Annual meeting of Southern Historical Society, October 28th and 29th, 1878.In the absence of Hon. J. S. C. Blackburn, of Kentucky, who had been prevented by unforseen engagements from fulfilling his promise to deliver our annual address, the Society was very fortunate in securing the services of Rev. Dr. J. L. Burrows, of Louisville, Kentucky, a resident of Richmond during the war. The hall of the House of Delegates was crowded with fair women and brave men, and scattered through the audience were some of our most prominent Confederates. The President of the Society, General J. A. Early, presided. After an appropriate prayer by Rev. Dr. Tupper, General Early, in a few well-chosen words, introduced Dr. Burrows to the audience. With a facecious statement of the circumstances under which he had consented to take the place of the distinguished orator (Hon. J. S. C. Blackburn), Dr. Burrows introduced his theme--“evacuation day in Richmond--” by saying:
But I may be permitted to add to these preliminary remarks that  my sincere and earnest interest in the objects for which this Society was organized helped to gain my consent. The true history of the great war has not been and perhaps cannot be yet written; and it never will be written without careful study of the materials stored in the archives of this Society. The demonstrable facts already collated and shaped concerning the relative numbers of the contending forces, concerning the treatment of prisoners of war, and the principles that governed the exchanges of such prisoners, will never again be misrepresented and distorted as in the past, save by excuseless ignorance or inveterate prejudice. This Society has rectified all that material as well as much other. Not often have conquered provinces had opportunity, permission or intelligence to write their own history. We have all, and I trust will use them wisely. Norman annalists have awarded scant justice to Saxon valor. The picture of the lion with a human foot on the outside of his throat was not painted by the lion. For the honor of these Southern States, for fidelity to truth, for a fair showing in the future history of the world, this Society — because it is the only one formed or needed for such purposes — should, in my judgment, be encouraged in its work by the liberal contribution in materials, facts, letters, reports, papers, reminiscences and money to procure them from all who love “fair play.”After a vivid description of the natural and artificial defences of Richmond, Dr. Burrows said:
You will not wonder much, then, that those of us who lived in Richmond during the years of the uncivil war felt ourselves comfortably safe. It is true that several times since the war I have been profoundly humiliated by my own lamentable lack of perspicuity and foresight. I have met so many people who saw so clearly beforehand how the conflict must of necessity end, and I did not. It mortifies one's intellectual pride, depresses him with a sense of his own mental inferiority, to be assured by a far-looking seer, “Why, I saw how all must end from the beginning. I predicted two years before that Richmond would fall and the Confederacy collapse. I told Mrs. Partington so, and I told Mrs. Grundy so.” So, after all was over, said some of my Richmond and other neighbors. It was very unkind not to tell me, I answer them. Why, neighbor! You talked to me many times over war news and prospects, but I can't recall any of these vaticinations. Why, don't you remember I said to you once. Well, that is another humiliation! I don't remember! My memory must leak, and all those prognostications have oozed out. There was another thing a little incomprehensible to me in connection with this foresight. How did it happen that these people who foresaw the crash so long and clearly had so many Confederate bills and bonds on hand when it came? It must have been sublime  patriotism that impelled them to sell houses and farms and invest in Confederate securities, which they plainly foresaw must be utterly worthless in a year or two. Grand magnanimity, to sacrifice so disinterestedly for a cause they knew all the time to be hopeless! It is very distressing to me that my outlook was so limited, and that my memory is so unfaithful. The only comfort I can gleam is that, if my memory is so unreliable, it is just possible that some other people may have short memories, too. It may bring me down very low in your estimation, and indicate a stupid lack of sense, but in honesty I am compelled to confess that I had no glimmering foresight of the cataclysm. I felt quite confident that the Day of Judgment would come before Richmond would pass into the possession of the enemy, and I felt sure that they would have important business elsewhere about that time. And a day of judgment did come first, too, or a day about as near like it as my imagination can compass. That this confidence was not without some warrant in 1865 what I have said about our defences will justify. There had been many bold attempts made to capture Richmond. Generals Scott, McDowell, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Pope and Grant had all tried it with immense forces at command, and all had failed. Rushing raids, led by Stoneman, Kilpatrick, Dahlgren and Sheridan, had been checked short of the objective point. There seemed to be no getting “On to Richmond.” General Grant had been “fighting it out on that line” longer than “all summer.” General Grant, according to Federal official reports, carefully collected and collated and published by your efficient Secretary, had started from the Rapidan in May, 1864, with 141,160 men of all arms, with reserves numbering 137,672 men, most of whom were called to the front during the summer, making a grand total of 278,832 men. To meet this host General Lee had under command less than 50,000 men; and in his whole Department of Northern Virginia, which included the garrisons around Richmond and the troops in the Valley, his field-returns for the last of April, 1864, show 52,626 troops present for duty. Including the little army under General Beauregard's command, watching General Butler's force, and all who joined General Lee's army during the campaign, the official returns prove that the Confederate forces were every day outnumbered in the ratio of four to one. Grant had spent the whole dreary winter, too, in dismal trenches on the outside. We imagined Richmond to be about the safest place in the Confederacy. Had not we the three lines of entrenchments, between us and the enemy, with General Lee and our boys guarding them, and now they were standing well! within shouting distance of each other along the lines for about thirty miles?Dr. Burrows then gave a series of most vivid pictures of scenes ain the evacuation of Richmond, to which no synopsis can do justice.  He was frequently interrupted by applause or roars of laughter at his good hits. He took his seat amid loud applause, and was warmly congratulated at its close. General Early made a few remarks, in which he spoke of the great value of the work of the Society. The business meeting held at the same place on Tuesday night, October 28th, was one of interest, though not very largely attended. General Early presided, and the report of the Executive Committee was read as follows by the Secretary: <
Sixth annual report of the Executive Committee of the Southern Historical Society for year ending October 29th, 1878.In greeting the members of our Society, assembled in annual meeting, and in presenting a report of our transactions during the year, your Committee feel satisfied that they bring a record of success and progress in the past and brightening prospects for the future, which will be gratifying to all lovers of the truth. But before presenting a report of our year's work, it may be well to give a brief sketch of the
The report was unanimously adopted. General Maury announced the death of Colonel D. W. Floweree, of Vicksburg, a life-member of the Society, and paid an appropriate tribute to his memory — the Society voting to spread appropriate resolutions on the record. Earnest remarks in reference to the interests of the Society were made by Generals D. H. Maury, W. B. Taliaferro, J. A. Early and Marcus J. Wright, Colonel C. S. Venable, General J. G. Field and others. There was a general expression of gratification at the prosperous and hopeful condition of the Society.