in that final retreat as when facing its first fight; with not a commander away, not an officer absent, not a private forgotten from its proud story, the army of Tennessee, in serried ranks, horse, foot and artillery, marched in shadowy column victoriously from its last Confederate field of December 16, 1864, straight through the golden portal leading to the transcendent roadway of history.
Within five months, its elder brother, the army of Northern Virginia, holding within its skeleton ranks every man, general, officer
, or private, who had in its day of greatest glory belonged to it, was to retreat from Petersburg
, and from that culminating height of heroic effort, to march without let or challenge through those same golden portals, behind which the Confederate armies, great or small, were to meet, one in birth as in endeavor; one in hope as in failure; one in failure as in unending fame!
It was April, 1865, that the rings of that Titanic curtain which had hidden within its heavy folds the thrilling epoch of so much valor and so much devotion, noiselessly shaken by some hand mightier far than man's, and rattling off from their pole, fell with a crash upon the land sodden with the blood of an entire people, never to rise again over our Union of States, ‘one and indivisible’