The Howitzer chapter.
It is the Howitzer chapter of this history that we are here to celebrate to-day.
Wonderful must it have been to any soldier of the ‘Old World’ to witness the daily picture in that Howitzer camp—officers and men seated around the common camp-fire, as though the difference of rank were nominal and temporal only, and the only real and eternal thing the cause which joined their hearts and hands.
It was the picture of what Jefferson
called the Roman
principle, which esteems it honorable for the general of yesterday to act as a corporal to-day.
Every man was a brigadier around the camp-fire, and every man was subject to a discipline of honor more unsparing than the laws of war to every real dereliction.
And how absolutely did those
command, just because they never spared themselves!
To be first in rank was to be first in danger and side by side in every hardship.
It was on the extreme right at Fredericksburg
, from the force of habit, were leading artillery in what fairly seemed a cavalry charge, that the gallant Utz
was torn from his horse and from his life by the shell to which he opposed his invincible breast.
This day is his memorial service.
And how tenderly, when the pitiless rain had ceased, we bent over the still form of Randolph Fairfax
—the offering of our grand old ally in every fight, the Rockbridge artillery—how tenderly we bent over that marble sleep and gazed for the last time on the fair, bright brow of the beautiful boy. How we watched through all that winter, while one, not of the Howitzers, but in authority over us, was sinking, and the very light of learning itself seemed to flicker in the socket as the life of Lewis Coleman
put on its spiritual body.
It was in the first clench of that long death grip which lasted from the Wilderness
that as John Thompson Brown
rode to the front of his batteries to secure an advance position, a bullet from the brown brush which hid the enemy's sharpshooters laid him in the dust.
The beat of one of the warmest hearts, making a man's breast like a woman's, there ceased, and the bright outlook of a life all aflame with generous and manly hopes had fallen quenched.
The sword presented to him by those Howitzers who, under his orders, had fired the first, and over his memory did afterwards fire the last shot in the war, clung to him as he fell.
He fell with a harness of honor on him, worthy his father's son.