He was true to your service to the last. His noble voice is hushed forever. He has answered the great roll-call. He has conquered the last enemy. He has joined his great commander in the white hosts of peace. The armies of the Confederacy have marched to fame's eternal camping-ground, and we who meet to-day are only the belated stragglers of that mighty host who have entered into their immortality.The living are the brave and noble,As I listened to the eloquent and comforting addresses of welcome it was impossible for me not to remember an occasion now nearly forty years past, when some of us yearned to enjoy the hospitality of Nashville. Many of her citizens would at that time have been glad to see us, but not half as much so as we would have been to see them. Between us and these hospitable homes there stretched a wall of fire, and instead of your cordial greetings we heard the thunder of guns. This time, however, we have kept our engagements better, and our good will has made us more than conquerors. We have entered into this city of great men and great memories. We have beheld your educational institutions, sending light and hope into the remotest corners of our beloved land. We have made pilgrimages to the graves of your mighty dead; we have been refreshed by your hospitality.
But the dead were the bravest of all.
Tennessee gave 115,000.
The Confederate soldier does not forget that from the bosom of this old Commonwealth came 115,000 men to follow the banners of Lee and Johnston, and that more than 31,000 were enlisted in the armies of the Union. Tennesseeans believe with their hearts' blood. They did not count the cost when the great question of State or nation had to be settled with drawn swords. They spent the last drop of blood, the last mine of treasure for the defense of Tennessee, their mother and their sovereign. We, the witnesses of that great sacrifice, can never cease to honor Tennessee for the blood of her sons, for the tears and prayers of her daughters, for the indomitable spirit which rebuilt the ruined homes, which sowed the blasted fields, which has wrenched prosperity from field and mountain and has made this wonderful land once more a thing of beauty and pride to every Southern heart.