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[450] the authentic records of our “War between the States,” then scattered and perishing in private hands all through the country.

In August, 1873--by the request of its founders — the Society was reorganized by a convention held at the Montgomery White Sulphur Springs and its domicil transferred to Richmond. Since that time the progress of our work has been marked by increased energy and success. The State of Virginia gave us an office in her capitol, and we hold there the most valuable and important collection of historical documents relating to the causes, the conduct and the consequences of the great civil war now in existence. Historians in Europe, as well as in America, have learned this fact and are availing themselves of it.

The “Archive Bureau” at Washington recognizes it, and the present Secretary of War has, with an enlightened liberality worthy of his high office, given us free access to all of the historical archives of the Government, while he receives from us as freely copies of all documents needed to complete the files of his office.

By this co-operation the most complete data attainable will be secured for the future historian, who will transmit to posterity the story of the greatest civil conflict that has ever divided a Christian people.

We have availed ourselves of the presence of this high company, assembled from all parts of our common country, to invite you to listen to the story of the character and career of one of the most remarkable Americans that ever lived.

It was my privilege to have been much associated with him — to have closely observed his conduct during the war and since its close. At one time he came under my command, and it is with peculiar satisfaction that I now remember my first and only instructions to him. They were in these words: “General, I charge you with the defence of North Mississippi. In doing this I wish you to feel untrammeled in your action by any reference to me. I cannot spare you a man, but let me know when I can aid you with supplies. And rest assured that you shall have full credit for the success I know you will achieve, and that I will be responsible for any disasters which may befall.” He cleared Mississippi in a few weeks of every enemy.

I congratulate you that on this occasion we shall learn about the character and campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest from his next in command--one of his most tried and trusted generals, who was himself an eyewitness of and an active participant in many of the glorious actions he will recount.

I have the pleasure of introducing to you General James R. Chalmers, of Mississippi, who gallantly rode with Forrest in the days of war, and now efficiently serves his State and country in the councils of the nation.

General Chalmers was received with loud applause, and was frequently interrupted with applause as he delivered the following eloquent sketch of

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