Who always wore their armor bright
During the day and through the night;
Who carved at their meals
In gloves of steel,
And drank red wine through the helmet barred.
When the shattered remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia—the goodliest fellowship of famous men whereof this world holds record since the round table was broken, and its knights were dispersed—was dragging its slow length to Appomattox
, the post of honor, the post ever assigned to the bravest of the brave, was allotted by our great hero to Fitz Lee
, and here upon this floor are living witnesses to the fidelity and skill with which he discharged his perilous task.
And when the curtain fell at Appomattox
upon the last act of our splendid tragedy; when the flags were all furled and the was drums ceased to throb along the broken line, under the leadership of the gallant Gordon
, he illuminated that dark hour by one act of splendid chivalry, which soothed its anguish and effaced its shame; the flag of truce had entered the Confederate
line, and passing down the ranks was quenching the firing as it came.
The men in wrath were breaking their muskets, or in tears were parting their old battle flags among themselves.
Turning their backs upon the approaching messenger, as Nelson
turned his blind eye upon the retreat signal at Copenhagen
, they rushed down upon a still spiteful battery of the enemy and swept it from the field.
The messenger of peace found them standing over their conquered spoil.
The weapons they surrendered that day were those they had just wrenched from the enemy—
It was not war, but it was splendid
As a dream of old romance.
Later on, in another connection, if I have the time, I will state briefly the battles and operations under General Fitz Lee
's direction, which fix his place in our military annals—not only with the bravest and most dashing of our generals, but also among the ablest and most skillful.
As farmer, fisherman and dairyman, he had made himself dear