are not here to defend their memories from the taint of the reproach of rebellion and treason.
Alas! I am alive and here, and am bound, at every hazard, to declare that those men were no rebels and no traitors.
Let whoever will swear that they were rebels and traitors I will contradict the oath, and appeal to God on the Holy
of Holies as high as Heaven's throne, and swear they were pure patriots, loyal
tried and true soldiers, brave, honest, devoted men
, who proved their faith in their principles by the deaths which canonized them immortal heroes and martyrs!
No one shall inscribe the epitaphs of rebellion and treason upon the tombs of their dead without my burning protest being uttered against the foul and false profanation.
And if any wounds of the living are labeled with rebellion and treason I would tear away the infamy though the wounds should bleed unto death.
If I suffer their names to be dishonored and their glory to be tarnished, and don't gainsay the reproach, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; and if I suffer their orphans to be outcasts for the want of sympathy, warmly outspoken and more warmly felt, may my right hand forget its cunning.
Alas! in these times it has no cunning, for it has no coins!
I too am a beggar.
I can beg, then, and do beg like a Belisarius, for them.
Please give them one obolus!
Have you a crumb to spare?
Divide it with them Have you comfort, give them.
I implore you give them some of your abundance!
Their enemies who slew their fathers honor them enough to feed their poor orphans!
They won't hurt you for daring to do deeds of charity.
Many of them are brave men, and the brave are always generous to the brave.
The orphan, the orphan of the poor, the female orphan, the orphan fallen on evil times, the Confederate
soldier's orphan girl-child cry to you!
Will you not heed their cries and in some way help the helpless ones?
If you will not, then may we apostrophize the manes of their martyred sires, in the language of the lays of the Scottish cavaliers:
Last of Freemen--
Last of all that dauntless race
Who would rather die unsullied
Than outlive the land's disgrace--
O thou lion-hearted warrior!
Reck not of the after-time!
Honor may be deemed dishonor,
Loyalty be called a crime.
Sleep in peace with kindred ashes
Of the noble and the true,
Hands that never failed their country,
Hearts that never baseness knew!