man. It was a grievous fault, but grievously did he answer it; and if a long life of unfaltering resistance to every attempt at the assumption of power is fit atonement, then the expiation was abundantly made.’
, 1863, Vol. 1V, pp. 154, 156.)
What more, or worse, on the other side, could be said of Lee
Perhaps I should enter some plea in excuse of this diversion; but, for me, it may explain itself, or go unexplained.
Confronted with the question what would I have done in 1861 had positions been reversed, and Massachusetts
taken the course then taken by Virginia
, I found the answer already recorded.
I would have gone with the Union
, and against Massachusetts
None the less, I hold Massachusetts
estopped in the case of Lee
. ‘Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung;’ but, I submit, however it might be with me or mine, it does not lie in the mouths of the descendants of the New England
Federalists of the first two decennials of the nineteenth century to invoke ‘the avenging pen of History’ to record an adverse verdict in the case of any son of Virginia
who threw in his lot with his State in 1861.
Thus much for the choice of Hercules
Pass on to what followed.
Of Robert E. Lee
as the commander of the army of Northern Virginia—at once the buckler and the sword of the Confederacy
—I shall say a few words.
I was in the ranks of those opposed to him. For years I was face to face with some fragment of the army of Northern Virginia, and intent to do it harm; and during those years there was not a day when I would not have drawn a deep breath of relief and satisfaction at hearing of the death of Lee
, even as I did draw it at hearing of the death of Jackson
But now, looking back through a perspective of nearly forty years, I glory in it, and in them, as foes—they were worthy of the best of steel.
I am proud now to say that I was their countryman.
Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the course of Lee
when he made his choice, of Lee
as a foe and the commander of an army, but one opinion can be entertained.
Every inch a soldier, he was as an opponent not less generous and humane than formidable, a type of highest martial character; cautious, magnanimous, and bold, a very thunderbolt in war, he was self-contained in victory, but greatest in defeat.
To that escutcheon attaches no stain.
I now come to what I have always regarded—shall ever regard—as the most creditable episode in all American history—an episode without a blemish—imposing, dignified, simple, heroic.
I refer to Appomattox
Two men met that day, representative of American