previous next

[228] dismembered, and she who had created the Union of States was torn asunder by her offspring.

Succeeding Governor Letcher, who had during three years of war had been our zealous, able and patriotic chief magistrate, Governor Smith, on January 1st, 1864, entered upon his second term. The strain upon the nerves, the energies and the resources of our people was terrific. Already the seemingly impossible had been accomplished. Vast armies had been raised and equipped. The enemy with equal ardor and with unstinted abundance of men and supplies to draw upon, came again and again to the attack with unwearied, unabated constancy. Our men in the field must be fed, and the supplies must be drawn from those at home who were themselves in want. The commonest necesaries of life were exhausted. There are men here to-day who lived and toiled and fought on four ounces of raw pork and one-half a pound of coarse corn meal a day. I, myself, to relieve the hunger of a gallant infantryman, have robbed my horse of his scant supply of unshelled corn.

Governor Smith was called upon to take office under these appalling conditions. The tide of war had for three long years swept over the land, but his undaunted soul was in unison with the unshaken fortitude, the unfaltering resolution of our people. He bent every energy, he strained every nerve, to alleviate the wants of the people, to supply the absolute needs of the army. So long as rations and cartridges could be supplied he knew that the thin gray line of steel which hedged us about could be trusted to keep the enemy at bay, to ‘carry the revolt upon its bayonets;’ and with all his heart he set himself to his task. With absolute unselfishness, with perfect singleness of purpose, he toiled at his more than herculean labor. He had no friend to serve, no enemy to punish. The cry of his soul to God was, that he might serve his people. All that man could do he did. He seized upon every material resource that was within his reach; he rekindled the spirit of our people; he reanimated the courage of our soldiers. But he could not reverse ‘fix'd events of Fate's remote decrees.’

It is a pleasing and yet an idle thing to speculate upon what might have been could we reconstruct the past and cause things to happen otherwise than as they actually occurred. What might have been had Fate called Governor Smith to a wider and a higher field of action; to guide the destinies, not of a State, but of many States through that titanic struggle?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
William Smith (3)
John Letcher (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
January 1st, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: