Chapter 9: the last review.
It was now the morning of May 23d, 1865, the day appointed for the final grand review of the Army of the Potomac, to extend from the Capitol
to the White House
along Pennsylvania Avenue in the city of Washington
It is with deep emotion that I attempt to tell the story of my last vision of that army,--the vision of its march out of momentous action into glorious dream.
This is not an essay in composition-military, historic, or artistic.
I seek to hold fast the image which passed before my eyes.
But this will no less be truth,--one aspect of the
truth, which in its manifold, magnificent wholeness would take the notes and memories of thousands to portray.
It will be manifest that I cannot undertake to reduce all the features of the picture to a common scale, nor to exhibit merit equitably.
Some points, no doubt, are set in high light, under the emotion which atmospheres them; but it is not meant to throw others into shadow.
If, in so rapid and condensed a passage, only familiar and prominent commanders can be named, it is not that I forget
that in every grade and all through the ranks are men whose names deserve remembrance as immortal as their devotion was sublime.
Neither can I forget, while yielding to none in my appreciation of the honor due to “the man behind the musket,” that the military efficiency of such is largely affected by the instruction, discipline, and influence of those in authority and responsibility over them, and their success and fame largely due to the manner in which they are “handled.”
A command is likely to be what its commander is. There are crises when confidence in his ability turns the scale of battle.
There are supreme moments when the sudden sweep to the front by a commanding character strikes the heart and exalts the spirit of men so that they do superhuman things.
Such are the men who are to pass before us.
It is the Army of the Potomac.
After years of tragic history and dear-bought glories, gathering again on the banks of the river from which it took its departure and its name; an army yet the same in name, in form, in spirit, but the deep changes in its material elements telling its unspeakable vicissitudes; having kept the faith, having fought the good fight, now standing up to receive its benediction and dismissal, and bid farewell to comradeship so strangely dear.
We were encamped on Arlington Heights
, opposite the capital.
As yet there were but two corps up — the Second and the Fifth.
The Sixth had been sent back from Appomattox
, to secure the fruits of the surrender, and stand to the
front before the falling curtain of the Confederacy
They had fulfilled that duty, and on this very day were setting forth for this final station.
Of those that had come up, all the detachments had been called in. My division that left Appomattox
five thousand strong now mustered twice that number.
The ranks stood full-what there were of the living — for one more march together, one last look and long farewell.
Troops that had been with us and part of us in days of need and days of glory, were brought with us again: the Cavalry Corps, and the Ninth Corps, with a division of the Nineteenth.
The Ninth, by the circumstance of its commander outranking all other generals except Grant
, although of late often with us, was not incorporated with our army until the twenty-fourth of May, 1864, when Burnside
magnanimously waived his rank and with his corps became part and parcel of our army through the terrible campaign of that dark year, and until relieved at Burkeville
a few days after the surrender at Appomattox
To these old companions General Meade
with generous courtesy gave the post of honor and precedence.
's great army had lately come up, and was encamped on the river bank at no great distance below.
A mighty spectacle this: the men from far and wide, who with heroic constancy, through toils and sufferings and sacrifices that never can be told, had broken down the Rebellion
, gathered to give their arms and colors and their history to the keeping of a delivered, regenerated nation.
For our review the order of march was to be the following: headquarters of the Army of the Potomac; the cavalry corps; the provost marshal
's brigade; the engineer brigade; the Ninth Corps with a division of the Nineteenth; then the Army of the Potomac, that stood here upon the earth — the Fifth Corps and the Second; the infantry and artillery, and ambulances too-great sharers of eventful service.
The Ninth Corps crossed the Potomac
on the afternoon of the twenty-second and went into bivouac east of the Capitol
The engineer brigade, the provost guard, and the escort moved to bivouac near Long Bridge
, to start at 3.30 in the morning for their rendezvous at the foot of the Capitol
front, ready to follow the cavalry ordered to be there at 9 A. M. At 4 A. M., of the twenty-third, the Fifth Corps began its march over Long Bridge
, Canal Bridge, and Maryland Avenue to First Street, East, moving “left in front,” in order to draw out easily right in front, for the ceremonial column.
The Second Corps, leaving camp at 7 A. M., followed the Fifth to the vicinity of the Capitol
, ready to follow in review.
The movement was to be up Pennsylvania Avenue. The formation was in column by companies closed in mass, with shortened intervals between regiments, brigades, and divisions; the company fronts equalized to twenty files each, so the number of companies corresponded to the total numbers of the regiment, some having twelve or fifteen companies, so many had gathered now for the grand muster-out.
Six ambulances were to follow each brigade, moving three abreast.
The artillery brigades were to accompany their respective corps.
The infantry were to take “route step” and right shoulder arms until reaching the State Department building, where they take the cadenced step and the shoulder arms, later known as the “carry.”
Here also the “guide left” was to be taken, as the reviewing stand was in front of the President's house
He was the proper reviewing officer; but arrangements were made for the accommodation also of the Cabinet
, the Foreign Diplomatic Corps
, the governors of States, and other distinguished personages and high officials.
In the salute, drums were to ruffle and colors dip, but only mounted officers were to salute.
The bands were not to turn out in front of the reviewing officer, as is the custom in reviews.
All precautions were taken to preserve relative distances, so as to avoid crowding, confusion, and delay in the marching column.
In my command we were well aware of quite an anxiety among officers and men of the army generally to look their very best, and more, too, on this occasion; for new uniforms, sashes, epaulettes, saddle housings, and other gay trappings almost disguised some of our hardiest veterans, who were not insensible to the new order of spectators before whom they were now to pass their ordeal.
I hesitate to admit that in the revulsion from this on the part of the officers and men of my division, there might be a scornful pride more sinful than that of vanity.
We knew many a dude in dress who expressed
in this way a consciousness of personal worth which rang true in the tests of battle.
We could not pretend to be better,--proud of our humility.
Perhaps we thought we could not look equal to what we deemed our worth and possibly our reputation; so we resolved to do nothing for show, but to look just what we were, and be judged by what we wore, letting our plainness tell its own story.
The men brought themselves up to regulation field inspection; themselves, their dress and accouterments clean and bright, but all of every-day identity.
And for officers no useless trappings, rider or horse; plain, open saddle, with folded gray army blanket underneath; light, open bridle with simple curb and snaffle-rein; service uniform-shoulder-strap, belts, scabbards, boots, and spurs of the plainest,--no sashes, no epaulettes; light marching order, just as in the field, but clean and trim.
No doubt this might make us somewhat conspicuous, as things were; but homeliness was a character we thought we could maintain, even “before company.”
It was a clear, bright morning, such as had so often ushered in quite other scenes than this.
At nine o'clock the head of column moved.
First Meade-commanding all-our old Fifth Corps commander, knightly in bearing as ever, grave of countenance now, thoughtful perhaps with foreshadowings.
With him rode his principal staff: chivalrous “Andy Webb
,” in earlier days familiar friend, inspector of our corps,--since that, meeting with his superb brigade the death-defying
valor of Pickett
's charge,--now rightly chief-of-staff of the army; grim old Hunt
, chief of artillery
, whose words were like his shot, whose thundersweeps had shaken hearts and hills from Antietam
; Seth Williams
, steadfast as the rocky crests of Maine
from which he came, whose level head had balanced the disturbances and straightened the confusions of campaigns and changes of commanders through our whole history.
And following these heads of staff, all the gallant retinue well known to us all.
Now move the cavalry: survivors and fullblown flower of the troopers Joe Hooker
, in the travailing winter of 1862 and 1863, had redeemed from servitude as scattered orderlies and provost guards at headquarters and loose-governed cities, and transformed into a species of soldier not known since the flood-times of Persia
, the Huns of Attila
, or hordes of Tamerlane; cavalry whose manoeuvres have no place in the tactics of modern Europe
; rough-rider, raiders, scouts-in-force, cutting communications, sweeping around armies and leagues of entrenched lines in an enemy's country,--Stoneman
, and alas!
And when the solid front of pitched battle opposes, then terrible in edge and onset, as in the straight-drawn squadron charges at Brandy Station
, the clattering sweep at Aldie
, the heroic lone-hand in the lead at Gettysburg
, holding back the battle till our splendid First Corps could surge
forward to meet its crested wave, and John Buford
and John Reynolds
could shake hands!
Through the dark campaign of 1864, everywhere giving account of themselves as there
. At last in 1865, sweeping over the breastworks at Five Forks
down upon the smoking cannon and serried bayonets; thence swirling around Sailor's Creek
and High Bridge
, and finally at Appomattox
by incredible marches circumventing Lee
's flying column, and holding at bay Stonewall Jackson
's old corps, with Hill
's and Anderson
's, under Gordon
;--alone, this cavalry, until our infantry overtaking the horses, force the flag of truce to the front, and all is over!
Fighters, firm, swift, superb,--cavalry-chivalry!
is not here.
He is down on the Rio Grande
,--a surveyor, a draughtsman, getting ready to illustrate Seward
's diplomatic message to Napoleon
that a French army cannot force an Austrian Emperor on the Mexican Republic
, so familiar to our army, is not here, preferring an “engagement” elsewhere and otherwise; for love, too, bears honors to-day.
is at the head, well deserving of his place.
Leading the divisions are Custer
, and Devin
, names known before and since in the lists of heroes.
Following also, others whom we know: Gibbs
of New York, Brayton Ives
is far away.
we do not see; nor level-headed Smith
, nor indomitable “Prin.”
, with his 1st Maine
Cavalry; these now sent to complete the peace around Petersburg
Now rides the provost marshal general
, gallant George Macy
of the 20th Massachusetts, his right arm symbolized by an empty sleeve pinned across his breast.
Here the 2d Pennsylvania Cavalry, and stout remnants of the 1st Massachusetts, reminding us of the days of Sargent
and “Sam” Chamberlain
Here, too, the 3d and Ioth U. S. Infantry, experienced in stern duties.
Now, with heads erect and steady eyes, marches the Signal Corps; of those that beckoned us to the salvation of Round Top
, and disclosed movements and preparations otherwise concealed in the dense maze and whirl of battle from the Wilderness
to the Chickahominy
; then from their lofty observatories watching the long ferment on the Appomattox
What message do your signals waft us now?
Here come the engineers with their great unwieldy pontoons grotesque to the eye, grand to the thought!
Had we not smiled at them — the huge dromedary caravans, struggling along the road, or sliding, leviathan-like, down the slopes of half-sheltered river-coves, launching out to their perilous, importunate calling?
Did not the waters of all Virginia
's rivers know of their bulk and burden?
Had we not seen them — not smiling-time
and time again, spanning the dark Rappahannock
?-as in December, 1862, Sumner
launched them from the exposed bank opposite Fredericksburg
into the face of Lee
's army — vainly opposing, --bridging the river of death, into the jaws of hell!
Had we not a little later, a mile below, crowded over the hurriedly laid, still swaying, boat-bridge, raked and swept by the batteries on Marye's Heights
, and rushed up the bloody, slippery slopes to the dead-line stone wall?
And on the second midnight after, shall we forget that forlorn recrossing, in murk and rain, on the last pontoon bridge left, and this muffled with earth to dull our stealthy, silent tread, and already half-loosened, and ready to cut free and swing from the touch of that fateful shore?
And what of that rear-guard covering the retreat from Chancellorsville
in 1863, seeking the bridge-end in utter blackness of darkness and driving storm of rain and rushing river, not finding it
because the swelling torrent was roaring twenty feet between it and the shore; and when gained by manly resolution or demoniac instinct, already half a ruin, the lashings of chess and rail loosened by rush and pressure of previous passers; crowded plank in heaps and gaps yard wide, amid the yawning, dizzying surges in the pitchy blackness, where only the sagacious horse could smell the distances and leap the chasms, followed by the trusting “brotherhood” of man!
“Great arks” indeed they were, these boats, borne above the waters of desolation, and bearing over manhood fit to replenish and repeople the war-whelmed earth!
Last, looming above the broad waters of the James
, your thread-like bridge swaying beneath the mighty tread, our horses hardly able to keep
their feet, bearing us over to the gloomy tests of Petersburg
, the long beginning of the end.
And where are the brave young feet that pressed your well-laid plank at Germanna and Ely's Ford of the Rapidan
on that bright morning a summer ago?
To what shores led that bridge?
No, we do not smile to-day at the ungainly pontoons!
God rest their bodies now!
if perchance they have no souls except what have gone into the men who bore them, and whom in turn they bore.
Now rises to its place the tried and tested old Ninth Corps, once of Burnside
, now led by Parke
, peer of the best, with Willcox
of New Hampshire
leading its divisions, --Potter
still absent with cruel wounds, and Hartranft
detached on high service elsewhere,and its brigade commanders, General McLaughlen
and Colonels Harriman
, and Matthews
These are the men of the North Carolina expedition, of Roanoke
and New Berne, who came up in time of sore need to help our army at Manassas
, and again at South Mountain
After great service in the west, with us again in the terrible campaign of 1864; then in the restless, long-drawn, see-saw action on the Petersburg lines
; through the direful “crater” ; at last in the gallant onset on the enemy's flank and the pressing Southside
pursuit;--part of us until all was over.
So they are ours, these men of the Ninth Corps, and our proud hearts yearn forward to them as they are whelmed in tumultuous greeting along the
As they move out past the head of our waiting column, I look at them with far-running thought.
Earnestly remembered by the older regiments of my division; for, sent to support the Ninth Corps at the Burnside Bridge
when it was so gallantly carried at the bayonet point by Potter
's 51st New York and Hartranft
's 51st Pennsylvania, Burnside
pushed across the Antietam
our single division to replace that whole corps on those all-important heights where he was expecting a heavy attack.
How full the intervening years have been!
How strained and sifted the ranks!
Of those two remembered regiments to-day, there stand: the 51st New York, one hundred and twenty men; the 51st Pennsylvania, forty men!
Here, too, a remnant, the 36th Massachusetts, long ago shipmates with us of the 20th Maine on the transport that bore us forth in 1862 to fields and fortunes far apart, now at last united again.
We remember how that splendor of equipment and loftiness of bearing made us feel very green and humble, but we are somehow equalized now!
Of them was Major Henry Burrage
, now proudly riding, acting assistant adjutant-general of his brigade,--foretokening his place and part in the Loyal Legion
Here comes our 31st Maine, brave Daniel White
's; consolidated with it now the 32d, those left from its short, sharp experience with Wentworth
and John Marshall Brown
, at such dear cost leading,--both Bowdoin boys, one the first adjutant
of the 20th.
Here passes steadily to the front as of yore the 7th Maine Battery, Twitchell
, my late college friend, at the head: splendid recessional, for I saw it last in 1864 grimly bastioning the slopes above Rives
' Salient, where darkness fell upon my eyes, and I thought to see no more.
Following, in Dwight
's Division of the Nineteenth Corps, other brave men, known and dear: a battalion of the 1st Maine Veterans, under Captain George Brown
; the brigades of stalwart George Beal
and clear-eyed “Jim” Fessenden
, my college classmate; the sturdy 15th Maine from its eventful experiences of the Gulf
under steadfast-hearted Isaac Dyer
, and Frank Drew; soldierly Nye
with the 2gth, made veterans on the Red River
; royal Tom Hubbard
, with his 30th, once Frank Fessenden
's, whom Surgeon Seth Gordon
saved; a third of them now of the old 13th,--these, too, of the Red River
, Sabine Cross-Roads, and Grand Ecore
, and thence to the Virginia valleys
; rich in experiences, romantic and Roman
And now it is the Fifth Corps.
The signal sounds.
Who is that mounting there?
Do you see him?
It is Charles Griffin
How lightly he springs to the saddle.
How easy he sits, straight and slender, chin advanced, eyes to the front, pictured against the sky!
Well we know him. Clear of vision, sharp of speech, true of heart, clean to the center.
Around him group the staff, pure-souled Fred Locke
at their head.
My bugle calls.
Our horses know it. The staff
, Major Fowler
, Tom Chamberlain
, my brave young brother, of the first.
The flag of the First Division, the red cross on its battle-stained white, sways aloft; the hand of its young bearer trembling with his trust, more than on storm-swept fields.
Now they move-all-ten thousand hearts knitted together.
Up the avenue, into that vast arena, bright with color-flowers, garlands, ribbons, flags, and flecked with deeper tones.
Windows, balconies, house-tops, high and far, thronged with rich-robed forms, flushed faces, earnest eyes.
Now it seems a tumult of waters; we pass like the children of Israel walled by the friendly Red Sea
Around us and above, murmurs, lightnings, and thunders of greeting.
The roar of welcome moves forward with our column.
Those in the streetways press upon us; it almost needs the provost guard to clear our way.
Now a girlish form, robed white as her spirit, presses close; modest, yet resolute, eyes fixed on her purpose.
She reaches up towards me a wreath of rare flowers, close-braided, fit for viking's arming, or victor's crown.
How could I cake it?
Sword at the “carry” and left hand tasked, trying to curb my excited horse, stirred by the vastness, the tumult, the splendor of the scene.
He had been thrice shot down under me; he had seen the great surrender.
But this unaccustomed vision — he had never seen a woman coming so near before — moved him strangely.
Was this the soft death-angel — did he think?--calling us again, as in other
For as often as she lifted the garland to the level of my hand, he sprang clear from earth-heavenwards, doubtless,--but was not heaven nearer just then?
I managed to bring down his fore-feet close beside her, and dropped my swordpoint almost to her feet, with a bow so low I could have touched her cheek.
Was it the garland's breath or hers that floated to my lips?
My horse trembled.
I might have solved the mystery, could I have trusted him. But he would not trust me. All that was granted me was the Christian
virtue of preferring another's good and passing the dangerous office of receiving this Mizpah
token to the gallant young aide behind me. And I must add I did not see him again for some time!
All this passed like a flash in act; but it was not quite so brief in effect.
From that time my horse was shy of girls-sharp eyes out for soft eyes — I dare say for his master's peace and safety!
All the way up the Avenue
a tumult of sound and motion.
is a whirlpool, and far behind swells and rolls the generous acclaim.
At the rise of ground near the Treasury a backward glance takes in the mighty spectacle: the broad Avenue for more than a mile solid full, and more, from wall to wall, from door to roof, with straining forms and outwelling hearts.
In the midst, on-pressing that darker stream, with arms and colors resplendent in the noon-day sun, an army of tested manhood, clothed with power, crowned with glory, marching to its dissolution!
At this turn of the Avenue
, our bugle rings out the
signal: “Prepare for review!”
The bands strike the cadenced march; the troops take up the step; the lines straighten; the column rectifies distances; the company fronts take perfect “dress,” guide left, towards the side of the reviewing stand ahead, arms at the ceremonial “carry.”
All is steadiness, dignity, order now. We are to pass in final review.
The culminating point is near; the end for us nearing; a far-borne vision broods upon our eyes; world-wide and years-long thought,--deep, silent, higher than joy!
Still there is some marching more, in this restrained, cadenced order.
We approach the region of the public offices and higher residential quarter, welcomed by yet fairer forms and more finely balanced salutations.
Ah! women sitting at the balconied windows, with straining eyes and handkerchiefs now waving, then suddenly, at some face seen, or not seen where once belonging, pressed to faces bowed and quivering.
Some of you I have seen where the earth itself was trembling, beneath the greetings wherewith man meets man with wrath and wreck-you and those like you, for heaven, too, is wide,--searching under the battle smoke to find a lost face left to be unknown, bending to bind up a broken frame made in God's image, or skillfully, as divinely taught, fashioning the knot to check an artery's out-rushing life, nay, even pressing tender fingers over it till what you deemed better help could come; to catch a dying message, or breathe a passing prayer, or perchance no more than give a cup of water to men
now of God's “little ones,” --so done unto his Christ
You in my soul I see, faithful watcher by my cotside long days and nights together through the delirium of mortal anguish,--steadfast, calm, and sweet as eternal love.
We pass now quickly from each other's sight; but I know full well that where beyond these passing scenes you shall be, there will be heaven!
But now we come opposite the reviewing stand.
Here are the President
, his Cabinet, ambassadors and ministers of foreign lands, generals, governors
, judges, high officers of the nation and the states.
But we miss the deep, sad eyes of Lincoln
coming to review us after each sore trial.
Something is lacking to our hearts now,--even in this supreme hour.
Already the simple, plain, almost threadbare forms of the men of my division have come into view, and the President
and his whole great company on the stand have risen and passed to the very front edge with gracious and generous recognition.
I wheel my horse, lightly touching rein and spur to bring his proud head and battlescarred neck to share the deep salutation of the sword.
Then, riding past, I dismount at the President
's invitation, and ascend the stand.
Exchanging quick greetings, I join those at the front.
All around I hear the murmured exclamations: “This is Porter
's old Division!”
“This is the Fifth Corps!”
“These are straight from Five Forks
It seemed as if all remained standing while the whole corps passed.
Surely all of them arose as each brigade commander passed, and as some deep-dyed, riven color drooped in salutation; and the throng on the stand did not diminish, although for more than three hours the steady march had held them before ours came to view.
For me, while this division was passing, no other thing could lure my eyes away, whether looking on or through.
These were my men, and those who followed were familiar and dear.
They belonged to me, and I to them, by bonds birth cannot create nor death sever.
More were passing here than the personages on the stand could see. But to me so seeing, what a review, how great, how far, how near!
It was as the morning of the resurrection!
The brigades to-day are commanded by General Pearson
, General Gregory
, and Colonel Edmunds
, veterans of the corps.
First is the Third Brigade, bearing the spirit and transformed substance of Porter
's old division of Yorktown
, and Morell
's at Gaines' Mill
and Malvern Hill
These are of the men I stood with at Antietam
, and Chancellorsville
Of that regiment — the 20th Maine--a third were left on the slopes of Round Top
, and a third again in the Wilderness
, at Spottsylvania
, the North Anna
, Cold Harbor, and the Chickahominy
; to-day mingling in its ranks the remnants of the noble 2d and 1st Sharpshooters.
Beside it still, the 118th Pennsylvania, sharing all its experiences from the day when these two young regiments took ordeal together in the floods of waters beneath and of
fiery death above in the testing passage of Shepardstown Ford in 1862.
veterans yet, the storied 83d and gist, and brilliant 155th Zouave, and the shadow of the stalwart 62d, gone, and 21St Cavalry passed on. With these the 1st and 16th Michigan, ever at the front, the keen-eyed 1st and 2d Sharpshooters and proud relics of the 4th, left from the wheat-field of Gettysburg
Here is the trusted, sorely-tried 32d Massachusetts, with unfaltering spirit and ranks made good from the best substance of the 18th, wakening heart-held visions.
These names and numbers tell of the men who had opened all the fiery gateways of Virginia
from the York River
to the Chickahominy
, and from the Rapidan
to the Appomattox
's New York Brigade--the 187th, 188th, and 189th,--young in order of number, but veteran in experience and honor; worthy of the list held yet in living memory, the 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 25th, and 44th,--one by one gone before.
One more brigade yet, of this division; of the tested last that shall be first: the splendid 185th New York, and fearless, clear-brained Sniper
still at their head; the stalwart fourteen-company regiment, the Ig8th Pennsylvania
, its gallant field officers gone: brave veteran Sickel
fallen with shattered arm, and brilliant young Adjutant Maceuen
shot dead, both within touch of my hand in the sharp rally on the Quaker Road
; and Major Glen
, since commanding, cut down on the height of valor, colors in hand, leading a charge I ordered in a moment of supreme need.
, lately made major, leads to-day.
These also coming into the bloody field of the dark year 1864, but soon ranked with veterans and wreathed with honor: In the last campaign opening with the brilliant victory on the enemy's right flank; of the foremost in the cyclone sweep at Five Forks
; and at Appomattox
first of the infantry to receive the flag of truce which bespoke the end. Each of these brigades had been severally in my command; and now they were mine all together, as I was theirs.
So has passed this First Division,--and with it, part of my soul.
But now comes in sight a form before which the tumult of applause swells in mightier volume.
It is Ayres
, born soldier, self-commanding, nerve of iron, heart of gold,--a man to build on. What vicissitudes has he not seen since Gettysburg
Of those three splendid brigades which followed the white Maltese
cross to the heights of Round Top
, compact in spirit and discipline and power, only two regiments
now hold their place, the 140th and 146th New York,--and of these both colonels killed at the head of their heroes: O'Rorke
in the Wilderness
Where are the regulars, who since 1862 had been ever at our side, --the ten iron-hearted regiments that made that terrible charge down the north spur of Little Round Top
into the seething furies at its base, and brought back not one-half of its deathless offering?
it was — in spirit and in truth,--when asked at the Warren Court
, years after, then reviewing the Five Forks
battle, “Where were your regulars
to answer with bold lip quivering, “Buried, sir, at Gettysburg
Whereat there was silence,and something more.
And of what were not then buried, fifteen hundred more were laid low beneath the flaming scythes of the Wilderness
, and the other bloody fields of that campaign.
And the Government
, out of pride and pity, sent the shredded fragments of them to the peaceful forts in the islands of New York harbor,--left there to their thoughts of glory.
Their places had been taken by two brigades from the old First Corps, dearly experienced there: the thrice-honored Maryland Brigade, 1st, 4th, 7th, and 8th, in whose latest action I saw two of its brigade commanders shot down in quick succession; and the gallant little Delaware Brigade, with its proud record of loyalty and fidelity, part of the country's best history.
, generals leading these two brigades to-day; both bearing their honors modestly, as their hardly healed wounds manfully Now the First Brigade: this of New York,the superb 5th, 400th, and 146th, and the 15th Artillery, their equal in honor.
At the head of this, on the fire-swept angle at Five Forks
the high-hearted Fred Winthrop
fell; then Grimshaw
himself led on to the first honors of that great day. At its head to-day rides the accomplished
General Joe Hayes
, scarcely recovered from dangerous wounds.
It was a hard place for brigade commanders — the Fifth Corps, in those “all summer” battles-and for colonels too.
So they pass, those that had come to take the place of the regulars; they pass into immortal history.
Oh! good people smiling, applauding, tossing flowers, waving handkerchiefs from your lips with vicarious suggestion,--what forms do you see under that white cross, now also going its long way?
But here comes the Third Division, with Crawford
, of Fort Sumter
fame; high gentleman, punctilious soldier, familiar to us all. Leading his brigades are the fine commanders, dauntless Morrow, of the “Iron Brigade,” erect above the scars of Gettysburg
, the Wilderness
, and Petersburg
; resolute Baxter
, and bold Dick Coulter
,--veterans, marked, too, with wounds.
Theirs is the blue cross,--speaking not of the azure heaven, but of the down-pressing battle smoke.
And the men who in former days gave fame to that division,the Pennsylvania Reserves of the Peninsula
, and Gettysburg
, with their strong “esprit de corps
” and splendor of service,--only the shadow of them now. But it is of sunset gold.
Here draws near a moving spectacle indeed, the last of the dear old First Corps; thrice decimated at Gettysburg
in action and passion heroic, martyrlike, sublime; then merged into the Fifth, proudly permitted to bear its old colors, and in the crimson campaign of 1864 fought down to a division; in the
last days the ancient spirit shining in the ranks where its scattered regiments are absorbed in other brigades,--shining still to-day!
But where are my splendid six regiments of them which made that resolute, forlorn-hope charge from the crest they had carried fitly named “Fort Hell,” down past the spewing dragons of “Fort Damnation” into the miry, fiery pit before Rives
' Salient of the dark June 18th? Two regiments of them, the 121st Pennsylvania, Colonel Warner
, and 142d Pennsylvania, Colonel Warren
, alone I see in this passing pageant,--worn, thin, hostages of the mortal.
I violate the courtesies of the august occasion.
I give them salutation before the face of the reviewing officer — the President
himself,--asking no permission, no forgiveness.
Here, led by valiant Small, that 16th Maine, which under heroic Tilden
held its appointed station on the fierce first day of Gettysburg
, obedient to the laws, like Spartans, for their loyalty and honor's sake; cut through, cut down, swept over, scattered, captured; so that at dreary nightfall the hushed voices of only four officers and thirty-eight men answered the roll-call.
With them the 94th New York, which under Colonel Adrian Root
shared its fate and glory.
And here are passing now those yet spared from earth and heaven of that “Iron Brigade,” of Meredith
's, on whose list appear such names as Lucius Fairchild
, Henry Morrow, Rufus Dawes
, and Samuel Williams
, and such regiments as the g9th Indiana
, 24th Michigan, and 2d, 6th, and 7th
, which on the first day's front line with Buford
, in that one fierce onset at Willoughby's Run, withstood overwhelming odds, with the loss of a thousand, a hundred and fifty-three of highest manliness; that of the 24th Michigan largest of all,--three hundred and sixty-five, --eighty-one out of every hundred of that morning roll-call answering at evening, otherwhere.
One passing form to-day holds every eye. Riding calmly at the head of the 7th Wisconsin is Hollon Richardson
, who at Five Forks
sprang to take on himself the death-blow struck at Warren
as he leaped the flaming breastworks in the lurid sunset of his high career.
Pass on, men, in garb and movement to some monotonous; pass on, men, modest and satisfied; those looking on know what you are!
And now, Wainwright
, with the artillery of the corps, guns whose voices I should know among a hundred: “D” of the Fifth Regular, ten-pounder guns, which Hazlett
lifted to the craggy crest of Little Round Top
, its old commander, Weed
, supporting; whence having thundered again his law to a delivered people, God called them both to their reward.
“L” of the 1st Ohio, perched on the western slope, hurling defiance at deniers.
I see not Martin
of the 3d Massachusetts, whose iron plowed the gorge between Round Top
and the Devil
's Den. But “B” of the 4th Regular is here, which stood by me on the heart-bastioned hillock in the whirlwind of the Quaker Road
And here the 5th Massachusetts, which wrought miracles of
valor all the way from the Fifth Corps right, across the valley of death at Gettysburg
, to the North Anna
; where, planted in my very skirmish line, Phillips
, erect on the gun-carriage, launched percussion into buildings full of sharpshooters picking off my best men. And where is Bigelow
of the 9th Massachusetts, who on the exposed front fell back only with the recoil of his guns before the hordes swarming through the Peach Orchard
, giving back shot, shrapnel, canister, rammer, pistol, and saber, until his battery-guns, limbers, horses, men-and he himself were a heap of mingled ruin?
Which, also, a year after, with Mink
's 1st New York and Hart
's 15th, came to support the charge at the ominous Fort Hell; whence Bigelow
, with watchful eyes, sent his brave men down through hissing canister, and enfilading shell, and blinding turf and pebbles flying from the up-torn earth, to bring back my useless body from what else were its final front.
I Roar on, ye throngs around and far away; there are voices in my ear out-thundering yours!
All along in the passing column I have exchanged glances with earnest, true-hearted surgeons, remembered too well, but never too much loved and honored; with faithful chaplains, hospital attendants, and ambulance men, never to be forgotten, of the few who know something of the unrecorded scenes in the rear of a great battle.
I have caught glances also from bright-eyed young staff officers who in the kaleidoscope changes of eventful years had been of my field family.
Their look was sometimes
confidential, as if slyly reminding me of the salutary discipline of camp, when they were turned out at reveille roll-call to “get acquainted with the men” ; and after guard-mounting, the college men of them called up to demonstrate Euclid's “pons asinorum
” with their scabbards in the sand; and for those who were not men of Bowdoin or Amherst
, the test commuted to shivering with pistol shot the musty hard-tack tossed in air, or at race-course gallop, spitting with saberpoint the “Turk's head
” of a junk of “condemned” pork on the commissary's hitching-post, or picking up a handkerchief from the ground, riding headlong at Tartar speed.
Other pranks, of spontaneous and surreptitious discipline, when they thought it necessary to teach a green quartermaster how to ride, by deftly tucking dry pine cones under his saddle-cloth.
You are ready to do it again, I see, you demure pretenders, or something the sequence of this skill, more useful to your fellow-man!
Have they all passed,--the Fifth Corps?
Or will it ever pass?
Am I left alone, or still with you all?
You, of the thirteen young colonels, colleagues with me in the courts-martial and army schools of the winter camps of 1862: Vincent
, of the 83d Pennsylvania, caught up in the fiery chariot from the heights of Round Top
, of the 140th New York, pressing to that glorious defense, swiftly called from the head of his regiment to serener heights; Jeffords
, of the 4th Michigan, thrust through by bayonets as he snatched back his lost colors from the deadly reapers of the wheat-field;
, of the 44th New York, crimsoning the harrowed crests at Spottsylvania
with his life-blood,his intense soul snatched far otherwhere than his last earthly thought-“Turn my face towards the enemy!” ; Welch
, of the 16th Michigan, first on the ramparts at Peebles' Farm, shouting “On, boys, and over!”
and receiving from on high the same order for his own daring spirit; Prescott
, of the 32d Massachusetts, who lay touching feet with me after mortal Petersburg
of June 18th, under the midnight requiem of the somber pines,--I doomed of all to go, and bidding him stay,--but the weird winds were calling otherwise; Winthrop
, of the 12th Regulars, before Five Forks
just risen from a guest-seat at my homely luncheon on a log, within a half hour shot dead in the fore-front of the whirling charge.
These gone,--and of the rest: Varney
, of the 2d Maine, worn down by prison cruelties, and returning, severely wounded in the head on the storm-swept slopes of Fredericksburg
, and forced to resign the service; Hayes
, of the 18th Massachusetts, cut down in the tangles of the Wilderness
, of the 118th Pennsylvania, also sorely wounded there; Herring
, of the same regiment, with a leg off at Dabney's Mill; Webb
, then of the corps staff, since, highly promoted, shot in his uplifted head, fronting his brigade to the leaden storm of Spottsylvania
of the corps,--a bullet cutting from his very mouth the order he was giving on the flaming crests of Laurel Hill
You thirteen-seven, before the year was outshot
dead at the head of your commands; of the rest, every one desperately wounded in the thick of battle; I last of all, but here to-day, with you, earthly or ethereal forms.
”--across the rifts of vision--“Be whole again, my thirteen!”
What draws near heralded by tumult of applause, but when well-recognized greeted with mingled murmurs of reverence?
It is the old Second Corps --of Sumner
and of Hancock
,--led now by one no less honored and admired,--Humphreys
, the accomplished, heroic soldier, the noble and modest man. He rides a snow-white horse, followed by his well-proved staff, like-mounted, chief of them the brilliant Frank Walker
, capable of higher things, and “Joe Smith
,” chief commissary
, with a medal of honor for gallant service beyond duty,--a striking group, not less to the eye in color and composition, than to the mind in character.
Above them is borne the corps badge, the cloverleaf,--peaceful token, but a triple mace to foes,dear to thousands among the insignia of our army, as the shamrock to Ireland
or rose and thistle of the British Empire
Here comes the First Division, that of Richardson
and Miles; but at its head to-day we see not Miles, for he is just before ordered to Fortress Monroe
to guard “Jeff Davis
” and his friends,--President
” declaring he “wanted there a man who would not let his prisoners escape.”
is in command on this proud day. Its brigades are led by McDougal
, and Mulholland-whereby you see the shamrock and thistle are not wanting even in our field.
These are the men we saw at the sunken road at Antietam
, the stone wall at Fredericksburg
, the wheat-field at Gettysburg
, the bloody angle at Spottsylvania
, the swirling fight at Farmville
, and in the pressing pursuit along the Appomattox
before which Lee
was forced to face to the rear and answer Grant
's first summons to surrender.
We know them well.
So it seems do these thousands around.
These pass, or rather do not pass, but abide with us; while crowd upon our full hearts the stalwart columns of the Second Division--the division of the incisive Barlow
, once of Sedgwick
These men bring thoughts of the terrible charge at the Dunker church at Antietam
, and that still more terrible up Marye's Heights
, and the check given to the desperate onset of Pickett
in the consummate hour of Gettysburg
We think, too, of the fiery mazes of the Wilderness
, the deathblasts of Spottsylvania
, and murderous Cold Harbor; but also of the brilliant fights at Sailor's Creek
, and all the splendid action to the victorious end. Here is the seasoned remnant of the “Corcoran Legion,” the new brigade which, rushing into the terrors of Spottsylvania
, halted a moment while its priest stood before the brave, bent heads and called down benediction.
's Brigade of the Wilderness
to-day by Olmstead
; the second, by Mclvorveteran colonels from New York; the third by Colonel Woodall
This brigade knows the meaning of that colorless phrase, “the casualties of the service,” showing the ever shifting elements which enter into what we call identity.
Here are all that is left of French's old division at Antietam
, and Hays
' at Gettysburg
, who was killed in the Wilderness
's Brigade at Spottsylvania
, where he was severely wounded; Smyth
's at Cold Harbor, killed at Farmville
Into this brigade Owen
's, too, is now merged.
They are a museum of history.
Here passes, led by staunch Spaulding
, the sterling 19th Maine, once gallant Heath
's, conspicuous everywhere, from the death-strewn flank of Pickett
's charge, through all the terrible scenes of “Grant
's campaign,” to its consummation at Appomattox
In its ranks now are the survivors of the old Spartan 4th, out of the “Devil's Den,” where Longstreet
Heads uncover while passes what answers the earthly roll-call of the immortal 5th New Hampshire, famed on the stubborn Third Corps front at Gettysburg
, where its high-hearted Colonel Cross
fell leading the brigade,--among the foremost in the sad glory of its losses, two hundred and ninety-five men having been killed in its ranks.
What is that passing now, the center of all eyes, --that little band so firmly poised and featured they seem to belong elsewhere?
This is what was the 1st Minnesota, sometimes spoken of, for
valid reasons, as the 1st Maine; more deeply known as of Gettysburg
, where in the desperate counter-charge to stay an overwhelming onset, they left eighty-three men out of every hundred!
With ever lessening ranks but place unchanged at the head of its brigade from Bull Run
, to-day a modest remnant, Colonel Hausdorf
proudly leads on its last march the 1st Minnesota.
What wonder that, as such men pass, the outpoured greetings take on a strangely mingled tone.
You could not say from what world they come, or to what world they go. Not without deep throbbings under our breath,--ours who in heart belong to them,--as if answering some far-off drum-beat “assembly” summons.
But now comes on with veteran pride and farpreceding heralding of acclaim, the division which knows something of the transmigration of souls: having lived and moved in different bodies and under different names; knowing, too, the tests of manhood, and the fate of suffering and sacrifice, but knowing most of all the undying spirit which holds fast its loyalty and faces ever forward.
This is the division of Mott
, himself commanding to-day, although severely wounded at Hatcher's Run
on the sixth of April last.
These are all that are left of the old commands of Hooker
, and later, of our noble Berry
, of Sickles
' Third Corps.
They still wear the proud “Kearny
patch” --the red diamond.
's Division, too, has been consolidated with Mott
's, and the brigades are now commanded by the chivalrous De Trobriand
and the sterling soldiers, Pierce
of New Jersey
Their division flag now bears the mingled symbols of the two corps, the Second and Third,--the diamond and the trefoil.
Over them far floats the mirage-like vision of them on the Peninsula
, and then at Bristow
, and Chantilly
, and again the solid substance of them at Chancellorsville
, and on the stormy front from the Plumb Run
gorge to the ghastly Peach Orchard
, where the earth shone red with the bright facings of their brave Zouaves thick-strewn amidst the blue, as we looked down from smoking Round Top
. Then in the consolidation for the final trial bringing the prestige and spirit and loyalty of their old corps into the Second,--making this the strongest corps in the army,--adding their splendid valor to the fame of this in which they merged their name.
Now come those heavy artillery regiments which the exigencies of the service drew suddenly to unexpected and unfamiliar duty, striking the fight at its hottest in the cauldron of Spottsylvania
, and, obeying orders literally, suffered loss beyond all others there: the 1st Massachusetts losing three hundred, and the 1st Maine four hundred and eighty-one officers and men in that single action.
This same 1st Maine, afterwards in the rashly-bidden charge at Petersburg
, June 18, 1864, added to its immortal roll six hundred and thirty-two lost in that futile assault.
Proudly rides Russell Shepherd
at their head,--leaving the command of a brigade to lead these men to-day.
stir at the presence of such survivors,--cherishing the same devotion and deserving the same honor as those who fell.
Here passes the high-borne, steadfast-hearted 17th Maine from the seething whirlpool of the wheat-field of Gettysburg
to the truce-compelling flags of Appomattox
To-day its ranks are honored and spirit strengthened by the accession of the famous old 3d Regiment,--that was Howard
's. Some impress remains of firm-hearted Roberts
, brave Charley Merrill
, keen-edged West, and sturdy William Hobson
; but Charley Mattocks
is in command in these days,--a man and a soldier, with the unspoiled heart of a boy. Three of these, college mates of mine.
What far dreams drift over the spirit, of the days when we questioned what life should be, and answered for ourselves what we would be!
Now passes the artillery, guns all dear to us; but we have seen no more of some, familiar and more dear: Hall
's 2d Maine, that was on the cavalry front on the first day of Gettsyburg, grand in retreat as in action, afterwards knowing retreat only in sunset bugle-call; Stevens
' 5th Maine, that tore through the turmoil of that tragic day, and gave the Louisiana
“Tigers” another cemetery than that they sought on the storied hill; roaring its way through the darkness of 1864, holding all its ancient glory.
Most of the rest we knew had gone to the “reserve.”
The pageant has passed.
The day is over.
But we linger, loath to think we shall see them no more
together,--these men, these horses, these colors afield.
Hastily they have swept to the front as of yore; crossing again once more the long bridge and swaying pontoons, they are on the Virginia
shore, waiting, as they before had sought, the day of the great return.
We were to have one great day more.
The Sixth Corps had come up from its final service of perfecting the surrender, and on this bright morning of June 8th was to be held in review by honoring thought and admiring eyes.
We who had passed our review were now invited spectators of this.
But there was something more.
Something the best in us would be passed in review to-day.
The military prestige of this corps was great, and its reputation was enhanced by Sheridan
's late preference, well-known.
The city, too, had its special reasons for regard.
The Sixth Corps had come up from its proud place in the battle lines in days of fear and peril, to save Washington
Besides, this corps was part of the great Army of the Potomac.
The President and all the dignitaries were on the reviewing stand as before.
Multitudes were filling the streets, and the houses bloomed their welcome from basement to summit.
The ordering was much as before.
Column of companies; files equalized.
Space now permits some features of a regular review.
Instead of close order, the column moves at wheeling distance of its subdivisions; all commissioned officers salute; division and brigade
commanders after passing the reviewing stand, turn out and join the reviewing officer; the bands also at this point wheel out and continue playing while their brigade is passing.
The ambulances, engineers, and artillery follow as before.
The symbol of the flag of this corps is the Greek cross — the “square” cross, of equal arms.
Symbol of terrible history in old-world conflicts-Russian and Cossack
and Pole; token now of square fighting, square dealing, and loyalty to the flag of the union of freedom and law.
These are survivors of the men in early days with Franklin
Later, and as we know them best, the men of Sedgwick
; but alas, Sedgwick
leads no more, except in spirit!
Unheeding self he fell smitten by a sharpshooter's bullet, in the midst of his corps.
is commanding since, and to-day, his chief-of-staff, judicial Martin McMahon
These are the men of Antietam
and the twice wrought marvels of courage at Fredericksburg
, and the long tragedy of Grant
's campaign of 1864; then in the valley of the Shenandoah
in his rallying ride, and in the last campaign storming the works of Petersburg-losing eleven hundred men in fifteen minutes; masters at Sailor's Creek
, four days after, taking six thousand prisoners, with Ewell
and five of his best generals,--of them the redoubtable Kershaw
; in the van in the pursuit of Lee
, and with the Second Corps pressing him to a last stand, out of which came the first message of surrender.
First comes the division of Wheaton
; at its head, under Penrose
, the heroic New Jersey Brigade which at the Wilderness
lost a thousand one hundred and forty-three officers and men. Next, and out of like experiences, the brigades of Edwards
, representing the valor of Massachusetts
, Rhode Island
, and Wisconsin
Now passes Getty
Leading is Warner
's Brigade, from its great record of the Wilderness
, and Cold Harbor; then the magnificent First Vermont Brigade, under that sterling soldier, General Lewis Grant
; as their proud heads pass, we think of the thousand six hundred and forty-five laid low at the Salient of Spottsylvania
Now we think we see the shadow of that “Light Division” with Burnham
storming Marye's Heights
in the Chancellorsville campaign
For here, last, is the Third Brigade, once of Neil
, with the fame of its brave work all through Grant
's campaign, led now by Sumner
's 1st Maine Veterans, of which it is enough to say it is made up of the old 5th, and 6th, and 7th Maine,--the hearts of Edwards
still beating in them.
Can history connote or denote anything nobler in manliness and soldiership, than has been made good by these?
Commanding is the young general, Tom Hyde
, favorite in all the army, prince of staff officers, gallant commander, alert of sense, level of head, sweet of soul.
The column is closed by Ricketts
Division, its brigades commanded by Trueman Seymour
and Warren Keifer
, names known before and since.
These men too, knowing what was done and suffered-shall we say in vain?-in that month under fire from the Wilderness
to Cold Harbor; in these two battles losing out of their firm-held ranks a thousand eight hundred and twenty-five men; knowing also of the valley of the Shenandoah
and the weary windings of the Appomattox
Of the heart of the country, these men: Vermont
, New York, New Jersey
These twelve regiments were to close that grand procession of muskets, tokens of a nation's mighty deliverance, now to be laid down; tokens also of consummate loyalty and the high manhood that seeks not self but the larger, deeper well-being which explains and justifies personal experience.
Now follows the artillery brigade, under Major Cowan
; eight batteries representing all the varieties of that field service, and the contributions of Rhode Island
, New York, and New Jersey
, and the regulars.
What story of splendors and of terrors do these grim guns enshrine!
Now, last of all, led by Major van Brocklin
, the little phalanx of the 50th New York Engineers, which had been left to help the Sixth Corps, pass once more the turbid rivers of Virginia
Here again, the train of uncouth pontoons, telling of the mastery over the waters as of the land.
This last solemn passage now, waking memories of dark going and dark returning, deep slumbering in our
Thanks and blessing, homely pontoons!
Would to God we had a bridge so sure, to bear us over other dark waters-out of the pain-into the Peace!
Home again, Sixth Corps!
Home to your place in our hearts!
Encamp beside us once more; as for so long we have made sunshine for each others' eyes, and watched with hushed voices guarding their rest; and wakened to the same thrilling call, guided on each other through maze of darkness to fronts of storm and over walls of flame!
Sit down again, Sixth Corps!
with the Fifth and Second, holding dear to thought the soul and symbol of the vanished First and Third.
Sit down again together, Army of the Potomac!
all that are left of us,--on the banks of the river whose name we bore, into which we have put new meaning of our own. Take strength from one more touch, ere we pass afar from the closeness of old. The old is young to-day; and the young is passed.
Survivors of the fittest,--for the fittest, it seems to us, abide in the glory where we saw them last,--take the grasp of hands, and look into the eyes, without words!
Who shall tell what is past and what survives?
For there are things born but lately in the years, which belong to the eternities.