Chapter 10: the end of the struggle
Historic Fort Moultrie at Charleston in ruins—1865
Illustrations for Margaret Preston's lines A past whose memory makes us thrill—this stronghold, named for William Moultrie, the young South Carolinian who defended it in 1776 against the British, was 85 years later held by South Carolinians against fellow-Americans —in the picture it is once more under the flag of a united land.|
The position of Margaret J. Preston
, a representative poet of the Confederacy
, has already been commented on. The fact that one sister, Elinor Junkin
, was the first wife of ‘Stonewall
, and that to another at the close of the war fell the honor of providing a home in Lexington, Virginia
, for Robert E. Lee
, entitled her to speak here for the South
as a whole.
The poem appeared in 1866, in Beechenbrook.
We do accept thee, heavenly Peace!
Albeit thou comest in a guise
Unlooked for—undesired, our eyes
Welcome through tears the sweet release
From war, and woe, and want,—surcease,
For which we bless thee, blessed Peace!
We lift our foreheads from the dust;
And as we meet thy brow's clear calm,
There falls a freshening sense of balm
Upon our spirits.
The hopeless present on us thrust—
We'll meet them as we can, and must.
War has not wholly wrecked us: still
Strong hands, brave hearts, high souls are ours—
Proud consciousness of quenchless powers—
A Past whose memory makes us thrill—
Futures uncharactered, to fill
With heroisms—if we will.
Then courage, brothers!—Though each breast
Feel oft the rankling thorn, despair,
That failure plants so sharply there—
No pain, no pang shall be confest:
We'll work and watch the brightening west,
And leave to God and Heaven the rest.
Margaret Junkin Preston
Mourning women among the Richmond ruins—April, 1865
A somber picture that visualizes Margaret Preston's poem Acceptation. |
Welcome Through Tears the Sweet Release
A second review of the grand army
I read last night of the Grand Review
In Washington's chiefest avenue,—
Two hundred thousand men in blue,
I think they said was the number,—
Till I seemed to hear their trampling feet,
The bugle blast and the drum's quick beat,
The clatter of hoofs in the stony street,
The cheers of the people who came to greet,
And the thousand details that to repeat
Would only my verse encumber,—
Till I fell in a revery, sad and sweet,
And then to a fitful slumber.
in a vision I seemed to stand
In the lonely Capitol.
On each hand
Far stretched the portico, dim and grand
Its columns ranged, like a martial band
Of sheeted spectres whom some command
Had called to a last reviewing.
And the streets of the city were white and bare;
No footfall echoed across the square;
But out of the misty midnight air
I heard in the distance a trumpet blare,
And the wandering night-winds seemed to bear
The sound of a far tattooing.
Then I held my breath with fear and dread;
For into the square, with a brazen tread,
There rode a figure whose stately head
O'erlooked the review that morning,
That never bowed from its firm-set seat
When the living column passed its feet,
Yet now rode steadily up the street
To the phantom bugle's warning:
‘Two hundred thousand men in blue’: marching up Pennsylvania Avenue, in May, 1865
Bret Harte's poem sounds the note of sorrow amid the national rejoicing at the splendor of the Grand Review.
Those who never returned from the field of battle, or returned only to die of their wounds, formed a greater host than that which marched from the recently completed Capitol to the reviewing stand in front of the Executive Mansion.
In the Federal army 110,070 were killed in battle or died of their wounds; 199,720 died of disease; 94,866 died in Confederate prisons; other causes of mortality bring the total up to 359,528.
The estimates for the Confederate losses are less definite; but probably 94,000 were killed in action, 59,297 died of disease, 4,000 died in prison, and other causes would probably bring the total up to 250,000.
Over 600,000 lives were therefore lost to the country by the necessities of warfare.
When it is remembered that not only thousands of homes were cast in gloom but that most of these men were young, the cost of the war is apparent.|
Till it reached the Capitol square, and wheeled,
And there in the moonlight stood revealed
A well known form that in State and field
Had led our patriot sires:
Whose face was turned to the sleeping camp,
Afar through the river's fog and damp,
That showed no flicker, nor waning lamp,
Nor wasted bivouac fires.
And I saw a phantom army come,
With never a sound of fife or drum,
But keeping time to a throbbing hum
Of wailing and lamentation:
The martyred heroes of Malvern Hill,
Of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville,
The men whose wasted figures fill
The patriot graves of the nation.
And there came the nameless dead,—the men
Who perished in fever-swamp and fen,
The slowly-starved of the prison-pen;
And marching beside the others,
Came the dusky martyrs of Pillow's fight,
With limbs enfranchised and bearing bright:
I thought—perhaps 'twas the pale moonlight—
They looked as white as their brothers!
And so all night marched the Nation's dead,
With never a banner above them spread,
Nor a badge, nor a motto brandished;
No mark—save the bare uncovered head
Of the silent bronze Reviewer;
With never an arch save the vaulted sky;
With never a flower save those that lie
On the distant graves—for love could buy
No gift that was purer or truer.
So all night long swept the strange array;
So all night long, till the morning gray,
I watch'd for one who had passed away,
With a reverent awe and wonder,—
Till a blue cap waved in the lengthening line,
And I knew that one who was kin of mine
Had come; and I spake—and lo!
Awakened me from my slumber.
Driving home the cows
Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass
He turned them into the river-lane;
One after another he let them pass,
Then fastened the meadow-bars again.
Under the willows, and over the hill,
He patiently followed their sober pace;
The merry whistle for once was still,
And something shadowed the sunny face.
Only a boy!
and his father had said
He never could let his youngest go:
Two already were lying dead
Under the feet of the trampling foe.
But after the evening work was done,
And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp,
Over his shoulder he slung his gun,
And stealthily followed the foot-path damp,
Across the clover, and through the wheat,
With resolute heart and purpose grim,
Though cold was the dew on his hurrying feet,
And the blind bat's flitting startled him.
Thrice since then had the lanes been white,
And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom;
And now, when the cows came back at night,
The feeble father drove them home.
For news had come to the lonely farm
That three were lying where two had lain;
And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm
Could never lean on a son's again.
Thus appeared the crowds that greeted the army whose home-coming inspired Bret Harte's poem.
From the steps of the Treasury building the impatient people gaze down Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of June 8, 1865, awaiting the march of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, which had been prevented by duty in Virginia from participating in the Grand Review of May 23rd.
The scene is similar.
The women and children in the foreground, the senators and important citizens in silk hats, the throng surging far out into the street beneath the fluttering banners, the general restlessness and impatience are the same as on the earlier and more famous gala occasion.
The pomp and panoply of war are here in the parades and the blare of trumpets and the admiring hosts that line the street—not in the actual service in the field.
Harte writes of actual warfare as a sad business, which only the preservation of a nation's existence or honor can justify.|
The summer day grew cool and late.
He went for the cows when the work was done;
But down the lane, as he opened the gate,
He saw them coming one by one,—
Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess,
Shaking their horns in the evening wind;
Cropping the buttercups out of the grass,—
But who was it following close behind?
Loosely swung in the idle air
The empty sleeve of army blue;
And worn and pale, from the crisping hair,
Looked out a face that the father knew.
For Southern prisons will sometimes yawn,
And yield their dead unto life again;
And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn
In golden glory at last may wane.
The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb:
And under the silent evening skies
Together they followed the cattle home.
The apples are ripe in the orchard,
The work of the reaper is done,
And the golden woodlands redden
In the blood of the dying sun.
At the cottage-door the grandsire
Sits pale in his easy-chair,
While the gentle wind of twilight
Plays with his silver hair.
A woman is kneeling beside him;
A fair young head is pressed,
In the first wild passion of sorrow,
Against his aged breast.
And far from over the distance
The faltering echoes come
Of the flying blast of trumpet
And the rattling roll of drum
And the grandsire speaks in a whisper:
‘The end no man can see;
But we give him to his country,
And we give our prayers to Thee.’
The violets star the meadows,
The rose-buds fringe the door,
And over the grassy orchard
The pink-white blossoms pour.
But the grandsire's chair is empty,
The cottage is dark and still;
There's a nameless grave in the battle-field.
And a new one under the hill.
And a pallid, tearless woman
By the cold hearth sits alone;
And the old clock in the corner
Ticks on with a steady drone.
The conquered banner
This most popular Confederate poem was written when the news of Lee
's surrender was still a fresh sorrow in the heart of its author, father Ryan
, who had served through the war as a chaplain.
Surcharged with emotion, this poem has appeared in Southern school readers, has been declaimed at numberless school exercises on Friday afternoons, and, framed in gilt or mahogany, hangs upon the wall in hundreds of homes.
It is typical of the poet.
He was a Catholic priest, yet so restless a spirit that he never remained long in one place.
Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary;
Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it—it is best;
For there's not a man to wave it,
And there's not a sword to save it,
And there's not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
Furl it, hide it—let it rest!
‘There's a nameless grave in the battlefield’
This mute reminder of Antietam s awful cost suggests how many thousand homes were sunk in grief such as the poem After all describes.
The soldiers themselves shared this grief.
One of their saddest duties was the burial of comrades.
When the graves had been dug, if there was found on their person any means of identifying them or if any one knew who they were, little pieces of board were secured and placed at the head of each.
On these little boards, pieces of cracker-box, generally, would be placed the name and regiment of the deceased comrade written in pencil.
Under the rain and the snows the writing would be obliterated or the boards themselves tumble down, and those lying in their graves on the battlefield would pass into the number of the great ‘unknown.’ There were no opportunities afforded in these burial details to go through any religious forms.
The numbers forbade.
Yet the lads who formed burial parties always gave their meed of reverence.|
Take that Banner down!
Broken is its staff and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered,
Over whom it floated high.
Oh, 'tis hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there's none to hold it,
Hard that those who once unrolled it
Now must furl it with a sigh!
Furl that Banner—furl it sadly;
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
Swore it should forever wave—
Swore that foeman's sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag should float forever
O'er their freedom or their grave!
for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low;
And that Banner—it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.
For, though conquered, they adore it—
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it!
Weep for those who fell before it!
Pardon those who trailed and tore it!
But, oh, wildly they deplore it,
Now who furl and fold it so!
The conquered banner—waving free in 1861: ‘once ten thousands hailed it gladly’
The first Confederate flag made in Augusta, Georgia, swells in the May breeze of 1861.
It has two red bars, with a white in the middle, and a union of blue with seven stars.
The men who so proudly stand before it near the armory at Macon are the Clinch Rifles, forming Company A of the Fifth Georgia Infantry.
The organization was completed on the next day—May 11th.
It first went to Pensacola.
From after the battle of Shiloh to July, 1864, it served in the Army of Tennessee, when it was sent to the Georgia coast, later serving under General Joseph E. Johnston in the final campaign in the Carolinas.
It was conspicuous at Chickamauga, where its colonel commanded a brigade.
His account of the action on September 20, 1863, is well worth quoting: “The brigade, with the battery in the center, moved forward in splendid style about 100 yards, when the enemy opened a galling fire from the front and left flank, enfilading the entire
line with canister and small-arms.
The engagement now became terrific and the position of my brigade extremely critical.
The troops, however, stood nobly to the work before them, and, steadily advancing, surmounted the hill on which the enemy's breastworks were, the battery moving with the line, and rendering effective service.
The enemy were driven from their breastworks, and Brigadier-General Maney's brigade coming up at this opportune moment, charged them, and the contest was over.
At daylight on Monday morning the enemy was found to have sought safety in flight under the cover of darkness.” During the battle the regiment lost 194 men, a percentage of 54.95.
The next highest recorded loss was 42.78.
Ryan's words, ‘Those who once unrolled it,’ can appropriately be quoted under this spirited scene.
And another phrase, ‘Cold and dead are lying now,’ fits too sadly well the careers of these volunteers from Georgia.|
The conquered banner—‘there's not a sword to save it’: the guns of the largest Confederate army that surrendered.
As these rows and rows of cannon stretch across the arsenal grounds at Baton Rouge, soon after their surrender on May 4, 1865, by the Confederate general, Richard Taylor, a dramatic illustration appears of The conquered banner in war and in peace.
The large building at the right, the arsenal of war times, was transformed, 45 years later, into dormitories for the Louisiana State University.
It had been a military center under no less than five flags.
The smaller buildings at the left, formerly used as powder-houses, later became model dairies in the agricultural department of the university work.
Thus destruction gave place to training for citizenship and service.
As soon as General Taylor heard of the capitulation of General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, he surrendered, on May 4, 1865, at Citronelle, Alabama, not far from Mobile, all the remaining forces of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi River to the Federal General E. R. S. Canby.
Canby had advanced from Dauphine Island, at the entrance to Mobile Bay, to the
Spanish Fort across from Mobile and had reduced it on April 8th, marching into the deserted works on the day that General Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
At the same time, General Frederick Steele had advanced from Pensacola against Blakely, a little farther north than the Spanish Fort, and had captured it on the afternoon of Lee's surrender.
On the morning of May 12th the Union forces under General Gordon Granger crossed the bay and found that the Confederate General Dabney H. Maury had marched out with his whole force.
Maury succeeded in reaching Meridian in safety.
During these operations the celebrated Confederate cavalry General Nathan B. Forrest had been defeated by the Federal cavalry under General James H. Wilson, and Selma, Alabama, with its fortifications, foundries, and workshops, had fallen into his hands.
He entered Montgomery the same day that Granger entered Mobile.
Taylor surrendered 42,293 men, the largest aggregation anywhere laying down their arms at the close of the war.|
Furl that Banner!
True, 'tis gory,
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory,
And 'twill live in song and story
Though its folds are in the dust!
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages—
Furl its folds though now we must.
Furl that Banner, softly, slowly;
Treat it gently — it is holy,
For it droops above the dead;
Touch it not—unfold it never;
Let it droop there, furled forever,—
For its people's hopes are fled.