The annual meeting of the Southern Historical Society.
There assembled in the State Capitol
, at Richmond
, on the 31st of October, 1883, a fine audience, gathered to hear Father Ryan
, who was expected to deliver the address, and to attend the meeting of the Society.
General J. A. Early
, called the meeting to order, and expressed his regret that Father Ryan
(for reasons unknown to the committee) had failed to come, and that the audience would be denied the pleasure of hearing him. He made a few remarks on the importance of the work of the Society, and the obligations of our people to sustain it.
Colonel R. L. Maury
explained that the chairman of the Executive Committee, General Dabney H. Maury
, was in New York, where he was detained by business, and read from him the following letter:
of the Society (Dr. J. William Jones
) then read the report of the Executive Committee, which had been unanimously adopted by the Committee
at a meeting held for the purpose.
On motion of Colonel William Allan
, of Maryland
(formerly Chief of Ordnance
of the Second Corps A. N. V.), the report was adopted by the meeting.
In moving the adoption of the report, Colonel Allan
,—In making this motion I cannot refrain from expressing the gratification which the reports just read have given us. The condition of the Society, as shown by them, is better than ever before in our history.
To have no debt, and at the same time to have assets actual, or within reach, of $12,000 or more, besides a subscription list adequate for current expenses, is indeed an excellent showing, and justifies our congratulations to the Executive Committee and officers of the Society upon their successful management.
The work done by the Society has been most important and valuable.
For years it testified to the truth amid the prejudice and vituperation which was the lot of the Confederate
An immense change in recent years has taken place in the estimates made in
, as well as in the North
itself, in regard to our war. A spirit of justice and fairness is replacing the old one of passion and hate.
It is possible to find now many fair accounts of leading events in the war and of the characters of leading Southern men in Northern books.
The work of this Society has had much to do in bringing about this salutary change.
It has contributed much to true history by its own publications; it has furnished much valuable material to the archives of the war, now being published by the Government
; it has been the means of collecting and preserving a large amount of data of the greatest importance that would otherwise have remained scattered, and for the most part have been gradually lost.
But its work is not yet done.
It has really only been begun.
However gratifying the change which has been brought about in Northern sentiment in regard to the events of the war, we must not, we should not, allow the history of our side of this great struggle to be written by those who fought against us. Future generations should not learn of the motives, the sacrifices, the aims, the deeds of our Southern people, nor of the characters of their illustrious leaders only through the pens of their adversaries.
What have not Carthage
lost in the portraits—the only ones that remain to us—drawn by Roman historians?
An example will illustrate what I mean.
The other day I went over the field which will be ever memorable for the two great battles of Manassas
, two of the most illustrious of Confederate victories.
The quiet of twenty years of peace had settled upon that field.
Few signs remained of the grand strifes in which the South
drove back the invaders.
I found upon that field two monuments, and but two. One of them, placed just in rear of the Henry house
, has been erected in honor of the Federal
soldiers who fell there.
The other, over the knoll where Fitz John Porter
charged, commemorates the brave men of his corps who there died in the vain attempt to drive Jackson
from the old railroad cut. At the Henry house
I looked about for other memorials.
Nothing is to be seen.
The little shaft placed to mark the spot where Barton
fell has been chipped away entirely by curiosity vandals.
A little cedar bush alone enables the guide to point out the place where Bee
poured out his blood, from which he baptized Jackson
with his name of ‘Stonewall
Nothing marks where Jackson
and his men stood ‘like a stone wall;’ and yet in all the ages to come the last memory of that first battle of Manassas
to fade out of the knowledge and admiration of mankind will be that ‘Stonewall
Understand me, comrades.
Not one word have I to say
in criticism of the monuments placed to commemorate the brave deeds of the Union
soldiers who died on that field; but if these men be worthy of such honor from their
comrades, how much more do we
owe to the men who twice won victory at the price of blood on this spot; or to those noble South Carolinians under Gregg
, who, on the left of A. P. Hill
, on August 29, 1862, held their position with a tenacity not exceeded by the British
squares at Waterloo
; or to that gallant division of Stark
's, which met and bore the brunt of Porter
's attack on August 30th, and when they had no more cartridges used the butts of their muskets and even the stones that lay around them as arms!
The deeds of such men and of many others like them deserve to be kept green for all time.
They constitute a priceless legacy to their countrymen—to their descendants.
We trust this Society will go on with its noble work, and that the kindly interest and appreciation of our people will be manifested in giving it the means to carry out the plans of the Executive Committee.
After a few remarks from the Secretary
the meeting adjourned, all seeming to be very much pleased at the hopeful condition of the Society.