peer of the most illustrious in that grand galaxy of generals, statesmen, and heroes that have made the name and fame of the Southern Confederacy immortal.
There was Louisiana
's bishop-general, Polk
, who, with a lofty soul, a clear conscience, and an abiding faith, and clad in the divine panoply, wore also with ease and grace the armor of human strife.
There was Stonewall Jackson
, flashing through the conflict the very genius of battle.
And there, too, was Lee
, “first in war, first in peace,” and still first in all our hearts.
And above, and of right crowning that monumental shaft and looking down upon that heroic group, stood that figure leaning upon his gun, a mute, yet eloquent reminder of the men who followed, trusted and loved those leaders — leaders who, without such followers, without men so courageous, patriotic and devoted, had never been lifted to their high places in human history.
Ah! amid associations so suggestive, there was a charm in the remembrance of our dead.
And, looking around on the throng of loving women and true men gathered to pay honor to “our dead,” I asked myself did these men die in vain?
Were their lives wasted or lost?
And in quick response and earnest protest my heart cried out, No I no!
a thousand times no!
True, they died sad and cruel deaths.
Ball and shot and shell made their lives leap forth at a bound, or left them shattered in frame or limb to sink in slower agonies.
Through long sickness they wasted in camps and hospitals, away from home, from wife and children, kindred and friends.
Through vigil-keeping nights and weary days, under parching suns, in blinding dust and amid freezing snows they toiled and suffered.
They fell in trenches, and in mines, or on fields of blood under the open sky, with none to close their eyes or compose their limbs; their last sighs heard only by the winds of heaven that moaned their requiem; leaving behind them empty homes, weeping eyes and breaking hearts.
And yet in the days when they suffered and died there were men who lived in ease and plenty, and died quietly in their beds, whose names are as dead and forgotten as their cold and mouldering forms.
And to be “forgotten as a dead man out of mind,” to be “to dumb forgetfulness a prey” is a dreaded fate.
For the desire of posthumous fame is a noble aspiration of the human soul.
Among life's right ambition it is a worthy aim to seek to do something that will keep a man's memory fresh and green; and it is a consolation to be able to say when dying, “I shall not altogether die.”
I have yet to learn that those generations that pass through uneventful and unhistoric days are to be envied, as gathering up their feet in