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General Junius Daniel. an Address delivered before the Ladies' Memorial Association, in Raleigh, N. C, May 10th, 1888.

By Hon. P. T. Bennett.
Mr. President, and Ladies of the Memorial Association of Raleigh, Ladies and Gentlemen–Citizen Soldiers.—

I am delighted to meet you. It is a precious privilege to share in the exercises of this day.

There is no more fitting place for the observance of these rites, the uttering of these tokens of a people's gratitude and love, than this city, renowned as it is for its culture—its loyalty to principle, its dutifulness to God and our country.

‘Fellowship in a loosing cause makes strong ties.’

There was a custom in ancient Egypt that after death and before burial scrutiny should be made into the acts of life for determination as to what extent formal funeral ceremonies should be allowed to the remains of the deceased.

Junius Daniel was born in the town of Halifax, North Carolina, the 27th day of June, 1828. He was the youngest child of the Hon. [341] J. R. J. Daniel, who was elected Attorney-General of North Carolina in the year 1834, and afterwards represented his district in the Congress of the United States several terms.

He was a cousin of Judge Daniel, who was appointed March 2, 1815, judge of the Superior Court of North Carolina and elected judge of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, 1832. His mother was a Miss Stith.

He was the last surviving issue of his father. Blessed with a constitution of great original vigor, he gave promise in the early years of his life of those powers of endurance which were so necessary to the work he found next his hand to be done. His mother died when he was three years of age. Fortunately he had learned more these three years than he did any decade of his life thereafter. The teaching of this holy woman fell upon good soil and helped to make her son loathe dishonesty, insincerity, all violence to truth and every form of degrading vice.

His parents possessed every prime social virtue.

His education began with his grandfather and was carried forward with the youth in the most intelligent way then known to his people. He entered the excellent school of J. M. Lovejoy, who taught in this city many years and lies buried within bowshot of this hall, about the year 1843, and continued his pupil until admitted to the Military Academy at West Point, in 1846, to which he was appointed by President James K. Polk as one of the cadets at large.

He was compelled by severe injuries, accidently inflicted upon him while engaged in artillery practice, to interrupt his course at the Military Academy, and his course there was not completed until 1851.

He graduated with highly respectable standing in deportment and scholarship, and was ordered to Newport, Kentucky, as acting assistant quartermaster. He went to New Mexico under orders the fall of 1852, and was four years stationed at Forts Albuquerque, Fillmore and Stanton, where his time was spent diligently conducting such military parties as were committed to his care, in repelling the hostile incursions made by the Indians upon the country, and forcing those wild children of the plains to recognize the authority of the Government. He took part in many skirmishes with the Indians. He sedulously studied his profession, and became familiar with Jomini and others who wrote histories of the art of war. He was good to his men then. He returned to the States from New Mexico in 1857.

His father, with Anglo Saxon thirst for land, having acquired large landed possessions in Louisiana, the younger officer was induced to [342] resign his commission in the army and take charge of these possessions, superintend the cultivation of them and give aid in the improvement of them.

Lord Bacon said: ‘Gardening is the purest of all pleasures.’ The life and calling of a Southern planter then abounded in much that is now lacking in the business of farming.

Then the system of service upon the farm was perfect. Then the profits arising from this great calling, the chopping block of all other callings, were large and certain. Now it has come to be, by reason of the great changes wrought by man and the greater changes wrought by time or nature, the most precarious of all the great pursuits of man. A succession of forbidding harvests has well nigh broken the hearts of the agriculturists.

He succeeded admirably well in the management of the estate committed to his care. The broad studies pursued at West Point well supplemented his calling as a farmer.

In October, 1860, he married Ellen, a lovely and accomplished young lady, daughter of John J. Long, Esq., of Northampton county, N. C. In a letter written to me within the last few weeks by Captain William Hammond, who served as adjutant-general on the staff of General Daniel, he says: ‘I may not after so many years have passed allude with particularity to special traits of his character, but I must be permitted to bear testimony to his matchless devotion to his wife. It was beautiful and touching beyond description. I shall never forget that, when trying at his request to prepare a will disposing of his property, his only instructions were “Let my wife have everything she deserves, more than I can leave her.” ’

In the midst of all this, war between the Government and the Confederate States came. It is the fashion now-a-days to condemn the part of the South in that great struggle and in the drama that led up to it. I do not share the views of those who put the fault at our door alone and strive to keep it there. There is no Anglo-Saxon community on this planet with three thousand millions of property staked in any kind of solvent investment that would not resort to bloodlet-ting rather than abandon it. Besides, the contemporary history of the first fifty years of the life of the Government bears ample testimony to the supposed existence of the right of secession as a peaceful right left to the States of the Union.

In ‘A View of the Constitution of the United States,’ by Wm. Rawle, Ll. D., a citizen of Pennsylvania, a book published in Philadelphia in 1825, used as a text-book at the West Point Military Academy some time, he says: [343]

If a faction should attempt to subvert the government of a State for the purpose of destroying its republican form, the paternal power of the Union could then be called forth to subdue it. Yet it is not to be understood that its interposition would be justifiable if the people of a State should determine to retire from the Union, whether they adopted another or retained the same form of government, or if they should, with the express intention of seceding, expunge the representative form from their code, and thereby incapacitate themselves from concurring, according to the mode now prescribed, in the choice of certain public officers of the United States.

‘The secession of a State from the Union depends on the will of the people of such State. The States, then, may wholly withdraw from the Union; but while they continue they must retain the character of representative republics.’

In April, 1861, the passions of the people North and South were stirred to their very depths with respect to the absorbing question, Is it war? Is it peace? North Carolina—always conservative, always cherishing affection for the institutions of the country—shared the deep commotion that prevailed in the public mind. There was hurrying hither and thither. From the Atlantic ocean to the culmination of the Alleghanies, where the storm king plays upon his harp of pine, the people were organizing companies, battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions, armies.

The Fourteenth regiment of North Carolina troops, originally the Fourth regiment, was organized the latter part of May, 1861, and the commission of Junius Daniel as colonel of that regiment bears date June 3, 1861. I have the most vivid recollection of the first time I saw Colonel Daniel—Garysburg was the place, Sunday afternoon dress parade the occasion. The regiment had been formed for the parade; the acting adjutant had brought the command to present arms, and, after saluting the officer in charge of the parade, had taken his post. Colonel Daniel in the full uniform of his rank, about five feet ten inches in height, weighing perhaps two hundred pounds, of the most commanding manner, splendid presence, perfectly self-possessed, about thirty-five years of age, with a voice deep, well trained, powerful in compass, at once seized the attention of the command; and from that moment until he laid down the reins of authority at the reorganization of the regiment, April 26, 1862, he was the guide of the regiment, their ideal of an officer, and as completely devoted to its comfort, care and training as if the regiment [344] had been part of his personal fortunes. He was conscious of the magnitude of the war about to break upon the country, and with might he strove to harden these raw but impressible troops into steady and seasoned men of war. The men and officers of his command represented the best society of the State. Into this mass he poured his own undoubted faith, his personal manliness, his great courage, his complete and perfect loyalty to those set in authority above him. He saw day by day the standard of his regiment rise, its capacity broaden and deepen, its steadiness in military duties become greater. The officers and men were vieing with each other in their steady imitation of their commander. The military air of the regiment was rapidly becoming more pronounced.

I shall never forget the conversation I heard in those days and nights between the colonel and those who sought his instructive company. I heard him say there were but few well authenticated instances in modern warfare of hostile troops killing each other with bayonets; that there was but one well authenticated instance in the wars of modern Europe of such an occurrence; that a French and Spanish battalion did cross bayonets in the streets of Saragossa. I heard him say remarkable things with respect to commonplace subjects. And I am certain now of the truth of this opinion that in the element of common sense, which I take to be the capacity, to say that with reference to any subject of conversation in hand which instantly commends itself to all who hear it though it had not occurred to any one to say so, he was specially gifted, or there was in his training at West Point that which gave him great advantages over those who had no such training, and especial advantage in taking care of himself and his command—getting the best of all there was to be had for his command.

He was elected colonel of the Forty-third regiment at its organization, but declined the office in favor of a promising young officer, who had given decided evidence of ability. He also declined the command of the Second cavalry in favor of Colonel Sol. Williams, saying, with the frankness of the true soldier, ‘Williams is a better man, for he is par excellence a cavalryman, so put him there.’ He first served as colonel of the Forty-fifth under General Holmes, who discovered his fine qualification as a soldier, and recommended him for promotion, asking that he might be assigned to duty under him. The Government found itself embarrassed with brigadier-generals, while suffering from poverty of brigades. This application was denied, but an officer of that grade was tendered to General Holmes, [345] who declined, saying ‘you can keep your generals; I can get along with my colonels.’

From this time until he received his commission as brigadier-general he served under three department commanders, each of whom urged his promotion, and failing to effect it refused to turn his command over to general officers. He organized several brigades, and commanded one of them several months as senior colonel, and when it was rumored that one was to be taken from him, he did not complain of the Government, but said: ‘I would certainly dislike to give up the command of these troops after having the trouble of training them and having become so attached to them. I don't seek the distinction of rank for position merely, for if the war were to close to-morrow the offer of the highest could not induce me to remain in the army. I have other obligations to fulfil, but whilst the war lasts, here in the field I will be found. My whole soul is in the cause, and my life is at my country's service. If the Government does not choose to give me command of my brigade, I will stick to my regiment and make no complaint.’

His command was on the extreme right of our line at Malvern Hill, and was exposed to a very demoralizing fire for some time. Some cavalry thrown into confusion was retreating in haste, and involved several pieces of artillery. Colonel Daniel threw a regiment across the road, halted a piece of artillery, put it in charge of an officer, and ordered him to fire upon all who did not halt. While thus engaged his horse was shot under him, and he narrowly escaped with his life.

He was commissioned brigadier-general in September, 1862, and was assigned the Thirty-second regiment, commanded by Brabble, who perished amid the wild glare of battle at Spotsylvania; the Forty-third by Kenan, wounded and captured at Gettysburg, but restored to us, and here to-day, thank God, to gladden these melancholy days by his delicious presence; the Forty-fifth by Morehead, who lingered and died at Martinsburg, West Virginia, ministered unto by the saintly and heroic women, who carried the standard of the Confederacy in their hands and the cross of heaven in their precious hearts (afterwards by Boyd, wounded and captured upon the tempestuous slopes of Gettysburg, exchanged to die, near Hanover, in May, 1864); the Fifty-third by Owen, whose heroic soul went up to God from the summit of the mountain at Snicker's Gap; the Second North Carolina battalion by Andrews, who was shot to death amid the angry shouting of hosts at Gettysburg. [346]

At the time of his appointment to be brigadier-general there was no officer of his rank in the army of Northern Virginia more distinguished than he for the essential qualities of a true soldier and successful officer, brave, vigilant, and honest, attentive to the wants of his men, gifted as an organizer and disciplinarian, skilled in handling troops. I heard a private soldier of the Fourteenth North Carolina say to his companion during the winter of 1863-‘64, that Colonel Daniel beat all men he knew in taking care of his men.

He spent the autumn of 1862 with his brigade near Drewry's Bluff. He was sent to North Carolina in December of 1862 to meet a division of Foster in favor of Burnside. Soon after the battle of Chancellorsville he was transferred to Lee's army, Rode's division, attached to Ewell's corps, during the Pennsylvania campaign.

The conduct of General Daniel at Gettysburg, the first real opportunity he had to display his ability in handling troops under fire, won for him the highest place in the estimation of his fellow soldiers of every rank.

Captain Hammond says:

He told me when his brigade was forming for the fight on the first day at Gettysburg that his only regret was that some of his regiments were not better trained, more thorough seasoned, and that some, perhaps many of them, would not survive the action. After the fighting was over for that day, I observed a bullet hole in the crown of his hat just above and in a direct line with the centre of his forehead, and called his attention to the narrow escape he had made.

“Better there than an inch lower,” was the brief and careless response, and if he ever alluded to the circumstance again I did not hear it.

From July, 1863, until the day of his death his name and fame and that of his command were part of the history of the wonderful Army of Northern Virginia.

On the morning of May 12th, 1864, as the Fourteenth North Carolina regiment swept forward to regain the ground just lost by Edward Johnson's division, Brigadier-General Daniel, its old commander, saluted it and bade it God-speed and a worthy record. That day he fought his last fight, at the post of duty, full of courage, inspiring the timid by his example. Doing all that mortal man could do to stem the fierce current of battle, he yielded to the cruel surgery of the sword, and trod the wine press alone.

He lingered until the next day. A few hours before his death the surgeons were called in to ascertain if his wife could reach him before he died. As this was impossible, he sent his last message of love to [347] her—love from the tomb. He gave his watch to Major Badger (whose gifted soul has gone to join him), saying it was Ellen's watch, or Ellen's gift, and asked that she should provide for his servant William, who had been a faithful boy, and that his horse, John, should be cared for. His last inquiry was as to his brigade—how the men had acquitted themselves, and if they had suffered in the battle.

The great bulk of mankind must always remain obscure in the affairs of State. To lead is the province of the few. To do their duty is the supreme command to all. There is no art of rearing great men; they appear or do not appear by reason of inscrutable laws.

With respect to Brigadier-General Junius Daniel, I should say, after much thought, that he was a just man, inheriting great courage; fearless of danger to himself; with a strong, vigorous, active mind in a body of most unusual soundness; ‘rich in saving common sense,’ honest in purpose, clear in his intelligence, tenacious in his will and absolutely and unhesitatingly subordinate to his superiors in rank—yielding unquestioned obedience without criticism to every order or command given with fair intelligence.

A King once said of a Prince struck down,
Taller he seems in death;
And this speech holds true for now as then,
'Tis after death that we measure men,
And as mists of the past are rolled away,
Our heroes, who died in their tattered gray,
Grow taller and greater in all their parts,
Till they fill our minds as they fill our hearts,
And for those that lament them there is this relief,
That glory sits by the side of grief.
Yes, they grow taller as the years pass by,
And the world learns how they could do and die.

I would like to speak of the ‘ancient and unbred integrity of the people of North Carolina,’ their valor and courage in the war between the Government and the Confederate States, which levied the tribute of death from all ranks—but I must keep within the lines your partiality has traced for me.

I venture these remarks at the risk of fatiguing your patience.

I have marveled these twenty and odd years at the extraordinary performances of the Army of Northern Virginia, and tried to analyze [348] the chief cause of these feats. Patience and courage did much; race stamina did much. I place above any single influence that of the wives, mothers, and daughters of the South land. When the throne of Justinian trembled under the tread of revolting soldiers his wife rallied his irresolution with these words: ‘If flight were the only means of safety, yet I should disdain to fly. Death is the condition of our birth, but they who have reigned should never survive the loss of dignity and dominion. I implore heaven that I may never be seen a day without my diadem and purple. That I may no longer behold the light when I cease to be saluted with the name of Queen. If you resolve, O Caesar to fly—you have treasures—behold the sea, you have ships—but tremble lest the desire of life should expose you to wretched exile and ignominious death. For my own part I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: That the throne is a glorious sepulchre.’

While the two armies were struggling in the awful shadow of the horse-shoe in General Lee's line, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of May 12th, 1864, word came down the line from our side, ‘We are out of ammunition; send us cartridges. We cannot hold the works without ammunition.’ I called for volunteers out of my command to try the perilous task of carrying the desired help to our comrades. At this time the great pressure of the enemy on our immediate brigade front was broken. John W. McGregor of Anson county, of immediate highland Scotch extraction, Sergeant Ingram, Company K, of Wake county, Private Dixion of Cleveland county, Private Cox of Anson county, and Private Workman at once volunteered. They carried three boxes of ammunition to the line then held by the brigade of General Harris, of Mississippi. The General was surrounded by his staff and couriers. Sergeant McGregor told him that he and his comrades had brought the ammunition, and General Harris asked if no one would carry the cartridges into his line. None of the command answered. McGregor and Workman bore one box of it to the outer lines, where scarcely five feet of hastily constructed works separated the two lines of battle. A common soldier of Harris' brigade ran out of the line, and seizing the other boxes bore them into the works.

Of the five men of the Fourteenth North Carolina regiment who volunteered for this forlorn hope, Dixon was killed, and Cox, Ingram and McGregor were wounded.

I have ventured to relate this incident because two of the men belonged to Wake county, and because it was the work of men of the [349] Fourteenth North Carolina troops, prepared for service under the admirable soldier, General Junius Daniel, and because I wish the vast audience to know of this great and courageous act of our county men.

I have made inquiry for Sergeant Ingram to-day in your county, and learn that his name has perished from your midst.

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