have been a strange thing had they not gone home to share the dangers and distresses of their kindred.
War was upon us, and from the Potomac
to the Rio Grande
a whole people was convulsed.
In the mad rush to arms, the former student threw aside the slipper and the gown, and seized the musket and the knapsack; he exchanged the shady groves of science and the pleasant porticoes of learning for the camp and the bivouac; Materia Medica gave place to Military Tactics
and the Manual of Arms.
How sudden, yet how natural and how inevitable was this metamorphose from the student to the soldier!
The whole Southern country was a camp.
Where late was heard only the quiet hum of peaceful avocations, now resounded the wild din of martial music and the tramp of armed men. The sons of the South
, whose veins still tingled with the hot blood of the Cavalier, made no delay in their resolves.
They wheeled at once into the line where, side by side, stood rank and wealth and genius and poverty, arrayed for battle ‘á l'outrance
The ease and luxury of home were cheerfully abandoned for the hardships and privations of the field.
The time had come when, in the natural development of national life, the opposite convictions of the sections must at last be settled by the stern arbitrament of the sword.
Neither party shrunk from the dread ordeal of battle.
The gauntlet had been thrown down in defiance, and was promptly taken up. It was a piteous spectacle, and yet a brave one; for I think our Anglo-Saxon
race believes that many things are worse than open, manly, generous warfare.
But I shall forbear, gentlemen, to lead you through the shifting fortunes of the tented field.
It would be out of place and inappropriate here, for me to point you to those blood-stained fields, whitening with the bones of our brothers, or to bare their gaping wounds and hold before your eyes the bloody mantle.
It is not my task to chronicle the events of that dire struggle, nor to echo in your ears the sighs and lamentations of the widow and the fatherless.
You, though victorious, have heard, as well as we, the groans of dying heroes, and have witnessed the pathetic anguish of bereaved relations.
Our part then, and now, and always was, and is, to heal, never to wound.
Ours is the holier mission; for it is to follow in the steps of him who was the Great Physician
, that Divine Man
, whose whole ministry was one of mercy; and who, after curing ‘all manner of diseases,’ finished its majestic self-denials in the reconciliation of the Cross.
I trust that, with these sentiments, you will not think