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ke a rock of old ocean, it had received, and broken, and hurled back into the deep in bloody foam those swiftly succeeding waves of four years of incessant battle; but now the rock itself was wearing away, and still the waves came on. A new enemy was approaching the sturdy devoted band. In September, 1864, Atlanta fell, and through Georgia to the sea, with fire and sword, swept the victorious columns of Sherman. In January, 1865, the head of the column had been turned northward; and in February, Columbia and Charleston shared the fate that had already befallen Savannah. Yes, a new enemy was approaching the Army of Northern Virginia, and this time in the rear. The homes of the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Southern States were now in ashes. Wives, mothers and sisters were wanderers under the wintry skies, flying from the invaders who smote and spared not in their relentless march. Is it wonder that hearts that had never quailed before bayonet or blade beat
with the richest stores and most approved arms and munitions of war. Time forbids that I prolong the story; and this imperfect sketch is but a dim outline of that grand historic picture in which Robert Lee will ever stand as the foremost figure, challenging and enchaining the reverence and admiration of mankind, the faint suggestion of that magnificent career which has made for him a place on the heights of history as high as warrior's sword has ever carved. Premonitions of the end—the March to Appomattox. Vain was the mighty struggle, led by the peerless Lee. Genius planned, valor executed, patriotism stripped itself of every treasure, and heroism fought and bled and died, and all in vain! When the drear winter of 1864 came at last, there came also premonitions of the end. The very seed-corn of the Confederacy had been ground up, as President Davis said. The people sat at naked tables and slept in sheetless beds, for their apparel had been used to bind up wounds. The weed
d never quailed before bayonet or blade beat now with tremulous and irrepressible emotion? Is it wonder that, in the watches of the night, the sentinel in the trenches, tortured to excrutiation with the thought that those dearest of earth to him were without an arm to save, felt his soul sink in anguish and his hope perish? So it was, that with hunger and nakedness as its companions, and foes in front and foes in rear, the Army of Northern Virginia seemed bound to the rock of fate. On April 1st the left wing of Grant's massive lines swept around the right and rear of Lee. Gallantly did Pickett and his men meet and resist them at Five Forks; but that commanding strategic point was taken, and the fall of Petersburg and of Richmond alike became inevitable. On the next day, April 2d, they were evacuated. Grant was now on a shorter line projected toward Danville than Lee, and the latter commenced at once that memorable retreat towards Lynchburg, which ended at Appomattox. The bat
ink in anguish and his hope perish? So it was, that with hunger and nakedness as its companions, and foes in front and foes in rear, the Army of Northern Virginia seemed bound to the rock of fate. On April 1st the left wing of Grant's massive lines swept around the right and rear of Lee. Gallantly did Pickett and his men meet and resist them at Five Forks; but that commanding strategic point was taken, and the fall of Petersburg and of Richmond alike became inevitable. On the next day, April 2d, they were evacuated. Grant was now on a shorter line projected toward Danville than Lee, and the latter commenced at once that memorable retreat towards Lynchburg, which ended at Appomattox. The battle of Appomattox—the last charge. Over that march of desperate valor disputing fate, as over the face of a hero in the throes of dissolution, I throw the blood-reeking batte-flag, rent with wounds, as a veil. And I hail the heroic army and its heroic chief, as on the 9th of April morn,
ext day, April 2d, they were evacuated. Grant was now on a shorter line projected toward Danville than Lee, and the latter commenced at once that memorable retreat towards Lynchburg, which ended at Appomattox. The battle of Appomattox—the last charge. Over that march of desperate valor disputing fate, as over the face of a hero in the throes of dissolution, I throw the blood-reeking batte-flag, rent with wounds, as a veil. And I hail the heroic army and its heroic chief, as on the 9th of April morn, they stand embattled in calm and stern repose, ready to die with their harness on, —warriors every inch, without fear, without stain. Around the little hamlet of Appomattox Courthouse is gathered the remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia,—less than 8,000 men with arms in their hands,--less than 27,000 all told, counting camp followers and stragglers; and around them in massive concentric lines the army of Grant, flushed with success and expectation—more than 80,000 strong upon
April 13th (search for this): chapter 60
but slow and deliberate in its course. The State which had done so much to found the Union was 10th to assent to its dissolution, and still guided by the wise counsels of such men as Robert E. Scott, Robert Y. Conrad, Jubal A. Early, John B. Baldwin, Samuel McDowell Moore, and A. H. H. Stuart, she persisted in efforts to avert the calamity of war. Events followed swiftly. The Peace Conference had failed. Overtures for the peaceful evacuation of Fort Sumter had likewise failed. On the 13th of April, under bombardment, the Federal Commander, Major Anderson, with its garrison, surrendered. On April 15th President Lincoln issued his proclamation for 75,000 men to make war against the seceded States, which he styled: Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. This proclamation determined Virginia's course. War had come. Her mediation had been in vain. She was too noble to be neutral. Of the arts of duplicity she knew nothing save
April 15th (search for this): chapter 60
ent to its dissolution, and still guided by the wise counsels of such men as Robert E. Scott, Robert Y. Conrad, Jubal A. Early, John B. Baldwin, Samuel McDowell Moore, and A. H. H. Stuart, she persisted in efforts to avert the calamity of war. Events followed swiftly. The Peace Conference had failed. Overtures for the peaceful evacuation of Fort Sumter had likewise failed. On the 13th of April, under bombardment, the Federal Commander, Major Anderson, with its garrison, surrendered. On April 15th President Lincoln issued his proclamation for 75,000 men to make war against the seceded States, which he styled: Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. This proclamation determined Virginia's course. War had come. Her mediation had been in vain. She was too noble to be neutral. Of the arts of duplicity she knew nothing save to despise. She must now level her guns against the breasts of her Southern brethren, or make her own breas
April 17th (search for this): chapter 60
ssued his proclamation for 75,000 men to make war against the seceded States, which he styled: Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. This proclamation determined Virginia's course. War had come. Her mediation had been in vain. She was too noble to be neutral. Of the arts of duplicity she knew nothing save to despise. She must now level her guns against the breasts of her Southern brethren, or make her own breast their shield. On April 17th Virginia answered Mr. Lincoln's proclamation with the Ordinance of Secession, and, like Pallas-Athene, the front fighter stepped with intrepid brow to where, in conflict, history has ever found her—to the front of war. Under which flag? Where now is Robert Lee? On the border line, between two hostile empires, girding their loins for as stern a fight as ever tested warriors' steel, he beholds each beckoning to him to lead its people to battle. On the one hand, Virginia, now in the f
April 20th (search for this): chapter 60
upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union. But how can I draw my sword against Virginia? Draw his sword against Virginia? Perish the thought! Over all the voices that called him he heard the still small voice that ever whispers to the soul of the spot that gave it birth, and of her who gave it suck; and over every ambitious dream, there rose the face of the angel that guards the door of home. On the 20th of April, as soon as the news of Virginia's secession reached him, he resigned his commission in the army of the United States, and thus wrote to his sister who remained with her husband on the Union side: With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the army, and save in defence of my native State (
April 23rd (search for this): chapter 60
led upon to draw my sword. Lee devotes his sword to his native State. Bidding an affectionate adieu to his old friend and commander, General Scott, who mourned his loss, but nobly expressed his confidence in his motives, he repaired to Richmond. Governor John Letcher immediately appointed him to the command-in-chief of the Virginia forces, and the Convention unanimously confirmed the nomination. Memorable and impressive was the scene when he came into the presence of that body on April 23d. Its venerable President, John Janney, with brief, sententious eloquence, addressed him, and concluded saying: Sir, we have by this unanimous vote expressed our convictions that you are at this day, among the living citizens of Virginia, first in war. We pray to God most fervently that you may so conduct the operations committed to your charge, that it may be said of you that you are first in peace, and when that time comes, you will have earned the still prouder distinction of bei
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