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Fourteen years ago to-day (April the 9th) seven thousand five hundred ragged, starved, foot sore, weary, but heroic men, with arms in their hands, gathered around our grand old Chief and wept bitter tears as he told them that he was “compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.” They stacked their arms, furled forever their tattered battle flags, and returned home, not to sit in idleness around desolated hearthstones to mourn over blighted hopes, but to go to work with an energy worthy of their glorious record. That these men and those whom they represented have been law abiding citizens — that they have observed to the letter the terms of their parole — that they have deserved confidence and honor from all sections of the country — is a historic fact too patent to need discussion. The South has honored the Confederate soldier to an extent that has excited the ire of Radical politicians. Our Governors, our Judges, our Legislators, our State and county officers, our Senators and Congressmen, the professors in our colleges, our leading business men, our prominent professional men, our preachers under forty-five years of age — in a word, nearly all of the men occupying positions of honor, emolument or trust which have been filled by the voice of the true people of the South, have been men who “wore the gray,” proved true to the land they loved, and have not abandoned their principles since the war. This has resulted not simply from the fact that there is a general feeling that we owe a debt of gratitude to these men which we can never pay, but also for the very obvious reason that when we select our best men we must choose Confederate soldiers. Nor should the people of the North complain of this. If they choose to neglect their soldiers, and fill their places of honor with men who were “invisible in war,” and are proving themselves “invincible in peace,” that is their affair, but they must not expect us to follow their example. We trust the day will never come when our Southern people shall forget to honor the Confederate soldier — when our women shall cease to deck their graves with flowers and teach their children to cherish the memory of those who “died for us,” or when the voters of the South shall neglect to put the survivors into the high places within their gift. But while we are doing this, we should not forget that it is of the very highest moment, that we gather the material for a true history of the principles, the deeds and the character of the Confederate soldier. The Southern Historical Society is engaged in just this work, and we think we have a claim on the sympathies and the active help of every Confederate soldier, and all who desire to see vindicated at the bar of history his name and his fame.
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