Not all the military exploits of all former American history thrown into one can count with the defence of thirty miles of slender earthworks by a force never from the first numbering more than 45,000, and at last dwindling to 28,000, against armies counting as potentially or actually available a quarter of a million. “Since the last Athenian covered his face with his mantle and mutely died,” the world has seen no such example of absolute, unconscious simplicity, utter self-devotion, patriotism, yet more signally exhibited in humiliating disaster than in a brilliant career of victory, as that shown by General Lee--the first military chief of the age, yet greater in the college than even in the camp; the noblest member of a splendid chilvary, yet most noble amid the ruins of his cause, his country, and his fortunes; the one true knight sans tache, sans peur, et sans reproche, the living embodiment of all that is grandest in the ideals of the past as of all that is simplest in the promised republican manhood of the future; ideal soldier, pattern Christian, selfless man, and stainless gentleman. Little as man can know of the ways of Providence, what indication, however clear, of the probable purposes of Heaven could for a moment countervail to my conscience or to yours the warranty given for the righteousness of a cause by the names of Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert Edward Lee?We are willing that the world shall judge our cause and people, if only the world shall have the facts, and not the false and slanderous version with which the mind of the nations has been poisoned against us. Surely our people ought to sustain this Southern Historical Society, and place it on such a foundation that it may make itself still more potent at home and abroad in vindicating the truth of history.
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