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[187]

The Exercises begin. Rev. Father Picherit, a veteran, Delivers the prayer.

Suddenly the hum of voices ceased, and mounting the rostrum, the Rev Father H. A. Picherit, himself a veteran and chaplain of a Confederate regiment throughout the war, delivered the following prayer:

Almighty God, master of life and death. I thank thee that, in thy mercy, thou hast permitted me to live long enough to see this day! And here, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, above which bold Vicksburg lifts her haughty brow to catch the sun's first rays or the shower's first kiss; a city consecrated by the blood of the martyred dead whose ashes make sacred our country to the God of Liberty; for so many weary months the battlefield of the fiercest conflicts; ennobled by her historical recollections, and so often reddened by the blood of our brothers who fought for her freedom and died for her glory; I bless thee, O Lord, that I can once more meet my comrades and pay a last tribute of honor and gratitude to the Confederate soldiers who lie buried in this holy spot!

May my right hand lose its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if ever I forget thee, Historic City, that hast gathered into thy motherly bosom the sacred bones of my brothers and guardest the precious dust of my people! City of martyrs and heroes, land of chivalry, be thou ever happy and prosperous!

I praise thee, O, God of might, and I thank thee for the exalted patriotism which thou didst infuse into the hearts and souls of our gallant soldiers, the bravest of the brave, who threw themselves fearlessly between the enemy and our women and children, determined not to surrender nor retreat! Dear departed comrades, well did you redeem your pledge with the forfeit of your lives, falling, the chosen sacrifice of Vicksburg's freedom!

I pray thee, O God, grant that our children may never lose the memory of these our city's defenders, a nobler band than the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae. For us they shed their blood, for our constitutional rights they poured out their lives! Noble band of martyrs, your souls went out in the cause of our city and of our country! You may be without a name in the world, but each of you has a place from which no one can ever dislodge you: the heart of a grateful Vicksburg!

I pray thee, O God, to bless the declining years of the old Confederate

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