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Got a plan? Work it hard

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Don’t be shy about driving your people, so long as everyone keeps a firm grasp on the goal.

Jubal Early certainly believed it. In 1864, the Confederate commander took his troops on a tear through the countryside to Washington, DC, where only the terrible summer heat defeated them and saved the weakly defended capital.

After a small skirmish with the Federal Army near Fort Stevens, MD, Early’s men melted away, leaving the Union command in such a swivet that it took nearly a day for it to mount a pursuit.

“We haven’t taken Washington, but we’ve scared Abe Lincoln like hell,” Early proclaimed.

You might think that Early’s men would question running around two states only to retreat, but they fully understood the psychological threat against the nation’s capital. One veteran officer called the raid “the most successful expedition we have ever made into the enemy’s country.”

The Rebels also forced the Union to divert 5,000 men to the south.

One of Early’s soldiers from North Carolina wrote: “If the old gentleman did march us very hard, and if we did say very emphatic things about him when the hot sun was overcoming us, we ask the old gentleman’s pardon, for he is the only man who has ever given us a peep at the dome of the Yankee Capital.”

Lesson: Work your plan and your people hard, so that you all can see the plan unfold, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

— Adapted from “The Shenandoah Valley, July 1864,” Scott C. Patchan, Blue & Gray.

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