The closer [Gen. Philip] Sheridan came to the battle [Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864], the more cheerful and animated his defeated men became. Encountering a small group of them, Little Phil would stand in the saddle, and give a jaunty salute — as if to congratulate them on a great victory, rather than another humiliating defeat.
The result was electric, if not universal. Amid the cheering, one infantry colonel — whose descendants perhaps would go on to become campaign advisors — stood in Sheridan’s path and begged him not to go on.
“The army’s whipped!” he cried.
“You are, but the army isn’t,” growled Sheridan, who then put the spurs to a horse who’s back was taller than he was and rode to the scene of the disaster, shouting, “About face, boys! We are going back to our camps! We are going to lick them out of their boots!”
His men were not beaten. They just needed leadership.
“We are going to get a twist on those fellows, men!” he shouted, pounding down the pike. “We are going to lick them out of their boots!”
And that’s what he did, too. He and his routed army went back to that field and licked those Rebels right out of their boots.
Rank-and-file Republicans can ponder the rest of Bill Whittle's article here, as they lick their wounds in the aftermath of this week's election.