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[42]

But it is past. We did our duty, and whether victory crowned our arms, or the inextinguishable fires of hate cease not to pour upon us the consequences of defeat, yet it is well with us. We stand as the representatives of what has been poetically named ‘The Lost Cause.’ It is a good name, for we lost so much. The ruin around us, from which political vindictiveness and greed will not allow us to recover, still shows how much of material prosperity was overthrown by the doctrinaires who swayed the masses and controlled the policy of the North. But who shall count the tears, the broken hearts, the crushed hopes of this generous and gallant people? Much, indeed, was lost. But the central idea for which we fought is not lost; the right of self-government, the right to strike back when any alien hand attempts to put its shackles, or to impose its will, upon us or our communities. This is not lost. It is not dead, and since lovers of freedom live North as well as South, it will not die, but will grow and strengthen until the end. Louisiana, here in this city of New Orleans, has evinced this by the combined wisdom and manhood with which she broke the fetters that an impartial tyranny had placed upon her. Honor to the brave men who did it!

When the Southern Confederacy took the attitude of a combatant, it was with sword and shield. She chose to employ the Army of Northern Virginia as the sword of her right hand; while in her left the Western army guarded 1,000 miles of front. If glory gleamed from our flashing falchion in the east at Manassas, and Richmond, and Chancellorsville, and in the Valley, the shield of the west bore all the tests of as high a resolution, and of as noble endurance at Shiloh, and Perryville, and Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga, down to those last days when a remnant under Gibson held Canby and his 40,000 veterans in check at Spanish Fort.

If the Army of Northern Virginia was ‘the sword of the Lord and of Gideon’—sheathed by the mighty hand of Lee at Appomattox—verily, when the weeping eyes of our women were turned to where you guarded so long and well, the heart of the Confederacy, through the noise of the lamentation, a voice went up, crying, ‘This is, indeed, my shield and my buckler.’

And so may it ever be. May you, veterans of the Army of Tennessee, by the arms of your vigorous manhood and the counsels of your mature age, ever prove a shield and a defense for your people.


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