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Reunion of the Virginia division army of Northern Virginia Association

The annual gathering of this Association in the State capitol at Richmond took place on the evening of October the 23d, 1884, and was an occasion of more than ordinary interest. A large number of distinguished Confederates were present—a notable feature of the occasion being that about twenty-five veterans of the ‘Maryland Line,’ under command of General Geo. H. Steuart, came as an escort to the orator, and were enthusiastically welcomed by their Virginia comrades—and the hall was packed with a brilliant audience.

General W. H. F. Lee, President of the Association, called the meeting to order, Chaplain J. Wm. Jones led in prayer, and General Lee (in graceful, appropriate and very complimentary phrase) then introduced, as orator of the evening, General Bradley T. Johnson, of Baltimore. General Johnson was greeted with hearty cheers, and was frequently interrupted with warm applause as he delivered the following

Address on the First Maryland campaign.

Within five years after the surrender and dispersion of the Con-. federate armies, it was considered necessary by some of those who had borne arms in the defence of the Confederate States that an organization should be formed for the purpose of perpetuating the comradeship and preserving the esprit of those four years of ordeal, and of collecting material for history; whereby the honor of our dead should be protected, and justice done by posterity to the aspirations, the motives, and the deeds of those who had fought and failed. A plan of such an organization was submitted to General Lee, but he did not think the time had arrived for such an action.

But when, in October, 1870, all Christendom stood uncovered before that open grave, at Lexington, when the South bent over the bier of her great chief, and the heart of Virginia was wrung at her bereavement, a great concourse of citizens, and patriots, and veterans came together here, in Richmond, to do honor to his memory, and to give expression to the feelings that stirred the whole people. Then and there it was determined to carry out the intention which had been formulated the year before, and the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia was formed. In the fourteen years that have succeeded, the largest portion of its work has been assumed, [501] and has been most admirably carried out by the Southern Historical Society

But our Association has efficiently performed its part. All over the South soldier memorial societies have been formed, and are being formed, and we can now confidently leave to time and to truth the vindication of our motives, the defence of our political action, and the description of the genius, the courage, and the achievements of the Confederate soldier.

Brief, but glorious, was that epoch that blazed out in the history of all time, but no four years have ever produced such results, or made such impression on the art of war.

The Confederate war-ship, Virginia (Merrimac), made a complete revolution in naval architecture and warfare.

The Confederate torpedo service has made an entire change in the system of defence of water-ways.

The Confederate cavalry raid has necessitated an alteration in the tactics, as well as the strategy of armies and Generals.

Von Borcke told me that while Stuart's raid around McClellan was not regarded with respect by the Prussian Generals in the Prusso-Austrian campaign, of 1866, the principle of thus using cavalry was adopted in full by them in the Franco-Prussian campaign, of 1870, and that now Stuart was considered the first cavalry General of the century, as the campaigns of Lee and Jackson were the models taught from, in Continental Military Schools.

While the civil war afforded many brilliant illustrations of genius for war, of daring and heroic achievment, while the valley campaign furnishes a model and the defence of Richmond in 1864, an exhibition of defensive operations, alike the wonder and the admiration of soldiers all over the world, the fourteen days occupied by the First Maryland campaign were probably more remarkable for their performances and their results than any other episode of the war.

Taking into consideration the time occupied, the distances marched, the results achieved and the incredible disparity of numbers between the armies engaged, the operations of that campaign were as extraordinary as any ever recorded for the same period of time.

On the first day of January, 1862, the President of the United States issued a general order, somewhat theatrical, to all of the armies of the United States, directing them to make a general advance on the 22d of February, then ensuing, on the whole line extending [502] from Washington city to the Missouri river. The forces intended for the reduction of Virginia were the Army of Western Virginia, General Fremont, the Army of the Potomac, General McClellan, and the Army of North Carolina, General Burnside. After this general movement had been made a fourth army was organized as the Army of Virginia which was to cooperate with these converging columns in the general movement on the Capital of the Confederate States. Burnside's army occupied Roanoke Island and New Berne and seated itself on the flank of Richmond. Fremont moved up the Valley as far as Cross Keys where he met his checkmate from Jackson on the 9th of June.

McClellan advanced up the Peninsula as far as Mechanicsville, three and a half miles from Richmond, and after seven days hard fighting, June 26th to July 1st, succeeded in changing his base to Harrison's Landing, on the James, thirty miles from Richmond—a hazardous and meritorious undertaking, when nothing better could be done; and Major-General John Pope had been first checked by Jackson at Cedar Run, August 9th, and then, with the consolidated armies of Burnside, Fremont, McClellan and his own, had been escorted back to the fortification on the south bank of the Potomac, from which McClellan had moved with such confidence and high expectation in obedience to President Lincoln's general order in the preceding spring. On the 2d of September General McClellan was directed verbally by Mr. Lincoln to assume command of the demoralized mass of troops, which had just been beaten under Pope at Manassas.

His order to General Pope on that occasion epitomizes, more graphically than I can, the results of the six months campaign of four armies to reduce Virginia. His order was in these words:

headquarters, Washington, Sept. 2d, 1862.
General,—General Halleck instructed me to report to you the order he sent this morning, to withdraw your army to Washington, without unnecessary delay. He feared that his messenger might miss you, and desired to take this double precaution.

In order to bring troops upon ground with which they are already familiar, it would be best to move Porter's Corps upon Upton's Hill, that it may occupy Hall's Hill, &c.; McDowell's to Upton's Hill; Franklin's to the works in front of Alexandria; Heintzelman's to the [503] a prayer on their lips, but no tear in their eyes, bade them good-bye and God-speed in the day of battle.

Never, in truth, had any soldiery such unanimity of thought, purpose and feeling as the infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia. In its ranks the professional man, the student and the farmer, the merchant and the mechanic, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, fought side by side, animated by the same principles, sustained by the same hopes, sharing the same hardships and equally loyal to the same great cause, the defense of their country, their firesides and their homes, and the vindication of constitutional freedom guarded by constitutional law.

A hundred years and more ago, the most profound political philosopher and the most accomplished orator of modern times said of their forefathers, that ‘these people of the Southern Colonies are much more strongly, and with a higher and more stubborn spirit attached to liberty than those to the northward. * * * In other countries the people more simple, of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil and judge of the pressure of the grievance, by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.’ These words of

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