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Address delivered at Newton, North Carolina,

Before the Annual reunion of Confederate Veterans August 20th, 1904,

By Colonel Risden Tyler Bennett, late of 14th N. C. Troops, C. S. A.
[The admirable spirit of this address is in happy contrast to other allusions from prominent men of North Carolina. For the achievements of the Fourteenth North Carolina Regiment, see ‘North Carolina Regiments 1861-5,’ Vol .I, pp. 905-62, and for the addresses by Col. Bennett, ‘The Morale of the Confederate,’ and ‘The Private Soldier of the C. S. Army,’ see Vols. XXII and XXV, Southern Historical Society Papers.—Ed.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Soldiers:

I am delighted to meet this great company of Christian people. The reason shall presently be made manifest.

In yonder hall of justice a court was begun and holden twenty-four years ago, the last Monday in this current month, it was my first term as judge. I held it in humility of spirit, supported by a mutilated Confederate soldier. Nightly I thanked our Gracious Master for such light and mercy as filled my heart, and besought Him, who alone is great, to inspire me for the sake of the people with Heavenly wisdom. Death has levied heavy tribute to the memory of this bar: Judge McCorkle, the most honored and loved, Col. George Nathaniel Folk, Major Cilly, Col. John F. Hoke, Judge Armfield, Burgess S. Gaither and Mark Lawrence have passed through the gate which opens but once to any of the sons of men. Verily ‘Sorrow and Joy’ revolve like the wheeling courses of the Bear.

I heard Dr. Clapp preach at your church on Sunday during that time from this scripture: ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.’

The Embassadors of the press as Comte, the French philosopher, was the first to style them, then as afterwards, applauded the orderly and deliberate course of justice. Two years later I met the yeomanry of Catawba County on the Hustings upon this [66] court green: I told them that I was born in the ranks of the plain people, a circumstance not to be paraded nor denied, and I knew their wants; I remember saying that among some savage tribes when a child is grievously sick they change its name in the hope of averting evil. You perceive this to be a goodly country and a very dear people to me. I have torn a leaf from my life the past quarter century, and I associate it with this Reunion. I deem myself fortunate, as my official life, which extended to the entire State, opened here, so now perceiving the advance of years to have abated my natural force I shall close with this tribute of my public activities, and speak my last message to my beloved countrymen now and here. I wish to dissent sharply, as I have done before, from the vogue of to-day, which clamors to have a sort of precedence accorded the soldiers of North Carolina in the War: First at Bethel,1 furtherest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, and last at Appomattox. The inference to be extorted from this reverent but exaggerated apostrophe to the soldiers of North Carolina is not of historical proportion.

The Southern people were an homogenious population; no crazy quilt contrasts were exhibited in their composition. Anglo-Saxon was the warp and woof of their body and blood. A spot of emerald, like a speck upon our great luminary, might be detected; but, sirs, in its last analysis, in their appetite for battle, in their divine intoxication for the conflict, the children in arms of all those blessed States were transported alike, with the same flag; the Triune God, their God of hosts ravished in heart with the same revelation, they went to battle at the same place, and after a short crisis were united in death. If this is not true then history is the playground of liars. The soldiers from each Southern State fought with equal valor. The regiments had their moments of hesitation; this was the mischance of each State and regiment alike. If the dead of our State were nearest the enemy on any of the great scenes of carnage, it was the fortune of war and not the paralysis or the courage of others. I know as much of the bloody onsets of that struggle of giants from the underside, from the side of the rank and file, as any citizen of our State; I put it on record as coming from such a source that the soldiers of our State were as brave, as gloriously brave, as any soldiers who shared our common cause, whether they came from Virginia, from Texas, from the [67] broad Savannas of the South, but no braver. Twelve companies of infantry were enrolled in Catawba county, and served during the war between the government and the Confederate States: (1) Company A, 12th North Carolina Regiment; (2) B, 23d North Carolina; (3) C, 28th North Carolina; (4) E, 32d North Carolina; (5) F, 32d North Carolina; (6) K, 35th North Carolina; (7) F, 38th North Carolina (8) K, 46th North Carolina; (9) I, 49th North Carolina; (10) F, 55th North Carolina; (11) E, 57th North Carolina; (12) E, 72d North Carolina.

It may seem tedious to repeat over and over again the elementary facts of the situation, but unless it is done, these facts will pass out of view. They are too precious to die from neglect. I wanted the personal features of the soldiers recounted in this last stand I am making in the open for their memory. Julius Caesar says of Crastinus, a Centurion of the tenth legion, that in the outset of a battle he addressed his men in a bit of fervid speech, and turning to Caesar said: ‘General, I shall deserve your thanks today, dead or living.’

LaTour Dauvergne the first Grenadier of France was as famous as private soldier could be. The glory with which his name is surrounded is based on the clearest of facts; in 1767 at the age of 23 years, he entered the army. His heroism and successes were legion. His friend Le Brigand had lost his four sons upon the battle field, and was called upon to give up his baby boy. La Tour Dauvergne exchanged with him and was accepted. He met his death at Oberhsusen. General Dessoles issued a special order to the army of the Rhine directing that the head of the roll of the 46th regiment should remain open when the roll was called over, the senior sergeant was to answer the name of La Tour Dauvergne ‘Dead on the field of honor.’ His heart was embalmed, placed in an urn and carried with the regiment down to 1814, these orders were religiously observed, on the 30th of last March the mortal remains of this wonderful private soldier were committed to the government of France and now rests beneath the dome of Les Invalides near the tomb of the illustrious Turenne.

I wish to portray your dead in some feeble approach to these mighty men entered into glory. To that end I asked through the press, which is always at attention for instances of personal valor above the common lot of virtuous manhood, I got one answer, and I would put this man and his friends upon a pinnacle of glory, but you would say that our orator is retained for special, interests. In [68] that conflict which staggered the government and exhausted the resources of the South, the shock of ideas was as great as the shock of arms. Victor Hugo said of Waterloo, it was not a battle, it was a change of front of the universe. The surrender at Appomattox wrought a change of front of a hemisphere. William H. Seward's ‘Higher Law’ skulking in the Hinterland of the constitution, William Lloyd Garrison's denunciation of the constitution as a league with hell and covenant with damnation, John Brown's invasion upon the soil of a soverign state, the killing of citizens within its peace, inflammatory and murderous appeals from pulpit, from vane, from innumerable seats of learning, wealth and influence. These were outward signs of the unquenchable, impetuous feelings of the great masses of the North. The South, fortified in their rights by the decision of the Supreme Court in Scott vs. Sandford, 19th of Howard, commonly called the Dred Scott Case, asked that the voice of the chief justice rolling in silvery cadence from the Atlantic to the pacific, from the frozen region of the lakes to the glittering waters of the gulf, should still the tumult of the masses and command obedience.

It is said Stevenson who worked in collaboration with his step son in the composition of some of his most perfect pieces of romance, would say to him when he had reached the very roof of the world of thought, ‘Osborn, this is magnificent, impossible, it can't be sustained.’

In the Dred Scott Case the Court says that a negro of the African race was regarded by the Colonies as an article of property and held and bought and sold as such in every one of the Thirteen Colonies which united in the declaration of independence and afterwards formed the constitution of the United States. The struggle is passed. The events of it which were the most tumultuous and energetic in their accomplishment are feint, the memory of old help and common peril remains a precious heritage. ‘Nightly since I have dreamed of encounters 'twixt thyself and me.’ Our government has become a world power; it is upon the firing line of nations and engaged in raising hornets for market.

We have four constitutions instead of one. We have oversea colonies, hunting grounds in the Pacific Ocean over which we shoot. Perhaps a million of human beings have died at our hands in these aggressions. It is said that true reconcilement now obtains betwixt north and south. The word of the government is law upon this half of the globe We adorn the graves of their dead, yet my [69] countrymen, my dear, precious ladies, mothers, sisters, daughters, I cannot forget the past. I cannot applaud the murder of an uncle then more than seventy years old, a devoted union man shot to death upon his front steps by Sherman's men to make a spectacle for his slaves. I cant forget the subjugation of the South—the greatest crime of the last two hundred years. As in the cemetery when we go to visit the tomb of a relation, we cannot restrain a feeling of respect before the graves of others, so we in passing, salute the remains of those brave men who lie side by side united in death; but we go straight to our dead, to our soldiers whose whitened bones still mark in lines the spot of the last stand made by the South in that memorable struggle for the constitution as the fathers made it. To the dead we give our homage, before them we uncover, and if there be guidance by immaculate spirits for their fellowship left behind, yet awhile in our corruptible state we kiss their withered white hands revealed from the spirit land and bid them await our coming.

Finally ye men of Catawba, brave men of historic sires. Is there any man, woman, child or denizen happier because of this Revolution of our constitution?

“The finest action is the better for a piece of purple,” says Robert Louis Stevenson.

The high key in which the lives of our most illustrious leaders was pitched reinforces humanity.

The key-note of the stormy orchestra of guns is the reverberation of noble souls.

These men were not reared in the school of fear.


[Referring to page 66, note 66, the articles, ‘A Brief History of the Charlotte Cavalry,’ with revised roll and ‘The Last Charge at Appomattox,’ by Capt. E. E. Bouldin, a prominent lawyer, of Danville, Va., appear in Vol. XXVIII, Southern Historical Society Papers.] (From the Danville Register, Oct. 17, 1905.)

Mr. S. M. Gaines, chief of the Mail and File Division of the Treasury Department, in Washington, is visiting Captain E. E. Bouldin, of this city. Mr. Gaines was a lieutenant in the Charlotte cavalry, of which company Mr. Bouldin was captain and both were [70] in the last charge made by their regiment, the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry, at Appomattox on the 9th of April, 1865, Captain Bouldin being in command of the regiment and Mr. Gaines commanding the company at the time. Two pieces of artillery were captured from the Federals and a number of prisoners taken in the course of that last charge and two of the Fourteenth regiment's men were killed. These are important facts in connection with the history of that eventful day, but there is more. Mr. Gaines is just from Appomattox, where he went over the field with Senator John W. Daniel and Hon. H. D. Flood. He took particular pains to trace the movements of his regiment on that memorable day. He located the identical spot at which the two pieces of Federal artillery were taken, and it is three-quarters of a mile northwest and in advance of the North Carolina monument. However, this was not the limit of the Fourteenth Cavalry's advance movement. Mr. Gaines found still standing an old log kitchen which was pierced by a sold shot from a cannon during the fight. An old negro woman inside had one of her arms torn from her body by the missile and died from her injuries. The old kitchen still shows the shot holes. Mr. Gaines still remembered that not far from that spot he and a companion sheltered behind an old stone chimney while they reloaded their pistols. The chimney has been removed, but Mr. Gaines found the foundation and talked with the man who hauled the old landmark away since the war. It is estimated that this is a mile in advance of the North Carolina monument; but the Fourteenth Cavalry attained a position probably a half mile in advance of that, having pressed the enemy through a dense bit of woods and undergrowth. At this point General Custer was captured, but in the confusion made his escape. Soon after this incident, orders were received to fall back.

1 See appended editorial from the Danville Register Oct. 17th, 1905.

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