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Southern Historical Society papers.

Vol. II. Richmond, Va., December, 1876. no. 6.

Defence of Petersburg.1

Address of Capt. W. Gordon McCabe (formerly Adjutant of Pegram's battalion of artillery, A. N. V.) before the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, November 1, 1876. [published by request of the Association.]

Comrades of the Army of Northern Virginia:
I am here in obedience to your orders and give you a soldier's greeting.

It has fallen to me, at your behest, to attempt the story of a defence more masterly in happy reaches of generalship than that of Sebastopol, and not less memorable than that of Zaragoza in a constancy which rose superior to accumulating disaster, and a stern valor ever reckoned highest by the enemy.

It is a great task, nor do I take shame to myself that I am not equal to it, for, speaking soberly, it is a story so fraught with true though mournful glory — a story so high and noble in its persistent lesson of how great things may be wrested by human skill and valor from the malice of Fortune — that even a Thucydides or a Napier might suffer his nervous pencil to droop, lost, perchance, in wonder at the surprising issues which genius, with matchless spring, extorted time and again from cruel odds, or stirred too deeply for utterance by that which ever kindles the hearts of brave men — the spectacle of human endurance meeting with unshaken front the very stroke of Fate.

And if intensity of sorrowful admiration might not unnaturally paralyze the hand of the historian, who should undertake to transmit to posterity a truthful record of the unequal contest, what mortal among men could stand forth undismayed, when bidden to trace even the outlines of the story in presence of the survivors of that

1 from a strictly military point of view, the term “siege” cannot properly be applied to the operations around Petersburg, for there was lacking what, according to Vauban, “is the fist requisite in a siege — perfect investment.” the same is true of Sebastopol.

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Sebastopol (Pennsylvania, United States) (2)

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