Chapter 7: the return of the Army.Although fraught with deepest interest and filled with occupations of great variety, our sojourn at Appomattox Court House was a hard experience. We had raced to that point in lightest marching order; there was no superfluity of equipage. The packs were slender; overcoats and blankets had proved too heavy for those thirty-mile marches. The shelter-tent cloths had to serve for these, and for towels also, which they most resembled. The rations reduced to sediment in the haversacks smelt of lead and gunpowder. To be sure, a few supply wagons had managed to get up to us, and our cavalry had captured some trains at Appomattox Station; but all we had we shared with our surrendering competitors, technically called “the enemy,” now become our sympathizing guests. For a day or two past all hands had to forage for a living, and many a ten-mile tramp resulted only in armfuls of corn on the cob, which needed a good deal of soaking to yield to our practised jaws. It got it. For when on Saturday morning we took up the  march for Burkeville and had got well stretched out on the road, we were overtaken by a pouring rain, which made mulch of everything. Seeking the center of the earth by a force of gravity we could fully sympathize with, it soon formed a junction in the roads and fields to the extent of four or five inches of “half and half,” denominated in the Low-German dialect “mudde” ; but later circumstances inclined certain travelers to transpose the superfluous final “d” and put it to use as the initial prefix of a deeply descriptive adjective. Drenched, hungry, draggled in mire, that long, lank body presented an image not unlike that reported by Daniel on the king's dream,--the head gold, the belly brass, the legs iron, and the feet clay,but the proportions were not so well observed. We were informed in animated tones that we were to draw rations that night,--but what kind of a “draw” it was to be we were by no means assured. We noticed that the goal was fixed a long stretch ahead; it suggested to us what we had seen offered a team of cattle tolled on by a show of forage fastened well forward of the yoke or pole. Near Evergreen Station we struck the Southside Railroad, and hoping to save the men's strength, I told the colonel of the leading regiment to have his men take the railroad track and keep out of the heavy mud. They tried it for a while, but soon I saw them jumping back into the mire ankle deep; and, wondering at this, I felt rebuked for my simplicity, when informed that the men found it much more wearing to watch the varying distance of the  cross-ties spaced anywhere from eighteen inches to two feet, and measure every step accordingly, than to take the road as it was, and be free to put their feet down wherever they could get them out again. So dear is liberty. Long after dark we were led to a place designated for a camp. To reach this we were countermarched or turned off on a tangent for quite a space, and halted on a flat-pine land, some cubit lower and knee deeper than the road. I heard no orders given the regiments to “break ranks,” the effort of the officers was to get their men together, that they might be looked after, and possibly, though a whimsical suggestion, to draw rations. But no commissary could find us in that dark and drench, even if the wagons could worry through the muddle. Fire would be of no use; the thought of trying to make one would do more good, for it would raise our spirits to join “the mighty laughter of the vernal floods.” It was interesting to hear the men-poor fellows-making their beds, some on the rugged roots of the pines, or cradled between two broken branches to lift them from softer pillows, or securing the shelter of a big bough, which ever and anon swaying under accumulated weight, bent down to envelop them in unwelcome “sheets.” Now some one seeking the open,less covering the best,--reckless of all things, now that they had returned to “chaos and old night.” One bright, belated fellow, seeking to share some luckier sleeper's cot, was heard muttering with “wakeful” reminiscence, “Sure, a Yank wud shleep  of the divil sat at his hid!” To us, in so-called headquarters-though quarters were not perfectly distinguished that night amidst such mingling of the elements — a kind of icnthyosaurian sleep came at last-dreaming that the whole earth was about this way once, and fully sympathizing with the Hebrew description of it as “Tohoo vaw Vohoo,” if not exactly “without form and void.” In the morning the men sighted the few places where they could get splinters enough to make a fire to cook their last “ration” of pickled pork and gunpowder. Then pulling out at 6 A. M. under chilly rain and lowering clouds, we took the road for Farmville. It was Sunday afternoon when we reached its vicinity, and were welcomed by a sky clear and serene, overlooking the town. The trains were there, and so a breakfast — in literal terms, though belated fact. The clouds had rolled away and field and camp were flooded with sunshine. All the domestic arts were soon in evidence, --largely that of washing-day;--as if we had not had enough in the previous twenty-four hours. Gradually a Sabbath peace stole over the scene. All were at rest, mind and body, and the very heart of nature breathed soft airs and mellow light. Headquarters had been taken in the ample front yard of an old mansion of the ancient regime. Here at about four o'clock the fine German Band of my old First Brigade came over to reciprocate the smiles of heaven by choice music, ministering also to our spiritual upgoings. They were in the midst of a bright and joyous strain when there came  galloping up the old familiar figure — the mudsplashed, grave-faced, keen-eyed cavalryman,the message-bearer. It was no uncommon thing to receive a military telegram in those days; but something in the manner and look of this messenger took my attention. He rode up in front of the sentinel and the colors, and dismounted. My chief of staff went out to meet him. “I think the General would wish to treat this as personal,” he said. I beckoned him to the rear of our group, and he handed me a yellow tissue-paper telegram. It read as I remember it,--the original was kept by somebody as a memento:
I should have been paralyzed by the shock, had not the sense of responsibility overborne all other thoughts. If treachery had overturned the Government, and had possession of the Capitol, there was work for us to do. But the first thought was of the effect of this upon our soldiers. They, for every reason, must be held in hand. “Put a double guard on the whole camp immediately. Tell the regimental commanders to get all their men in, and allow no one to leave,” --was the first word sent out. “Then tell the gentlemen I would like  to see them here.” I stepped back and with especial pains to be calm and courteous I thanked and dismissed the band, and they quietly withdrew. All eyes were on me, but not until my officers came up did I disclose to any one this appalling news. I enjoined upon them absolute reticence until we had made all secure. Against what? and whom? Our men. They could be trusted well to bear any blow but this. Their love for the President was something marvelous. Their great loving hearts of sterling manhood seemed to have gathered him in. After each success and especially after each great reverse, he had been accustomed to come out to see them. That honest, homely face, showing how heavily pressed the terrible burden that had come upon him,--of settling the “irrepressible conflict” which had been growing for a century; that look of an infinite sadness in the eyes that rested with such trust and such solicitude on these men, the only instruments with which to fulfill his task! Heart-wrung by the sacrifice, he had taken deep hold on the soldier's heart, stirring its many chords. Now the cowardly, brutal blow, when his words of gentleness to all were still warm as the breath of the returning spring, must stir their yet unfathomed depths. It might take but little to rouse them to a frenzy of blind revenge. And right before them lay a city, one of the nerve-centers of the rebellion, and an easy and inviting prey to vengeance. Large quantities of goods, military and merchandise, had been stored there, it was said; many citizens had gathered there for  safety against the marauders of a demoralized army; a young ladies' seminary, we were told, serving especially as a sort of sanctuary for the tender and sensitive, which they thought would b6 respected even in those turbulent times. How could we be sure that change of century had made men different from what they were when Tilly at Magdeburg, Cromwell at Wexford, or Wellington at San Sebastian had been powerless to restrain dire passions, excited by far less cause? How could we be sure that lessons and thoughts of home, the habit of well formed character, and the discipline of the field would be sufficient to hold within the bounds of patience men who saw that most innocent and noble-hearted man, their best-beloved, the stricken victim of infernal outrage? I knew my men thoroughly, high-minded and self-controlled; but what if now this blackest crime should fire their hearts to reckless and implacable vengeance? But a heavier responsibility, perhaps, awaited us. Strange forebodings pressed upon the mind. It seemed as if the darkest things might be yet to come; as if, now that men of honor had given up the fight, it had fallen to baser hands; as if victory, magnanimity, and charity, accepted by those who had lost in the manly appeal to arms, were all to avail nothing against the sullen treacheries that lurked in the shadows of the capital. As I was pacing the ground, wrapped in anxious thoughts, the lady of the house — there were never any men at home in those days-came out to  ask what had happened that disturbed us so deeply. “It is bad news for the South,” said I. “Is it Lee or Davis?” she asked, a look of pain pinching her features. “I must tell you, madam, with a warning,” I replied. “I have put your house under a strict guard. It is Lincoln.” I was sorry to see her face brighten with an expression of relief. “The South has lost its best friend, madam,” was the only thing to say. All being now secure in camp, with the assurance that the news should be prudently broken to the men, instinct and habit turned to the superior officers. Even the companionship of these experienced men would be some relief; and perhaps there might be counsel to be taken now, as in so many a dark and boding hour before. Leaving General Gregory at my quarters with instructions, I mounted my horse. My thought was anticipated. Scarcely had I got beyond the limits of our camp when I saw a figure often welcome to many eyes,--Charles Griffin riding up,--our corps commander now, and never more prized than at this hour. “I was coming to see you,” he says; “now let us get Ayres.” Finding Ayres-soldier born, and tried and true,--we discussed possible tactics on an unknown field. We did not pretend to be men of influence in statecraft; but we well knew we were likely, if anything was to be done, to be men of action. So we had reason and right to forecast events. All we knew as yet of the condition of things at Washington was what the brief  telegram had told. But that looked dark enough. It was a daring attempt, and, as it was told to us, must have had reserved force to support it, as well as reckless impulse to carry it out. Lee's army had been broken up; many able and honorable officers, and perhaps thirty thousand of their best men had given their parole; but Davis and officers of his Government had got away, and there were other armies and other men, whom the shock of the surrender and remoteness from the controlling influence had made desperate rather than discouraged. Our little conference was soon concluded. “Now let us go up and see Meade,” said Griffin. We found him sad-very sad. He had only two corps with him, the Second and Fifth; the Sixth had been sent in another direction. And the course of dealings in this last campaign led to gloomy forebodings as to his own treatment when we should arrive at Washington. We well knew what his mood and meditations were-like St. Paul's: “I go bound in spirit up to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there.” But this supreme exigency roused all the patriot and soldier in him. The upshot of this conference was expressed in words I well remember: “The plan is to destroy the Government by assassination. They probably have means to get possession of the capital before anybody can stop them. There is nothing for it but to push the army to Washington, and make Grant military dictator until we can restore constitutional  government.” This may be smiled at now, as the habit is after the peril has passed, especially on the part of those who never realized it. But in the situation of things then, there was little to laugh at. The spirit of that evening conference showed one reliance to be counted on in case the need had come. We returned at evening to our several stations, ready for anything. But no worse news came from the capital. Our soldiers, like our people, wonderfully patient in severest stress, kept their self-command even now. So the march was resumed calmly and orderly as before, and more so, now that we had free course and a fair road. In the meantime I had been assigned to the command of the First Division of the Fifth Corps, General Bartlett having been transferred to the Ninth Corps at Alexandria. Two days additional rations were issued at daylight on the 17th, and we marched out for Burkeville. Near here we were by some blunder switched off on the Danville Road, and encamped near Liberty Church by the Little Sandy River. The erroneous move being now discovered, we resumed our march early the next morning, almost retracing our steps, and finally encamped near Burkeville. On the nineteenth, the day appointed for the funeral of the President at Washington, an order came from the War Department for us to halt the march and hold all still while the funeral was passing at the capital. Then we thought, why not for us a funeral? For the shadow of one reverenced and  beloved was to pass before our souls that day, and we would review him, now. We began by draping headquarters tents with mourning rosettes of crape; then also draping the colors and our sword-hilts, with a wreath of crape, too, on the left arms of all. At noon, the solemn boom of the minute-guns, speaking power and sorrow, hushed all the camp. I summoned the senior chaplain of the division, Father Egan, and told him we looked to him for the memorial address, cautioning him to prepare beforehand, not so much what to say, as what not to say. For I knew his Irish warmth and power of speech, and that he might, if not restrained, stir the hearts of the men too much for our control. He assured me he would be very careful. The division was formed in hollow square, facing inward. The old flags were brought to the front of their regiments, battle-torn and smoke-dimmed, draped in sorrow, but some of them blazoned with a crimson deeper than their red, touching the stars. Behind these the men stacked arms, and stood, tense and motionless, as a hushed sea. Those faces spoke depths of manliness, and reaches of deeds words do not record. The veterans of terrible campaigns, the flushed faces from Appomattox, the burning hearts turned homewards, mighty memories and quenchless love held innermost. On the open face of the square, on a little mound, we planted the red Maltese cross of the division,--itself emblem and memorial of great things suffered and done for man. Around it gathered the generals and staff:  Griffin chief, never forgetting his old division, with which he had passed through all things from the beginning, its name and soul the same, after terrible transmutations,--Griffin, graceful in figure, sincere and brave of speech, reverential and religious in cherished thought; Ayres, too, ours from the beginning, solid and sure as the iron guns he brought, holding all his powers well in hand, faced to the front; gallant, ever-ready, dashing Pearson; dear old Gregory, pure-souled as crystal, thinking never of self, calmest in death's carnival; others, younger,--how shall I name them all? Staff officers, cool, keen, and swift as sword flash, fulfilling vital trusts, even at vital cost;--of such our group. On the little platform of ammunition boxes I held myself close in reach of the chaplain ready to enforce my warning. Catching the keynote of the last cannon-boom, strikes in the sincere, deep-feeling German Band with that wondrous “Russian Hymn” swelling with its flood of music,--deep calling unto deep:
God, the all-terrible; Thou who ordainest,That whelming flood of chords with the breathstifling chromatic cadences, as if to prepare us for whatever life or death could bring. Then, a few words-such as could be spoken-introducing the occasion and its orator. His very first words deepened the passion of the music echoing in the hearts of that stern, impressionable, loving, remembering assembly. With countenance  precluding speech, in measured articulation made more impressive by its slightly foreign cast, he launches forth his thrilling text: “And she, being instructed of her mother, said, ‘Give me here the head of John Baptist in a charger.’ ” The application went through men's minds with a thrill. But he took it up phrase by phrase. The spirit of rebellion against the country's life and honor, he said, incited its followers to murder the innocent and just. Even on its own showing, the cause of secession was narrow and trivial. The will of a section rooted in self-interest, should not outweigh the vital interests of a whole people. Lincoln had committed no crime in being constitutionally elected President of the United States. He then portrayed the character of Lincoln, his integrity, his rugged truth, his innocence of wrong, his loyalty and lofty fidelity to the people. Then having raised this figure to its highest ideal lights and most endearing attractiveness, he pictured him stricken down by dastard hand in the very midst of acts of mercy and words of greathearted sympathy and love. Gathering up the emotions of his audience with searching, imploring glance, he reminded the soldiers of Lincoln's love for them, and theirs for him; that brotherhood of suffering that made them one in soul with him. “And will you endure this sacrilege?” he cried. “Can heavenly charity tolerate such crime under the flag of this delivered country?” “Will you not rather sweep such a spirit out of the land forever, and cast it, root and branch, into everlasting  burning?” Men's faces flushed and paled. Their muscles trembled. I saw them grasp as for their stacked muskets, instinctively, from habit, not knowing what else, or what, to do. I myself was under the spell. Well that the commander was there, to check the flaming orator. Men could not bear it. You could not, were I able to reproduce the scene. Then the speaker stopped. He stood transfixed. I seized his arm. “Father Egan, you must not stop. Turn this excitement to some good.” “I will,” he whispers. Then lifting his arm full height, he brought it down with a tremendous sweep, as if to gather in the whole quivering circle before him, and went on: “Better so. Better to die glorious, than to live infamous. Better to be buried beneath a nation's tears, than to walk the earth guilty of a nation's blood. Better, thousandfold, forever better, Lincoln dead, than Davis living.” Then admonished of the passion he was again arousing, he passed to an exhortation that rose into a prayer, then to a paean of victory, and with an oath of new consecration to the undying cause of freedom and right, he gave us back to ourselves, better soldiers, and better men. Who that heard those burning words can ever forget them? And who that saw, can ever forget that congregation in the field? Meekly returning from their glories at Appomattox, and sternly sharing — for it was of theirs also — the sacrifice at Washington. Steadfast and noble in every test, unto the end. God bless them beyond, likewise!  That evening came the orders for the corps to stretch itself out for permanent duty along the railroad between Burkeville and Petersburg, and the next morning we moved for the new field. Ayres' Division took ground from Burkeville to Nottaway Court House, his headquarters being at the latter place, which was also headquarters of the corps. From this Crawford's Division extended six miles farther to the station called “Blacks and Whites,” where he made his headquarters. His jurisdiction also reached to Wilson's Station. Here my division, the First, took up the line from Wilson's Station to Petersburg, headquarters being at Wilson's. The distance from here to Petersburg being twenty-seven miles, made for me a disproportionate responsibility, and an order from army headquarters terminated my jurisdiction at Sutherland's Station, ten miles out. Our assigned duty was to guard the railroads and the adjacent territory. But there were many other duties necessitated by the condition of the country and of the inhabitants. This region had been overrun successively by the two hostile armies for the last two years, hence it was now a scene of desolation. This was exemplified within the limits of my own command. My First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Sniper, had its headquarters at Wilson's, which was in the vicinity of our conflicts on the White Oak Road; my Second Brigade, under General Gregory, made headquarters at Ford's Station, its jurisdiction covering the battlefields of Five Forks, Dinwiddie, and the White Oak Road;  and the Third, the Veteran Brigade, of nine regiments-lately my own-commanded now by Colonel Edmunds of the 22 Massachusetts, was placed at Sutherland's Station, which covered the fields of the Quaker Road, Armstrong's Mill, Hatcher's Run, and of many minor fights on the left of our old entrenched lines. It was familiar ground. It was painful to be brought into contact with the ruin, waste, and desolation that had been wrought upon proud old Virginia, and her once prosperous homes. Well were they reluctant to declare themselves foes of the American Union; dearly had they paid for the distinction when the Confederacy demanded that its defiance to the Union should be enforced under their prestige and entrenched upon their soil. Settling into our new position we soon found that obeying orders was not the whole of our duty. To be sure the war was not yet over by official recognition; but these suffering people were our own,citizens of our common country we had fought to preserve. Had they not been so, humanity and honor would have commanded our aid. Peace indeed there was on all the face of the country,the desolation that has been called a “Roman peace.” But the inhabitants we had to defend against lawlessness and violence, and save them from starvation and despair. Since the breaking up of the rebel lines, three weeks before, the whole region had been a scene of marauding upon the defenseless citizens, who were unable to remove to any other place than this, which they had still  to call their home. The depraved and soulless take advantage of others' misery, and make the day of calamity their holiday. Such had been the case at Richmond but a few weeks before, when, freed from the control of Lee's army, it was pillaged and fired by the base hidden within its limits, and it was humane conquerors who restored order and repaired hurt and harm. We found the negroes especially unruly. All restraints which had hitherto held them in check were set loose by the sudden collapse of the rebel armies. The floodgates were opened to the rush of animal instinct. The only notion of freedom apparently entertained by these bewildered people was to do as they pleased. That was what they had reason to suppose white men did. To act according to each one's nature was liberty, contrasted with slavery. Numbers gave them a kind of frenzy. Without accustomed support, without food, or opportunity to work, they not unnaturally banded together; and without any serious organization and probably without much deliberate plotting of evil, they still spread terror over the country. They swarmed through houses and homes demanding food, seizing all goods they could lay their hands on, abusing the weak, terrifying women, and threatening to burn and destroy. This was an evil that had to be met promptly, and we construed our orders to protect the country liberally. So the First Brigade under Colonel Sniper was sent out charged with the duty of protecting the homes of the people, and the peace of the community, more  especially against the depredations of the lawless negro bands, of whom there were about a thousand within my jurisdiction. For our lines were extensive in depth as well as length, somewhat to the confusion of ordinary geometry. A constant reconnoissance was going on to break up, drive off, or hold at bay the hordes that were hovering about the towns and farm-houses. In cases of personal violence or outrage, my orders were sharp, and the process more summary than that authorized by courts. There was no other way. Meantime the condition of the citizens of that region had excited the attention of our authorities, and much correspondence had been going on. Orders hitherto had forbidden us to furnish food for citizens unless they took the oath of allegiance to the United States. But conditions compelled us sometimes to take responsibility not strictly authorized. I had adopted some measures of a domestic character. One of them was in the commissary's and quartermaster's departments. The lack of food among the people was a condition which laid on us an imperative duty. We had seized, of course, all the commissary's supplies belonging to the Confederacy and distributed them among the citizens. I felt obliged now to take under control all the necessities of life to whomsoever belonging, both for protection and for judicial distribution. Mills, shops, and stores were also taken under control and put in operation, and the products distributed according to need. Strict accounts were kept; debits and credits carefully  adjusted to the parties concerned. Abandoned vehicles, implements, and animals, chiefly Confederate property, were seized and put in the hands of those who could make use of them for livelihood. We also had to undertake the administration of justice. There were no courts, or municipal or police officers, exercising functions in that region; in fact no semblance of authority, human or divine, except our own. We had no civil jurisdiction; we acted under the laws of war,--not of martial, but of military law, which admits of some discretion on the part of its responsible agents. It is said: “Necessity knows no law” ; but it compelled us to make them. There was a great back country around us. Demoralized relics and stragglers from both the Confederate and the Union armies were coming in, and became for a time our guests, voluntary or involuntary, according to behavior. Complaints were constant from civil and military sources as to the misbehavior of some of these men. Now and then charges were brought against our own men. These cases must be disposed of. Otherwise our provost guard would be swamped with prisoners. So a division court-martial was duly organized, with General Pearson as president. This was in effect at least a tribunal of justice, and it inspired respect, as well as compelled obedience. The court, ably conducted, was very careful in its procedure and its decisions. It came to be looked upon as a legitimate if not legal authority. Citizens high and low were often the complainers, and, assuming the power to summon witnesses and cause attendance,  we could generally discover the real culprit or delinquent, who preferred, to accept our decision rather than risk himself away from our protection. The queer thing about our court was that its fame soon went abroad, and it was appealed to by many reputable citizens who could not otherwise settle their difficulties with their old servants or with each other. We did not undertake to settle questions of property, but only of conduct. The records of that court must be very amusing. I do not think they all went to the archives at Washington. Nor would I quite wish to disclose all that came within my knowledge. But we had one constant difficulty no reconnoissance or court could settle. Our Government authorized the issue of food from our commissary stores absolutely necessary for the sustenance of citizens; but only on the condition, to be strictly enforced, that the beneficiaries should first take the oath of allegiance to the United States. Many of our clients gave this rather too promptly for the satisfaction of our solemn justiciary of the commissary department. There was a misgiving — not to indulge a pun-lest people who had been calling the Yankees all the bad names they could hit upon, were altogether too easy in accepting favors of them, and in their new kind of swearing towards the United States. For my own part, I had not this opinion. I believed there was more genuineness in this declaration of allegiance than in their real loyalty to the Confederacy. Very many felt that they had been drawn into this by a  play upon their State pride and the example of great men whom they revered. In truth it was a grave responsibility they took upon themselves, these leading minds, in issues so deep-reaching and effects so disastrous to the well-being of a State honored and beloved by us all for its part in the making of the Union. Some cases of this oath-taking drew their own peculiar meed of tender regard. One such was reported to me by our young provost marshal. A young lady of finest manners had ridden to our headquarters, followed by a servant on a mule bearing a coarse bag, which she earnestly desired to have filled with materials for food, if nothing more than potatoes. The story of her home was enough. Our provost marshal, who kept our oaths for us, told her of the requirement, and demanded this acknowledgment, asking her to kiss the book in token. To both of these suggestions she opposed a very firm determination. Indeed, considering the aspect of these two respective objects, I would not have blamed her if she preferred to reverse the directions, swear to the book and kiss the officer. Her charming and coquettish ways, indicating a habit of easy conquest, caused an aesthetic efflorescence among the emotional susceptibilities of this personage, and so melted the firm face of his official habit, that he did not consider himself wholly fit for duty, and came to me stating the case, and asking if he might bring the reluctant petitioner for a hearing before me. Of course I assented, notwithstanding his remark that she was considered  the belle of Dinwiddie, and the fact that I was not then on the superannuated list myself. Her graceful bearing as she entered my tent, composed manner of address, and I must add her beauty as she adjusted herself to our courtesies, left me no doubt of her status,--whatever might be my own. My guests took two camp chairs placed at an angle from my center of about sixty degrees, which I believe is the frost angle, perhaps salutary here. I could not but be amused at their mutual bearing in stating the case in which they were presumed to be antagonist parties. It would be an infelicity in language to say my young officer was demoralized. On the contrary, all the moral emotions — that is to say, the spiritual — were at a sublime exaltation. But it was a comical sight when in their presentation of the case, they exchanged glances. Her air was that of an injured party, and he the aggressor. At every soft impeachment his color rose to the Jacqueminot. He was a handsome fellow; there were united states to which she might be ready to take the oath of allegiance, where the vitalizing function in testimony of loyal devotion would not be sustained by a book. The captivating client stated her case with Ciceronian skill. She said it was unreasonable to require her to entertain a feeling of duty and allegiance to the “North,” while her brothers and all her manly friends were in the Southern service; and that it was cruel, if not more deeply immoral, to demand the form of such a declaration when she could not give it heartily or truly; moreover, to  take advantage of her distress to demand what was immoral and impossible, did not accord with her ideal of chivalrous gentlemen. “My dear young lady, you intend to live in this country, do you not?” began the not altogether self-commanding commander, endeavoring to retain his official importance and personal composure. “That is my present intention,” was the demure reply, which allowed a little “leeway” for the possibilities now sublimating the faculties of the ingenuous youth, her duty-bound opponent. “Then you will have to live under the authority of the United States of America,” was the next link in the inexorable logic prepared to compel our young rebel into the compliance necessary for our consciences to yield to our hearts in granting whatever she should ask. “I shall obey the laws of my State,” she astutely rejoins. “Your more immediate personal and domestic plans can be sanctioned and consummated, no doubt, under the laws of Virginia,” proceeds the prosy, didactic court of final resort, “but Virginia is not at present exercising her functions as a State anywhere; and under the jurisdiction of what you will allow to be the de facto power of the United States, in order to enjoy its advantages and reciprocate its good will, you will be required to declare yourself its loyal citizen, and not its enemy.” “If to grant my humble and needful request,” replies the indomitable Portia, “you require me to swear that I will bear true allegiance to the  United States, when by her actual power she can compel me to do so or withdraw her protection, I am ready to say, not that I do, but that I will, bear such allegiance.” “Do you say now that you will do so,--the ‘will’ meaning not simply in future time, but with full purpose?” interrogates the dazed General. “I will take that oath,” is the gracious concession; and the court is able to take a conscience approving breath. The fair conqueror, triumphant in her refutation of the slanderous pronouncement that “the woman who deliberates is lost,” steps forward, bends over the book deftly covered with a fold of her soft handkerchief,--both held in the trembling hand of the young officer, who balances himself with such extremely Delsartian proneness that he does not seem to fear it if he should fall completely forward,--and the saving oath is taken. With what mental reservation, or spiritual committals, the defective records of earth do not show. There was, however, a lingering twilight of the transaction in the fact that there was immediately a daily unaccountable diminution among the finer delicacies of our private headquarters' mess-stores; and that on moonlight evenings there was as item of the report, “present but not accounted for,” concerning the horse and also the material personality of our provost marshal; both of whom had undoubtedly passed into a state which science taking refuge in electrical metaphysics denominates “the fourth dimension.”  We were kept very busy. Even the relief of duty from Sutherland's to Petersburg left us seventeen miles to care for, and enlarging duties. Our numbers were increasing rapidly. Not only were many men belonging to our command recalled from detached service to their regiments but eighteen hundred convalescents and recruits belonging to the Fifth Corps reported themselves at Sutherland's to be cared for there and thence distributed to their proper commands. The troops and garrisons at City Point were also assigned to the corps and finally taken up in Ayres' Division. We certainly had all the responsibility we could well exercise; and we had now a pretty solid and efficient corps, which we took pleasure in keeping up in discipline and character, and in as good spirits as possible. Near the end of the month notice came to us that we were to prepare to move and to start for Richmond on the 2d of May. It may be a trace of that curious paradox in the human heart which makes us love those who have been a care and trouble to us, that the thought of leaving these stricken and helpless people brought as much sorrow to some of us as the thought of going home did of joy. Indeed what is home in deepest truth, but the place where by our thought and toil and tender care we are able to promote the well-being of others? Is not that satisfaction love's best support and toil's best reward? We are made and meant to care. And where we have given of our best, even if unavailing, there the heart holds a certain treasure. There was here, too, a pleasant  counterpart of this sentiment when the people among whom we had exercised this autocratic power learned of our near departure. Our domination had been but for a little while but our points of contact with the people had been many and close. And we had made our rule of conduct towards each other such as was befitting those who were to live together as fellow-citizens in peace and good will. On one of those last fair April mornings I received a formal visit from a deputation whose personal appearance, bearing, and manner wore a solemnity almost religious in suggestion, but betokening high character and sincere purpose. They announce themselves as a delegation appointed by the citizens of Dinwiddie County to tender me a public dinner in testimony of what they were pleased to characterize as judicious management and kindly spirit in dealing with the confused elements and powers of that difficult situation. While a certain incongruity between the spiritual motive and the material constituence of their proffer might be conducive to a smile, yet there were elements in its seriousness which commanded sentiments even deeper than respect. However much their approving feeling may have overpassed their material means of expression, the proffer sprang from generous and noble sentiments exercised under trying conditions and was a testimony which it was an honor to receive. Literal acceptance of the compliment, however, was not to be thought of. But all the more my response should  show sincere appreciation and even more than common courtesy. “Gentlemen,” I replied, “I deeply appreciate your expression of approval and good will in respect to my conduct of affairs. Your personal regard I fully reciprocate. But you must pardon me. I am aware of the conditions in your homes. Let me say then that if you have any surplus in your store of food to be disposed of, I beg you will give it to your own suffering people, and not to me. I confess to a certain pain in leaving you. I shall ever think of you with respect and affection, and not without solicitude. The preservation of this Union is for the benefit of all its citizens; and I trust will soon result in one of deeper effect in drawing our hearts together as never before.” They responded in words I shall not undertake to record. The order of march for May 1st reversed the order of the division camps. Ayres was to start early in the morning, followed by the artillery and trains. On his reaching Black's and White's Crawford was to follow Ayres, and when the two reached my division I was to follow them, if they passed me. The corps would thus be gathering itself up as it marched. Moreover, by this order the whole corps would, so to speak, pass itself in review. It was a sort of “break from the left to march to the right.” All these divisions did, however, that day was to reach my headquarters at Wilson's Station, where instead of having to break camp, I had the pleasure of receiving several honored guests, especially General Griffin.  At 5.30 on the morning of the 2d, I began to take up my troops and my part. in the march; the Third Division followed mine, then the headquarters train, the Second Division, the artillery, and the ambulances and general train. By night we had reached Sutherland's, seventeen miles from my left to my right, and the whole corps was massed. At six o'clock on the 3d the corps took up its march along the Cox Road towards Petersburg. That was an interesting and picturesque march. The successive breaking of camps, all seasonably to fall into the column in due order; the tents struck regiment by regiment, the little shelter-tents at will, the pieces folded up and packed in each man's knapsack; then at a bugle-note down go the officer's tents, with the funeral rosettes still on their gablefronts, disappearing at a breath, as the dissolving of a dream; and the column comes out, colors draped in mourning, and the crape on arm and sword-hilt. It had a certain majesty of tone,that returning army of august memories. A solemn march it was,--past so many fields from which visions arose linking life with the immortal. First past the Five Forks not far away, at the Ford Station where a month before we had forced back Fitzhugh Lee and caught the last train out of Petersburg under Confederate auspices; then Sutherland's, ten miles farther, which we were so strangely prevented from making our own on the 31st of March, and where the gallant Miles two days afterwards made a maelstrom of the outrushing currents of Lee's broken army; then passing  the focal point where three roads crossing made a six-pointed star, behind Burgess' Mill, and the Quaker Road where my stubborn little First Brigade made the costly overture of the last campaign; then moving along that well-worn road between the Boydton Plank and the Appomattox so graven in our brain, so grave in history. All forsaken and silent now, the thundering salients and flaming crests since our Sixth and Ninth Corps and Gibbon with his men from the James burst over them in overwhelming wave. That silent, upheaved earth, those hidden covered ways,what did they speak of gloomy patience, and hardening fortitude and costly holding,--the farstretching, dull red crests and trenches which splendid manhood, we thought mistaken, had made a wall of adamant against us during all the long, dreary, unavailing siege; and as we look across the farther edge, the grim bastions of Fort Mahone and Fort Sedgwick,--not unfitly named in soldier speech “Fort Hell” and “Fort Damnation,” --the latter front carried a year before by the dark and desperate charge of my old veteran brigade; the forlorn Balaklava onset thereafter, and terrible repulse before the enemy's main entrenchments,--that darkest day of darkest year, 1864; and farther on, amidst the funereal pines, the spot where I was laid on boughs tearfully broken for what was thought my last bed, but where, too, Grant touched me with the accolade and woke new life. We passed also the gloomy remnants of the great  outworks-well known to us — where our comrades of the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Corps and the Army of the James won imperishable fame by desperate valor; and farther on we passed with averted gaze the Crater of the Mine of fearful memory. And now we enter Petersburg, filled with thoughts that fleck the sunshine; pondering the paradox of human loss which is gain,--not jubilant but firmstepped, reverently, as treading over graves. Warren was in the city. He had alighted here, where with corps flag in hand he had passed like a meteor infantry and cavalry and leaped the rebel breastworks down into the faces of the astonished foe, and Sheridan sent him otherwhere. He was commanding this city now,--promotion downward; but down is up for half the world. Griffin could not pass him without fitting recognition; the men of the Fifth Corps, who had seen him in their front from the beginning, could not pass him now, voiceless themselves as he. General Griffin had sent Warren word that the corps would like to give him the salute of honor as they marched through the city. He accepted, and placed himself with his wife and some members of his staff in the balcony of the Bolingbroke Hotel, while the corps passed before him in review. But the regulations for such ceremony were traversed by strange signs not written in that zodiac. Drums ruffled, bands played, colors dipped, officers saluted with their swords; but for the men it was impossible to hold the “carry,” or keep the touch of elbow and the  guide right. Up turned the worn, bronzed faces; up went the poor old caps; out rang the cheers from manly hearts along the Fifth Corps column;one half the numbers, old and new together, that on this very day a year ago mustered on the banks of the Rapidan, their youthful forms resplendent as the onlooking sun. One half the corps had gone, passing the death-streams of all Virginia's rivers; two hundred miles of furrowed earth and the infinite of heaven held each their own. Warren, too, had gone in spirit, never to rise, with deeper wound than any who had gone before. There was much to interest us in this city we had held “so near and yet so far” ; long gazing or fitfully glancing at the hazard of our lives, where it lay glistening in morning light or wrapped in sunset splendor, or perchance shrouded in cannonsmoke, or lurid canopy of exploding mine, with phantasmagory human and superhuman. But we pressed through without stopping, and camped that night five or six miles out on the Richmond turnpike. On the fourth we had a fine, smooth road before us, and marched briskly, having the right of way. We took a little nooning at Fort Darling on Drury's Bluff, and spent most of our time in admiring the strength and beauty of these works, proving the skill of the engineers, educated at our West Point, admiring still more the frankness of the strong soldier whose home was there, declaring that the appeal they had so resolutely taken was decided against them, and now there must be but one flag.  At evening we reached Manchester, a pleasant little town opposite Richmond where we closed up to be ready to pass through Richmond the next day in ceremonial order. But a heavy rain kept us rather quiet all day, except for some who with difficulty got permission to go over and visit the famed city which the newspapers had ordered us “on to” since 1861. Our camp made slender shelter, expecting but the “tarry of a night.” I had my headquarters in the front yard — not the house — of a courteous Virginia gentleman of the old school, who seemed to like my name, which if braced with an aristocratic y in the last syllable stood high he said in that section. Much might have happened if my ancestors had not prided themselves in straight lines and in not striking below the belt. So they held to the simple iota in writing out their long name. Therefore I could not claim honors and he waived the demand, offering a fresh mint julep to settle accounts, but this exception did not prove the rule. The Second Corps had now come by way of Amelia Court House and the Danville Road, and on the morning of the sixth we prepared to pass through Richmond. These two corps were all; the Ninth had been set loose again from our army and was sent to Alexandria; the Sixth had been sent back to the Danville Road to take care of the North Carolina communications. Our corps was formed in numerical order of divisions; this gave me the head of the column although the junior commander. The artillery followed the infantry. No other  wheeled vehicles were allowed in the column o review; but they were sent by another way, to rejoin the troops outside the city on the road to Hanover. We crossed the James on the upper pontoon bridge. This gave a glimpse of Libby and Belle Isle prisons, which I had always carefully instructed my men never to allow themselves to get into, but to prefer death,--by which desperate tactics they sometimes saved their lives, cutting their way out of capture like madmen. But these buildings carried heavy thoughts to some among us, which ministered to “silence in the ranks.” Orders had been given to the Twenty-fourth Corps to pay us some attention; accordingly we passed in review along the front of that corps,--General Halleck and General Meade being in their line. These troops had instructions to present arms to every general officer by regiments in succession, and afterwards to stand at “order arms.” We were about as threadbare a set of fellows as was not usually seen, to use the French idiom. But we were clean and straight. We bore ourselves with greatest military precision,--that was something we could do,--mostly out of pride. Looks go for a good deal, especially when you have a previous reputation to meet somehow or other. The Twenty-fourth Corps, paraded in our honor, gave us hearty greeting; quite transcending orders and regulations. We had not met since side by side we had double-quicked up to Sheridan's hard-pressed front at Appomattox Court House; and when their manual dropped from the “present”  to the “order,” there was a demonstration running along their line in which manly hearts took command, the contagion of which disturbed our perfect military demeanor. It was a city of strange contrasts then; famous always for its beauty and the nobleness of its public buildings. But the incendiary had done much to mar the picture: the charred ruins our route of march could not wholly conceal telling either of desperate loyalty unwilling that so rich a trophy should fall into our hands; or else of some renegades, thinking all was lost, giving way to general disgust with all creation. The houses of Lee and of Davis received much attention,--the latter apparently already pillaged. The famous statue of Washington stood solitary in the square, seeming to rebuke somebody,--not us, we confidently believed. In the streets and dooryards all was confusion, like a grand “May moving-day” --furniture scattered and piled as if having nowhere to go or stay; papers flying loose everywhere; Confederate money cheap,--to be had almost for the asking from the ebony runners flashing their white teeth and eyes in joy of our coming. Multitudes of good citizens, however, lined the streets; while here and there some closed doors and shrouded windows showed where grief or bitterness was holding its despair. It was rather hard for our men to be held in such strict order, and, after passing in review, to be pushed on as if still in pursuit of Lee. Yet on we pressed, out through the fortifications of Richmond,  and not inward, whither we had so long striven; but now when we saw their terrible strength, we were not wholly sorry that we satisfied ourselves with the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and Cold Harbor, and took a wide sweep to the southern flank of those entrenchments rather than “fight it out on that line all summer.” Out towards the old battlefields we drew, crossing the baleful Chickahominy and the unforgotten Totopotomoy, scarcely pausing until ten o'clock at night, when we were halted, after a singularly hard march, at “Peake's turn out” on the Virginia Central Railroad, not far from Hanover Court House. This was familiar ground for the Fifth Corps. Here it was that our First Division in the ardor of its youth made the gallant fight three years before, and where especially our Second Maine under the chivalrous Roberts proved the quality of its soldiership and manhood. In the darkness of establishing bivouac, I heard some mutterings, as I had seen some sour looks before, among the men, seeming to hold me responsible for the hardships of the twenty-mile forced march, because I had the head of the column and was supposed to set the pace. But they did not understand that our camps as well as our routes were strictly appointed as to time and place by orders from high headquarters. If I could have appointed the routes and hours of that homeward march, I would not have been governed so much by considerations of “the shortest distance between two points” on the earth, as of a line running  tortuously and deep-chambered through soldiers' hearts, and darkly graven in all the homes of the land. We had to pass very near many storied spots; and one day more for the whole march would have allowed our men the somber satisfaction of reviewing the fields of lost battles, which have their place, also, in making up life's full account. Broken threads are sometimes well worth picking up. If this is mere sentiment, I confess to it; outlawed I dare say in scientific circles, but not therefore banished from the makeup of manhood. If discipline means bracing the heart and will as well as the body it is part of good discipline to give the soldier satisfaction for his sacrifice, if only to see the ground where he fought in darkness and blind obedience, and gave his best even though in defeat, and perhaps, by such recognition, giving him part in the continuity of great endeavor. Other orders of being also share this halt at the bridge of life and death. I give place to a night-episode. At about midnight when the tired camp was still, the sentinel in front of my bivouac spoke nervously, saying there was something strange going on about my horse not far away in rear of us. He had been hastily tethered there amidst a little growth of scrubby pines, so near, and the place so quiet, there seemed to be no need of a guard. The boy who cared for him had dropped down near by in a swoon of sleep. I rose and went out myself; and before I reached him my foot crushed through the breast-bones of a body half buried by the fallen  pine-cones and needles so long undisturbed, now gone back mostly ashes to ashes. I found that the horse, pawing the earth within the scope of his picket-rope, had rolled out two skulls and scattered the bones of bodies he had unearthed, and was gazing at the white skulls as if lost in doubt; now and then snorting to call others to solve the mystery, or swaying at his tether as if to get away himself. It was a weird, uncanny scene: the straggling, uncompanionable pines; the night brooding still and chill; black lowering clouds, now massing, now rifting, disclosing, then shutting out of sight, the white skulls mocking life. The horse was not easily pacified,--not until I had gathered up the menacing skulls and the outlying limbs too, and laid them where I saw glimmering amidst the dusky d6bris of the pines other bones as if adrift on a Sargasso sea, and showed him that I was not afraid. In the morning the men got to looking around among the bodies and relics, and by initials cut into the breast-plates or other marks or tokens identified the remnants of bodies of comrades long left among the missing. As we were not to move until ten o'clock, they asked permission to gather up these mournful remnants and pack them in the empty cracker-boxes in our supply trains, to be sent to friends who would gladly cherish even such tokens of the fate of the unreturning brave. I was glad to grant this and to instruct the wagoners to take especial care of these relics on the road or in camp. And so the strange column set forth bearing in its train that burden of unlost belongings, as  Moses coming up out of Egypt through the wilderness of the Red Sea, bearing with him the bones of Joseph the well-beloved. Ayres led that day; we had the rear of the column, with the artillery. Passing through Hanover Court House, and crossing the Pamunkey, we made twelve miles march and camped at Concord Church, not far from our battlefield of the North Anna and Jericho Mills. On the 8th, the Third Division led, the First following. We crossed the Mattapony and bivouacked at Milford, south of Bowling Green, at 5 P. M., having marched about fifteen miles. On the 9th, we moved at 7 A. M., passing through Bowling Green, which wakened for me thrilling reminiscences of a rear-guard fight, and crossing the Massaponax we encamped near Fredericksburg not far from our old battlefields of 1862. We made this long march more easily because of the fine Bowling Green Pike that served us a good part of the way. Although we had marched twenty miles, some of the men of the First Division could not resist the opportunity to visit the storied Marye's Heights, up which they had charged,--the fifth line they had seen go on to be swallowed up in flame, and cut level with the earth the moment it reached the fatal crest before the stone wall,--and holding flat to earth, were able to be drawn off only under the blackness of a rainy midnight, the last to leave the front line, to catch the last pontoon bridge below the city just as it was swung to the safe shore. In the morning we crossed again the Rappahannock-two  years and a half later; and what years, and with what changes of men!-and moved up abreast of the city, whose slopes on the morning of that other crossing we saw through misty eyes, trampled to gory mire, and so flecked with bodies of our comrades that the whole heights shone blue. The artillery leading and we in rear of the column, --thoughts lingering too,--we passed through our old camping ground of 1862, where first we learned how little we knew how to take care of ourselves or of those committed to our care, but where we learned also under the discipline of the accomplished Ames how to behave ourselves in battle. Visions more than sad passed with us. Hooker and the Grand Divisions, and the grand reviews; the tournaments of the reorganized cavalry; the sword presentations with their afterglow; the “Ladies' days” --Princess Salm-Salm the Valkyrie, the witching Washington belles, strange new colors flying, sweet forms grouped around tent doors, lithe in the saddle; days so bright and nights so silver toned,--lenesque sub noctem susurri,where are you, forms and souls, men and women, where in these days of stern rejoicing triumph, but so forlorn? Then days of the Adversary: the Mud March; tragic Chancellorsville; and dreary return to dull Stoneman's Switch and dolorous smallpox hospital-they, too, stood for something as prelude to the Gettysburg campaign. This is the procession that passes as we pass. Pensively we crossed the Aquia Creek, old debouchure from Washington of all that food for death, and of the  spectral gayeties of what is called life. Plunging now into lower levels we found a hard road to travel, and crossing the Choppawamsic and Quantico, we went down with the sun in dreary bivouac at Dumfries. The roads were bad; pressing feet and heavy hoofs and cutting wheels had made them worse. General Humphreys, following with the Second Corps, thoughtful ever for his men, and as an accomplished engineer scorning such crude conditions, sent out two entire divisions to repair the road before he would undertake to move, and even then was forced to take another route. In our movement on this morning of the Ith of May General Griffin leading out with the artillery sent the pioneers of the Third Division following to move with the artillery and help it along, while sending the pioneers of the First and Second Divisions to attend the trains which followed. One half the ambulances followed their respective divisions, and there was sore need of them. The memory of this day and night march will last its participants a lifetime, of which I have no doubt these experiences shortened many. The roads rough and ragged; the hills steep and as it were cross-furrowed; the valleys swamps; the track a trap of mire. We toiled painfully and patiently along, testing that formula of the chiefest virtue,the charity that “beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things; endureth all things.” In the middle of the afternoon a heavy rainstorm swept over us, opening with terrific summons of  thunder and lightning, sky and earth meeting. I chanced to be at that moment on the summit of a very high hill, from which I could see the whole corps winding its caravan with dromedary patience. The first lightning-bolt nearly stunned me. I saw its forerunner flashing along the cannon far ahead and illuminating Crawford's column with unearthly glare; and turning quickly towards my own I could see the whole black column struggling on and Ayres a mile behind urging and cheering his men with condensed reserve energies all alive; when this ever-recurrent pulse of flame leaped along the writhing column like a river of fire. It looked to me as if the men had bayonets fixed, the points of intense light flew so sharp from the muzzles sloping above the shoulders. Suddenly an explosion like a battery of shrapnel fell right between our divisions. An orderly came galloping up to me, with word that one of the ambulances was struck, killing the horses and the driver, and stunning the poor fellows who, unable to keep up with the rushing column, had sought this friendly aid. It was a mile away from me, but I knew Ayres close following would see the right thing done till my orders came. I sent instructions for the stricken men to be cared for, and for the following forage trains to take along the disabled ambulance. We were bringing along one dead body already, besides the strange freight of rescued fragments packed in the bread-boxes. This was the body of Lieutenant Wood, of the 20th Maine, killed in his tent by a careless wagoner's unauthorized  discharge of a musket some way off the day before,--such an act as some call accident; I did not treat it as such. The storm and turmoil of the elements kept on all the afternoon; and all our company, man and beast, were drenched and sodden,--body and soul. In such plight we crossed the Occaquan, and in four hours more we “stopped for refreshments” on soggy ground and in pitchy darkness about a mile below Fairfax Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Then began the orgies of which five elements were the factors, the human, and air, earth, water, fire,--the last deemed divine in Grecian legend, but difficult to harmonize that night with Promethean will or human need. What cannot be helped must be borne. Well-doing is not a smooth road and its rewards do not instantly appear. But good heart, nevertheless! Dear poor Tom Pinch knew all about it. “ ‘ Wher's the pudding?’ ” said Tom, “for he was cutting his jokes, Tom was.” Why we were marched so hard and made to suffer such discomforts on that homeward journey no one of us could understand. Thoughtless men, as is usual, laid it to their officers; and that is perhaps not unjust as their short reasoning went. It is great part of an officer's duty to take care of his men. But there is always strong motive for officers to be reasonable; those who march with their men are not likely to be cruel to them. In the saddle hour upon hour, day after day, marching  is almost as wearisome for rider as for footman. The balancing mental medicine for the rider is that he can get from point to point quicker, and get over more ground in a given time. Keeping pace with obstructed and slow-moving infantry is hard for the horsemen too. But here we were, marched as hard as if we were a forlorn hope, or a Lucknow relief, hurled in for life and death-only going to be mustered out. It was, I suppose, a measure of economy, to save the expense of maintaining an army not now actively engaged, and so far from the principal base of supplies, and to shorten the days before us for the final discharge. It seemed as if somebody was as anxious now to be rid of us as ever before to get us to the front. That is a fair inference from the orders that came to the commander of our army; and his orders were no doubt the result of this urgency. We commanders in the Fifth Corps had not so much to say about it as the men had; and what we did say is not written, and would have been of little avail for them if spoken aloud, and not calculated to put us in pleasant relations with those above us, including what Sterne would call “the recording angel.” We moved once more at 9 o'clock on the morning of the 12th, the corps in the order of its divisions, followed by the artillery and trains. At Fairfax Court House we received orders to take the Columbia Pike and passing Falls Church Station to go into permanent camp on Arlington Heights. This brought us near the ground where our First  Division, now comprising all that were left of the original Fifth Corps, had its station after the battle of Bull Run Second, and whence we started early in September for the Antietam campaign. A new procession of associations, farther reaching than those before, thronged our minds and spirits. We had not seen this ground since those earlier troubled days; and what had been given us to traverse since, and forms once with us, now taken away, all rose before us in tumultuous phantasies. Here was Lee's home, too; and we gazed at it earnestly, wondering if it was true only in poetry
Thunder Thy clarion, and lightning Thy sword.
That men may rise on stepping-stonesPoor, great-hearted Lee; what was his place in the regenerated country? And for us: we were returning from our part in the redemption of the nation's life,--the vindication of its honor and authority; we were summoned to the capital to report the completion of this service and this trust; to lay down our arms and colors, emblems of costly sacrifice and great deliverance; to receive thanks, perhaps; but for best reward the consciousness that what we had lost and what we had won had passed into the nation's peace; our service into her mastery, our worth into her well-being, our life into her life. Now the satisfied earth, returning its excess of rain heavenward in canopy of mists, overspread us with shadow, shutting us in with ourselves. But just as we reached the heights, the clouds withdrew  their veil, and the broad sunlight lay upon the resplendent city; highest the dome of the delivered Capitol, and nearest, it seemed, the White House, home of Lincoln's mighty wrestle and immortal triumph. Around us some were welcoming with cheers; but for our part, weighted with thought, we went through our accustomed motions mechanically, in a great silence. The sun, transfiguring for a moment our closing ranks, went down in glorious promise for the morrow,--leaving us there to ourselves again, on the banks of the river whose name and fame we bore, flowing in darkness past us, as from dream to dream.
Of their dead selves to higher things.