or tongue, has given to the world a fitting recital of that heroic struggle of one short week, in which was lost a cause and country that we had dreamed to be a heritage from heaven, and which we had loved even better than life.
Do not look to me, therefore, for song or story worthy of Confederate fame.
I have no flowers of rhetoric to show, no measured lines of epic verse to bring, to your camp fire to-night; I have only a simple story to tell, a tale of personal reminiscence, a recountal of march and bivouac and battle, measured by septenary scenes of suffering, of weariness, of wounds, of want, of hopeless deeds of heroism, of days of disaster, in which the heavens seemed hid, and finally, of a black and starless night, in which the warrior's banner was planted for the last time by warrior hands, and of a coming morning of unspeakable sorrow, when slowly and sullenly it was furled forever.
When, in the memorable campaign of 1864, Lee
, on the 18th of June, confronted each other in the trenches at Petersburg
, I was in the city, assigned to duty as senior surgeon, or executive officer, in charge of all general military hospitals at this post, reporting immediately to the general commanding the department.
My duties were scarcely of a professional character at all—I had no opportunity of seeing the sick and wounded except on tour of inspection—but my whole time was consumed in receiving and forwarding morning reports of the number and condition of those under hospital treatment; to see that they had proper and sufficient accommodation; that they were carefully and skillfully attended; that their diet was full and in accordance with regulation; that they were supplied with bedding and clothing; that the sick were carefully apportioned to hospital dimension; that the wounded were removed from under fire as promptly as possible, &c., &c.; in the execution of which my life was no sinecure, and my position not pleasant, not safe, especially after the heavy shelling of the city commenced, and one not especially to be coveted.
Few men had the privilege of selecting their places, however, in those days, and my lot was light in comparison with that of many others.
When General Lee
assumed command, or rather when he was placed in command, of all the forces and affairs at the post, my duties were increased, and I was required to report at his headquarters, or to forward my reports to his headquarters.
I made a friend of his chief surgeon, a frank, genial and generous man, a surgeon in the old army, and I had his support and help in the discharge of some of my onerous and unpleasant duties.
And here let me record, that