truth and duty, strike with a bound and a shout, well assured that your blows will fall upon ingrates, and traitors, and parricides, whose lust for power would make of this bright land one vast Golgotha
, rather than be balked of their guilty aims — and may the God of your fathers give you the victory.
I should have rejoiced to have met you within the limits of yonder proud Commonwealth from whence you came, and whose name you bear, but wise and patriotic men, whose motives I respect while dissenting from their conclusions, have willed it should be otherwise.
Here, however, you are in the midst of friends, and have doubtless received a brother's welcome on the soil of a State which is not only loyal but proud of her loyalty — a State which, by the marching of her volunteers, announces every hour what a portion of her people have recently proclaimed by formal resolution, that “the suppression of this rebellion is worth more to the world than all our lives and all our money,” and that she “cares nothing for life or worldly goods, when they can only be enjoyed amidst the ruins of our country.”
No Spartan hero, under the grandest inspirations of patriotism, ever uttered nobler sentiments than these.
, it is true, are separated by a broad river, but in their history it has proved only a thread of light and beauty, across which their hands and their hearts have ever been clasped in friendship and in faith.
In those stirring conflicts for principle which have arisen in their past, they have stood together on more than one bloody field shoulder to shoulder, they have borne onward through the thickest of the fight, that glorious banner, whose stars, I trust, will never grow dim; and now, your presence here to-day is a gladdening assurance that, in the momentous contest on whose threshold we stand, these States so long allied, will not be divided.
For myself, I must be pardoned for saying, that next to our own beloved Kentucky
, my bosom most overflows toward the noble State under whose hospitable shelter we have met to-day.
It was my fortune to pass my childhood and youth on my father's farm upon the banks of yonder river, and in the light of the morning and of the evening sun my eyes rested upon the free homes and grand forests of Indiana
I played upon her hills, and fished in her streams, and mingled with her people, when I was too young to know, what I trust I shall never be old enough to learn — that this great country of ours has either North or South, East or West, in the affections and faith of its true and loyal citizens.
Soldiers: when Napoleon
was about to spur on his legions to combat on the sands of an African desert, pointing them to the Egyptian
pyramids that loomed up against the far-off horizon, he exclaimed, “From yonder summits forty centuries look down upon you.”
The thought was sublime and electric; but you have even more than this.
When you shall confront those infuriated hosts, whose battle-cry is, “Down with the Government
of the United States
,” let your answering shout be, “The Government as our fathers made it;” and when you strike, remember that not only do the good and the great of the past look down upon you from heights infinitely above those of Egyptian
pyramids, but that uncounted generations yet to come are looking up to you, and claiming at your hands the unimpaired transmission to them of that priceless heritage which has been committed to our keeping.
I say its unimpaired transmission — in all the amplitude of its outlines, in all the symmetry of its matchless proportions, in all the palpitating fulness of its blessings; not a miserably shrivelled and shattered thing, charred by the fires and torn by the tempests of revolution, and all over polluted and scarred by the bloody poniards of traitors.
Soldiers: you have come up to your present exalted position over many obstacles and through many chilling discouragements.
You now proclaim to the world that the battles which are about to be fought in defence of our common country, its institutions and its homes, are your battles, and that you are determined to share with your fellow-citizens of other States alike their dangers and their laurels; and sure I am that this determination has been in nothing shaken by the recent sad reverse of arms whose shadow is still resting upon our spirits.
The country has indeed lost a battle, but it has not lost its honor, nor its courage, nor its hopes, nor its resolution to conquer.
One of those chances to which the fortunes of war are ever subject, and against which the most consummate generalship cannot at all times provide, has given a momentary advantage to the forces of the rebellion.
did not pursue the column of Bulow
, and thus Waterloo
was won for Wellington
at the very moment that victory,with her laurelled wreath, seemed stooping over the head of Napoleon
did not pursue Johnston
, and the overwhelming concentration of rebel troops that in consequence ensued was probably the true cause why the army of the United States was driven back, excellent as was its discipline, and self-sacrificing as had been its feats of valor.
Panics, from slight and seemingly insignificant causes, have occurred in the best drilled and bravest of armies, and they prove neither the want of discipline nor of courage on the part of the soldiers.
This check has taught us invaluable lessons, which we could not have learned from victory,while the dauntless daring displayed by our volunteers is full of promise for the future.
Not to mention the intrepid bearing of other regiments, who can doubt our future when he recalls the brilliant charges of the New York Sixty-Ninth and of the Minnesota First, and of the Fire Zouaves
himself, while surveying the Persian host, that, like a troubled sea, swept onward to the pass where he stood, would have been proud of the leadership of such men. We shall