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The private soldier's valor.

I might prolong the list, but will speak here of but one other. His name I do not know, but his deeds of valor I have seen, while his courage, his fortitude, and his unexampled achievements all the world admires. This greatest hero of modern times is the private soldier of the Confederate army, who courageously and nobly did his duty, enduring the hardships and privations of his station without a murmur. He was the equal of the most famous soldiers of ancient or modern times. The Grecian phalanx was not more solid. The three hundred at Thermopylae were not more devoted. The Roman legion was not more steadfast and courageous. The Old Guard was not more reliable and certain in the hour of danger. The Light brigade was not more daring. Half-clad, half-starved, he endured the greatest fatigues and hardships without repining, and faced the heaviest odds without blanching or faltering.

And is it counted strange that the Southern people cherish the memories of these men? Is it a matter of reproach that they have their heroes and their anniversaries? Is it a matter of surprise that they exalt their leaders above the leaders of the Union cause? Does any reasonable man expect less? Does he expect us to exalt General Grant above General Lee; General Sherman above Stonewall Jackson, or General Sheridan above A. P. Hill? [Great and continued applause.

Blood is thicker than water. The affections of a brave people cannot be transferred from their own leaders to the leaders of the opposing side any more than water can run up hill by the force of gravity. It is contrary to the law of nature. The Southern people respect and admire the brave men who fought against them, and they feel a patriotic pride in their greatness, but they love their own heroes with a love which surpasses the love of woman. They are ‘bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh,’ and each atom of the dust of their dead who wore the gray is dearer to them than all the dust of all the brave men who wore the blue. [375]

For in all the colors that deck the world
     Your gray blends not with blue.

The colors are far apart,
     Graves sever them in twain,
The Northern heart and the Southern heart
     May beat in peace again.

But still, till time's last day,
     Whatever lips may plight,
The blue is blue, but gray is gray,
     Wrong never accords with right.

Loyalty to the Government of the United States does not require disloyalty to our own people or our own traditions. Loyalty to the Union does not require that we should love Mr. Ingalls, of Kansas, or canonize Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts. In thus honoring and cherishing the memories of their dead, the Southern people honor themselves and exalt themselves in the estimation of all right-minded people. If they failed to do this, they would deserve and receive the contempt of all brave people. The desire to honor the memory of dead friends is a natural instinct, firmly implanted in the human heart, and is as old as the history of the human race.

Sophocles, in his tragedy of Antigone, tells us that when the daughter of Oedipus was brought before Cleon, King of Thebes, accused of paying the rights of sepulture to her brother, Polynices, slain in combat, declared a traitor, and his funeral rites forbidden under penalty of death, she acknowledged and exulted in the deed. And when asked by the king, ‘And darest thou, then, to disobey the law?’ she bravely and defiantly answered the tyrant thus:

I had it not from Jove,
Nor the just gods who rule below;
How could I ever think
A mortal law, of power or strength sufficient
To abrogate the unwritten law divine,
Immaculate, eternal, not like these
Of yesterday, but made ere time began.
Shall man persuade me then to violate
Heaven's greatest command, and make the gods my foes?
Believe me King: 'Tis happiness to die:
Without remorse I shall embrace my fate.
But to my brother had I left the rites
Of sepulture unpaid, I then indeed
Had been most wretched.
I cannot live to do a deed more glorious.

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