went down to death, fighting beneath the “Southern cross,” were the instruments and victims of no man's ambition.
There are men who go to war under the domination of no other feeling but the love of glory.
Drunk with ambition, they seek the bubble of fame even at the cannon's flaming mouth.
It was not for glory that the Southern
soldier drew his sword.
It was not for a fading chaplet that he endured the hardships of the camp and faced the perils of the fight.
Let us not wrong the memory of our fallen comrades by writing any such epitaph upon their graves.
Let us think of them as men whose master passion was something higher than personal ambition.
Their courage was born of conviction.
They fought to put down what they believed to be political heresy.
They fought for something they thought to be higher and better than a Southern Confederacy.
They fought to maintain and perpetuate what they believed to be political truth, wisdom and justice.
The Confederate soldier had a political faith.
He had distinct and intelligent views of our political system.
He understood the relations of the States to the Federal Government
He believed that the great basal principles which underlie republican institutions everywhere were involved in the struggle, and that victory for his standard meant not only the independence of the South
, but the triumph of the only true theory of constitutional government.
It does not behoove me on this occasion to consider whether he was right or wrong.
But I will say, I must say, my sense of justice constrains me to say, he believed that he was right.
Let us have the magnanimity to own that among our foes there were thousands who fought for what they believed to be truth and justice.
A few days before the battle of Chancellorsville
an invalid soldier left his home in South Alabama
to join his regiment in Jackson
He arrived just in time to enter the fight.
Though diseased and feeble, he was foremost in every charge.
At a critical moment the colorbearer fell.
Scarcely had the old smoky and tattered banner touched the ground before the sick soldier caught it in his bony hand, and running forward, waved it in the very teeth of the foe. Amid the hurtling hail of death he bore it, till he received the mortal wound.
He was then taken to the rear, and as his eyes were closing calmly, as if for a night's repose, he said to a friend: “Tell my father that I died at my post, and in hope of a peaceful future.”
Again and again had that soldier expressed to me the conviction that the defeat of the South
would be the downfall of republican liberty.
We cannot lift the curtain which veils the future and see to what extent this prophecy was