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[258] incomparable army, the followers of that matchless leader — veterans, to whom it has been given to see its every episode emblazoned in crimson letters by the very God of Battles.

And yet it is because of this presence, that I stand here not unwillingly to-night — for when I look down upon these bronzed and bearded faces, I cannot but remember that we have shared together the rough delights, the toils, the dangers of field of battle, and march and bivouac, and feel sure of indulgence in advance from those who are knit to even the humblest comrade by a companionship born of common devotion to that Cause which is yet “strong with the strength” of Truth, and “immortal with the immortality” of Right — born of such common devotion, nurtured in the fire of battle, strengthened and sanctified by a common reverence for the valiant souls who have fallen on sleep.

It is not mine, comrades, to dazzle you with the tricks of rhetoric, nor charm your ear with smooth flowing periods; but even were such mastery given to me, it would scarce befit my theme — for we have now to trace the history of the army to which we belonged, not in its full blaze of triumph, as when it wrote Richmond and Chancellorsville upon its standards, but in those last eventful days when its strength was well nigh “too slender to support the weight of victory” ; we have now to mark the conduct of its leader, not as when, the favored child of Mars, the clangor of his trumpets from the heights of Fredericksburg haughtily challenged the admiration of astonished nations, but in that severer glory which shines round about him as he stands at bay, girt with a handful of devoted soldiery, staying the arm of Fate with an incredible vigor of action and a consummate mastery of his art, and, still unsubdued in mind, delivers his last battle as fiercely as his first.

And in the prosecution of the task confided to me — in my attempts to reconcile the conflicting testimony of eye-witnesses, in sifting hostile reports, and in testing by official data the statements of writers who have essayed the story of this final campaign — although at times it has seemed well-nigh a hopeless labor, and more than once recalled the scene in Sterne's inimitable masterpiece, in which Mr. Shandy, taking My Uncle Toby kindly by the hand, cries out, “Believe me, dear brother Toby, these military operations of yours are far above your strength,” yet, remembering the spirited reply of My Uncle Toby, “What care I, brother, so it be for the good of the nation,” --even so have I been upheld, reflecting that if it should be my good fortune to restore to its true light and bearing

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