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Adams, Charles Francis, 2nd 1835-

Lawyer and historian; born in Boston, Mass., May 27, 1835; second son of Charles Francis, 1st; was graduated at Harvard College in 1856, and admitted to the bar two years afterwards. During the Civil War he served in the Union army, attaining the rank of brevet brigadier-general.

He was appointed a member of the Board of Railway Commissioners of Massachusetts in 1869; and was president of the Union Pacific Railway Company in 1884-91. In 1895 he was elected president of the Massachusetts Historical Society. His publications include, Railroads, their origin and problems; Massachusetts, its historians and its history; Three episodes of Massachusetts history; Life of Charles Francis Adams; Richard Henry Dana, a biography, etc.

The double anniversary, 1776 and 1863.

On July 4. 1869, he delivered the following historical address at Quincy, Mass.:

Six years ago, on this anniversary, we — and not only we who stood upon the scarred and furrowed field of battle, but you and our whole country — were drawing breath after the struggle of Gettysburg. For three long days we had stood the strain of conflict, and now, at last, when the nation's birthday dawned, the shattered rebel columns had sullenly with-drawn from our front, and we drew that long breath of deep relief which none have ever drawn who have not passed in safety through the shock of doubtful battle. Nor was our country gladdened then by news from Gettysburg alone. The army that day twined noble laurel garlands round the proud brow of the mother-land. Vicksburg was, thereafter, to be forever associated with the Declaration of Independence, and the glad anniversary rejoicings, as they rose from every town and village and city of the loyal North, mingled with the last sullen echoes that died away front our cannon over the Cemetery Ridge, and were answered by glad shouts of victory from the far Southwest. To all of us of this generation — and especially to such of us as were ourselves part of those great events-this celebration, therefore, now has and must ever retain a special significance. It belongs to us, as well as to our fathers. As upon this day, ninety-three years ago, this nation was brought into existence through the efforts of others, so, upon this day, six years ago, I am disposed to believe through our own efforts, it dramatically touched the climax of its great argument.

The time that has since elapsed enables us now to look back and to see things in their true proportions. We begin to realize that the years we have so recently passed through, though we did not appreciate it at the time, were the heroic years of American history. Now that their passionate excitement is over, it is pleasant to dwell upon them — to recall the rising of a great people — the call to arms as it boomed from our hill-tops and clashed from our steeples — the eager patriotism of that fierce April which kindled new sympathies in every bosom, which caused the miser to give freely of his wealth, the wife with eager hands to pack the knapsack of her husband, and mothers, with eyes glistening with tears of pride, to look out upon the glistening bayonets of their boys; then came the frenzy of impatience and the defeat entailed upon us by [22] rashness and inexperience, before our nation settled down, solidly and patiently, to its work, determined to save itself from destruction; and then followed the long, weary years of fear and hope, until at last that day came six years ago which we now celebrate — the day which saw the flood-tide of rebellion reach high-water mark, whence it never after ceased to recede. At the moment, probably, none. of us, either at home or at the seat of war, realized the grandeur of the situation — the dramatic power of the incidents, or the Titanic nature of the conflict. To you who were at home — mothers, fathers, wives, sisters, brothers, citizens of the common country, if nothing else — the agony of suspense, the anxiety, the joy, and, too often, the grief which was to know no end, which marked the passage of those days, left little either of time or inclination to dwell upon aught save the horrid reality of the drama. To others, who more immediately participated in those great events, the daily vexations and annoyances — the hot and dusty day — the sleepless, anxious night — the rain upon the unsheltered bivouac — the deep lassitude which succeeded the excitement of action — the cruel orders which recognized no fatigue and made no allowance for labors undergone-all these small trials of the soldier's life made it possible to but few to realize the grandeur of the drama in which they were playing a part. Yet we were not wholly oblivious of it. Now and then I come across strange evidences of this in turning over the leaves of the few weather-stained, dog-eared volumes which were the companions of my life in camp. The title-page of one bears witness to the fact that it was my companion at Gettysburg, and in it I recently found some lines of Browning's noble poem of Saul marked and altered to express my sense of our situation, and bearing date upon this very 5th of July. The poet had described in them the fall of snow in the spring-time from a mountain, under which nestled a valley; the altering of a few words made them well describe the approach of our army to Gettysburg.

Fold on fold, all at once, we crowd thundrously down to your feet,

And there fronts you, stark, black but alive yet, your army of old,

With its rents, the successive bequeathing of conflicts untold;

Yea!--each harm got in fighting your battles. each furrow and scar

Of its head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest — all hail!here we are!

And there we were, indeed, and then and there was enacted such a celebration as I hope may never again be witnessed there or elsewhere on another 4th of July. Even as I stand here before you, through the lapse of years and the shifting experiences of the recent past visions and memories of those days rise thick and fast before me. We did, indeed, crowd thundrously down to their feet! Of the events of those three terrible days I may speak with feeling and yet with modesty, for small indeed was the part which those with whom I served were called upon to play. When those great bodies of infantry drove together in the crash of battle, the clouds of cavalry which had hitherto covered up their movements were swept aside to the flanks. Our work for that time was done, nor had it been an easy or a pleasant work. The road to Gettysburg had been paved with our bodies and watered with our blood. Three weeks before, in the middle days of June, I, a captain of cavalry, had taken the field at the head of 100 mounted men, the joy and pride of my life. Through twenty days of almost incessant conflict the hand of death had been heavy upon us, and now, upon the eve of Gettysburg, thirty-four of the hundred only remained, and our comrades were dead upon the field of battle, or languishing in hospitals, or prisoners in the hands of the enemy. Six brave young fellows we had buried in one grave where they fell on the heights of Aldie. It was late on the evening of the 1st of July that there came to us rumors of heavy fighting at Gettysburg, near 40 miles away. The regiment happened then to be detached, and its orders for the 2d were to move in the rear of Sedgwick's Corps and see that no man left the column. All that day we marched to the sound of the cannon; Sedgwick, very grim and stern, was pressing forward his tired men, and we soon saw that for once there would be no stragglers from the ranks. As the day grew old, and as we passed rapidly up from the rear to the head of the column, [23] the roar of battle grew more distinct, until at last we crowned a hill, and the contest broke upon us. Across the deep valley, some 2 miles away, we could see the white smoke of the bursting shells, while below the sharp, incessant rattle of the musketry told of the fierce struggle that was going on. Before us ran the straight, white, (lusty road, choked with artillery, ambulances, caissons, ammunition trains, all pressing forward to the field of battle, while mixed among them, their bayonets gleaming through the dustlike wavelets on a river of steel, tired, footsore hungry, thirsty, begrimed with sweat and dust, the gallant infantry of Sedgwick's Corps hurried to the sound of the cannon as men might have flocked to a feast. Moving rapidly forward, we crossed the brook which runs so prominently across the map of the field of battle. and halted on its farther side to await our orders. Hardly had I dismounted from my horse when, looking back, I saw that the head of the column had reached the brook and deployed and halted on its other bank, and already the stream was filled with naked men shouting with pleasure as they washed off the sweat of their long day's march. Even as I looked, the noise of the battle grew louder, and soon the symptoms of movement were evident. The rappel was heard, the bathers hurriedly clad themselves, the ranks were formed, and the sharp, quick snap of the percussion-caps told us the men were preparing their weapons for action. Almost immediately a general officer rode rapidly to the front of the line, addressed to it a few brief, energetic words, the short, sharp order to move by the flank was given, followed immediately by the “double quick,” the officer played himself at the head of the column, and that brave infantry, which had marched almost 40 miles since the setting of yesterday's sun — which during that day had hardly known either sleep or food or rest or shelter from the July heat — now, as the shadows grew long, hurried forward on the run to take its place in the front of battle, and to bear up the reeling fortunes of the day.

It is said that, at the crisis of Solferino, Marshal MacMahon appeared with his corps upon the field of battle, his men having run for 7 miles. We need not go abroad for examples of endurance and soldierly bearing. The achievement of Sedgwick and the brave 6th Corps, as they marched upon the field of Gettysburg on that second day of July, far excels the vaunted efforts of the French Zouaves.

Twenty-four hours later we stood upon that same ground; many dear friends had yielded up their young lives during the hours which had elapsed, but, though 20,000 fellow-creatures were wounded or dead around us, though the flood-gates of heaven seemed open and the torrents fell upon the quick and the dead, yet the elements seemed electrified with a certain magnetic influence of victory, and, as the great army sank down overwearied in its tracks, it felt that the crisis and danger was passed — that Gettysburg was immortal.

May I not, then, well express the hope that never again may we or ours be called upon so to celebrate this anniversary? And yet now that the passionate hopes and fears of those days are all over-now that the distracting doubts and untold anxieties are buried and almost forgotten, we love to remember the gathering of the hosts, to hear again in memory the shock of the battle, and to wonder at the magnificence of the drama. The passion and the excitement is gone. and we can look at the work we have done and pronounce upon it. I do not fear the sober second judgment. Our work was a good work; it was well done, and it was done thoroughly. Some one has said, “ Happy is the people which has no history.” Not so! As it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, so it is better to have lived greatly, even though we have suffered greatly, than to have passed a long life of inglorious ease. Our generation — yes, we ourselves — have been a part of great things. We have suffered greatly and greatly rejoiced; we have drunk deep of the cup of joy and of sorrow; we have tasted the agony of defeat; and we have supped full with the pleasures of victory. We have proved ourselves equal to great deeds, and have learned what qualities were in us, which, in more peaceful times, we ourselves did not suspect.

And, indeed. I would here, in closing, fain address a few words to such of you, if any such are here, who, like myself, [24] may have been soldiers during the War of the Rebellion. We should never more be partisans. We have been a part of great events in the service of the common country, we have worn her uniforms, we have received her pay. and devoted ourselves, to the death if need be, in her service. When we were blackened by the smoke of Antietam, we did not ask or care whether those who stood shoulder to shoulder beside us, whether he who led us, whether those who sustained us, were Democrats or Republicans, Conservatives or Radicals; we asked only that they might prove as true as was the steel we grasped, and as brave as we ourselves would fain have been. When we stood like a wall of stone vomiting fire from the heights of Gettysburg, nailed to our position through three long days of mortal hell, did we ask each other whether that brave officer who fell while gallantly leading the counter-charge, whether that cool gunner steadily serving his piece before us midst the storm of shot and shell, whether the poor, wounded, mangled, gasping comrades, crushed and torn, and dying in agony around us, had voted for Lincoln or Douglas, for Breckenridge or Bell? We then were full of other thoughts. We prized men for what they were worth to the common country of us all, and recked not of empty words. Was the man true, was he brave, was he earnest, was all we thought of then, not did he vote or think with us, or label himself with our party name. This lesson let us try to remember. We cannot give to party all that we once offered to country, but our duty is not yet done. We are no longer, what we have been, the young guard of the republic; we have earned an exemption from the dangers of the field and camp, and the old musket or the crossed sabres hang harmless over our winter fires, never more to be grasped in these hands henceforth devoted to more peaceful labors: but the duties of the citizen, and of the citizen who has received his baptism in fire, are still incumbent upon us. Though young in years, we should remember that henceforth, and as long as we live in the land, we are the ancients, the veterans of the republic. As such, it is for us to protect in peace what we preserved in war; it is for us to look at all things with a view to the common country and not to the exigencies of party politics; it is for us ever to bear in mind the higher allegiance we have sworn, and to remember that he who was once been a soldier of the mother-land degrades himself forever when he becomes the slave of faction. Then, at last, if through life we ever bear these lessons freshly in mind, will it be well for us, will it be well for our country, will it be well for those whose name we bear, that our bones also do not moulder with those of our brave comrades beneath the sods of Gettysburg, or that our graves do not look down on the swift-flowing Mississippi from the historic heights of Vicksburg.

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