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Obedient to their Captain.

Our little band shared with their brothers the desolating tempest until it was their glory to stand with the 7,000 of Appomattox. Obedient to their great captain to the last, at his word, and only at his word, did they surrender. They wept as they dismouted their guns. It was still the courage which is 10th to yield. When all was lost save honor their roll remained the roll of honor. The surrender of themselves to their great captain and his cause had been their great surrender which swallowed up all other. Of such is the kingdom which is victorious over defeat. It is the panoply which no defeat can pierce. The great souls of sacrifice, wherein civilization hath its root and whereof is its true branch—they truly have their symbol in that bush burning in the desert, ever self-consuming and ever unconsumed. Rightly we make the supreme effort of that war our measure. For if our mind was evil the blows we struck would have betrayed all its evil counsel; and as sheep know their shepherd, so do virtuous actions troop around a virtuous cause. If the heart of the South was the black and barbarous thing her enemies have painted a spear of fire should have discovered a shape so foul. That [294] heart has been tried in the fire; it has passed through the fire. I would not be guilty, and believe I am not guilty of irreverence when I say that in the midst of the fiery ordeal into which that heart was thrown there was one walking by it in the flames, whose form was as the Son of God. To adhere to success is easy. Constancy under an adverse star is the rare and holy virtue. The standard of steadfast honor has been borne aloft by men, who knew there was for them no other reward than the self-respect which only such fidelity can purchase. The heroic temper of that heart and the army it supplied, in victory and defeat, is a parable of the constancy of the human mind, which does us more good to-day than all our oppressions have done us harm.

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Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (1)

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