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 high councils, everywhere, in peace and in war, great Southern lights illuminate the annals of America and shed upon our country's name its chief honor and renown. From the foundation of the government, through all the epochs of peace and arms, down to 1861, Southern statesmen and orators, Southern philosophers and judges, Southern patriots and soldiers, have enacted the brightest chapters of this country's history, and to them we are indebted for the fundamental sources of its present power. When the disunion movement grew out of the construction of our written Constitution, which was adopted ‘to form a more perfect union,’ and the Southern people sought to withdraw from the government to which they had contributed so much, the great war came and with it came the matchless Southern soldier. Manhood, and pride, and honor, were his rightful inheritance, coming down to him through a long line of Southern patriots, who were the moulders of Southern sentiment and opinion, and through fire and blood he proved himself a true exemplar of these virtues. His figure will stand out in history as the most resplendent illustration the world has ever known of duty eagerly performed, of unrequited sacrifice without complaint, and of spirit proof against despair. There is not time, which I regret, to mention names, nor rank, nor conspicuous service. The roll of honor is too long for this-too full of deeds of heroism and patriotism. I must be content to deal with the Confederate soldier as a type and the Confederate dead as a class, and yet I feel that none here will consider me invidious if I stay to call a single name. I would speak of him who, when he saw the end of the struggle was near, said to a distinguished general from his own State: ‘Sir, the men of this war who will deserve the most honor and gratitude are not the men of rank, but the men of the ranks—the privates.’ This just tribute to the nameless heroes who won fame and titles for other men came from one, himself of highest rank, of whom years ago, in time of profound peace, the head of the American army declared he was the greatest soldier then living in the world, and, if there should be opportunity, he would ‘prove himself the greatest captain in history.’ The occasion came, and Robert E. Lee made good the prediction of his old commander. When history comes to exercise its proper province of impartiality. and the world shall view his achievements in connection with the meagre means at his command and the adverse conditions by which he was beset, the world's verdict, as I believe it, will be: Greater than Napoleon or Wellington; greater even than Washington had
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