I am only a soldier and no speaker; but, appreciating to the full the great compliment paid me by the committee of arrangements in selecting me to respond to such a toast, I thank you sincerely, and only beg of you charity to cover and make amends for my deficiencies. To ‘Our battles, where we were tried,’ I will gladly answer; but, Mr. Chairman, let me beg your indulgence in slightly changing the lines which follow, ‘Seeking the bubble reputation even at the cannon's mouth.’ To men who fought for principles, who cast their lives in the scale to uphold them, it went beyond such a motive as ‘seeking the bubble reputation.’ Amend the quotation, gentlemen; let it stand, ‘Gaining reputation at the cannon's mouth,’ and I am with you there. When leaving home, bearing so proudly upon our breasts the tiger-head of our command, with the inscription, ‘Try us,’ little did we think how soon it would receive its baptism of fire, and how many well-fought fields would in after years attest our fidelity and our devotion to our motto. On the 18th July, 1861, the guns of the four batteries were placed in position upon the banks of Bull Run, and we waited with the breathless interest, and varying feelings of men for the first time under fire, for the opening of the ball, tasting of
That stern joy which warriors feel,It came at last, and the guns of the enemy, whose position could only be discovered by the smoke of their discharges, opened. Then the guns stationed at Blackburn's Ford responded, and with all the steadiness of veterans, men, till then unversed in the rudiments of war, beat back the trained batteries of the Federal army, and by their skill and prowess filled with amazement not only the South, but the world. General Beauregard, in his report of the battle, says: ‘The skill, the conduct and soldierly qualities of the Washington Artillery were all that could be desired. The officers and men engaged, won for their battalion a distinction, which I feel assured will never be tarnished, and which will even serve to urge them and their corps to high endeavor.’ The engagement of the 18th was but the prelude to the opening scenes upon the theatre of the war. On the 21st was fought the battle of Manassas, and again did the battalion do yeoman service. Posted upon the ridge, near the Henry House, they fought the batteries
In meeting foeman worthy of their steel.