the enemy in a magnifying glass, not only exaggerating the numerical proportions of his army, but in making illusive and confusing dispositions of his troops, in carefully concealed changes, and in transformations as deceptive as a juggler's tricks. General McClellan was a man of exceptional mental capacities ; he was familiar with the arts and with the science of warfare ; he had courage of the finest temper and character of the highest type ; he was doubtless as eager to move upon Richmond as the authorities at Washington were impatient in expecting him to do it. But the strategic genius of Magruder threw a spell over him and made him see a mountain that was but a mole-hill in a mirage. And so the Peninsula was held by terv thousand men against more than ten times ten until the Army of Northern Virginia, with Gene- ral Joseph E. Johnston (the Von Moltke of the Confederacy), came upon the scene. And then there was a great gray lion, " sure enough" as they say in lower Virginia to look the big blue lion defiantly in the face.

John Bankhead Magruder was a very remarkable man. His was what might be literally called "a picturesque personality." He had a fondness for tinsel and tassels. With an irrepressible spirit of restless energy, instinctively susceptible of the charm of danger, full of health and physical force, it was evident that nature had made him for a soldier. Of courtly address, a sparkling, flowing, delight- ful talker, a terse, correct and inspiring writer, he could not but be a striking figure in social and civil life, of course. But it was in the field, in full military array, well mounted, as he always was, with the fire of patriotic ambition and personal pride in his eye, that he was seen at his best. He was unsurpassed in horsemanship, and he sat in his saddle as if his ease and grace and steadiness of seat belonged to him by instinct rather than from training. There were few such fine-looking men as he was in either army. As a man he had his faults, of course, or he would not have been human. He was im- pulsive; capricious on occasion; sometimes too quick, perhaps, in the