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Monument to the Confederate dead at Fredericksburg, Virginia, unveiled June 10, 1891.

oration by General Bradley T. Johnson.
There was a great concourse of ex Confederate soldiers at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on June 10, 1891. They came to assist in the annual memorial exercises and to dedicate a monument to their noble comrades whose remains rest in the historic city so long war begirted.

The decorations.

The decorations were elaborate and very tastefully executed. All along the line of march there was an abundant display of Southern colors. The more prominently decorated buildings were the Opera House, ‘Free Lance’ office, ‘Fredericksburg Star’ office, Exchange Hotel, City Hall and Courthouse.

The hospitable doors of every mansion was thrown open to the boys who wore the gray, and a bountiful supply of everything good to eat was found upon their tables, and the fair daughters of this old burg dispensed the hospitalities as only women of the South know how.

The procession.

It was nearly 4 o'clock before the procession began to move. The route of the procession was up Commerce to Prince Edward, to Hanover, to Princess Anne, to Prussia, Main to Fauquier, to Princess [398] Anne, to Amelia, to Confederate cemetery. W. P. Smith, Grand Commander of Confederate Veterans of Virginia, was in command of the parade, which was composed as follows: Marshal and aides, band, carriages containing disabled veterans and prominent guests, General Bradley T. Johnson, General Corse and others; Confederate camps; Maury Camp of this place, R. E. Lee Camp of Richmond, Pickett Camp of Richmond, Pickett-Buchanan Camp of Norfolk, R. E. Lee Camp of Alexandria, Ewell Camp of Prince William; unorganized veterans, comprised of veterans from the surrounding counties; delegations from New York, Baltimore, Washington, Roanoke, Leesburg, Lynchburg, West Point and Charlottesville Camps; United Order Mechanics, Knights of Pythias and city fire department. The procession marched into the cemetery and formed around the mound where the unknown dead rest and upon which the monument stands.

The oration.

The exercises here were opened with prayer by Rev. I. W. Canter, followed by an anthem, after which the orator of the day, General Bradley T. Johnson, was introduced, who delivered the following beautiful oration:

Address of General Johnson.

Fellow Confederates, men and women:

For the last twenty years I have been observing with growing wonder the phenomenon of feeling toward the actors on the Confederate side in the war between the States.

When Appomattox temporarily terminated the struggle for liberty and self-government, which our race has been making with heart and brain and muscle in discussion and in battle, from the days of Alfred to the present, it seemed as if rebellion crushed and loyalty triumphant could only result in odium to the unsuccessful side. I never agreed with that estimate of the situation, for I believed if the Confederate people were true to their ideals of honor and fidelity their glorious achievements would be certain of appreciation by the generations to come, and I believed they would be true.

But I did not anticipate what has occurred. Never in my most highly-colored dreams did I see a hope of such speedy realization of our aspirations. It is a fact, and a wonderful fact, that the pathos, the sentiment, the romance of the war between the States is concentrated, crystalized about and emanates from the cause of the Confederacy. [399]

In the North to-day no name stirs human hearts like that of Lee, no fame electrifies the people like Stonewall, no flag flashes, no sabre glitters like that of Stuart. Neither Grant nor Sherman nor Sheridan, the great and successful soldiers of the victorious side, have left such an impression on the imagination or the hearts of the people as have the leaders of the Confederates, who died in battle or yielded to overwhelming force, where further resistance would have been criminal.

Objects of the war.

I do not mean to intimate, for I do not believe that the North has changed its opinion as to the wisdom of our course. They thought then and they think now it was foolish to attempt to break up a Union, because first it was so unprofitable, and second because it was impossible before overwhelming forces for us to succeed. But I do mean to say that the idea is dimly pressing itself upon the Northern mind that we tried to avoid war—did not want war; that war was brought on, waged and continued for the purpose of keeping a faction in power, and enabling the controllers of the faction to make a profit out of it. It was not a patriotic war to preserve the Union, but a contractor's war to secure the men in power permanent control in government. Pensions and bounties are the degrading consequences of the mercenary motives which brought it on.

Southern women.

Our women whose mothers and grandmothers had decorated the most brilliant courts of modern Europe and formed the highest social organization of America, whose ancestors had founded Virginia and framed the Union, were forced to the menial duties of the kitchen and the laundry for husband and children. A man can face death with joy, he can endure hunger and cold without flinching, but to see the tender hand that has been given him by sweet girlhood toughened by menial toil, the delicate forms upon which the winds of heaven were wont not to blow harshly, and which he swore to cherish and protect, bent by daily labor, this sight, I say, tried the nerves and tested the heart ten thousand times more than the guns at Malvern or the artillery at Gettysburg. But the women never flinched during that ordeal of temptation and of suffering, of fidelity and of fortitude. They encouraged their fathers, husbands and lovers. By them and through them the men were kept firm and straight. [400]

Occasionally one of them has picked up a handsome, dashing and gallant Yankee officer. The temptation to get even was too strong for even a Confederate woman; but she has ever since held his misfortune at having been a Yankee over his head, and has made a better man and a better soldier of him every time.

Civilization North and South.

By race characteristics and geographical environment the civilization of the North and South had development on different lines. The North, invigorated by a constant struggle with the forces of nature, had naturally adopted the philosophy of materialism, and had come to believe that the highest duty of man was to accumulate power.; and as money in our modern civilization had come to be a source of all material power the pursuit of wealth had got to be considered the highest aim of human effort. Embracing with enthusiasm the philosophy of Adam Smith, that every man should be for himself and the devil could, would and should take the hindmost, supreme selfishness had become the all-pervading sentiment and directing force of that society.

The South, with a more generous climate, had developed a more sentimental society. In a sparsely settled country the ties of blood kept their hold. Husband and wife, parent and child, all the ramified relations of kinship, retained their binding force. Devotion to veracity and honor in man, chastity and fidelity in women, were the ideals which formed character. The forms and sentiments of Southern society were the primitive forms and sentiments of the older civilization.

They belonged to that state of development which the modern social philosophers call militarism. The principles and organization of the North belong to the later development, known as industrialism.

Social Disorders.

No man can foretell the hour when the volcano will burst in Europe and overwhelm Church and State, Czar and President in one common ruin. In the North, where the industrial system has had its freest and fullest development, organized labor and agricultural discontent are the all-pervading symptoms of social disorder and the precurser of political ruin. It is certain that the present condition is only temporary. When all the property and means of living are [401] more and more accumulating in a few hands, and the political power is possessed by the many, it takes no prophet to foretell that some other arrangement must be made.

The resistance made by the South was not merely an attempt to preserve political institutions, but to perpetuate a social organization inherited through a thousand generations — the sanctity of marriage, the inviolability of the family, the faith in truth, honor, virtue, the protection of home. Historically the position of the South was impregnable.

Sovereign, independent States.

The States constituting the Union had rebelled against George III as States. They had fought through the war of that rebellion as States. Maryland did not join the confederation until March 1, 1781, and Virginia had declared her independence long before the confederated States had declared themselves ‘free and independent States.’ The treaties with France and the foreign powers during the war had been made with the States by name; the treaty acknowledging their independence had recognized each State by name.

The Constitution was formed by States, each having an equal vote. It was adopted and put in operation by States. Rhode Island and North Carolina refused to consent to it, and remained out of the Union for two years as independent States.

If any historical fact ever has been established, or ever can be settled, it is that the Union was formed of equal, independent, sovereign States by the act of those States themselves.

This being so, the whole course of English history shows that our ancestors have invariably at all times redressed wrongs and reformed abuses in government by armed resistance to illegal power when necessary. It had long been an axiom of our race that ‘resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.’ Our ancestors had rebelled against King John and wrung from him the great charter; they had rebelled against Charles I when he attempted to govern them without a Parliament of their own representatives; they rebelled against the Commonwealth when it attempted to rule them contrary to ancient institutions of the realm; they rebelled against James II when he was suspected of intending to overthrow their laws; they rebelled against George III when he tried to deprive them of the rights of their ancestors—never to be taxed except by their own consent. The right of rebellion, then, was one of the inherited and inalienable rights of a free-born race.


Resuming sovereignty.

When, therefore, the election of 1860 gave notice that the North proposed to force the struggle against all of our institutions with all the power of all the States, thirteen of those States, exercising the right of self-defence—of resistance to wrong—acting as States, took up arms for the protection of their institutions, secured by the struggles of their ancestors with so much blood on so many battle-fields.

I do not care to argue the question of the right of secession. I justify the action of the Southern States on the higher ground of the right of self-defence, which can never be surrendered nor bartered by any man or any people. But it seems too clear for demonstration that if they came into the Union as States they had the right to leave it as States. Rebellion has no terrors for us. Our ancestors have been rebels time, time and again for a thousand years. George Washington was a rebel; John Hampden was a rebel; Algernon Sydney was a rebel; Kosciusko was a rebel; William Tell was a rebel.

Rebel an Honorable name.

Every brave man who at any time, anywhere, has resisted tyranny and given his life for liberty has been a rebel. It is the decoration which tyrannical power always bestows on virtue and manhood, and liberty will have fled from earth and the rights of man will have become a byword when the sacred and inalienable right of resistance to wrong shall have no manhood to enforce it. The secession of the thirteen was no cause for war, nor was there any other necessity for it. The confederation was formed to create a ‘perpetual Union.’ When it was found inefficient, eleven States seceded and formed the Union under the Constitution of 1787, leaving Rhode Island and North Carolina, who refused to secede, alone to constitute the perpetual Union of 1777. Instead of remaining in the perpetual Union and waging war on the seceding States they wisely united themselves with the ‘more perfect Union,’ and accepted the amended Constitution, which experience has proved was necessary in the altered conditions and changed relations of States and of society. The thirteen, in 1861, following the precedent, took the Constitution of 1787 and so amended it as to make its doubtful language plain, and to prevent a recurrence of the abuses of power which experience had showed were without remedy under the original instrument of


What Federalism has done.

The reform attempted by the Confederates, whereby they sought to amend and improve the Constitution of 1787, so as to perpetuate liberty and secure the right of every man to labor, to home and to happiness, failed, and the revolution inaugurated by Mr. Lincoln and his adherents succeeded. The Confederate reform sought to secure the rights of all sections, States, classes and individuals by constitutional guarantees. The Federal revolution sought to concentrate all political power in the Government.

They have succeeded, having overthrown a Constitution with limitations and guarantees, and instituted one of absolute power, controlled ostensibly by popular will, but, in fact, directed by a heartless plutocracy for its own benefit. They have fixed the precedent that all property depends on force, and not on justice and right, for they have destroyed five thousand millions dollars' worth of property on the pretence that it was injurious to permit it to exist. They have fixed the precedent that the Constitution of 1787 can be altered by force, for they compelled its amendment by the bayonet. They have settled the precedent that the Supreme Court can register their decrees and be reversed on their decision, as they caused the court to reverse their legal-tender decision, and they packed that court so as to make it conform to its wishes.

And when in the future all corporate property becomes more obnoxious than it is now, and the Government of the Union takes possession of all the railroads, telegraphs, mines and manufacturing establishments, and pays for them with legal tender money made out of wood pulp, and turned out by ten thousand printing presses, then the very people who have brought all this on themselves will cry aloud for the constitutional liberty for which the Confederates fought and died. Or when the Congress, on demand of the industrial interests, shall decree that twelve hours shall be a day's work, and that fifty cents a day shall be legal pay for the legal day, then the great mass of the people, who always must earn their daily bread by their daily toil, will understand that the Confederate theory, that Government has no right to interfere with the industry of the citizen, and that every man should have an equal opportunity for happiness, is the only one which secures liberty to people and security to home. And when New England is represented in the Senate of the United [404] States by two Senators instead of twelve, on the demand of the great States of California, Texas, Chihuahua and Nicaragua, then she will understand that a Constitution ought to be a shield and not a sword. * * * * * *

Innate force of the South.

It is amusing to hear the surprise constantly manifested by Northern visitors at the development and progress of the South, and more amusing to hear it so complacently attributed to Northern energy and enterprise. They are wrong and they are right. They are wrong, for it is Southern brains and muscle, energy and enterprise, which is building up the South. They are right, because they themselves developed and made necessary the qualities in the South which are accomplishing these results. Their war, their reconstruction, their effort to subvert society and put the bottom rail on top, have welded us into a solid mass and aroused energies unknown that will beat them in the struggle for material development and ideas that will govern this Republic as long as it lasts.

But we are in greater danger now than we ever were from McClellan or Hooker, Pope or Grant.

Material development is progressing with constantly accelerating force. Wealth is accumulating. Booms, plutocracy, worship of money, are all impressing the doctrine that the end justifies the means, and that success is the highest duty, and our danger is that the very civilization of industrialism which we spent so much blood and so many lives to resist may at last overwhelm the institutions of our ancestors and the principles which we have inherited.

But I have no fear. Institutions are stronger than constitutions; race instincts and the law of heredity prevail over social and political revolutions. The institution of the Confederates—respect for honor and veracity in man, love and purity in woman—are more deeply planted to-day than they have ever been. They withstand the strain of wealth and luxury, self-indulgence and selfishness longer than any other society. Whether they can always survive the progress of the civilization of industrialism no man can foresee; but this civilization may itself be crushed out and overthrown as those which have preceded it have been. The societies organized on the ideas of Brahma and of the Pharaohs have long since disintegrated, and no one can believe that the present condition is permanent.


Our faith.

Belief in honor, justice, right and truth. For this faith we fought; our brothers died for it; we have stood fast by it, and by it we will be preserved from the trials and temptations that are to come.

Some time ago the War-Lord of Germany startled the world with an epigram: ‘We Germans fear God and nothing else in the world.’ But we can say with perfect simplicity and earnestness: ‘We Confederates, men and women, love God and fear nothing in this world nor the next, in the past nor in the future; for the past we have made glorious, the future we will render illustrious. This world the indomitable soul will conquer; the next inexhaustible love will save.’

At the conclusion of this fine effort the monument was unveiled by Captain J. N. Barney, an ex-Confederate navy officer who served with distinction throughout the war.

Graves Garnished with garlands.

The graves of the dead were elaborately decorated, while the band, under the leadership of Professor Andrew Bowering, discoursed sweet music familiar to every Southern soldier.

At the conclusion of the exercises a salute of thirteen guns was fired under the direction of Comrade G. T. Downing, who served in the Army of Northern Virginia in the Milledge artillery of Atlanta, Georgia, Nelson's battalion, Jackson's corps.

As the echo of the last gun died away up the valley the sun sank to rest in a bed of gold and crimson clouds, and the heroes who responded to their country's call and followed Lee, Jackson and Stuart, conquering, yet unconquering, and gave their life in the defence of their country, were left alone in their bed of glory, covered with flowers of fidelity wet with the tears of love.

The monument unveiled.

The monument was erected by the Ladies' Memorial Association of this city. The stone used is gray granite and was quarried on the farm of Mrs. Downman, just a short distance from the battle-field. The inscriptions upon the monument are: On the east side—South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina; west side—Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas; north side—Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas; south side—Georgia, Florida, Alabama. [406]

The monument occupies a very commanding position in the cemetery, and can be seen from almost every direction as one approaches the city. It stands in the southern portion of the cemetery on a mound about five feet high, where the unknown dead are buried, and is about twenty-five feet in height. The apex of the monument rests on four columns of red granite. Upon the apex the figure of a Confederate soldier stands in a position of ‘parade rest,’ and is facing to the South. On the four sides of the apex are cut crossed muskets, crossed sabres, a cannon, and a castle with battlements; on the east side under the cannon are the words: ‘To the Confederate Dead.’

The corner-stone was laid on June 4, 1874, by Fredericksburg Lodge, A. F. and A. M. The statue of a Confederate soldier was from a design by George T. Downing, and was cast at the bronze works of the Bridgeport Monumental Company, of Bridgeport, Conn.


A. B. Bowering, leader of Bowering Band, this city, is an exConfederate veteran, and led the band that played the last tune heard by General Lee from a military band of his army as he rode away from Appomattox after the surrender.

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