sublimely resolved; and there is to me a positive enchantment in the very atmosphere whose pulsations have been stirred by the breathings of their heroic spirits.
Now that the booming of the cannon of treason and the cry of men stricken unto death for fidelity to our flag are borne to us on almost every breeze, it is harrowing to the soul to be dragged into companionship with those who still vacillate, who are still timidly balancing chances and coldly calculating losses and gains; who still persist in treating this agonized struggle for national existence as a petty question of commerce, and deliberately take out their scales and weigh in our presence the beggarly jewels of trade against the life of our country.
Soldiers: next to the worship of the Father
of us all, the deepest and grandest of human emotions is the love of the land that gave us birth.
It is an enlargement and exaltation of all the tenderest and strongest sympathies of kindred and of home.
In all centuries and climes it has lived and has defied chains and dungeons and racks to crush it. It has strewed the earth with its monuments, and has shed undying lustre on a thousand fields on which it has battled.
Through the night of ages, Thermopylae
glows like some mountain peak on which the morning sun has risen, because twenty-three hundred years ago, this hallowing passion touched its mural precipices and its crowning crags.
It is easy, however, to be patriotic in piping times of peace, and in the sunny hour of prosperity.
It is national sorrow, it is war, with its attendant perils and horrors, that tests this passion, and winnows from the masses those who,with all their love of life, still love their country more.
While your present position is a most vivid and impressive illustration of patriotism, it has a glory peculiar and altogether its own. The mercenary armies which have swept victoriously over the world and have gathered so many of the laurels that history has embalmed, were but machines drafted into the service of ambitious spirits whom they obeyed, and little understood or appreciated the problems their blood was poured out to solve.
But while you have all the dauntless physical courage which they displayed, you add to it a thorough knowledge of the argument on which this mighty movement proceeds, and a moral heroism which, breaking away from the entanglements of kindred, and friends, and State policy, enables you to follow your convictions of duty, even though they should lead you up to the cannon's mouth.
It must, however, be added that with this elevation of position come corresponding responsibilities.
Soldiers as you are by conviction, the country looks not to your officers, chivalric and skilful as they may be, but to you and to each of you, for the safety of those vast national interests committed to the fortunes of this war. Your camp life will expose you to many temptations; you should resist them as you would the advancing squadrons of the enemy.
In every hour of peril or incitement to excess, you will say to yourselves, “Our country sees us,” and so act as to stand forth soldiers, not only without fear, but also without reproach.
Each moment not absorbed by the toils and duties of your military life, should, as far as practicable, be devoted to that mental and moral training without which the noblest of volunteers must sink to a level with an army of mercenaries.
Alike in the inaction of the camp and amid the fatigues of the march, and the charge and shouts of battle, you will remember that you have in your keeping not only your own personal reputation, but the honor of your native State, and, what is infinitely more inspiring, the honor of that blood-bought and beneficent Republic whose children you are. Any irregularity on your part would sadden the land that loves you; any faltering in the presence of the foe would cover it with immeasurable humiliation.
You will soon mingle in the ranks with the gallant volunteers from the North
and the West
, and with me you will admire their moderation, their admirable discipline, and that deep determination, whose earnestness with them has no language of menace, or bluster, or passion.
When the men from Bunker Hill
and the men from the “dark and bloody ground,” unestranged from each other by the low arts of politicians, shall stand side by side on the same national battle-field, the heart of freedom will be glad.
Carry with you the complete assurance that you will ere long have not only the moral but the material support of Kentucky
Not many weeks can elapse before this powerful Commonwealth will make an exultant avowal of her loyalty, and will stand erect before the country, stainless and true as the truest of her sisters of the Union
In the scales of the momentous events now occurring, her weight should be and will be felt.
Already she is impatient, and will not much longer, under the pressure of any policy, submit to shrink away into the mere dust of the balances.
Have no fears as to the vigorous and ultimately successful prosecution of this war; and feel no alarm either as to the expenditure it must involve, or as to those startling steps, seemingly smacking of the exercise of absolute authority, which the Administration may be forced from time to time to take.
While doubtless all possible economy will be observed, it is apparent that no considerations of that kind can be permitted, for a moment, to modify the policy that has been resolved upon.
When the life of the patient is confessedly at stake, it would be as unwise as it would be inhuman to discuss the question of the physician's fee before summoning him to the bedside.
Besides, all now realize that the system of arithmetic has yet to be invented which could estimate in dollars and cents the worth of our institutions.
This terrible emergency, with all its dangers and duties, was unforeseen by the founders of our Government, and by