Annual Reunion of the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia.With address of General E. M. Law on ‘the Confederate Revolution.’
The annual reunion of the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia was held in the hall of the House of Delegates on the night of May 28th, 1890. A large audience filled the hall and galleries. Among those present were: Ex-Senator Robert E. Withers, Colonel R. T. W. Duke, Colonel Robert Stribling, General Eppa Hunton, Rev. Frank String fellow (Lee's scout), Generals A. R. Lawton and P. B. M. Young, of Georgia; General C. W. Field, Colonel L. Q. Washington, Colonel William H. Palmer, Colonel David Zable, of the old Fourteenth Louisiana regiment and president of the Louisiana division of the Army of Northern Virginia; Professor J. W. Mallett, of the University, and General William B. Taliaferro. General Fitz. Lee came in during the delivery of the address and was received with applause. At 8:25 o'clock General William H. Payne, president of the Association, called it to order and asked Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., chaplain of the Association, to lead in prayer. General Payne now arose and said: ‘Comrades of the Army of Northern Virginia, we welcome you on this most interesting occasion which has brought so many of us here. The people of the South, notably the women, have made unto themselves a graven image, and at its unveiling to-morrow it is exceedingly appropriate that the remnant of the army which he led should be present. It had been hoped that this event would have occurred while a Lee ruled the destinies of the Commonwealth, but the fates were against us. But this is a most auspicious time, for if we are to believe our  eye and ears and what is told us, a solid South is now marching on Richmond. To-morrow the whole of the South which comprised the Confederacy will unite in glorifying and magnifying her greatest son. No soldier who followed Lee will regret his presence here on this occasion.’ The General then, in a few graceful words, introduced General E. M. Law, of South Carolina, the orator who had been invited to deliver the annual address. General Law was received with applause.
Oration of the evening.The address was as follows: Mr. President and Comrades. It was the custom of the ancient orators on ascending the Bema to invoke the assistance of the gods in what they were about to speak, and so to-night, as I stand in this august presence, before the living representatives of the grand army which for four years of battle and of blood carried on its bayonets the destinies of a newborn nation; in the presence of the scarred veterans of those heroic days, on whose brows the snows of a quarter of a century are mingled with the laurel; in the presence of our comrades who have ‘crossed over the river and rest under the shade of the trees,’ and whose freed spirits I would fain believe are hovering around us to-night, let me invoke the aid of some higher power that I may do justice to both them and you, and rise to the ‘height of the great argument’ which vindicates their and your right to the proud title of American patriots. A quarter of a century has elapsed since the close of the Confederate revolution, since the tattered banner of the Southern Cross, made glorious by heroic deeds and by still more heroic suffering, was loosed from its staff, wrapped as a winding sheet about our dead hopes, and buried forever in the grave of the Confederacy. And as time has softened the asperities and smoothed down the rough edge of war, the close of this period seems an appropriate occasion for a dispassionate review of the causes, incidents and results of the greatest revolution of modern times.
Rebellion it never was.For a revolution it was in its broadest and most catholic sense.  Like the mighty throes and upheavals of nature, which lifted the everlasting hills and have left everywhere upon the earth traces of their power, it has made an impress on American character and institutions which will last while history and tradition live. Rebellion it never was, and never could be under the conditions that produced and attended it, and the future will place its emphatic veto upon the stigma. The civil war between Charles I and the Parliament of England, in which the King ended his life upon the scaffold, is styled by the courtly historian Clarendon ‘the great rebellion,’ but later generations have recognized it as a revolution which heralded one of the grandest epochs in English history. And so with our revolution of 1861-‘65. When the verdict of the future shall be rendered, the odious word rebellion will be forever expunged from our annals. It will be acknowledged as a conflict of principles which admitted of no arbitrament but the sword, and the heroisms of both victors and vanquished will be claimed as the common heritage of the American people. Be it ours, then, to stand as sentinels by the graves of our fallen comrades, to guard their memories from stain and their motives from dishonor while we live, when we may safely commit both theirs and ours to the just judgment of posterity. The justification of neither side in our civil war is to be found in its physical result. Many a brave people have fallen in the struggle for what they believed to be right, but failure has not always had the power to affix the seal of wrong. Thus State sovereignty, the cardinal principle of the Confederate revolution, and the most majestic pillar in the temple of our constitutional Union, though despoiled by ruthless hands of its ancient dignity and strength, still lives to sustain and vitalize the grandest system of government which human wisdom has ever evolved, and must in some form always remain the grand conservator of American free institutions.
Secession in 1776.From the first settlement of the English colonies in America, throughout their whole colonial existence up to the time when they were acknowledged by Great Britain to be free and independent States, community independence was guarded with the most jealous care, as the palladium of their rights and liberties. In defense of this great principle their secession from the mother country was justified, and not only was the principle established by their success, but the remedy stamped with the seal of right.
The Union formed.Eleven years later, when the men of ‘76 stood around the cradle of the present Union in the convention of 1787, the same principle, rechristened under the name of State sovereignty, dominated their counsels and moulded the form of the infant government, which, wrapped in the folds of the Constitution, they presented to the States for their several acceptance or rejection. The whole manner and form of its presentation, as well as its adoption, and the conditions attached thereto, demonstrate beyond controversy that it was but a piece of written parchment, an inanimate body, a lifeless thing, until the States by their acts of sovereign and creative power gave it vitality and force, as God, in the creation of man, breathed into a clod of earth the breath of life. In the moral and material world it may be stated as an axiom that the creature can never exchange functions with the Creator, but in the realm of politics it seems that every natural law may be reversed and every question of right determined by the inexorable law of might. As a condition precedent to a Union under the present Constitution, it was provided that it should be ratified by at least nine of the thirteen States composing the old confederation. But so slow and cautious were the States in ratifying, that more than two years elapsed before the last of them gave in its adhesion. One by one, in single file and in open order, they came forward to take their places under the banner of the Union, upon whose azure field was placed for each a star which glittered there by virtue of its own radiance while contributing at the same time to the common glory of the American constellation. Each State had carefully considered the Constitution as it had come from the hands of its framers, and more than one of them expressed the apprehension that the delegated powers of the general government might be perverted to their injury. The great State of New York, for example, incorporated in her resolutions of ratification this clear and forcible exposition of the doctrine of State rights: ‘That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people when-so-ever it may become necessary to their happiness; that every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by the Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States * * * remain to the people of the several States, or to their respective State governments to which they may have granted the same.’  For nearly two years after the first ratification, by Delaware in December, 1787, North Carolina held aloof from the Union, and for more than a year after the government went into operation, the great State of Rhode Island remained a free and independent nation. No attempt was ever made, or even suggested, to force them into the new Union, or to infringe even the least of their rights as free and independent States. The secession of the other eleven States from the old confederation, which was expressly declared to be a ‘perpetual union,’ furnishes the second precedent in our history for the exercise of State sovereignty when the exigency of circumstances demanded it. If it be argued that the Constitution contemplated an indissoluble Union, and therefore makes no provision for the exercise of the sovereign right of a State to withdraw from it, it may be replied that the grant of certain powers to the general government for specific purposes, by plain implication, reserves a remedy for the abuse of those powers. That while the design of the Constitution was to form ‘a more perfect Union,’ it announces with equal emphasis its purpose ‘to establish justice’ and ‘to promote the general welfare.’ It was doubtless believed by the great men who framed it, that the administration of justice and a jealous concern for the welfare of all the States would be co-existent with the Union itself, which, bound together by these strong forces of attraction, might safely be launched upon the sea of national existence.
No power of coercion.But if the Constitution does not provide a remedy for the perversion of its delegated powers by the general government, neither does it designate the means by which a State may be held within the Union when those powers are employed for her injury and the impairment of her equality as a member of that Union—an equality guaranteed by the whole tenor and spirit of the Constitution. That the power to coerce States under any circumstances was never intended to be invested in the general government, is conclusively settled by the action of the constitutional convention of 1787, when a scheme of government was introduced by Mr. Randolph, which, among other provisions, proposed to invest Congress with the power ‘to call forth the force of the Union against any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof.’ George Mason, who may justly be termed the prophet statesman of his day, argued that ‘punishment could not, in the nature of things,  be executed on the States collectively.’ Listen to another great Virginian, upon whom was conferred the proud title of ‘father of the Constitution,’ ‘a union of the States containing such an ingredient seems to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.’ Listen yet again to the words of Alexander Hamilton, then and afterwards the ablest and most determined advocate among the men of the Revolution of a strong consolidated government, ‘How can this force be exerted upon the States collectively? It is impossible. It amounts to a war between the parties * * * and a dissolution of the Union will ensue.’ Can anything be more conclusive of the fact that no power of coercion inhered in the government by virtue of the Constitution, or was derived from any other source than the bare-faced dogma that ‘might makes right.’ To the casual observer of American history it might seem that until the great civil war the career of the United States was peculiarly free from the difficulties and dangers that usually attend any new departure in the science of government; that the ship of state successfully launched by the men of ‘76 and ‘89, and buffeted only at long intervals by the storms of foreign war, has continued to move grandly on with gleaming sails, over placid seas and under summer skies. He does not see that one part of the crew is arraying itself against the other. He does not hear the deep mutterings of discontent and the bitter curses of wrath and hate which foretell an internal conflict more desperate and deadly than any yet waged against a foreign foe, which will drench her decks with blood and convert her hold into a reeking charnel house. Yet these things existed almost from the inception of the government, and to the student of our political history presaged the coming storm as surely as cause produces effect in the moral and as night follows the day in the physical world.
Union, witnessed the first infraction of the Constitution in the passage of the ‘alien and sedition laws’ by Congress. The freedom of the press—that great muniment of personal liberty and political rights, a principle descended to us by right of inheritance from the mother  country—was assailed in palpable violation of the first amendment to the Constitution under which it was guaranteed. It was then that Virginia, the great mother of States, followed by her eldest and fairest daughter, Kentucky, sounded the note of alarm, denounced the usurpation of unwarranted powers by the general government, and appealed to the Constitution as the great charter of her rights and those of her sister States. Yet, such was the law-abiding, union loving spirit of the ‘Old Dominion,’ that she permitted the peaceable execution of the law—in one notable instance in this very city of Richmond—leaving to the sober, second thought of the country the vindication of her position and the reversal of an unconstitutional act.
The Louisiana purchase.From this time onward came thick and fast, occasions for the opposition of the States to the acts of the general government, the assertion of what they conceived to be their rights and their construction of the Constitution. When the Louisiana territory was acquired from France in 1803, not only was the purchase denounced by the New England States, but threats of a withdrawal from the Union were heard on every hand. The Constitution was appealed to, to show that the United States had no right to the acquisition of foreign territory either by purchase, by treaty, or by conquest. Surely ‘a most lame and impotent conclusion,’ to bind the strong limbs of the young giant of the West by the narrow territorial limits of the old colonial days. A conclusion which would have barred the entrance to the fairest portion of our present national domain—Louisiana territory, the gateway of the Mississippi; Texas, an empire in itself, and California, whose streams ‘roll down their golden sands’ to the shores of the peaceful ocean, and unites them by a chain of mighty States to the cliffs of the rude Atlantic.
Massachusetts the mother of secession.Sentiment or considerations of abstract right have usually little control over the actions of political communities, and even the plainest provisions of written law may be construed to meet the views of selfish interest. The opposition to the acquisition of Louisiana was solely a matter of interest—a question of political preponderance and a controlling influence in the general government by the States of the North. They had been willing a few years before to accept from the princely generosity of Virginia the great Northwest territory, which  appeared at that early day to open a field for almost unlimited expansion to the northern section of the Union. But when it was proposed to acquire territory at the other end of the republic, which would secure the balance of power between the sections, or might incline the scale to the southern side, a clamor at once arose, and secession, plain and unadulterated, was preached by New England as a remedy for what she styled the abuse of the powers of the general government. Massachusetts, the mother of secession, which she had taught to her sister colonies in 1776, cannot repudiate the utterances of her most eminent statesmen in 1804 and 1811. Timothy Pickering, who had been in succession at the head of three different cabinet departments during the administration of Washington, and at that time United States senator from Massachusetts, in a letter referring to what he considered the abuse of the Federal power in the Louisiana purchase, says: ‘The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy—a separation. * * * It must begin in Massachusetts. The proposition would be welcomed in Connecticut, and could we doubt of New Hampshire? But New York must be associated, and how is her concurrence to be obtained? She must be made the centre of the confederacy. Vermont and New Jersey would follow of course, and Rhode Island of necessity.’ With the single substitution of the names of the States, how would this sound in 1861 when the rights of the slave-holding States were invaded? The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy—a separation. * * * It must begin in South Carolina. The proposition would be welcomed in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and could we doubt of Louisiana and Texas? But Virginia must be associated. * * * Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina would follow of course, and Florida of necessity. Again, in 1811, when Louisiana knocked at the door of the Union for admission as a State, Josiah Quincy, of Massachusetts, said upon the floor of Congress, ‘If this bill passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is a virtual dissolution of the Union; that it will free the States from their moral obligation, and as it is the right of all, so it will be the duty of some definitely to prepare for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must.’ Trace our late civil war to its source and you will find it here. From this time forth the conflict was fiercely waged on the hustings and at the ballot box, in the courts and in the halls of Congress, in the sacred desk and in the public press. Bursting into flame in the border war of Kansas,  and finally sweeping the country like a besom in 1861 to 1865; it ended only when Lee laid down his arms at Appomattox. I have said that Massachusetts was the mother of secession—nor need she or any other State be ashamed to own its maternity. Its exercise has produced two of the greatest revolutions of modern times. The one gave birth to a world-great republic, the other settled at least some of its complex internal relations, let us hope forever, and both gave to the world men worthy to be ranked with the Homeric heroes of old.
The negro appears upon the scene.When in 1820 Missouri applied for admission to the Union as a slave State, sectional interests and animosity again obtruded themselves into the counsels of the Union. The compatriots of Othello stalk upon the scene, and though of darker hue and utterly innocent of his crimes, they have served ever since as figure-heads upon party standards, as martyrs at whose shrine freedom must bow, as examples to ‘point a moral and adorn a tale’ not yet ended; for even to this day they seem to be an extremely uncomfortable element in the political counsels of their self-constituted champions, whose interests prompt them to value orthodoxy more than truth. A geographical line was fixed beyond which slavery could not go, and so by the ‘Missouri Compromise’ the dominant section of the Union appropriated to itself the lion's share of the very territory against the acquisition of which it had threatened secession in 1804.
The tariff and nullification.But the conflict between the sections did not always run on parallel lines. The points of antagonism were as numerous and diversified as the interests that underlaid them. The Northern States were commercial and manufacturing, the Southern States agricultural. So long as the carrying trade of the South was done by the ships of the North the arrangement was beneficial to both. But when, under the constitutional provision to regulate commerce, the general government extended the broad aegis of its ‘protection’ over the ‘infant’ manufacturers of the North, it raised an issue, which, antedating that of slavery and surviving its extinction, stands to-day in the full strength of aggressive manhood, asserting its assumed prerogative to tax the weak for the benefit of the strong, to tax the workman for the benefit of his master, to tax labor for the benefit of capital, in  short, to lay tribute upon every interest not identified with its own selfish self. Upon this issue was based the nullification of South Carolina in 1832. Then for the first time in our national history the doctrine of coercion was enunciated in the proclamation of President Jackson, asserting the right to the employment of the military arm of the government to enforce the execution of its laws in the territory of a recusant State. Nullification was indefensible in law or morals, as much so as coercion itself. On the broad principles of equity no party to a compact can be justified in resistance to laws made in ostensible conformity with the instrument of compact, so long as it remains a member thereof and enjoys its benefits. It was, however, in turn, asserted both North and South, and prior to the civil war the fugitive slave laws of Congress were practically nullified by ‘personal liberty’ enactments in three-fourths of the free States of the North.
Sectional interest the true issue.It is safe to say, and the history of the United States during the first seventy years of their existence is conclusive on the point, that in all the great questions affecting the national legislation, sectional interests, and sectional hostility arising therefrom, were the great central and controlling facts. Upon these were based the threats of secession in New England at the time of the Louisiana purchase; for abolition as a moral or sentimental issue in national politics had not then been born. The slave trade itself had not been abolished, and under the protecting aegis of the Federal flag, the free sailors of the free States, in their free ships, were lucratively busy in transporting the ‘brother in black’ from his native jungles to the plantations of the South. Nor was it less a question of sectional predominance which was involved in the Missouri embroglio of 1820, which resulted in fixing the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes as the northern limit of slavery in all the territory west of that State, though it existed north of that line in the States to the east. As by this arrangement, one issue was placed temporarily in the background, another must be found to feed that insatiable monster, sectional supremacy. The tariff, as we have seen, furnished it and along with it came nearer furnishing a civil war than any other question prior to 1861.
Slavery a Pretext.Although a tariff for the plunder of the non-manufacturing sections of  the country in the interest of those industrial ‘infants’—since grown hoary with years and gouty from continued repletion—has always held its place as a great national issue, it was now eclipsed for a time by another which promised far greater immediate results by reason of the combination of sentiment with selfish interest. The issue of slavery was re-enthroned and became king regnant in our politics, until in its overthrow it very nearly involved in its ruins the liberties of the entire American people. The cry against the extension of slavery had been raised as early as 1820. When it was heard again in opposition to the annexation of Texas, and yet again in still louder tones, claiming for the dominant section the whole of the vast territory acquired from Mexico; when it dictated the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1850 by a purely sectional vote, when it had once become the slogan of a distinct and purely sectional party, its success in the ultimate accomplishment of its revolutionary purposes was not beyond the ken of the veriest tyro among political prophets.
A political Metamorphosis.The States of the South had been the earliest advocates of the suppression of the slave trade and the staunchest supporters of the union of the States, but when the gathering clouds on the northern horizon began to throw their shadows athwart the whole southern sky, they prepared for the exercise of their sovereignty in the only way which was justified by precedent and which seemed to offer adequate protection to their rights and interests. But ‘tempora mutantur et mutamur cum illis.’ Times had indeed changed, and parties had so changed with them as to remind us forcibly of a scene from the ‘Inferno’ of Dante, in which the poet saw ‘a strange encounter between a man and a serpent. After the infliction of cruel wounds they stood for a time glaring at each other. A great cloud surrounded them, and then a wonderful change took place. Each creature was transformed into the likeness of its antagonist. The serpent's tail divided itself into two legs, the man's legs intertwined themselves into a tail. The body of the serpent put forth arms, the man's arms shrank into his body. At length the man sank down a serpent, and the serpent stood up a man and spake.’ The former secessionists of the North were now devoted adherents of the Union, even if blood was necessary to cement it. The Union-loving South of the early days felt that she could no longer uphold it consistently with her interests and her honor.
The die is cast.At length, in the closing days of 1860, the long war of the ballot box is ended. A president is elected upon strictly geographical lines. The head of the government is soon to pass into the hands of a faction representing less than one-third of the voters of the Union, and whose governing principle is an irrepressible conflict between the sections. The day of temporizing closes. South Carolina puts in practice her previous declaration of equality in the Union or independence out of it. She is closely followed by Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and ere the recently elected sectional President of the United States dons the robes of office a new nation has been born, whose life of storm and tragic death will always present one of the most heroic pictures ‘on history's titled page.’ North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas soon cast in their lot with the new Confederacy, followed at last, when all her efforts for a peaceable settlement had failed, by the great mother of statesmen and Presidents, of States and of the Federal Union itself. Thus closed the first epoch of the Confederate revolution.
The Court of last resort.And now the loud trumpet clangs its harsh notes of war. Fierce spirits of strife haunt the air. From city and from hamlet, from mountain side and from rolling plain, from seashore and from inland river the Northern clans are gathering. And for what? Is it to purify their consciences by wiping out the curse of slavery forever from American soil? Oh, no! such purpose is expressly disclaimed.1 They come to spread the broad mantle of the Union around the States of the Confederacy and take their wayward sisters home. Is it to annihilate the rights of the States? No, never! Their mission, as declared by themselves, is to preserve these inviolate. They only march against a band of rebels who have refused to disperse at their command, as their own brave ancestors at Lexington and Concord refused to do at British bidding. But pause a moment and listen. Responsive to the Northern bugle-call comes an answering note from across the lordly Potomac.  It sweeps down the Atlantic shore and trembles among the leaves of the magnolia and the palm. It is borne on the breezes of the Mexican sea, bending the boughs of the cypress and the vine. It winds up the course of the great ‘father of waters’ till it meets and mingles with the notes of the challenger. And now the Southern bands are marshalling to accept the gage of battle. The oft and vainly repeated questions—where is the arbiter? and where the court of competent jurisdiction to adjust the federal relations of the States?—receive their final answer. Sabre, cannon and rifle are the arbiters, and the field of battle the court of last resort. War, that ‘terrible litigation of nations,’ rules the hour and the counsels of men, and for four fateful years of wounds and death, Eros is dethroned and Mars triumphant. Pass in review the marshaled legions of history, about whose banners song and story have enwreathed their richest garlands, and as they move by in stately procession, name the scenes of desperate battles, mark the instances of heroic courage and endurance even when hope had hid its face and turned its back, point examples of suffering borne with God-like patience and fortitude, single out individual acts of knightly heroism and devotion, and for them all you shall find counterparts in the scenes of the Confederate revolutionary drama. A drama which had a continent for its stage, armed millions for its actors and the world for spectators.
The Anglo-Saxon spirit.In the light of subsequent events, it seems passing strange that so few of our political prophets, either North or South, foresaw the vast proportions the struggle would ultimately assume when they were indulging in dreams of a thirty, sixty, or at most ninety days war. Stranger still that each of the parties to the contest should have so greatly undervalued its antagonist, as to cause the boast that a single Northern regiment could march triumphantly from the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico, and the equally quixotic offer of certain zealous Confederates of saurian digestion, to eat one Yankee for breakfast, two for dinner, and sleep comfortably on a supper of three. The latter thought may have been father to the first. But this presents only the humorous side of the picture, before the actual clash of arms had come, and before they had fully realized that both had inherited from the sturdiest race on earth, that dogged, tenacious, ‘never say die,’ fight to the death spirit that has stamped the Anglo-  Saxon as a conqueror wherever he has come. A race before whose achievements the deeds of the Macedonian and the Roman pale. A race that has fought more battles, stood more killing, won more victories, and turned more defeats into victories than any other race of God-created men.
The contest was unequal.But while in courage, hardihood, and other high qualities of the soldier, the antagonists were not too unequally matched; not so in numbers, organization, equipment, financial resources, all those factors that control so powerfully the fortunes of war. On the one hand stood twenty millions of people, with all the machinery of an organized government of seventy-two years standing, in full control of the army and navy, and in possession of the depots and manufactories of arms and munitions of war. On the other was arrayed a population of less than six millions, under a government not seventy-two days old, with an empty treasury and no navy, with an improvised army of brave volunteers, but scarcely antiquated arms sufficient to place in their hands, and not cartridges enough to fight one great battle. So great was the Confederate need of the latter, that the early battlefields of the war were closely gleaned of their leaden death messengers which were soon to become as current as ‘the coin of the realm.’ And in the seven days battles around this very city, it is a fact within my own experience, that entire regiments followed, unarmed, in the wake of the fighting columns, trusting to the chances of battle to supply themselves with arms that might be captured from the enemy or dropped from the hands of their fallen comrades. Was ever more unequal battle joined? This gravest of the problems of the war, how to equip its armies in the field, met the Confederacy as it issued from its cradle. Let us see how it was solved. ‘We began in April, 1861,’ says General Gorgas, Confederate Chief of Ordnance, ‘without an arsenal, laboratory, or powder-mill of any capacity, and no foundry or rolling-mill except in Richmond, and in a little over two years we supplied them. During the harassments of war, crippled by a depreciated currency, throttled by a blockade that deprived us of nearly all the means of getting material or workmen, with no stock on hand, even of articles such as steel, copper, leather, iron, which we must have to build up our establishments, against all these obstacles, in spite of all these  deficiencies, we created almost out of the ground, foundries and rolling-mills, smelting works, chemical works, a powder-mill far superior to any in the United States, and a chain of arsenals, armories, and laboratories equal in their capacity to the best of those in the United States, and stretching link by link from Virginia to Alabama.’
The numbers on each side.But how was the vast disparity in numbers to be neutralized? Let the battle-fields of the war, the silent soldiers' graves and the living soldiers' memories in wordless eloquence give the immortal answer. It is not a pleasant thing to own defeat, even under the most adverse conditions, and failure almost invariably excuses itself on the plea of the superior numbers of its adversary. Even to this day the respective numbers engaged in many of our great battles are matters of controversy. But the prowess of the Confederate armies and the consummate skill of their commanders need no stronger attestation than the simple statement that during the entire war, from first to last, less than eight hundred thousand men of all arms were enlisted in the Confederate service; and we have the authority of the biographers of President Lincoln, who will not be accused of unfairness to themselves, for the statement that during the same period the number of men put into service in the United States army, navy and marines was 2,690,401, besides some 70,000 emergency men. You know, my friends, about what emergency men are worth; so leaving them out of the count altogether, and deducting also the 50, 0000 veteran volunteers who are claimed as having re-enlisted in 1863 and 1864, and reinforcing these by 40,000 more for good measure, making an aggregate deduction of 190,000, and there still remain two and a half millions of men. Upon these facts we may safely commit to the care of the future the fame of those who wore the gray. Yet, in the face of these figures, Lieutenant-Colonel Dodge, of the United States army, by a recent paper in one of our great magazines, has fairly earned the title of a modern ‘military Columbus’ when he tells us that in fifty important battles, which he names, ‘at the point of fighting contact, the Confederates outnumbered the Federals by an average of about two per cent.’ Let us lament the unkind fate of the Federal leaders who have fallen into the hands of this unmerciful iconoclast of their reputations. For, in claiming that with the 2,500,000 of men in their armies, they suffered themselves to be outnumbered on the battle-field by their 800,000 antagonists; he  credits them, from General Grant down to John Pope, with a degree of assinine stupidity with which the Confederates never even invested General Halleck. While the deeds of the Confederate army are its best eulogy, it is pleasing to recall the encomiums of a brave and candid foe. Another Federal soldier writes, in the connection already referred to: “Such a force thrown into battle was almost resistless, and the question of organization or discipline in the Army of Northern Virginia needs no other answer than a reading of the roll of battles fought on Virginia soil, from Bull Run to Appomattox. * * * Lee led his ill-supplied army from victory to victory, year after year, beating back with terrible losses the wonderfully organized, perfectly equipped, lavishly supplied, abundantly officered Army of the Potomac.”
The First year of warclosed gloriously for the Confederacy, Bull Run and Ball's Bluff, in Virginia, and Belmont, Springfield and Lexington, in Missouri, had scored as many victories for its arms. These, however, were but the preluding skirmishes to the mighty shock of battle which was yet to come. I shall not tax your patience to-night with details of battle and of siege, of advance and retreat, of alternate victory and defeat. Or note each movement of that mighty tide of war, which carried on its flow high hopes, free aspirations, proud emotions, anticipated success, peace, and left behind at its ebb shattered human wrecks, ensanguined fields, desolated homes, stricken hearts. Over all the star of hope looked down, the banner of the Southern cross still flew, and
The campaign of 1862crowned the Confederate arms with a series of successes which gave brilliant prospect of ultimate independence. Jackson's immortal ‘Valley Campaign’; the ‘Seven Days’ wrestle of giants, by which Richmond was relieved of the presence of a great investing army, to which her spires had for weeks been visible; the second and greater victory at Manassas, which rolled the tide of invasion back across the border; the Confederate invasion of Maryland; the capture of Harper's Ferry; the great battle of Sharpsburg, where thirty-five thousand Confederates divided the honors with eighty-seven thousand Federals; Fredericksburg, from whose encircling hills the gallant and mighty Army of the Potomac reeled  bleeding back across the Rappahannock. These mark the salient points of the campaign in Virginia, and challenge the annals of war for a parallel. But in another and distant field, the great Confederate paladin of the West had fallen in sight of victory at Shiloh. The death of Albert Sidney Johnston was an irreparable loss to his army and to the Confederacy. Earth never bore a nobler son or heaven opened wide its gates to receive a knightlier spirit.
The border States.Operations in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri had decided finally the status of the border States towards the Confederacy. The shackles of Federal power had been firmly riveted upon them, and henceforth their gallant sons, who upheld the rights of their States and the cause of the South, were to be exiles from their homes until the return of peace, or until they should seal their devotion with their lives. Faithfully, bravely, grandly they stood to their colors to the bitter end. We salute them to-night with uncovered heads.
Jackson and Chancellorsville.The fortunes of the Confederacy reached their spring-tide early in 1863. Its middle mile-stone stands at Chancellorsville. It will always stand there, a double monument to victory and to death. Its summit wreathed with laurels and bathed in sunlight; its base shadowed darkly by the cypress and the willow. It commemorates the triumph of courage directed by genius; it mourns the fall of that immortal soldier whom death only had power to claim from victory. And even victory's bright visage was stained with tears and clouded by the shadow of coming events as it looked upon Jackson dead. Dead! but the end was fitting,
First in the ranks he led,
And he marked the height of a nation's gain,
As he lay in his harness—dead.
The turning Point.The Army of Northern Virginia now girds up its loins and striding across the Potomac, throws down the gage of battle to its enemy upon his own soil. ‘A field of the dead rushes red on the sight’ as the heights of Gettysburg loom up before it. For three fearful days the storm rages and slaughter stalks red-handed, while the fate of  the Confederacy hangs suspended on the issue. What might have been the consequences had that issue been favorable, who can say? Certain it is that when the Army of Northern Virginia, slowly and defiantly withal, retraced its steps across the Potomac, the star of the South had commenced to wane. Vicksburg had fallen, too, and the clouds gathering in the West were only dashed for a time with a silver lining by the great victory of Chickamauga, closing again more darkly upon the disaster at Chattanooga.
1864.When, at a given signal, the great armies of the Union moved forward in May, 1864, an observer from any other than a Confederate standpoint would have predicted that the end was near at hand. The Confederacy had exhausted its resources of men. The aged, in whom the fires of patriotism had not been quenched by the snows of years, and the youth of the country, who took their places in the ranks on attaining their military majority at the age of eighteen, were the only recruits that could be hoped for. Yet the foe was met at all points and paid for every inch of ground its price in blood. But blood might flow and men might fall—blood was a cheap commodity in that campaign, and for every man that fell two could be brought up to take his place. With us, the gaps in the ranks could only be filled by shortening the lines. The Army of Northern Virginia—weak in numbers, but strong in courage, endurance, confidence in itself and in its great commander—grappled with its giant adversary from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania, from Spotsylvania to the North Anna, from the North Anna to Cold Harbor, from Cold Harbor to Petersburg. Sustaining the shock of battle against fearful odds, and inflicting a loss more than equaling its own members, it ended the campaign with its flag still flying defiantly and its Capital safe. But its own ranks had been decimated, and the thin and daily attenuating line that confronted the great and ever-increasing Federal army around Richmond and Petersburg seemed far too frail to resist the tremendous pressure upon it. Like finely tempered steel it might bend and spring back with dangerous force in the recoil, but it must break at last.
The last winterof its existence closed darkly around the Confederacy. The hope of the recognition of its independence by foreign powers was gone.  For two years the blockade of its ports had been close and effective. Isolated from the world, it was hemmed in on all sides by a relentless foe whose resources were limitless. Its armies were skeletons of their former selves. Men fell; one rank did the work of two. Shoes and clothes wore out; rags became the fashion, and the soldier stood upon the battle line or moved to the charge with bandaged and bleeding feet. Money was almost worthless; he received for pay what would scarcely feed one hungry mouth at home. Food failed, and full rations were unknown; the pangs of hunger were borne without a murmur. Medicines gave out; they faced death by disease as they had faced him a hundred times in battle—unflinchingly. The Confederacy had been cut in two when the Mississippi was opened by the fall of Vicksburg. Another line had now been drawn across it, marked with blood and grave-mounds, from the Tennessee to Atlanta, and by blackened ruins and desolated homes from Atlanta to the sea. Hood's ill-starred expedition into Tennessee had ended in disaster. The fair valley of the Shenandoah had been ravaged until, in the graphic but unclassic language of the Federal commander there, ‘a crow in flying across it would have to carry his rations with him.’ Sherman was advancing through the heart of the Carolinas, marking his track by the blaze of burning cities and homes.
And so disasters came not singly;The world was against us. We were treading the wine press alone.
But as if they watched and waited,
Scanning one another's motions,
When the first descended, others
Followed, followed gathering flock-wise
Round their wounded, dying victim,
First a shadow, then a sorrow,
Till the air was dark with anguish.
The women of the Confederacy.In numberless homes throughout the land, from the stately mansion of the city and the plain to the lonely cot on the mountain, is heard the voice of many Rachels weeping for their dead. But while the sad tears fall, the willing hands are working. Hearts are bleeding, but swell with patriotic pride as they are laid broken on their country's altar. Honor to the soldier who faces death upon the battle-field or dies  in a great cause. Greater honor to the mother, the wife, the sister who girds his sword, yields him to the call of duty and dies a hundred deaths in his. By their spirit and by their deeds the women of the Confederacy are equal sharers with its soldiers of a glory which one could not have achieved without the other. Then let their names be written high upon the roll of honor when fame bequeaths her jewels to history.
Let the song and the stately rhymeto voice their praise and honor their memories until the South's last poet is dead and his harp hangs tuneless on the willows of time. Aye, of their devotion, their heroism, their Christ-like ministrations and sufferings, let the recording angel, dipping his glowing pen in the golden chalice of the sun, write upon the great scroll of heaven immortal.
With softly sounding tread
The death of the Confederacy.When Aeneas, the Trojan hero, was commanded by the Queen of Carthage to relate the tragic story of the fall of Troy, he gave expression to his ‘unutterable grief’ in the question, ‘who of the myrmidons, or what soldier even of the stern Ulysses, can refrain from tears at such a recital?’ The fall of the Confederacy and the death struggle of the Army of Northern Virginia are rife with scenes as harrowing and heroic as any enacted beneath the walls of Troy, and equally worthy of the sympathy even of their foes. The Confederate lines, stretched to their utmost tension, break at last. Retreating, fighting, watching, fasting, dying, the army has only to change front to meet a foe. No pomp or circumstance of glorious war is there. Every day, every hour are witnesses to unrecorded deeds whose prowess might claim an epic strain. The flag still flies and the shattered ranks still form beneath the starry cross, fit emblem now of the crucifixion of the grandest cause that ever failed. In vain, all in vain. Hope flies, the end comes, fame drops the sword and leaves the victory to death. Our great commander lays down his sword. At his command, and his only, the ‘rearguard of the grand army’ of Northern Virginia ground their arms, and a storm-cradled nation is dead. It was characteristic of Lee's greatness that while he accepted success with unselfish modesty, he always met adversity splendidly.  The chapter in military history is yet to be written which presents a nobler scene than that of the greatest soldier of modern times riding among his shattered troops at Gettysburg, consoling them as no other mortal could, and taking upon himself the whole responsibility of failure. And great as he always was, Robert E. Lee never so filled the full stature of perfect manhood as on that fatal field where he sheathed his stainless sword forever. What brush of painter, unguided by the inspiration of more than mortal genius, what song of poet, unattuned to notes befitting the minstrelsy of heaven, what orator whose lips have not been touched by a live coal from off the altar of Divine eloquence, what historian whose pen has not been dipped in the blood of heroes, may fitly portray such scenes and such characters?
Grant and reconstruction.But in the contemplation of our own misfortunes, let us not forget the generous treatment received at the hands of that great soldier who gave to a brave but fallen foe, terms alike honorable to himself and to them. Ulysses S. Grant, the Union hero and President, was never greater in all his eventful career than when, with the destinies of the two armies in his hands, he reconstructed the Union by the terms given at Appomattox. A reconstruction which, if allowed to stand, would have quickly healed the wounds of war, and left no bloody chasm to be bridged by the devilish devices of pestilent politicians. No fact of the entire civil war more strongly emphasizes the truth that there was no such thing as rebellion or treason involved in the issue, than the terms of surrender of the Confederate armies. Rebels are never granted paroles of honor, traitors are never trusted on their simple promise to obey the laws, and their leaders have never, in the world's history, been granted the distinction of quitting the field of defeat with their swords and badges of rank upon them. The Confederate soldier was worthy of such terms. English historians regard it as the greatest glory of the soldiers of Cromwell, whose backs no enemy had ever seen in battle, that at the ‘Restoration’ they laid down their arms and retired into the mass of the people, thenceforward to be distinguished only by superior diligence in the pursuits of peace. So it is the peculiar glory of the soldiers of the Confederacy that their citizenship has never belied their splendid record in arms. Yielding in a contest in which they had lost all but honor, they have preserved that inviolate, and will so bequeath  it to future generations as the noblest legacy that heroism can leave to posterity. As they were true to their convictions in resorting to arms, true to their country in her sorest need, true to every pledge they have given, so they are true to-day, to themselves and to the future in perpetuating the memory of their heroes and in vindicating the principles for which they fought and their comrades fell.
Confederate revolution. When, by the hand of the greatest living soldier of America, the veil is drawn and the martial figure and the majestic features of our imperial chieftain stand out under the bright Southern sky to greet his countrymen, the hearts of a whole people will swell with the proudest emotions that life can give, that his country and his cause were theirs, and bow in reverence to all that make man great, for
Never hand waved sword from stain so free,Nor will the duty to perpetuate the memories of our heroic dead be ended to morrow. Another memorial must yet rise beside that of Lee to the great statesman who was his life-long friend, and who directed the destinies of the Confederate republic during its brief and stormy life. Great alike, as statesman and soldier, he stood for a quarter of a century after the fall of his country a mark for all the shafts of enmity and malice aimed at her. But for this his people only gathered more closely around him, as, venerable alike in years and honor, he towered among them like some tall mountain peak whose snow-crowned head reflecting the light of a glorious past, caught also the first rays of that sun of righteousness and justice, in whose light future generations will read his among ‘the immortal names that were not born to die.’ After a great and noble life, with the honors of two countries thick upon him, Jefferson Davis died more a hero than if he had fallen upon the glorious field of Buena Vista, in the service of the Union, or upon some equally glorious battle-field of the Confederacy.
Or a purer sword led a braver band,
Or a braver bled for a brighter land,
Or a brighter land had a cause so grand,
Or a cause a chief like Lee.
The Private soldier.Nor even here is our duty ended. Let still another monument rise, simple, majestic, grand, sky-piercing. Let but one device be carved upon it, a soldier lying dead upon his shield. Let it bear but one inscription—that placed by the Greeks, as the old heroic legend tells, on the memorial stone erected at Thermopylae. And let its summit be crowned by a figure in a faded and worn gray jacket, standing musket in hand at the post of duty. A truer hero or more unselfish patriot never marched to battle than the Confederate private. He did not serve for pay, for he received a mere pittance for his service. He did not fight for glory, for history does not take care of him. He did not look for promotion, for he seldom rose above the ranks. He often left a starving family at home—he committed them to God and the charity of friends. He suffered cruelly from hunger and cold; with his faithful friend, his musket, he was always ready to forget the one and to overcome the other in the heat of battle. And when he fell and slept his last sleep in his soldier grave— No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet, nor in shroud we wound him,
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his tattered blanket around him.
The V. M. I. Cadets.In paying my unworthy tribute to the soldiers of the Confederacy, I should do injustice to them and to myself did I fail to give their due meed of honor to a band of young heroes, which may well claim ‘a place in the picture near the hashing of the guns.’ I see before me to-night a uniform which vividly recalls the early scenes of the war, when at Harper's Ferry, at Manassas, at all points where troops had been assembled, the Virginia cadet was ubiquitous in organizing, drilling, and instructing the men whom the State had called to the field. Later on, when they took their posts of duty in the army, and were joined by the yearly contingent sent to the field by their honored ‘Alma Mater,’ they had their full share of the hardships, the dangers, the deaths, and the honors of the war. But the spring of 1864 witnessed their crowning achievement as a distinct organization  on the battle-field. Every old soldier's heart leaps and thrills when he recalls that gallant band of boy-soldiers as it comes, with steady tread and dauntless front, upon the field of Newmarket, as they take the fire like veterans, as they drive the enemy before them and sleep upon a victorious field which their heroism had helped to win. These sacred memories, my young comrades of the Virginia Military Institute, are your inheritance, and you will never be unworthy of them. The same noble institution shelters and cherishes you. The same gallant officer who led your corps then, commands you now. The same southern sky that witnessed the deeds of your comrades, stretches over you. The same sentinel mountains that guard the spot where they fought and fell, are around you, and you will be true to the glorious past. Fellow-soldiers of the young guard of the Army of Northern Virginia, the soldiers of the ‘old guard’ extend to you the right hand of fellowship and greet you as comrades.
After the war.When Lisbon was destroyed by the memorable earthquake of 1755, and the fair city lay in ruins, with thousands of its inhabitants crushed beneath the wreck of its homes and temples, the horrors of a great conflagration were added to a scene at which the heart sickens and which defies description. To this pathetic picture the condition of the South, at the close of the civil war, may justly be compared. To the ruin already wrought by the convulsions that had shaken her, and the storm that had swept over her, the fierce passions of reconstruction were added to complete one of the darkest scenes in the history of any civilized people. To those who passed through that terrible age, which was crowded into the ten years of reconstruction, it appears even now as some hideous nightmare, or the troubled dream of a disordered fancy. Future generations will never realize it. No other people could have stood the test and passed the ordeal successfully. But the law-abiding, courageous, determined spirit of the Anglo-Saxon triumphed at last. The people of the South, trained as men were never trained before, to lessons of danger, self-sacrifice, self-reliance, and patience, have met every difficulty that confronted them and solved all the perilous problems of their situation but one, and that one the future must trust to them, and to them alone, for ultimate solution. The question may well be asked to-day:
Who were the victorsin our civil war? It is true that the Federal government overthrew secession and abolished slavery; but has that relieved it from the danger of revolution and internal dissension in other forms and from other causes? All history will belie itself if the future furnish no such causes. What say our political seers to the vast accumulation of wealth in a few hands, the most prolific source of social and political corruption and national decay to be found in history? What of the unceasing and ever-growing conflict between capital and labor which is shaking every civilized country, as well as our own, to its centre? What of anarchism and its terrible hand-maid, dynamite, the direct offspring of the other two? All these conditions were abnormally developed by the war, and are confined to that section of the Union which seemed twenty-five years ago to have reaped all the rewards of success. But say our optimistic solons, the war gave us also a strong, centralized government which is a safeguard against all these possible perils. Let them beware lest they re peat Nebuchadnezzar's dream of his tree of power, and find no Daniel to give the interpretation thereof. The tendency of all centralism in any form of government under the sun is to despotism, and anarchy is the last and most terrible offspring of despotism. But how fares it with our own Southland since the dark days of ‘destruction and reconstruction’? It is no less true of her than of other sections that she has dangers to confront in the present and in the future. The race problem, a legacy of the war, even now looms up ominously before us, and its final settlement must and will remain with the States of the South. But relieved of the incubus of slavery, and disciplined in the stern school of poverty and adversity, she has not for a moment halted or turned back in the great race of progress. With firm and elastic tread she is springing forward on the highway of material prosperity, and bids fair to realize her fondest dreams of wealth and power. As descriptive of these conditions, we sometimes hear of the ‘New South’ in contradistinction to the old. Thank God, it is one South, neither new nor old, but always glorious. But for its record in the past it could never have been what it is to-day. Material prosperity alone never yet made a people great. Cherishing the great traditions, the chivalric character and the splendid  achievements of the past, let us improve upon them if we can and therewith be content. The great painter Leonardo de Vinci, when but a youth, was directed by his instructor to complete a picture which he had been compelled to leave unfinished. Taking the brush with trembling hand, and kneeling before the picture, he prayed for skill and power to complete the work for the sake of his beloved master. His hand grew steady, the light of genius flashed from his eye, enthusiasm and forgetfulness of self took the place of fear and self-distrust, and, lo! when the picture was finished, the work of the young artist had surpassed that of his master. So with reverent hands will we of this generation devote ourselves to the great work before us, and pray that our efforts may increase the happiness, the strength, and the glory of our grand motherland. Would to God that in this great country of ours, political were not so nearly synonymous with geographical boundaries, and that while rejoicing in each other's progress, every section might unite in a spirit of loyal brotherhood to meet every danger that threatens, in any and every part of our wide domain. The cultivation of such a spirit and a return to strict constitutional methods, is the only course of permanent national safety. While holding to the principle that the Union is indissoluble, leave to the States their entire sovereignty in all things not absolutely requiring the intervention of the national government. The true strength of that government in the future must be as the head of a mighty phalanx of harmonious and indestructible States which will bear it up on their shields and carry its banner triumphantly through every peril. To this great end the States of the South stand ready to pledge ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.’ This Union has been cemented by blood too precious to have been shed in vain. Let that blood atone for all the errors of the past, while North and South and East and West, with loyal hearts and willing hands—
Put on the old ship all her power to-day,General Law was frequently applauded during his address, and at its close he was warmly congratulated by many of those who heard him.  General Jubal A. Early entered the hall during the delivery of the address, and his appearance was the signal for an outburst of applause. At the close of the address, Rev. Dr. J. William Jones moved that the thanks of the Association be returned to General Law, and that a copy be requested for publication. Adopted unanimously. Major J. Booton Hill moved that a committee of five be appointed to propose the names of the officers and the Executive Committee. Adopted; and the following gentlemen were appointed: Major J. B. Hill, Colonel R. W. T. Duke, Rev. Frank Stringfellow, Rev. W. Q. Hulleton, and General William McComb. While the committee was out, loud calls were made for General Fitz. Lee, who responded happily.
Crowd extra top-gallants and royal studding sails,
With flags and flaunting pennants added,
As we take to the open—the deepest, freest waters.
Other addresses.In response to calls, the following gentlemen also came forward and made short appropriate addresses: General Jubal A. Early, General J. B. Kershaw, of South Carolina; General M. C. Butler, of South Carolina; General A. R. Lawton, of Alabama. By this time the committee had returned, and reported the names of the following gentlemen as officers for the ensuing year, and the report was unanimously agreed to: President—General William H. Payne. First Vice-President—General T. T. Munford. Second Vice-President—General B. T. Johnson. Third Vice-President—General E. M. Law. Secretary—Captain Thomas Ellett. Treasurer—Private Robert J. Bosher. Executive Committee—Colonel W. E. Cutshaw (chairman), Captain Thomas Pinckney, Private J. T. Gray, Major E. T. D. Myers, and Captain E. P. Reeve. The President then announced the banquet, after which, at 10:45, the Association adjourned. After the speaking at the Capitol the Association and their guests repaired to Saenger Hall, where an excellent supper was spread and fully enjoyed. General Payne presided, and introduced the speakers. The following were the regular toasts and respondents:  The Infantry:
If ever a band of warriors wonGeneral John B. Gordon. The Artillery: The splendid service of the artillery nerved the arm and inspired the heart of the other branches of the army, and frequently turned the tide of battle to victory. Colonel Thomas H. Carter. The Cavalry:
A paen for deeds of valor done,
They deserve, indeed, the glorious meed
And the proud triumphal hymn.
As the Immortals rode to war, when Hector fought for Troy,General W. H. Payne. The Women of the South: History shall tell how you
These rode as if immortals, too, inspired with awful joy.
Have nobly borne your part,
And won the proudest triumph yet,
The triumph of the heart.
Judge F. R. Farrar. The Confederate Dead: It seeks not where their bodies lie,
By bloody hillside, plain, or river,
Their names are bright on Fame's proud sky;
Their deeds of valor live forever.
Senator John W. Daniel. General Gordon was received with vociferous applause, made a superb speech, and was given three cheers at the close. Colonel Thomas H. Carter made his ‘maiden speech,’ but did it admirably, and received ‘three cheers for the gallant artillerist.’ All the speakers, including those who responded to the toasts, acquitted themselves felicitously, as the audience testified in their appreciative attention and attendant applause.