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Chapter 10: the end of the struggle

Historic Fort Moultrie at Charleston in ruins—1865 Illustrations for Margaret Preston's lines A past whose memory makes us thrill—this stronghold, named for William Moultrie, the young South Carolinian who defended it in 1776 against the British, was 85 years later held by South Carolinians against fellow-Americans —in the picture it is once more under the flag of a united land.


A past whose memory makes us thrill: war-time scenes in Virginia associated with the father of his country

The picture below of Washington's headquarters recalls his advance to fame. He had proceeded with Braddock as aide-de-Camp on the ill-fated expedition ending in the battle of the Monongahela, July 9, 1755. Owing to Washington's conspicuous gallantry in that engagement, he was assigned the duty of reorganizing the provincial troops. During this period his headquarters were in the little stone house by the tree. In the church below, a second period of his life was inaugurated. Here he was married on January 6, 1759, to Mrs. Martha Custis, a young widow with two children. Already a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, he soon came to be recognized as one of the leading men in the colony. Important trusts were frequently laid upon him, and he was often chosen as an arbitrator. The statue at the top of the page, standing in Capitol Square in Richmond, commemorates Washington as leader of the colonial forces in the Revolution. With a few ill-trained and ill-equipped troops he maintained a long struggle against one of the great military powers of the day and won American Independence. Every Virginian has a right to thrill at the honored name of Washington, be he Southerner or Northerner.

The Richmond statue

Saint Peter's church—Union soldiers

Washington's headquarters in Richmond


Scenes reminiscent of the history of Virginia.

The pictures on this page bring back vividly the history of Virginia. First is the ruins of the church at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement within the limits of the United States. The church was built about a century before the Declaration of Independence, while the little village on the James was still the capital of Virginia. Below it appears St. John's Church, Richmond, the scene of Patrick Henry's immortal oration. The First Continental Congress had met in Philadelphia in September, 1774, and the colonies were drifting toward war. But many were very timid about taking such a step. Some were directly opposed to any break with Great Britain. Patrick Henry was far in advance of his fellow-colonists, when the Second Revolutionary Convention of Virginia met in this church on March 20, 1775. The event of the week was a set of resolutions offered on March 23d ‘for embodying, arming, and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient’ to put the colony in a posture of defense. This was Henry's opportunity.

‘A past whose memory makes is thrill’—the Jamestown church

Where Patrick Henry spoke




The position of Margaret J. Preston, a representative poet of the Confederacy, has already been commented on. The fact that one sister, Elinor Junkin, was the first wife of ‘StonewallJackson, and that to another at the close of the war fell the honor of providing a home in Lexington, Virginia, for Robert E. Lee, entitled her to speak here for the South as a whole. The poem appeared in 1866, in Beechenbrook.

We do accept thee, heavenly Peace!
Albeit thou comest in a guise
Unlooked for—undesired, our eyes
Welcome through tears the sweet release
From war, and woe, and want,—surcease,
For which we bless thee, blessed Peace!

We lift our foreheads from the dust;
And as we meet thy brow's clear calm,
There falls a freshening sense of balm
Upon our spirits. Fear—distrust—
The hopeless present on us thrust—
We'll meet them as we can, and must.

War has not wholly wrecked us: still
Strong hands, brave hearts, high souls are ours—
Proud consciousness of quenchless powers—
A Past whose memory makes us thrill—
Futures uncharactered, to fill
With heroisms—if we will.

Then courage, brothers!—Though each breast
Feel oft the rankling thorn, despair,
That failure plants so sharply there—
No pain, no pang shall be confest:
We'll work and watch the brightening west,
And leave to God and Heaven the rest.

Margaret Junkin Preston. [231]

Mourning women among the Richmond ruins—April, 1865 A somber picture that visualizes Margaret Preston's poem Acceptation.

Our Eyes
Welcome Through Tears the Sweet Release
From War.



A second review of the grand army

I read last night of the Grand Review
In Washington's chiefest avenue,—
Two hundred thousand men in blue,
I think they said was the number,—
Till I seemed to hear their trampling feet,
The bugle blast and the drum's quick beat,
The clatter of hoofs in the stony street,
The cheers of the people who came to greet,
And the thousand details that to repeat
Would only my verse encumber,—
Till I fell in a revery, sad and sweet,
And then to a fitful slumber.

When, lo! in a vision I seemed to stand
In the lonely Capitol. On each hand
Far stretched the portico, dim and grand
Its columns ranged, like a martial band
Of sheeted spectres whom some command
Had called to a last reviewing.
And the streets of the city were white and bare;
No footfall echoed across the square;
But out of the misty midnight air
I heard in the distance a trumpet blare,
And the wandering night-winds seemed to bear
The sound of a far tattooing.

Then I held my breath with fear and dread;
For into the square, with a brazen tread,
There rode a figure whose stately head
O'erlooked the review that morning,
That never bowed from its firm-set seat
When the living column passed its feet,
Yet now rode steadily up the street
To the phantom bugle's warning: [233]

‘Two hundred thousand men in blue’: marching up Pennsylvania Avenue, in May, 1865 Bret Harte's poem sounds the note of sorrow amid the national rejoicing at the splendor of the Grand Review. Those who never returned from the field of battle, or returned only to die of their wounds, formed a greater host than that which marched from the recently completed Capitol to the reviewing stand in front of the Executive Mansion. In the Federal army 110,070 were killed in battle or died of their wounds; 199,720 died of disease; 94,866 died in Confederate prisons; other causes of mortality bring the total up to 359,528. The estimates for the Confederate losses are less definite; but probably 94,000 were killed in action, 59,297 died of disease, 4,000 died in prison, and other causes would probably bring the total up to 250,000. Over 600,000 lives were therefore lost to the country by the necessities of warfare. When it is remembered that not only thousands of homes were cast in gloom but that most of these men were young, the cost of the war is apparent.


Till it reached the Capitol square, and wheeled,
And there in the moonlight stood revealed
A well known form that in State and field
Had led our patriot sires:
Whose face was turned to the sleeping camp,
Afar through the river's fog and damp,
That showed no flicker, nor waning lamp,
Nor wasted bivouac fires.

And I saw a phantom army come,
With never a sound of fife or drum,
But keeping time to a throbbing hum
Of wailing and lamentation:
The martyred heroes of Malvern Hill,
Of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville,
The men whose wasted figures fill
The patriot graves of the nation.

And there came the nameless dead,—the men
Who perished in fever-swamp and fen,
The slowly-starved of the prison-pen;
And marching beside the others,
Came the dusky martyrs of Pillow's fight,
With limbs enfranchised and bearing bright:
I thought—perhaps 'twas the pale moonlight—
They looked as white as their brothers!

And so all night marched the Nation's dead,
With never a banner above them spread,
Nor a badge, nor a motto brandished;
No mark—save the bare uncovered head
Of the silent bronze Reviewer;
With never an arch save the vaulted sky;
With never a flower save those that lie
On the distant graves—for love could buy
No gift that was purer or truer. [235]

Scenes of the Union triumph.

These shifting crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue, watching the Grand Review on May 23-24, 1865, seem like visions evoked by Bret Harte's lines. Part of the multitude of visitors to this most imposing fete day in American history are gathered near the reviewing-stand, before which the lines of men in blue are marching with military precision. Below the majestic elms and horse-chestnuts cavalrymen are trotting to the martial music of the band on the double-quick in the rear. The weather was perfect. Scores of bands filled the air with familiar tunes, and the choruses of When this cruel war is over, When Johnny comes marching home, and Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the boys are marching, were sung lustily by the enthusiastic onlookers. Popular leaders were received with the most boisterous demonstrations. When Meade appeared at the head of the column, his pathway was strewn with flowers, and garlands were placed upon him and his horse. On the second day, Sherman was eagerly waited for, and he had advanced but a little way when flowers and wreaths almost covered him and his horse. When the bands at the reviewing stand struck up Marching through Georgia, the people cheered wildly with delight. This was no Roman triumph. It was the rejoicing over the return of peace and the saving of the nation's life.

‘The cheers of the people who came to great’

‘I seemed to hear their trampling feet’


So all night long swept the strange array;
So all night long, till the morning gray,
I watch'd for one who had passed away,
With a reverent awe and wonder,—
Till a blue cap waved in the lengthening line,
And I knew that one who was kin of mine
Had come; and I spake—and lo! that sign
Awakened me from my slumber.

Driving home the cows

Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass
He turned them into the river-lane;
One after another he let them pass,
Then fastened the meadow-bars again.

Under the willows, and over the hill,
He patiently followed their sober pace;
The merry whistle for once was still,
And something shadowed the sunny face.

Only a boy! and his father had said
He never could let his youngest go:
Two already were lying dead
Under the feet of the trampling foe.

But after the evening work was done,
And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp,
Over his shoulder he slung his gun,
And stealthily followed the foot-path damp,

Across the clover, and through the wheat,
With resolute heart and purpose grim,
Though cold was the dew on his hurrying feet,
And the blind bat's flitting startled him.

Thrice since then had the lanes been white,
And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom;
And now, when the cows came back at night,
The feeble father drove them home.

For news had come to the lonely farm
That three were lying where two had lain;
And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm
Could never lean on a son's again. [237]

In Washington's chiefest avenue
Thus appeared the crowds that greeted the army whose home-coming inspired Bret Harte's poem. From the steps of the Treasury building the impatient people gaze down Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of June 8, 1865, awaiting the march of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, which had been prevented by duty in Virginia from participating in the Grand Review of May 23rd. The scene is similar. The women and children in the foreground, the senators and important citizens in silk hats, the throng surging far out into the street beneath the fluttering banners, the general restlessness and impatience are the same as on the earlier and more famous gala occasion. The pomp and panoply of war are here in the parades and the blare of trumpets and the admiring hosts that line the street—not in the actual service in the field. Harte writes of actual warfare as a sad business, which only the preservation of a nation's existence or honor can justify.


The summer day grew cool and late.
He went for the cows when the work was done;
But down the lane, as he opened the gate,
He saw them coming one by one,—

Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess,
Shaking their horns in the evening wind;
Cropping the buttercups out of the grass,—
But who was it following close behind?

Loosely swung in the idle air
The empty sleeve of army blue;
And worn and pale, from the crisping hair,
Looked out a face that the father knew.

For Southern prisons will sometimes yawn,
And yield their dead unto life again;
And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn
In golden glory at last may wane.

The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb:
And under the silent evening skies
Together they followed the cattle home.

After all

The apples are ripe in the orchard,
The work of the reaper is done,
And the golden woodlands redden
In the blood of the dying sun.

At the cottage-door the grandsire
Sits pale in his easy-chair,
While the gentle wind of twilight
Plays with his silver hair.

A woman is kneeling beside him;
A fair young head is pressed,
In the first wild passion of sorrow,
Against his aged breast. [239]

Waiting for news of the battle: war-time groups near Richmond

These views of the station at Hanover Junction, in Virginia, bring back in pictorial form the emotions of war-time, much as do the accompanying poems of Kate Putnam Osgood and William Winter. The shabby building with the crowd about it, the queer little engine drawing old-fashioned coaches, on the last of which a man leans out from the steps, and behind, in the chilly gray atmosphere of autumn, the wooded Virginia hills—these details make more real the men and women who suffered in the days of 1861. On the platform, at the left, stands an old soldier whose white beard and venerable face contrast with the hearty content of the man whose hands are in the pockets of his conspicuously checked trousers. At the other end, on the steps, is a wounded officer painfully making his way with the aid of two canes. Grouped by the doorway stand some mothers, wives, and sweethearts, dressed in the ancient poke-bonnets and rustling crinoline of fifty years ago. Some poems in this chapter express phases of the anguish that came to many a fond heart in those four endless years. But the women in the picture are more fortunate than most. They can go to the front to be with the wounded son or brother. Thousands had to wait on the hillside farm, or in the cabin on the prairie, or near the cottage by the live-oaks, while weeks and months of dread uncertainty brought no solace to eyes that watched through the darkness and hearts that suffered on in silence until the news arrived.

At Hanover junction a battle ground fought over many times (1)

At Hanover junction a battle ground fought over many times (2)


And far from over the distance
The faltering echoes come
Of the flying blast of trumpet
And the rattling roll of drum

And the grandsire speaks in a whisper:
‘The end no man can see;
But we give him to his country,
And we give our prayers to Thee.’

The violets star the meadows,
The rose-buds fringe the door,
And over the grassy orchard
The pink-white blossoms pour.

But the grandsire's chair is empty,
The cottage is dark and still;
There's a nameless grave in the battle-field.
And a new one under the hill.

And a pallid, tearless woman
By the cold hearth sits alone;
And the old clock in the corner
Ticks on with a steady drone.

The conquered banner

This most popular Confederate poem was written when the news of Lee's surrender was still a fresh sorrow in the heart of its author, father Ryan, who had served through the war as a chaplain. Surcharged with emotion, this poem has appeared in Southern school readers, has been declaimed at numberless school exercises on Friday afternoons, and, framed in gilt or mahogany, hangs upon the wall in hundreds of homes. It is typical of the poet. He was a Catholic priest, yet so restless a spirit that he never remained long in one place.

Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary;
Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it—it is best;
For there's not a man to wave it,
And there's not a sword to save it,
And there's not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
Furl it, hide it—let it rest! [241]

‘There's a nameless grave in the battlefield’ This mute reminder of Antietam s awful cost suggests how many thousand homes were sunk in grief such as the poem After all describes. The soldiers themselves shared this grief. One of their saddest duties was the burial of comrades. When the graves had been dug, if there was found on their person any means of identifying them or if any one knew who they were, little pieces of board were secured and placed at the head of each. On these little boards, pieces of cracker-box, generally, would be placed the name and regiment of the deceased comrade written in pencil. Under the rain and the snows the writing would be obliterated or the boards themselves tumble down, and those lying in their graves on the battlefield would pass into the number of the great ‘unknown.’ There were no opportunities afforded in these burial details to go through any religious forms. The numbers forbade. Yet the lads who formed burial parties always gave their meed of reverence.


Take that Banner down! 'tis tattered;
Broken is its staff and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered,
Over whom it floated high.
Oh, 'tis hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there's none to hold it,
Hard that those who once unrolled it
Now must furl it with a sigh!

Furl that Banner—furl it sadly;
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
Swore it should forever wave—
Swore that foeman's sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag should float forever
O'er their freedom or their grave!

Furl it! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low;
And that Banner—it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.

For, though conquered, they adore it—
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it!
Weep for those who fell before it!
Pardon those who trailed and tore it!
But, oh, wildly they deplore it,
Now who furl and fold it so! [243]

Here passed the most famous army of all that had fought for
The conquered banner

This tragic still-life near Stony Creek, Virginia, is a witness to the turmoil of Lee's retreat. The caisson of a gun that tumbled into Chamberlain's Run on March 31, 1865, and was there abandoned, remains to tell of the last great battle. Through March Lee recognized that his only hope was to join Johnston in the Carolinas. Grant had spent many a sleepless night, fearing always that the next morning would bring him a report of Lee's retreat. To prevent this, he ordered Sheridan to destroy the railroads west of Petersburg. But on March 30th Sheridan was met at Five Forks by the Confederates under command of Fitzhugh Lee, and the next day was driven back southward to within half a mile of Dinwiddie Court House. In this engagement, W. H. F. Lee was sent along a wooded road leading south from Five Forks west of Chamberlain Bed, a creek running into Stony Creek near Dinwiddie Court House. After failing at one crossing, he succeeded in reaching the east bank at Danse's Crossing. All of Sheridan's cavalry corps then fell back on Dinwiddie Court House. Of this attack the single wheel of a caisson is the silent reminder. That night Sheridan was reinforced by the Fifth Corps; the next day, April 1st, he carried the Confederate position at Five Forks, and took nearly five thousand prisoners. The next morning, April 2d, the Petersburg entrenchments were carried by storm. The day after, the whole Confederate army was hastening westward. Seven days after this engagement came Appomattox. Lee's valiant hosts were indeed scattered, returning to their homes in a land that was once more united.

‘The valiant hosts are scattered’


The conquered banner—waving free in 1861: ‘once ten thousands hailed it gladly’ The first Confederate flag made in Augusta, Georgia, swells in the May breeze of 1861. It has two red bars, with a white in the middle, and a union of blue with seven stars. The men who so proudly stand before it near the armory at Macon are the Clinch Rifles, forming Company A of the Fifth Georgia Infantry. The organization was completed on the next day—May 11th. It first went to Pensacola. From after the battle of Shiloh to July, 1864, it served in the Army of Tennessee, when it was sent to the Georgia coast, later serving under General Joseph E. Johnston in the final campaign in the Carolinas. It was conspicuous at Chickamauga, where its colonel commanded a brigade. His account of the action on September 20, 1863, is well worth quoting: “The brigade, with the battery in the center, moved forward in splendid style about 100 yards, when the enemy opened a galling fire from the front and left flank, enfilading the entire [245] line with canister and small-arms. The engagement now became terrific and the position of my brigade extremely critical. The troops, however, stood nobly to the work before them, and, steadily advancing, surmounted the hill on which the enemy's breastworks were, the battery moving with the line, and rendering effective service. The enemy were driven from their breastworks, and Brigadier-General Maney's brigade coming up at this opportune moment, charged them, and the contest was over. At daylight on Monday morning the enemy was found to have sought safety in flight under the cover of darkness.” During the battle the regiment lost 194 men, a percentage of 54.95. The next highest recorded loss was 42.78. Ryan's words, ‘Those who once unrolled it,’ can appropriately be quoted under this spirited scene. And another phrase, ‘Cold and dead are lying now,’ fits too sadly well the careers of these volunteers from Georgia.


The conquered banner—‘there's not a sword to save it’: the guns of the largest Confederate army that surrendered. As these rows and rows of cannon stretch across the arsenal grounds at Baton Rouge, soon after their surrender on May 4, 1865, by the Confederate general, Richard Taylor, a dramatic illustration appears of The conquered banner in war and in peace. The large building at the right, the arsenal of war times, was transformed, 45 years later, into dormitories for the Louisiana State University. It had been a military center under no less than five flags. The smaller buildings at the left, formerly used as powder-houses, later became model dairies in the agricultural department of the university work. Thus destruction gave place to training for citizenship and service. As soon as General Taylor heard of the capitulation of General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, he surrendered, on May 4, 1865, at Citronelle, Alabama, not far from Mobile, all the remaining forces of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi River to the Federal General E. R. S. Canby. Canby had advanced from Dauphine Island, at the entrance to Mobile Bay, to the [247] Spanish Fort across from Mobile and had reduced it on April 8th, marching into the deserted works on the day that General Lee surrendered at Appomattox. At the same time, General Frederick Steele had advanced from Pensacola against Blakely, a little farther north than the Spanish Fort, and had captured it on the afternoon of Lee's surrender. On the morning of May 12th the Union forces under General Gordon Granger crossed the bay and found that the Confederate General Dabney H. Maury had marched out with his whole force. Maury succeeded in reaching Meridian in safety. During these operations the celebrated Confederate cavalry General Nathan B. Forrest had been defeated by the Federal cavalry under General James H. Wilson, and Selma, Alabama, with its fortifications, foundries, and workshops, had fallen into his hands. He entered Montgomery the same day that Granger entered Mobile. Taylor surrendered 42,293 men, the largest aggregation anywhere laying down their arms at the close of the war.


Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory,
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory,
And 'twill live in song and story
Though its folds are in the dust!
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages—
Furl its folds though now we must.

Furl that Banner, softly, slowly;
Treat it gently — it is holy,
For it droops above the dead;
Touch it not—unfold it never;
Let it droop there, furled forever,—
For its people's hopes are fled.

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