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[246] Who shall assume the leadership as we attempt to gather together the shattered pieces and rebuild? Where is there a man who can awaken hopefulness in the heart of the despairing, and at the same time check the heedless impetuosity of those maddened by defeat and restore their wrecked government to active and efficient service?

The problem was solved by one of your own boys when he suggested the name of General Benj. G. Humphreys. At once all parties acknowleged his peculiar fitness, and as by acclamation he was made the custodian of the highest interests of the Commonwealth.

And the success of his administration attests the wisdom of their choice.

His wise counsels, and his conservative measures, had brought again the reign of peace and prosperity—until he was called to meet a form of reconstruction, superinduced by the United States Government, which was at once unconstitutional in form, and destructive in tendency, and by which he was required to abandon his office, and give up the government. This he refused to do, regarding as sacred the trusts confided to his care, until at length, at the point of the bayonet, he was compelled to relinquish those trusts into the hands of strangers.

Leaving now civil life, in so many phases of which we find him conspicuous, I must speak of him as a soldier. So varied was the form of his genius that he was at home in any field that demanded his service. It cannot be expected that I should now give a detailed account of his military career. This part of his life I must leave chiefly to the pen of the historian. When he saw there was no alternative but to fight, he gave himself, with all the energy and sincerity of his nature, to the cause of the Confederacy. He raised a company, and became its Captain; he joined a regiment, and became its Colonel; was assigned to a brigade, and became its commander.

By nature he was singularly fitted as an official soldier. He had courage without impetuosity, fidelity without ambition, and firmness without oppression. Each soldier was his brother, and not one should suffer when it was in his power to furnish relief. He participated in nearly all the hard-fought battles of his command, coming out of one after having had two horses shot from under him, and with nine bullet holes through his cloak within a radius of eleven inches from his collar-button, and finally returned from the conflict bearing in his body four severe wounds, that undermined his health and doubtless hastened his death.

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