The Revolution of 1861.
From the eloquent address of M. P. O'Connor
, delivered on the occasion of presenting a flag to the Charleston (S. C.)
Riflemen, on the 4th of July, we make the following extract:
A revolution the most momentous the world has ever beheld, and fraught with more of consequence and value to the dearest interests and welfare of mankind, the preservation of a well regulated liberty, and the perpetuation of free government, has, under the auspices of our devoted State, been begun, and is now moving on to its destined aim, like the head-waters of some mighty rive, whose natural banks can no longer check or confine its swollen and tumultuous tide, suddenly bursting over all its barriers, and rushing headlong with tempestuous current, floods and fertilizes with its refreshing streams our entire land, so has this great, this gigantic movement, risen and progressed.
Or, resembling a thunder-storm in an Italian sky, ‘"when from peak to peak the rattling crags, among which leaps the live thunder, not from one lone cloud, but every mountain now hath found a tongue, and Juna answers through her misty shroud back to the joyous Alps
, which call to her aloud,"’ so has the electric spark which, flashing from the impending cloud which lowered o'er our house, communicated its fire, and spread from State to State, until the whole Southern heavens now resound with one universal roar; a revolution from whose beginning will date a new era in the advance of free institutions, and which will render the 20th of December, 1860. as memorable in the future as the 4th of July, 1776. has been renowned and distinguished in the past.
The prominent and conspicuous part which it has been your proud distinction as a citizen soldier to have borne in this glorious movement, a grateful people will not fail to recognize, nor a gallant and illustrious State to reward.
How much more you may be called upon in the future to perform, time alone can tell.
Though our purpose has been fixed, and our course, as a people, been begun, the end has not yet been accomplished.
Fifty years of unjust and oppressive taxation--forty years of territorial plunder and sectional aggrandizement, and fifteen years of contumely, scorn and insult, added to the long catalogue of our injuries — have culminated in the usurpation of a vile and unprincipled tyrant, who, in invading and striving to destroy our liberties, has trampled down those of his own people War, with all its horrors — the fiendish hate of a bloated and overweening section, and a swollen and checked pride have ruled the councils of our enemies, and pronounced against our existing as a free and independent people.
The roll of the drum is now heard from the slopes of the Alleghanies
to the western banks of the Mississippi
, and from the falls of the Missouri
to the deep and sparkling waters of the Gulf
and valley, from mountain to seaboard, throughout the confines of the South
, reverberate to the tread of armed men. The tramp you hear is the steady march of legions moving on to battle — not for conquest or fame — but for freedom and for life.
The crown for which they labor as the end of all their achievements is peace, their only alternative without victory is slavery or death. --Such is the nature of the struggle which has been so fruitlessly and fatally inaugurated.--It is for this Virginia
It is for this the chivalrous sons of the South
have rallied from the summits of our blue ridges in Tennessee
to the golden gates of the distant Southwest
It is at a crisis like this that beauty adorned with woman's smile comes to light up the shrine of valor.
More cherished the gift — more endeared the donors.
Three-quarters of a century of existence attest your patriotic services, and the intrepid zeal which has ever animated your corps.
The banner which you have so long and faithfully borne — now tattered and torn by the decaying effects of use and time, has been deposited among the treasured relics of the past, and this, for the future, is destined to wave over you for a long time, I hope, to come in honor and in glory.
The love and devotion of the soldier for his flag — a sentiment as worthy as it is characteristic of your corps — is one not peculiar either to this age or people.
When victory news with the Roman
eagles from the Caucasus to the Euphrates
, and a then subdued world paid tribute to the conquerors of Western Europe
, that ancient and hardy and renowned race of warriors regarded with a superstitious veneration their omnipotent eagles, and ascribed the universal spread and triumph of their arras to the genius of invincibility which they believed endowed them.
Nor could the greatest captain that ever reigned over the hearts on swayed the affections of men, or ruled the fate of kings and empires, refrain from weeping tears of sorrow when, at Fontainebleau
, he fondly bid adieu to the eagles of the first French Empire.
Not less dear to you will this banner be — whether in peace or war, waving over the battle field or floating defiantly in the face of your foes.
Around it fond memories cluster; beneath its bright folds brave hearts will gather — your rallying point and refuge when pressed by numbers or danger — the first and last sign by which you are to conquer.--On one side you behold the Palmetto
, the emblem of our State nationality, and above, inscribed in letters of living light, those words which have come down with you as your distinguishing motto from 1806, and which signify that you are always ready at the call of your country.
The great staple of the South
is represented upon it; broad field, surrounded by a constellation of eleven glittering stars, which now form the golden circle of our young and rising Republic.
Reverse the standard, and you will see to whom you owe this special favor — this signal mark of esteem.
This banner will be the means of transmitting to posterity the gratifying evidence that the ladies of Charleston
, in 1861, are not unmindful of the precepts of the past, nor ungrateful for the services you have rendered your country.