Nor need much time be wasted in eulogy of these buried heroes, easy as the task would be, and pleasant the office, and just the praise.
What perils they gladly encountered!
What wonders they achieved!
What odds they met!
Odds of numbers — their foe's strength being four-fold their own. Odds of appliances — so enormous that they sometimes had a grim ludicrousness about them.
Who, for example, will hereafter believe that, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the gravest apprehension was felt that the aspirations of millions of American citizens for freedom would have to be ignominiously abandoned for want of a supply of percussion caps
, or a single machine in the entire Confederacy for their manufacture?
Odds of training in those fields which have grown to such paramount consequence since war has come to be almost a mechanic art. Odds of resources, so pitiable that at the last their subsistence was often the uncrushed and uncooked grain they shared with their starving horses.
Yet how superb their courage!
Not only the courage that dares, but the grander courage that endures: not alone the heroism that braves death, but the higher heroism that laughs at despair.
How lofty their fortitude!
Whether on the soil of their own States, defending their own hearths, or pilgrims from Commonwealths a thousand miles away, whose hearths they should never see again; or exiles, like Maryland
's immortal children, in a banishment whose tenderest alternative was a dungeon, how these gallant souls kept their faith bright as their bayonets, and marched gaily to death as to high carnival!
Is not the whole earth filled with their story?
They might, indeed, have committed their fame, as did England
's smitten chancellor, “to men's charitable speeches, to foreign nations and the next ages” ; but there is no need.
Some even of their brave foes have done them justice, and all the world knows well the story of that immortal band, “with tattered uniforms but bright muskets, which for four years carried the Revolt on its bayonets, opposing a constant front to the mighty concentration of power brought against it; which, receiving terible blows, did not fail to give the like; and which, vital in all its parts, died only with its annihilation” --this band of rebels!
What vindication do they need from the reproach that may be thought to lurk in this epithet of “Rebel,” by which it is the fashion in certain quarters now to designate these brave sleepers?