be worn out. It was only a question of a few months, more or less.
We were unable to see it at once.
But there soon began to spring up a chain of permanent works, the first of which were built upon our original lines captured by the skirmishers the first afternoon, and these works, impregnable to assault, finally decided our fate, when, on the next March 25, we put them to the test.
Of this period following the battles of Cold Harbor and Petersburg
, the future historian may find something to say. By all the rules of statecraft, the time had now arrived to open negotiations for peace.
There would no longer be any hope of final success, but there would still be much of blood, of treasure, and of political rights, which might be saved or lost.
The time never came again when as favorable terms could have been made as now. For it was the hour of the lowest tide in Federal hopes.
It remains a fact, however, that for many months, even until the very capture of Richmond
, both the Confederate army and the people would have been very loth to recognize that our cause was hopeless.
's influence, had he advised it, could have secured acquiescence in surrender, but nothing else would.
His confidence in his army, doubtless, for some months delayed his realization of the approaching end. Even when he foresaw it, his duty to his government as a soldier was paramount, and controlled his course to the very last.
And there is this to be said.
In every war there are two issues contended for. First, is the political principle involved; which with us was the right of secession.
The second is prestige or character as a people.
Conceding our cause, did we defend it worthily, history and posterity being the judges?
We lost the first issue; and the more utterly it was lost, the better it has proved to be — for ourselves, even more than for our adversaries.
Without detracting from their merit, but displaying and even enhancing it, we have gained the second by a courage and constancy which could only be fully developed and exhibited under the extreme tests endured, and by the high types of men who became our leaders.
Is not that end worthy of the extreme price paid for it, even to the last drop of blood shed at Appomattox
I am sure that to the army, any end