Revolutions can only die in the last ditch.
They would rather have died than surrender then, and they were right.
Revolutions imply the impossibility of compromise.
They never begin until overtures are ended.
Once begun, there is no halfway house between victory and death, and they can only die with honor in the last ditch.
Had surrender come before its necessity was manifest to all mankind,
reproach, derision and contempt, feud, faction and recrimination would have brought an aftermath of disorder and terror; and had it been based on such terms as those which critics have suggested, a glorious revolution would have been snuffed out like a farthing candle in a miserable barter about the ransom of slaves.
It was well for all that it was fought to the finish without compromise either tendered or entertained.
The fact that it was so fought out gave finality to its result and well-nigh extinguished its embers with its flames.
No drop of blood between Petersburg
—not one in the last charge—was shed in vain.
Peace with honor must pay its price, even if that price be life itself, and it is because the South
paid that price with no miser's hand that her surviving soldiers carried home with them the ‘consciousness of duty faithfully performed.’
We should rejoice that if weak men wavered before the end, neither Jefferson Davis
, nor Robert E. Lee
, nor Joseph E. Johnston
Though they and their compeers could not achieve the independence of the Confederacy
, they did preserve the independent and unshamed spirit of their people.
And it is in that spirit now that men of the South
find their shield against calumny, their title to respect, their welcome to the brotherhood of noble men, and their incentive to noble and unselfish deeds.
If you would know why Rome was great,
says a student of her history, ‘consider that Roman soldier whose armed skeleton was found in a recess near the gate of Pompeii
When burst the sulphurous storm, the undaunted hero dropped the visor of his helmet and stood there to die.’
Would you know why the South
Look on the new-made grave in Louisiana
, and consider the ragged soldier of Bentonville