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The unveiling of the statue of General Robert E. Lee, at Richmond, Va., May 29th, 1890.

This demonstration in its spontaneity was unique in the history of our country. All hearts were in accord, and there was harmony and entire decorum, notwithstanding that pre-arrangement of organizations was precluded, through the absence of knowledge of intending participants in the procession. Many organizations without previous intimation to the directors in Richmond, arrived but a little while before the line was forming, and many joined it whilst it was in motion. Yet there was no confusion, only a little delay as bodies were marched through divided lines resting in the shade. The wants of the waiting were well attended with refreshments from the gracious hands of gentle women.

Memory was turned back to days of anxiety, of peril, of suffering, and of sacrifice. Veneration for a great-hearted and devoted leader—sublime in dutiful performance, was paramount in the breast of every participant. Bitterness had not lodgment. Amidst crowding images and incidents, patriotism and charity were brightly present. The fiat of the sword was unreservedly accepted at Appomattox. The South holds the common interest of our reunited country in its due regard. It earnestly invokes respectful consideration and fraternity.

It was a cloudless day. The atmosphere was balmy and all nature was in its gayest garb.

It was an inspiriting expression of a generous people. No serious accident occurred. Almighty God seemingly gave His countenance. Who should cavil? The day will never be forgotten by the participants and future generations will have its incidents recounted to them by successive treasurers of its memories.

Never before were so many troops gathered here on peaceful intent; never were decorations of business houses, dwellings, and public buildings so tastefully elaborate, and never before was there such a display of patriotic enthusiasm in this city. [263] The following were the leading events of the day:

Morning: Reunion of the Fifty-Sixth Virginia regiment of Ninth Cavalry of Corse's brigade.

Noon: Military, Veterans, Farmers' Alliance and Firemen. Afternoon: The ceremonies of the unveiling of the monument.

Night: Military banquet tendered in honor of visiting military; reception at Major F. M. Bovkin's to officers of the Fifth Maryland regiment; banquet to Otey battery; reunion of Rosser's men, the Laurel brigade; entertainment by the Hon. J. L. M. Curry. The cool of early morning found the streets already lively with weary-looking individuals, who, reaching the city late, had spent the night on their feet instead of being sandwiched in crowded rooms or hallways. By 6 o'clock the trains began to unload their burthens at all the depots, and this was continued all day. All kinds of vehicles from places within a radius of twenty-five miles rattled into the city and landed their occupants at the places most convenient for breakfast.

It would have been a warm day under the clear blue sky had not a gentle breeze fanned the crowds which began by 9 o'clock to secure favorable positions under the trees along the route, while the pennants, banners and flags were set a fluttering in ever-changing colors. From the first beat of the drum in the morning until long after midnight the gay scenes on the streets were prolonged by the fifty thousand visitors and the one hundred thousand population of Richmond, and everybody were satisfied with the great day of the South.

A careful estimate of those who came to the city by rail, boat, horseback, and in vehicles drawn by horses and mules, shows that it was the largest crowd ever assembled here for any occasion.

Militia from Southern States, veterans from States as far North as New York, representatives of the institutions of learning in the State, and ladies and gentlemen from far and wide.

The city filled up rapidly the day before, but there was still room for more. The early trains brought in thousands from various points, and the streets were alive with nearly a hundred thousand people, citizens and strangers. People from every point of the Union were present, but the representative element came from the land that Lee loved, and that honors itself in admiration for him. The Southern States were nobly represented. They could point with pride to ranks of veterans, to the men who commanded in war, and who obey now by serving them in high positions of trust in the peaceful affairs of State. Men and officers from Maryland to Texas came to old Virginia [264] once more to stand side by side with warm-hearted, old-time friends. ‘I always loved Virginia,’ said Colonel Zabell, representing the Southern division of the Army of Northern Virginia from Louisiana. ‘I never knew a Virginian to shut the door in the face of a Louisianian.’ That they never did, that they never will, nor in the face of any of the brave boys from the Rio Grande to the Pennsylvania line.

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