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Full text of "Memorial address delivered by Col. Ephraim F. Anderson at Antietam National Cemetery : May 30, 1870"

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Col. Ephraim F. Anderson. 


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iitiditm A Htioniil :(j^emritrg, 

IsLJ^^ 30, 1870. 

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Corner of Gay and Lombard Streets. 


Prifited at the request of Samuel I. Piper, Edirard M. 

Mohley and Jolin Reielinrd, irho n:ere appointed a 

Committee to soli fit a ropy for publication. 


The concourse of people having reached the Cemetery 
grounds, with c[uantities of flowers to scatter about the sol- 
diers' graves, they assembled in front of a stand which had 
been erected, when the exercises were commenced with music 
and singing, followed with solemn prayer by the Rev. Wra. 
M. Osborn, after which Col. Ephraim F. Anderson was in- 
troduced as tlie Orator of the day, who sjioke as follows : 

Ladies and Gentlemen : 

We have come here to-day with evergreens and flowers to 
decorate the graves of our fallen heroes. The 30th of May, 
which has been designated as our "Memorial Day," is indeed 
becoming a national anniversary — the saddest yet the sweet- 
est of all the days we celebrate. These tender observances 
help to humanize our feelings and purify our patriotism. — 
Our annual pilgrimages to these sacred little mounds make 
our hearts better and inspire us with a purer love of country. 
While people everywhere, botli civilized and barbarous, have 
fondly cherished the memory of their brave ones slain in bat- 
tle, yet their tributes of sorrow and gratitude have been com- 
memorative rather of their great national triumphs, or lavish- 
ed upon their victorious cbieftains alone. Monuments have 
been reared to the very heavens to point where battles were 
fought and won, or to mark where famous leaders fell, and 
pyramids have been erected for the sepulture of kings ; but 
the rank and file of armies have passed unnoticed as indivi- 
duals, and have been allowed to commingle their dust in shal- 
low, evenly covered ditches, in forgotten or unfrequented 

We are not here to-day to gaze up toward the apex of some 
proud pillar, as it pierces the sky ; nor are we come where 

our sentiment for the dead wiU be lost in admiration of the 
splendid mausoleum or' cosft]A>C5notaph. Within these cem- 
etery walls five thousand of our brave defenders lie slumber- 
ing, and we are come to this bivouac of our gallant dead, bring- 
ing with us the bloom and fragrance of early spring-time — 
beautiful flowers, delicate and tender as the emotions which 
they symbolize — beautiful flowers with which God's love has 
made our earth smile — beautiful flowers to be arranged by 
fair hands over each humble yet honored grave. I know not 
whether the departed turn back to view the honors bestowed 
upon their remains, but if such be their wont, I imagine 
the spirits of those whose bones repose here are hovering 
about these memorial services ; and these lovely flowers are 
only less grateful to them than the nation's starry flag which 
they hallowed by their blood. 

While this occasion is mainly in honor of the cause for 
which our soldiers gave up their lives, it at the same time 
engages tho tenderest afiectious of our hearts, for we are sen- 
sible that those who sleep here are our sons and our brothers, 
and Ave perform, though imperfectly, the sweet ofiices which 
their dearer kindred would esteem their sacred privilege. 

In all times, it has been a fond desire of the human race to 
be buried, after death, among their kindred in the family 
graveyard, where surviving friends might often stray and be- 
stow their tributes of affection. 

When Jacob was about to die his last thoughts went back 
to the field of Machpelah, and, calling his son Joseph to his 
side, he placed him under oath and said to him — " Bury me 
not I pray thee in Egypt, but I will lie with my fathers, and 
thou shalt carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their bury- 
ing-place. * * * There they buried Abraham and Sarah, 
his wife ; there they buried Isaac and Rebecca, his wife ; and 
there I buried Leah." And then again, in fulfilment of 
an oath, the children of Israel took up the bones of Joseph, 
carrying them all along their forty years* journey through 
the wilderness in order to give them final sepulture among 
his people. 

Our ofierings to-day are for the Union Soldier, who sleeps 
among strangers far away from the family vault. But it is 
pleasing to know that, though the mother and sisters may 
never come to plant the white rose and train the myrtle, yet the 
Soldier boy's grave is not neglected — with his life's blood he 
purchased a fond mother and gentle sisters in every home- 
defended by his valor, and thci/ will come, by-times, to deck 

his modest tomb with choice flowers and moisten its verdure 
with grateful tears. 

As we stand here to-day our minds naturally go back to 
the sanguinary scene enacted on this field, and also to the 
events Avhich preceded and led to that memorable struggle. 
The great battle of Antietara "was fought on the 17th of Sep- 
tember, 1862, between the Union forces known as the Army 
of the Potomac, under Gen. McClellan, and the Confederates 
known as the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Gen. 

I shall not commence at the beginning of our military ope- 
rations and follow the train of events leading up to the one 
which transpired here. 

It may be proper, however, to notice a few leading inci- 
dents which may serve as landmarks to show us at what 
point of the war this battle was fought, and also to glance 
briefly at the history of the Army of the Potomac up to that 

One year and a half elapsed between the attack on Fort 
Sumter and the date of this battle, during the whole of 
which period hostilities never ceased and the contest widened 
and grew in magnitude. After several small, though at that 
time, important actions, including Philippi, Big Bethel and 
the disastrous battle of Bull Run, Gen Mc Clellan reported to 
Washington in July, 18G1, and commenced organizing the 
Army of the Potomac. But it was not until the 1st of April, 
1862, that he completed his task and placed that organiza- 
tion in the field at Fortress Monroe. In the mean time large 
armies were operating in other theatres of the war^ and start- 
ling results were convulsing the public every day. In the 
west Grant had given us Fort Donelson, and nearer at home 
we had fought the first battle of Winchester, while at Hamp- 
ton Koads our glorious little Monitor, the "Ericson," had 
cleared out the exultant Merrimac and revealed to the world 
a proud wonder in naval warfare. 

Still another month elapsed before McClellan was prepared 
to advance up the Peninsula. But the war continued to rage 
elsewhere with augmented violence, and tlie country was not 
Avithout stirring events. The famous battle of Shiloh and the 
capture of Island No, 10 took place early in the month, and 
before the close of it Farragut and Butler were in New Or- 

It was about the 1st of May that the Army of the Potomac 
entered actively upon its eventful career. As it moved for- 

ward towards Richmond, hurling back the enemy from his 
strongholds at Yorktown, Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, and 
planting the stars and stripes within plain view of the rebel 
capital, the eyes of the nation were withdrawn from all other 
fields, and the loyal heart stood still for the issue. 

It was the grandest army that had ever mana3uvered on 
this continent, and combined the pride and hope of our tremb- 
ling cause. It went forth with the oft-repeated " God bless 
you," and was followed by the prayers of a righteous people; 
and right nobly did it answer back from more than three score 
bloody battle-fields, speaking back from Appomattox through 
the bright rainbow of peace. It has been ascertained th at 
more than one half of all our killed and wounded, both by 
land and sea, during the entire war, belonged to the Army of 
the Potomac. But its work was not all victories. It was des- 
tined to be tried by many reverses and disasters. Soon came 
the terrible seven days' battle, which terminated a fruitless 
and, therefore, disastrous campaign. Though our army fail- 
ed of its object and withdrew from its advanced position be- 
fore Richmond, yet it cannot be said to have been whipped. 
On the contrary, in every collision during the seven days' 
combat the enemy was handsomely repulsed — signally so in 
the closing one at Malvern Hill, where he was sent back reel- 
ing from the field. I shall not presume to point out where 
the responsibility of the failure of our Peninsular campaign 
ought to rest. I prefer to leave that for the future historian, 
who can weigh the bearings and causes more dispassionately. 
Thus much I will say — it was no fault of the rank and file of 
our noble army. The retreat of Gen. Pope from the Rapi- 
dan put an end to our offensive operations for the time, and 
September found the Army of the Potomac back within the 
defences of Washington, where it had left with such high prom- 
ise five months before. It was in view of our embarrassing 
condition at this time that Lee conceived the idea of inva- 
sion. Among other reasons assigned by him for advancing 
into Maryland was, (to use his own language,) "the hope 
that military success might afibrd an opportunity to aid the 
citizens in any efibrts they might be disposed to make to re- 
cover their liberty." But coming as he did into Western 
Maryland, the loyal section of the State, he was chagrined to 
find the people entertaining views on the subject of "liber- 
ty" widely difierent from those held by him and his deluded 
followers, and by no means disposed to make the "efibrts" 
which he desired. Had he found his way into tlie lower 

counties of the State, or iato the city of Baltimore, which 
was one of the objective points of his campaign, he would 
have been received by a population more largely impressed 
with his peculiar idea of liberty, though probably not more 
disposed to make the expected "efforts" for the recovery of its 
supposed loss. 

In addition to the prospect of inciting insurrection in Mary- 
land and recruiting his forces, he trusted the moral effect of 
being able to invade the territory of the Union would inspire 
the rebel cause with new life and hope. He was also natu- 
rally ambitious to win for his army the applause of so bold a 
stroke. At the same time, particular objects were had in 
view and many grand results anticipated. Disaster was 
scarcely dreamed of. He had learned to despise his antago- 
nist, and calculated that our army would remain harmlessly 
defending the capital until reenforced by the draft which had 
just been ordered, and thus allow him to range very much at 
his pleasure over the great Cumberland Valley, possessing 
himself of the fine cattle and newly-reaped harvest. Or, 
should we attempt to check his advance by throwing our army 
in his front, thereby uncovering Baltimore and Washington, 
he thought it would be a light matter to cripple or destroy 
our forces, and then capture one or both of these great cities. 

Having placed his army on the west side of the Blue Ridge, 
he intended to use that lofty mountain as a curtain, behind 
which he proposed to execute a series of movements in order 
to open his communications with Richmond by way of the 
Shenandoah Valley ; all of which, judging from our usual 
tardiness, he thought might be accomplished almost unob- 
served, or at least without serious interference. But the brave 
Potomac Army, that had wrestled with him along the Chica- 
hominy, though wounded and travel-worn, was keeping cau- 
tious pace, with one shoulder towards Baltimore and AVash- 
ngton, ready to defend them when necessary, and the other 
resolutely set against the insolent invader. A copy of Lee's 
order, setting forth his entire plan of operations, falling into 
McClellan's hands at Frederick on the 13th, he ordered an 
immediate advance, and coming upon the enemy at South 
Mountain, delivered battle on the 14th, and drove the rebels 
up the rugged steeps and over the crest, gloriously routing 
them from almost unapproachable fastnesses, and bursting 
through Turner's and Crampton's Gaps like ocean waves im- 
pelled by an earthquake. As those serried files came issuing 
through the mountain passes and streaming down the slopes, 

Lee withdrew his eyes from where they had been restiii^ witli 
such sweet expectation along the beautiful and far-streaching 
Cumberland valley ; for he beheld before him a terrible real- 
ity burying all his bright visions. He saw at a glance that 
the necessities for dropping the ofiensive were imperious. He 
had either to shrink back ingloriously across the Potomac, 
or defend himself on the spot. A portion of his army being 
distant, operating against Harper's Ferry, the danger of an 
immediate attack rendered his situation extremely critical. — 
What he wanted was precious time — time for his detached 
forces to rejoin him. The desired time was allowed. Har- 
per's Ferry surrendered on the morning of the 15th, which 
enabled the bulk of those forces to reach Sharpsburg early on 
the IGth, and the remainder to approach near enough to be 
relied on as a reserve, and in fact to participate in the closing 
of the engagement. Hence it cannot be denied that he fought 
this battle with his entire army, undiminished by any detach- 

From all the facts known it appears that the two armies 
here engaged were nearly equal in numerical strength — from 
80,000 to 90,000 troops participating on each side. If the 
Federal forces in hand were somewhat the greater, it must be 
confessed that the advantage of the rebel position infinitely 
more than compensated for any such disparity. Lee's line of 
battle extended across the peninsula lying between the Poto- 
mac river and Antietam creek, forming a sort of irregular 
curve, with the flanks drawn backward and resting on those 
streams. To the-ikear of the centre of this curve, near the 
town of Sharpsburg, lay his reserves, where, sheltered by the 
hills, they could manoeuvre unobserved, and from their near- 
ness to every part of the line, could immediately reinforce any 
point threatened with attack. On that part of his front which 
was destined to be the arena of tlie most terrible encounter, 
drooped a succession of ridges fringed with tufts of wood, 
limestone ledges and stone fences, and indented witli irregu- 
lar seams of gully and ravine terminating with the deep slug- 
gish Antietam. On the lofty hill-crests were ranged his grim 
batteries, frowning over all and trained on every stretch of 
open ground over which our troops might attempt to advance. 
McClellan came up with his forces on the east or left bank of 
the Antietam, which, being fbrdable only at distant points, 
presented a most serious obstacle in his way. 

On the afternoon of the 16th, Gen. Hooker crossed the 
stream at the upper bridge and ford, skirmishing and feeling 

his way rigiit np to the enemy's battle line, where at night- 
fall ho lay down on his arms. After dark followed Mansfield, 
who formed on his lear. The evening's work had simply been 
to prepare for tlie bloody business of next day. So near were 
the confronting ranks that night on lying down to rest, that 
tiie h^e-hreathing sleeper might have disturbed Ihc repose 
of liis foe, and 

"The fixed sentinels almost received 
The secret, whispers of each other's wateb." 

First in tlie awful p^nso of that night I imagine many a 
trne heart went back in prayer to cherished ones at home ; 
while others dwelh <m the incidents of the past day and the 
approaching struggle of to-morrow — then all was hushed in 
sleep, while the silent cannon loaded with death pointed over 
the slumbering hosts. All closed their eyes, knowing that 
the first beams of day would light them to battle — and thus 
they awaited the dawn. 

True to the inexorable purpose, the cannoneers, looking 
like spectres in the dim gray of the morning, are seen stand- 
ing ready at their guns ; and as the rays increase above the 
horizon, revealing and brightening distant ofjects, they take 
careful sight of their pieces to reassure themselves that they 
are accurately aimed at the opposing lines, when suddenly 
the command is given, and they thunder forth a reveille that 
makes the great earth tremble — the loud notes reverberating 
from hill-top to hill-top — swelling along the Antietam and 
the Potomac, and dying on the ear as they roll along the 
morning air. " Fall in !" says the General, and his words 
are repeated along the line — ''Fall in!!" and like magic 
four miles of infantry rise up as one man, ready for the onset. 
Fi'om behind ridges, out-cropping ledges of rocks and rifle- 
])its, frownjSthe jagged rebel front, bristling with defiance. — 
Along our solid ranks the brightly polished arms glitter in 
the ritsing sun, and in the front of each battallion waves the 
same dear flag which our fa' hers bore over Saratoga and 
Yorktown, There is no looking back, for Hooker is there, 
and in their front to lead them. Still louder and fiercer 
grows the artillery-roar, as battery answers back to battery, 
filling the air with sci'earaing and exploding missiles. The 
desultory popping of rifles along the skirmish front is follow- 
ed by volleys of musketry that roll from right to left in ra- 
pid succession until they flow in one long continuous roar, 
smothering the voice of the cannon. For one half hour a 
tempest of lead and iron beats with wasting effect against the 


opposinf: ranks, and awful gaps are made, yet neitlier side 
sway.s. Now the rebels begin to stagger, and quick as thought 
the advantage is seized, and " FoRWAim" is the word. — 
Meade's Pennsylvania Reserves, that noble division, the pa- 
rent of so many famous generals, steps out as gallantly as 
Cassar's Roman Legi'>n. On they press with a loud cheer — 
that animating cheer which is alike mysterious in lending in- 
visible wings and courage to the charge, and sending enfeeb- 
ling apprehensions into the ranks of the assailed. On, through 
the cornfields, the arena destined for the most bloody carnage 
— on over fences and road, stiewing the earth with the dead 
and wounded — and on, to the dark wpuds where the siiattered 
remnants of the rebel columns take refuge. But as they fling 
themselves against the enemy's cover they are made to shrink 
back trnm the murdprous fire of his reserves — not in the pa- 
nic of fliglit, but stubboi'nly do they iace the unequal encoun- 
ter, dealing terrible slaughter as they yield and melt away. 
Now throngli the cornfield sweep the advancing rebels — but 
our fresh troops confront them and they yield back in turn, 
leaving behind them a second harvest of their dead. Thus 
does the battle surge and recoil over this field of reeking and 
spouting gore, each moment giving new majesty and horror 
to tho scene. From points on either flank the artillery pour 
in their enfilading and devouring fire, and above the theatre 
of bloody strife rests a dense canopy of smoke, through which 
the sun looks gloomily red in the heavens. Half of the twa 
great armies ai'e drawn to this spot, and by successive divi- 
sions plunge madly into the wild battle gorge. Mansfield, 
that gi'ay-haired warrior, sinkn down at the head of hiscorjis; 
Hooker is hit and turns over his command ; Sedgwick, though 
still animating his broken troops, is bleeding from tliree 
wounds; and all around lie favorite officers, half covered 
among the heaps of slain, flour after hour the furious cum- 
bat rages. Now the fresh troops of Franklin come moving u[) 
in dark heavy columns. Like an im})etuous, gathering storm 
they hurry forward, swee])ing on and bursting over the field, 
and bearing their resistless i'ront past the outer edge of the 
battle scene, where they plant their colors victoriously. — 
Four times has this bloody ground been won and lost; but 
now it is won to be lost no more this day. Simultaneously 
our immediate left moves in triumph over the lUgged and 
broken ground, wliere fiery valor has already tossed in many 
a fierce charge and countercharge. In the mean time Burn- 
side fights his passage over the lower bridge, investing it im- 


pcrishably witli his own name and covering it with a renown 
like that of Lodi. Onr entire front has been advanced, and 
the battle flashes and smokes for a time along the whole line 
— now glimmers :-ind fades in the twilight, and dies out with 
the expiring day — and stillness reigns over Antietam. 

Stilled are the loud clamors which have vibrated in awful 
cadences for fourteen deadly hours, but all is not hushed along 
the path of havoc. The subdued murmurs of the crushed 
and wounded, and the hollow groans of the dying load the 
night air with sickening horrors. As squads of surviving 
comrades move about in search of the missing, many a stout 
heart sobs audibly at beholding, in the melancholy starlight, 
the i)ale, up-turned face of some dear companion ; 

" And there's a voice in the wind like a spirit's low cry, 
To the muster-roll sounding- and who shall reply 
For those whose wan faces glare white to the sky." 

I shall not attempt to sum up the results and incidents of 
the battle. All are not agreed as to what was actually 
accomplished. Viewed simply as a contest for the mastery 
of the field it is conceded to have terminated in favor of the 
Union Army ; but the hard won advantage was not crowned 
with commensurable victory. The vanquished rebels were 
allowed to remain unharmed in our front for twenty-four 
hours, and then to withdraw across the Potomac without the 
slightest interference, or even knowledge on our part ; having 
suffered a mere chastisement rather than a defeat. Official 
reports show our casualties to have been about 12,500 — more 
than 2,000 being killed on the field, besides those who after- 
wards died of their wounds. The rebel losses were about 
equal to our own. 

The magnitude of this engagement may be better compre- 
hended by examining it in comparison with other important 
battles with which we are more or less iamiliar. If you will 
refer to any history of the Revolutionary War, and add up all 
the killed of the American Army in fifteen of its most im- 
])ortant battles, including those of Bunker Hill, Long Island, 
Brandy wine, Germantown and Monmouth, you will find that 
their aggregate will not exceed the Federal killed in this one 
battle of Antietam. I think it might be safely stated that the 
Union killed in this single engagement was at least half as 
great as the entire American loss, in killed, during the eight 
years' struggle of our forefathers for independence ; and equal 
to all our killed in the War of 1812, or in our War with 


And calling to mind some examples from well known 
decisive battles of the world, wefindtliat McClellan's sacrifice 
of life here was ten times as great as that of Miltiades at 
Marathan, or of Caesar at Pharsalia, and greater than the 
British loss at Flodden Field, or that of the French at 
Valmy. But considered as to the numbers engaged and the 
duration and fierceness of the fight, the mortality at Antietam 
does not appear great. Viewed only as a gigantic encounter, 
and apart from its want of military consequences, it is en- 
titled to rank with Austerlitz, Waterloo and Sadowa, eacli 
of which was won at greater cost than Antietam. But when 
we look at its unimproved and com})aratively barren result, 
we are disposed to count it dearly bought. At Austerlitz 
JSTapoleon pressed liis advantage to the complete overtlirow 
of the allied armies, and extorted the treaty of Pres-burg ; 
"Wellington carried his victory at Waterloo to the absolute 
destruction of the Frencli Army, and within hi'teen days 
thereafter, forced the capitulation of the city of Paris ; and 
Bismark followed up his triumph at Sadowa until he crushed 
the Austrian forces and dictated a new map of the continent; 
but McClellan remained quiescent for six long weeks upon this 
hard won field, and allowed the prostrate foe to recover and 
depart in peace, refreshed and prepared for new campaigns, 
and other fields. 

I am not liere_, however, to criticise the conduct of General 
McClellan, or to utter a word with the desire to detract from 
his fame. There were grave public considerations, i'ar out- 
lying the iiumediate situation, which he thought proper to 
regard in determining his course. Owing to our inexperience 
at that early stage of the war, too many of our military 
operations were unduly influenced by matters which further 
progress taught us wholly to disregard. In examining the 
merits of this battle it would be unlair therefore to apply all 
the tests which belong to more advanced periods of the war ; 
it would be necessary to take into account all the peculiar 
circumstances and bearings surrounding the case — a task 
which this occasion will not indulge. 

But if Antietam had no decisive effect upon the relative 
condition of the armies engaged, it had its important bearing 
upon the plan of military operations as well as upon the 
cause of the Union. It sent the insurgent army back from 
a fruitless attempt at invasion, and brought low the arrogant 
assumptions of the superior valor of tlie South, It was such 
a v:ct(jry for the loyal North as made the war a national 


measure, and emboldened the government to proclaim the 
policy of emancipation, thereby meeting the real issue of the 
Avar. Aided by the prospective of time and the light of sub- 
sequent events, we have slavery revealed to us as the great, 
prime cause of the rebellion. Looking back upon all the 
alleged causes which were set up, and beholding them as 
they recede into the past^ one after another diminish out 
of view, while human slavery — the same that was made the 
corner-stone of the Confederacy — appears to tower above all, 
overshadowing all. 

When the result of this battle reached Mr. Lincoln he im- 
mediately concluded his corrected draft of the Emancipation 
Proclamation, and after submitting it to his cabinet, gave it 
to the world. Said he, "I made a solemn vow before God, 
that if General Lee was driven back from Maryland I would 
crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves." 
That good man kept his righteous vow, and Lee's retreat 
across the Potomac was made the signal for letting fall the 
shackles from the limbs of four millions of our oppressed fel- 
low men. Here, then, on this classic ground, our soldiers 
stood from the rising to the setting of the sun, pleading, "with 
arguments of bloody steel" the cause of a helpless race. In 
answer to the two thousand lives here immolated upon the 
altar of our country. Heaven's best gift of freedom came 
down to bless the slave. Who then shall measure the glory 
of Antietam ? It is bounded by neither time nor circum- 
stance ; it belongs to Freedom, and will brighten and live 
while Freedom lives. 

It seems that our war had to come. There were certain 
imperfections and evils existing in our government which the 
growing enlightenment of our people could not always toler- 
ate. They were not mere blemishes resting upon the surface 
whicli might be easily removed by local application. They 
entered into the body,— into the very life of the government. 
They formed constituent parts of our institutions, and noth- 
ing but the hot crucible of war could purge them away. 

When our fathers struck for political liberty, they also 
aimed at civil liberty. The same inspired instrument in 
which they declared their right to assume a separate and 
equal station among the powers of the earth, also asserted 
that all men were created equal, and endowed with the in- 
alienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happi- 
ness. But having gained the nominal blessing of political 
liberty, or national mdependence, they made that their pride 


and their boast, and assigned to the inalienable and priceless 
boon of civil liberty, or individual freedom, a secondary and 
limited place. It followed that, notwithstanding the adop- 
tion of a Constitution "in order to form a more perfect union 
* * and secure the blessings of liberty," the doctrine or 
idea of separate nationalities continued to be placed in the 
foreground, extending with its increasing power and scope 
to the commonwealths of the Union, and assuming the name 
of "State sovereignty," while the nearer and dearer principle 
of personal liberty, or freedom, was forced into the back- 
ground, prescribed and narrowed in its application, with its 
divinity taken away from it and given to slavery. 

These tendencies were calculated to destroy both the Fede- 
ral Government and liberty in America. In fact this deplo- 
ble result had been more nearly reached than many of us were 
willing to admit. Freedom was so far gone in one part of 
the country that its name could not be mentioned, save at the 
risk of life. If a citizen from the free North dared to name the 
name of Freedom in the South, his life might pay the penal- 
ty, and the General Government could not save him, or 
bring his guilty murderers to justice. A government that 
cannot enforce respect at home, that is too feeble to protect 
the lives of its citizens under its own flag, can have little to 
distinguish it from anarchy, and nothing to entitle it to the 
respect of the world. The firing upon Sumter, therefore, was 
no sudden outbreak against the national authority. It was 
only a new step towards a long-pursued end. The elements 
of destruction had reached that point by a steady progress; 
and while its new and revolutionary aspect awakened the na- 
tion to a sense of imminent danger, it was none the less 
connected in its natural order with a long line of events run- 
ning back through many years. The war commenced when 
the government could not much longer exist with the evils 
which centered in it, and against its life. If, therefore, our 
soldiers had bled to save the government as it was, with the 
forces of desti'uction still playing at its vitals, their sacrifices 
Vv'ould have been without their rich reward. But the gov- 
ernment has not only been saved, it has been purified, and 
changed and made strong. Freedom has been lifted into the 
foreground, where iicUloncd sovereignty stands, to protect the 
humblest and most despised citizen in his smallest right, 
wherever he may be on our wide domain. 

The genius of our governmental system has been modified. 
The so-called sovereign, or reserved, powers of the States, 


which had been used to oppress the individual, are being fast 
swept away. The organic law of the land is being so 
amended as to extend its mighty arm over all the States, for 
the equal protection of every citizen. Whereas, the former 
tendencies were to narrow the enjoyment of popular rights, 
and to enlarge the independent powers of the States, thus 
weakening the General G-overnment; the new and more salu- 
tary tendencies are to extend the liberties of the masses and to 
increase the central power of the government. In this last 
system there is a harmony of parts as well as of purposes. 
In the enlarged liberties' of the people, and the increased 
powers of the government to protect those liberties, we have 
the elements which must give security both to the govern- 
ment and to the governed. I am aware that, with the evil 
work of State sovereignty or secession, still fresh in our 
minds, there is danger of proceeding too far toward the 
other extreme of centralization . But I think we have nothing 
to fear .from any steps already ta.ken in that direction. 

The good results of our changed condition are already 
being realized. Notwithstanding the wounds_ of the war, 
there is more harmony between the sections of the country 
this hour than there ever was before the war. Citizens from 
Massachusetts are not only permitted to sojourn in South 
Carolina, but they are cordially invited there, with their 
Yankee enterprise, their capital, and their sentiments, to 
make it their future home. So you see, the war was 
not all slaughter and desolation ; it meant freedom, harmony 
and progress. It made the government stronger, purer and 
better; stronger to command obedience and respect, and 
better'and purer to claim the affections and support of all the 


The truth of its permanence has already been revolution- 
izing the sentiment of the old world. The German popula- 
tions have already sought a more stable and a freer system; 
England is moving forward in liberal reforms ; Spain has been 
struggling up out of despotism, and popular liberty is rising 
in tlie ascendancy everywhere. Since we have become a 
more consolidated family of States, the world is beginning to 
respect us, as it never did before. Cuba, San Domingo and 
the adjacent islands of the sea, look tons for a protector. 
And with the respectability of our government, also grows 
the respect of our citizens abroad. The American citizen is 
acquiring that respect abroad which was accorded to the Ro- 
man citizen, when Rome was mistress of the world. On 


whatever shores you may be cast, and under whatever suns 
you may wander, if you have in your pocket an Ameri- 
can passport, your life and your liberty are sacred, for the 
majesty of your country's flag is there to protect you. 

In thus referring to some of the good results of the war, I 
would not be understood to rejoice at that painful event in 
our history. The war was met by us as a deplorable neces- 
sity. All wars, wdiether foreign or domestic, are descended 
to us from a barbarous age, and are shameful witnesses 
against our claims to tliat genuine Christian civilization after 
which all nations should aspire. They spring from ignorance 
and the evil passions. Enlightenment and religion unite in 
opposing all sanguinary measures. Christ taught "peace 
on earth and good wnll toward men," and as men's minds 
and hearts improve, wars will be less frequent in their occur- 
rence, and less cruel in tlieir conduct ; but I doubt whether 
they can entirely cease this side of the millennium. There 
will occasionally arise such political and social conditions, 
such controlling prejudices as possessed 6ur Southern people 
that nothing but the crushing blows of war will ever subdue. 
Our war was conceived in ignorance, prejudice, oppression 
and wickedness, yet God so ruled that great good has come 
out of it. And there is this consolation following all the 
wars of the recent past, whether in our own or in other 
lands, that they have resulted in the interest of humanity and 
of liberty. Wherever the bursts of war break up the 
restraints of civil rule which bind a people to old, and fre- 
quently barbarous, usages, they move with the spirit of the 
times and step right up into a higher civilization ; we live 
in an age of progress, and the march is for universal liberty 
and the brotherhood of mankind. 

While we are bestowing these sad rights upon the memory 
of those who perished in the cause, let us revive our grati- 
tude toward the living, who have returned with shattered 
forms to spend the remnant of their wasting lives among us. 
The poor of all classes have claims upon our charity, but the 
disabled soldier has a demand upon our generosity which 
should not require the asking. He should not be allowed to 
beg in the land which he helped to save by his valor and his 
blood ; his wants should be anticipated l)y a grateful people. 
It must be hard for one who has been a proud and gallant 
soldier to be compelled to stoop for alms, and we should not 
pass indifferently by when such a one needs help, thougli 
he may be too ])roud to ask it. 


Admitting that army life too often leads to bad morals and 
destructive habits, yet I am led to believe that the awful 
realities of the battle-field strangely dignify the character, 
and improve the higher manly qualities. The soldier who 
has faced death in the blaze of battle, where the flight of time is 
forgotten, and the world seems swallowed up in a kind ot 
electric heat, which appears to glow in a brown-red tint, kind- 
ling and quickening his senses into a flame, and lighting up 
every object with an ineffable brightness— the soldier who 
has beeii thrilled by this mysterious fervor and yet stood 
fearless and god-like", amid the cannon thunder, the howling 
and crashing of shells, and the gurgling and whizzing of 
death-dealing bullets, has realized a sort of emotional regen- 
eration, ennobling his nature and making him a truer man. 
And the soldier who has stooped over his bleeding companion, 
holding the canteen to quench his burning thirst, and as life 
ebbed out, bending his ear close to his lips, in order to catch 
the last whispered word, that he might convey to the loved 
one far away at home, has felt the vibration of" a tender 
chord lying deep beneath all the common affections of the 
heart— that sacred chord which links mankind with divinity. 
Such experience leaves its impress upon the heart and pre- 
pares it for more noble and generous impulses ; and whatever 
wreck that man may become in after life, he will still bear in 
his bosom that fraternal susceptibility which will make him 
a true friend and very brother in distress. 

It is gratifying to know that the government has provided 
homes or asylums for those who are enfeebled ; yet there are 
many who prefer to struggle for a livelihood in their own way, 
and when they are overtaken by misfortune or want, a gen- 
erous hand should be extended. They will not be with us 
long ; they are dropping off like leaves in autumn-time. — 
Some of them are still wearing the tattered old blue coat, but 
they will soon put it off and answer to their names at 
roll-call, with their comrades, on the "eternal camping 

It is also our pleasing duty,— our precious care 
for the orphan children of our deceased soldiers. It is stated 
in history, as proverbially true, that republics cannot stand, 
and that they are ungrateful. It might as easily be shown 
that they cannot stand because they are ungrateful. If,^ in 
our victory over the rebellion, we presented a mighty proof of 
our stability, it remains for this generation to show to the world 
that the American republic is not ungrateful. In what more 


appropriate and acceptable manner can we show our gratitude, 
than by evincing an active concern for those left helpless by the 
war. The tender offspring that has been robbed of the pater- 
nal love and protection, should find a sheltering, cherishing 
home in every household. The child of the patriot martyr 
has a title to nobility. The daughter should be reared in 
comfort, and cultured for the rank and station of an Ameri- 
can lady, and the son should be educated and trained for 
some useful and honorable pursuit in life. Whenever you 
meet a little lad made fatherless by the war, call him to your 
side, and, smoothing his soft brow, tell him he is your ward, 
and that you feel an interest in his welfare ; it will encourage 
him to think the world kind and deserving of his best efforts. 
Tell him he bears a name made honorable among men ; re- 
count to him the story of his father's noble deeds and sacri- 
fice ; it will swell his young bosom with pride and veneration, 
and implant there a love of country far more sacred and 
binding than all the forms of allegiance or oaths of fealty. 

I have somewhere read or heard a very tender story, part- 
ly incident to this battle, which pictures a most touching in- 
stance of orphanage. I will relate it substantially as I 
heard it, so far as my memory goes, but without pretending 
to vouch for the correctness of any of its particulars. 

Among the thousands of worthv young men who left their 
quiet homes in the North to join the Army of the Potomac at 
its first organization, was one, James Bates, who, about the 
last of December, 1861, t >ok an affectionate farewell of her 
whom he had led to the altar just one month before, and 
quitting his village home in the iState of New York, proceeded 
to Washington, where he enlisted as a private soldier. 
Serving always in the front rank of his regiment, wherever 
it went, he never asked to be excused from a single hour's duty, 
until on the morning before the battle of Chantilly, receiv- 
ing a letter stating that his wife was the mother of a bright, 
healthy son, the very image of its father, and already named 
James, after the absent one, he made up his mind to apply 
for permission to visit home. Fired up with pride, and feel- 
ing that he, now had something more to live for and dare 
for, he fought that day with Spartan courage, and performed 
an act of gallantry which attracted the notice of his com- 
manding officer, who at once promoted him to Sergeant, and 
promised to procure for him a furlough for one month. But, 
owing to our perilous situation at that time, and to the exi- 
gencies of the service, leaves of absence were not granted 


excejiting in exti;iordiuary cases, and he did not receiv^e his 
until the morning after the battle of JSouth Mountain, when 
he immediately wrote home announcing his crood fortune, 
but stating that he could not think of leaving liis colors on 
the eve of the great battle that was then iin])ending. He 
assured^ them, however, that they might look for him in 
the train on Friday morning, or Saturday morning at far- 
thest But in the hottest of the fight at AntietanC he was 
seen to fall, pierced by a half score of mortal wounds, and 
his body was never identified thereafter. Friday morning came, 
and at the first sound of the locomotive, the young mother was 
at the railway station, with her first born, ready to jAace it in 
the arras of its father. Wistfully did she gaze upon each pas- 
senger as he stepped upon the platform, until finally the 
train moved off again, and James had not come. Pale and 
almost fainting, she was about to turn away, when she 
paused to hear the list of our killeil and wounded, which a 
bystander was reading aloud from the morning paper. At 
that moment her ear caught the words, "Sergeant James 
Bates, killed."' Clasping her infant to her bosom, she ex- 
claimed, "No ! not killed, he'll come to-morrow." When 
the morrow came she was again upon the platform, with the 
tender babe in her arms ; but as lie did not come, the second 
disappointment was too great to bear. She fell into a mono- 
mania — and long after his comrades were welcomed home 
from the war did she continue t(^ rise early each morning, 
and taking up the child, go out to meet the train, fully 
confident that James was aboard, and turning away each 
time Avith the same sad disappointment, saying, "He'll come 
to-morrow." And even yet, since eight years of time 
have breathed over her grief to mollify it, she may be seen 
occasionally, on a bright morning, hurrying to the depot, 
leading her flaxen-haired little boy, and tellin": him his papa 
is coming on the train. 13ut she watches for the return of 
one that never wnll come back, for he tarries with his two 
thousand comrades, who, with him, sunk down to rest on 
this wide inhospitable couch. Serg't Bates is sleeping within 
these walls, in an unknown grave, and to-day, yyu may per- 
chance bestow an extra rose upon his unpretend^Mhftomb. ^^<^p'^ 

Oh ! who shall write each separate history o<r our heca-^ 
tombs of slain — the heart-breaking disappointment, the 
melancholy orphanage, the reason-dethroning grief, the 
crushed and wounded life, the wail of woe that answered 
each bereavement. Amonsr the unwritten annals of our 


war, are tales of pathos and of pity, far more touching, 
than Romance or Fiction can weave from all the range of 
Fancy. The graves of heroes slain, and loves departed, 
wrinkle the faces of our hillsides and vallie^. On both sides 
of the Mississippi and away across to the sea, along the 
banks of the James and the Potomac, along the Cumberland 
Valley in Pennsylvania, and on the mountain crests of 
Maryland ; wherever you wander, there lie the fallen of our 
hosts, mingling their dust with the soil which they redeemed 
and saved — 

'•Four hundred thousand, brave and true, 
Lie dead, good friend, for me and you.' ' 

Then let us come here with each returning spring, and AVreathe 
their little white head-boards with chaplets of flowers, and 
place over the chamber of each sleeper a well-assorted 
bouquet. Let us also weave garlands out of the fragrant 
heliotrope, the scented rose and the sweet mignonette, that 
their grateful odors may rise like holy incense above their 
slumbering ashes. As the bright bloom is emblematic of 
the lustre of their deeds, let the delicate perfume emblem 
forth the sweet influences of peace which their pure sacrifices 
have caused to breathe over our land. For gentle "Peace 
has come, and come to stay—" 

Around the sweeping circle of your hills 

The crashing of cannon thrills 

Have faded from the memory of the air ; 

And summer pours from unexhausted fountains 

Her bliss on yonder mountains : 

The camps are tenantless, the breastworks bare : 

Earth keeps no stain where hero-blood was poured : 

The hornets, humming on their wings of lead, 

Have ceased to sting, their angry swarms are dead. 

And, harmless in the scabbard, rusts the sword."