those who contended with him, and none can more heartily sympathize with the veterans of the Army of the Potomac in their tributes of respect to the memory of their greatest chieftain than their old antagonists, the survivors of the ‘Army of Northern Virginia.’
Twenty years of peace have reigned over this field, and we, the survivors of that stalwart band of 1862, a squad of gray-haired men, I may say the mutilated remnant of a noble regiment, have met here under the walls of Richmond
, that long sought goal of our opponents, here on the soil of Virginia
, that Virginia
which took an equally noble part in framing our grand institutions of liberty, and in our effort to maintain them.
We revere her for giving us Washington
We love her as the mother of Lee
, and each and every one of us, individually and collectively, hold her ever in grateful admiration for the heroic courage and pure womanly tenderness of her fair daughters.
Time, place and circumstance open up the floodgates of memory, and we are engulfed in a maelstrom of reminiscences, and confused, conflicting emotions beyond the power of human language or human art to depict.
And yet, on looking back upon it as a whole, this great mass of experiences and recollections, this past of those who engaged in ‘rebellion,’ so-called, because they resisted the exercise of unlawful power by government, containing, as it does, every shade and grade of emotion, from the most radiant and warmest sunshine of hope and success to the blackness of despair and the chill of death, there is above and beneath, in front and rear, and on either flank, completely encircling it, a halo of glory as steady as the light of truth itself.
Uncompromising tenacity to principle, and honest straightforward support of it, and reliance on it, in contempt, perhaps, of the cold practical advantages of diplomacy, characterize this past, and constitute the centre around which its wheel of fortune revolved, shedding a glow over its passage alike through sunshine and through storm.