Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/314

This page has been validated.
Southern Historical Society Papers.

in boyhood the neighbor and the friend of Ashby and was of a kindred spirit with that knight and paladin of Virginia and the valley of Virginia. They read the same books, they dreamed the same dreams. Nor was either content to be a dreamer. Each sought to make the dream reality. For them chivalry was not a mere poetic parable, but the glowing reality of life. For them the book of chivalry was not chained to the altar; but where the book was there rose an altar and the book was the struggle of man. To each this was an infallible book of duty pointing to what for each was very nearly the whole duty of man. To be taught to struggle with obstacles, to cope with the difficult, is far the best part of education. Faith to struggle is what is meant by character—the highest being that of moral struggle with material obstruction. At the head of a charge, whether of the Black Horse Troop or of his brigade in Fitz Lee's division, Payne was in the place carved out for him by nature. A trooper's sabre was his faith, his hope and—for the foe of all he loved—his charity. As Scott said, after severing connection with Vera Cruz, Payne might have said of his own spirit, "The scabbard was thrown away and we advanced with the naked blade." His was the grace which made daring beautiful. He was a lineal descendant of that old Bersekir daring which by preference went to sea in a storm. He had the joy of danger. We know by all the laws and inferences of knowledge that the bugle call to arms was to him as the cry of hounds to the hunter or the roll of the reel to one who wanders by the trout stream. The gleam of his sabre was as the flash of a knightly eye. Fie knew by instinct how to excite and sustain enthusiasm. He was as alert in his disciplined precautions as he was intrepid in facing odds. He was an enthusiast in war, he did it with all his might. Briefly, let me illustrate the traits of one for whom numbers had no terrors; who despised numbers 2nd defied defeat They are traits which illustrate the dash and daring most essential to the cavalry officer.

Guarding Early's Left.

On September 3, 1864, he took command of his cavalry brigade (consisting of the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Virginia Regi-