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Tribute of love to her noble dead. From the times-dispatch, July 31, 1908.

Impressive Memorial services in old Blandford in honor of those who sleep there.

The memorial services held in Blandford Cemetery this afternoon, under the auspices of that noble body of women, the Ladies' Memorial Association, attracted a large gathering of people, which would have been much larger but for the marked inclemency of the weather. As always on these interesting occasions, the patriotic ladies of the city, unmoved and undeterred by adverse circumstances, and ever faithful to the memory of the heroic dead of the Southland, were present in large numgers. The ceremonies of the day possessed peculiar interest because the memory of the Petersburg soldiers who fell in battle in the War of 1861-65 was to be especially commemorated. The program of exercises was simple, but very beautiful.

The ladies of the Memorial Association met in the Mechanics' Hall at 5 o'clock P. M., to proceed in a body to the cemetery. The A. P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans met at their hall, Commander Homer Atkinton in charge, and paraded up Sycamore to Wythe street, where they took cars to the cemetery. The Petersburg Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy, and the A. P. Hill Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the children of the public schools, bearing bunches of evergreens and flowers, united in the exercises, and the scene was both beautiful and impressive.

Interesting exercises.

Mayor William M. Jones presided, and the exercises were opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. J. S. Foster. The feature of the ceremonies was the dedication of the beautiful stone and iron pagoda stand, erected by the Ladies' Memorial Association in memory of the Petersburg soldiers slain in battle, and around this incident great interest centred. The dedicatory address [126] was delivered by Hon. Charles T. Lassiter, the able and eloquent young Senator from Petersburg, and his address was worthy of his fame as an orator.

And here it may be stated that the Confederate memorial exercises in Petersburg have always heretofore been, and will always hereafter be, held on the 9th of June, a day made ever memorable in the annals of the city. This year they were omitted on that day on account of improvements being made in the soldiers' section in Blandford Cemetery by the Ladies' Memorial Association, and which have just been completed. The ladies then selected to-day, July 30th, the anniversary of the battle of the Crater, in which Petersburg soldiers took such glorious part, for the annual exercises. Among these improvements is the beautiful stand, which was formally dedicated this afternoon.

Senator Lassiters address.

Senator Lassiter, on being introduced, said:

Ladies of the Petersburg Ladies' Memorial Association, Veterans, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Ladies' Memorial Association of Petersburg has the honor of having been first in point of time to undertake the sacred task, which has been theirs for so many years, of preserving the memory of the soldiers who wore the gray and who gave their lives during the momentous conflict of 1861-65.

Now, more than forty years since the association was organized, we come once more to pay our annual tribute of love and veneration to the soldier dead, who sleep so quietly in old Blandford, awaiting the resurrection.

Never has a loving task been more faithfully accomplished than has the work of this association. Beginning when these fields still bore the marks of recent battle, and when the people of the South had just turned to recreate their social life, this work of caring for our dead has never been permitted to be forgotten.

Some, indeed many, of the original members have themselves answered the last roll call, but the survivors, with the spirit of the Old Guard, have closed up their ranks, and have carried on the work until to-day. George Eliot makes one of her characters [127] say that the reward of one duty done is the power to do another. The reward of the duty so nobly performed in the past is that now you ladies have had the power to erect this monument of enduring iron and stone ‘to the memory of the hero soldiers of Petersburg, who sacrificed their lives for our South.’

More soldiers than voters.

Who were these heroes? Every school boy knows that when the final call to arms came, Petersburg sent more soldiers to the field than she had voters on her poll books. The roll of companies speaks well for the martial spirit of the town, and embraces all of the different branches of the service; twelve companies of infantry, three of cavalry, two of artillery and last, but not least, that immortal home guard of boys and superannuated men, whose names have been inscribed in loving remembrance upon the walls of old Blandford Church, and who under the gallant Archer won imperishable fame on the 9th of June, 1864.

Who were these men? They were the flower of the youth of this old city. They were the representatives of all that was of the best in the civilization of their time and country. Almost every home had its soldier, and the proudest boast of those of later day is that they come from the lineage of those who went from the Cockade City to wear the gray, and to fight under the starry cross.

Who were these soldiers? The history of their achievements is the history of the Lost Cause. On every stricken field from Manassas to Appomattox—through all the long years of civil strife—hemmed in by superior numbers, without shoes, without clothes, without medicine, without food, these are the men who kept their powder dry and their weapons bright by constant use, whom no odds could unnerve, and who were overpowered, but never knew defeat.

Who were these veterans? From the Appomattox to the Monocacy, from the mountains to the sea, through the Valley campaign with Jackson, or in the Army of Northern Virginia with Lee, the slogan: ‘This way, Mahone's Brigade!’ guided the Petersburg boys to battle under the Stars and Bars, charging to victory, ‘while all the world wondered.’ [128]

And of him whose body rests in yonder vault, as in the headquarters tent of this great army of the dead, what should be said when we assemble in these after years to pay tribute to the hero soldiers of old Petersburg? It is fitting to remember that, of all the great leaders of men which Virginia has produced, few have equaled, and fewer yet have excelled,. Major-General William Mahone. Trained as an engineer, with a wonderful ability to see and take advantage of the topography of a field of battle, it may be said of him that he never recklessly exposed the men of his command to unnecessary danger, nor failed to meet danger when necessity required it. To paraphrase the words of another: Few men served in that war with more glory than he; yet many served, and there was much glory.

Battle of the Crater.

It is not for me to attempt the role of a historian. Not for me nor for this occasion, to describe even that great battle of the Crater, when seven of our regiments with two batteries of artillery held as many divisions of the enemy in check until the arrival of Mahone's Division. Not even of the splendid and successful charge of that division which recaptured our works and won the Crater fight, shall I pause to speak. Other tongues, more eloquent, have described that day. But upon the anniversary of that great fight, standing upon the hill which was the objective of the Federal assault, and speaking of the deeds of Petersburg soldiers, I pause to lay a sprig of rosemary upon the graves of those twenty-two officers and men of Pegram's Battery whose bodies were covered by the debris of Elliott's salient. These men, in the discharge of duty, held the post of honor. To them had been intrusted the defense of an advanced portion of our lines at a time when it was known that the enemy was attempting to undermine them. Not for them was the excitement of the thrilling charge. Not for them to face danger amid the pomp and circumstance of war. But calmly, in the discharge of routine duty, quietly and fearlessly they met death that morning, while the summer birds were singing their hymn of praise and thanksgiving that ‘Not a sparrow falleth but its God doth know.’ No formal monument records their deeds or enrolls their names as yet, They live enshrined [129] in the hearts of their countrymen. But so long as the memory of Pegram's Battery survives among our children, we need not fear lest they lack for inspiration in deeds of patriotic service and heroic daring.

Story of the War.

When the historian of the future seeks to write the impartial story of the great War between the States he will be interested to inquire, ‘What were the principles for which an untrained citizen soldiery became the unmatched infantry of modern times and endured for four years the horrors, the sufferings and the privations of war?’

He will find that the Southern soldier not only fought for home and fireside, to repel invasion and to resist usurpation, all of which are, in a sense, what may be expected of any animal in the defense of his home; but that the seeds of the great conflict were sown in the compromises by which the Federal Constitution itself was adopted. That the South fought for the preservation of State sovereignty, for local self-government, and for that kind of individual liberty of which Patrick Henry had said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’

It is not my intention within the brief time at my disposal to attempt to investigate the arguments advanced by the parties to this discussion. The people of the South have long since conceded that the war has settled for all time that the United States are a nation, to use the constitutional phrase. More than this, I venture to assert that in no section of our country are the people any more ready to-day to serve in the nation's army or navy, or to maintain an indivisible union of indestructible States than are the people of the South.

Practically the surrender at Appomattox ended the conflict, and, contrary to the history of other civil wars, there was no guerrilla fighting to add its horrors to the great war. The people of the South returned from the field of war to the field of agriculture, and began at once to build up their waste places, to repair the ravages of war, and to create on the ruins of the old a new social system.

That the South to-day is admitted to be the most progressive portion of the country; that the material prosperity of this [130] section is such that it felt the recent panic less than some other sections, is evidence of the fact that the thoughts and energies of her people have been well directed in the last forty years.

But the building up of waste places is a very engrossing occupation, and when there was added to our other burdens the evils which followed in the train of the constitutional amendment enfranchising the negro, it will be seen that our people have never had since the war much opportunity for considering abstract principles of government.

It is true that we admit that the United States are a nation. but our people are, as yet, I am glad to say, unwilling to concur in the style assumed by the dominant party at Washington that the United States is a nation.

Nation's power increasing.

The growth of the power of this national government of ours, and the consequent diminution of the power of the State governments is a matter which should attract the attention of our people. The increase of the power of the nation at the expense of the power of the people makes it natural to inquire whether the powers that be have forgotten the tenth amendment to the Constitution, which declares that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

My countrymen, if the dead heroes in whose honor we assemble here every year could by their lives teach us no lesson for our present guidance I would feel that the sacrifice so willingly made by them of their young lives had indeed been in vain.

The last forty years has been a period of transition, a period of marvelous growth, of commercial resurrection. These things are well, and may even be said to be necessary to the attainment by our people of other things which are better. But from these soldier boys of a former generation we should learn anew fundamental lessons of civil liberty. We should learn that when the people of a republic begin to look to a distant capital for governmental favors, and cease to rely on their own individual [131] energies, the hours of the life of civil liberty are already numbered.

I trust the time will never come again when the people of our country will have questions to settle among themselves which may not be settled by the ballot. But ‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.’ Like these veterans around us here, we should learn to keep our weapons bright and our powder dry. We should take such an active pride in this great country of ours that we will not only entitle ourselves to vote, but see to it that the privilege of voting is exercised as the dearest privilege of a free citizen. In a proper sense, all of us should be politicians, for unless we take an active interest in public affairs, we should not complain if the affairs of the public are not managed to suit us.

Let us all take an honest pride, both in our national and State governments, but let us see to it that these governments are managed as public trusts, efficiently and economically administered. Let us renew our faith in the immortal principles of the Declaration of Independence, let us strive to secure that liberty or freedom of action which is limited only by the Golden Rule or by the right of all others to a like freedom; and, at the graves of those who gave their all for freedom, let us dedicate once more upon the altar of civil and religious liberty, our goods, our lives and our sacred honor.

The Memorial stand.

The stand is designed for the accommodation of speakers, the Ladies Memorial Association and guests on memorial occasions. It stands on the site of the old frame stand, which had seen service for many years, on the apex of ‘Memorial Hill,’ and commands a broad view in all directions. It is within a few yards of the splendid granite monument erected by the ladies' association to the Confederate dead in Blandford Cemetery, numbering many thousands and representing every State of the Confederacy. It is also within near view of the massive granite vault in which rest the mortal remains of that brave and gallant soldier of the Confederacy, Major-General William Mahone, in whose immortal brigade the Twelfth Regiment of Petersburg soldiers fought. [132]

The stand is octagon in shape and of very handsome appearance. It is an iron pagoda, the corruscated roof supported by eight iron columns resting upon a concrete base eighteen feet in diameter and four feet high; the floor of the base enclosed by a neat iron railing. Steps of granolith, with iron railing, lead up to the floor. The concrete is of a bluish tinge, and the memorial tablet, inserted in its front, is made of Kentucky bluestone, to correspond. This tablet is 7 feet 8 inches long by 1. foot 8 inches wide, and bears the following inscription:

Erected by the L. M. A.,
In memory of Petersburg's Soldiers
Who Fell in Battle,

The tablet is the work of Burns and Campbell, of this city, the concrete base is the work of Perkinson & Finn, of Petersburg and cost $300. The iron pagoda was furnished by the Champion Iron Company, of Kenton, Ohio, and cost $500.

The Ladies' Memorial Association has spent recently about $2,500 in the improvement of Memorial Hill, most of this money having been appropriated by the State. The surface of the hill is as smooth and green as a well kept lawn. All through its grounds, running in different directions, are granolithic walkways, and around its boundaries has been planted a hedge of California privet or box, whose beauty will be seen later. Under the wise expenditure of this money there has been a wonderful improvement, marked by taste and beauty.

The exercises at the cemetery were concluded by the reading of a poem, composed by Fred A. Campbell, of Oakland, Cal., and dedicated to the Ladies' Memorial Association of Petersburg; the singing of the doxology and the benediction, pronounced by Rev. Dr. J. M. Pilcher, chaplain of A. P. Hill Camp.

The pagoda stand is a beautiful work of art and a worthy memorial in itself. It is much admired by all who see it. Business was generally closed this afternoon during the hour of the exercises.

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