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And now that war is flagrant, far and wide on land and sea and river, over the mountains and the plain, rolls the red battle tide and rises the lofty cheer. The son falls, the old father steps in his place. The father falls, the stripling of the play-ground rushes to the front; the boy becomes a man. Lead fails—old battle-fields are raked over, children gather up bullets as they would pluck berries, household ornaments and utensils are broken, and all are moulded into missiles of war. Cannon fail—the very church bells whose mellow chimes have summoned to the altar are melted and now resound with the grim detonations of artillery. Clothes fail—old garments are turned over; rags and exercise are raiment. The battle horse is killed, the ship goes down; the unhorsed trooper and the unshipped tar trudge along with the infantry. The border States are swept away from the Confederacy; the remaining ones gird their loins the tighter. Virginia is divided; there is enough of her left for her heroic heart to beat in. New Orleans is gone; Vicksburg falls; Gettysburg is lost; armies wither; exiles make their home in battle; slender battalions do the duty of divisions. Generals die in the thick fight; captains become generals; a private is a company. Luxuries disappear; necessities become luxuries. Fields are wasted; crops and barns are burned; flocks and herds are consumed, and naught is left but ‘man and steel—the soldier and his sword.’

The desolate winter lays white and bleak upon the land; its chill winds are resisted by warm and true affections. [158]

Atlanta, Mobile, Charleston, Savannah fall—the Confederacy is cut to pieces. Its fragments become countries with frontiers on skirmish lines and capitals on horseback.

Ports are sealed—the world and the South are parted. All the dearer seems the scant sky that hangs over her bleeding children.

On and on and on come the thickening masses of the North— brave men, bravely led, and ably commanded; and as those of the South grow thinner, theirs grow stronger. Hope sinks; despair stiffens courage.

Everything fails but manhood and womanhood. The woman cooks and weaves and works, nurses the stricken and buries her dead and cheers her living. The man stands to his gun behind Johnston, behind Lee. Petersburg and Richmond starve and bleed, and yet stand dauntless. And here amongst you—while the thunders shake the capitol and the window-panes of his home and the earth tremble— shere stands Jefferson Davis, unshaken, untrembling, toiling to give bread to his armies and their kindred, toiling to hold up the failing arms of his veterans, unbelieving that Heaven could decree the fall of such a people.

At last the very fountains of nature fail. The exhausted South falls prone upon its shield.

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