« EelmineJätka »
page of history, that our fame will go down as a bright and shining light upon the escutcheon of glory, that everywhere, as long as time shall last, so many great, and good, and glorious things will be said about us. I do not propose to wait for eternity to tell the tale. [Laugliter and applause.] The analysis of history, and the golden page may be very handsome to the unborn little fellows to come along after a while, but we want our full rations while we live. [Applause and laughter.] I do not know what sort of appreciation I could possibly have of posthumous glory. [Laughter and applause.] I would rather have a keen appreciation of the little glory that I do have; and it is very pleasant, comrades, to be regarded with gratitude and with becoming respect and kindness even while we live. I am willing to trust to history. Why, of course, certainly. I would do that much for the people that are yet to be born. That much we will do for them, and we have furnished many a splendid page. And then, it is also singular; it is also curious; it is also hard to understand, that, after we had larruped them nearly to death, after we whipped them back into obedience to law, after we had torn down that ensign that was an offense to the flag of the Union, and restored our flag to every place on every hill-top and over every inch of our soil—the amazing part of it is, to see the fellows we larruped Jim Crow shouting hallelujah and hurrah for the old flag, [applause and laughter] and for the fellows that whipped them, [laughter and applause) and absolutely insisting on having a finger in the pie; [applause and laughter] they had their foot in it once, [laughter) and I don't know but what they may some day take it into their heads to take the whole pie itself. [Laughter.]
I say that historical truths, like these, studied by the rising generation, are very serious ones. How did we accomplish all these great results?
The men who did it are living thick about us to-day. Can you conceive it now? Do you comprehend it quite fully? I wonder if statesmanship fairly gets hold of it; and yet it is all accomplished, all ended.
In the name of the people of Illinois, I welcome you, and I thank you, and I thank the President of the evening, William Tecumseh Sherman. [Prolonged applause.) We are all his children; [laughter and applause.] and that respect which we learned for him in the war, under his discipline aud leadership,
has not entirely lost its effect upon us.
we know he loved us, proud as we are sure he is of us, kindly as he always treats us, bringing himself down to a plane of perfect equality with us, some how or other, when we get before the old fellow, we are a little bit afraid of him yet. [Laughter and applause.] And, as the ancient Egyptians, long before the gift from Jehovah to Moses, on Mount Sinai, long before revealed religion to man-as those ancient people, in their poor, weak consciences, struggling after the Divine, seeking for the immortal, with scarcely vision enough to grasp the misty, singular, curious subject of Divine life and Divine power, translated their celebrated monarchs, at death, from the earth, and enthroned them in the burning sun, so I say to-day, that the women and men of this country have en throned in their hearts the president of this occasion, our old Commander of the Army of the Tennessee.
Governor Oglesby received marked attention throughout.
General Sherman, in responding to the welcome, said:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND COMRADES:
It is made my office this evening to return thanks for the kindly words of the glorious old Governor of your State of Illinois, a comrade himself, one who has felt the inspiration of soldiery, himself a volunteer, who felt the sting of ball, and left his blood to mark many a spot far away in Dixie Land. Words coming from him have many meanings, and we have received them, my fellow soldiers, I am sure, to-night as marks of the appreciation of our fellow-countrymen, that we have not lived in vain; that we still retain a place in their memories; that we are welcome to their hearthstones, and that they are even willing to share with us their pots and skillets. We accept them, too, my friends and General Oglesby, with full and thankful hearts; and as there are many things to occupy our time this evening, I hope this magnificent audience, from pit to dome, will permit me to pass to the next branch of the subject allotted to me to-nightsome thoughts of our old and first commander. [Applause.] I have reduced these to writing, and I hope you will pardon me for the difference between speaking, and reading from manuscript, the former being somewhat unusual to me, as is known to my comrades.
COMRADES OF THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE:
Again are we assembled in this goodly city of Chicago, pursuant to the resolution made at our last annual reunion of August 13-14, 1884, at Lake Minnetonka.
This is our eighteenth annual reunion, though twenty eventful years have transpired since the close of the War.
I need not repeat to you the trite expression that our ranks are growing thinner, our hair whiter, and that the eyes which look up to me, and which once kindled and flashed at the trumpet's sound, now seem sad, as though yin the fate of those fine young fellows whose gay and gallant spirits took their flight in the glorious days—the memories of which we have come together to celebrate.
Though in war death makes the battle-field his harvest, yet in peace he insidiously invades the most sacred premises, taking here the innocent babe, there the gentle, loving wife, again, the youth in lusty manhood, and the king on his throne.
During our last vacation, he has stricken from our list of members the very head and front-General Ulysses S. Grant, the same who, in the cold winter of 1861-2, gathered together at Cairo, Illinois, the fragments of an army, and led them up the Tennessee river, the creator and father of the Army of the Tennessee, took his final leave of earth at eight o'clock and eight minutes on the morning of July 23, 1995, from Mt. McGregor, a spur of the Al. leganies, in plain view of the historic battle field of Saratoga.
He had finished his life's work, and had bequeathed to the world his example.
The lightning's flash carried the sad tidings to all parts of the civilized earth; and I doubt whether, since the beginning, there ever arose so spontaneous a wail of grief to bear testimony before high heaven, that mankind had lost a kindred spirit, and his countrymen a leader.
We, his first war comrades, concede to the family their superior rights, but claim the next place in the grand procession of mourners.
We were with him in his days of adversity, as well as prosperity, and were as true to him as the needle to the pole.
We shared with him the trials and tribulations, as well as labors and battles of Henry, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka and Vicksburg, when that transcendant and most valuable of all vic
tories turned the universal gaze of our bewildered countrymen to the “New Star” in the West, which plainly foretold the man who had dispelled the cloud which "lowered o'er our house,” and was to lead us to the triumphant victories of 1865, and to the stable, enduring prosperity of 1885.
Hundreds, yea, thousands, of busy brains and pens are now trying to comprehend and describe this man who did so much in so short a time, to trace the mysterious causes of his most wonderful career, and to account for known results. They look to us who were his daily associates in that critical epoch to aid them in their commendable work, and as your President, I must, on this occasion, contribute a share.
In the year 1839, I was a First Classman in the United States Military Academy at West Point, a position of exaltation never reached since, though reasonably successful in life, and there appeared or, the walls of the Hall in “Old North Barrack” a list of new cadets, among which was “U. S. Grant.” A crowd of lookers-on read “United States Grant,” “Uncle Sam Grant,” “Sam Grant," and Sam Grant he is to-day in the traditions of the old 4th U. S. Infantry. It afterwards transpired that his name was actually Ulysses Hiram Grant, and the mistake had been made by General Hamer, the member of Congress who nominated him as the cadet from his district. Cadet Grant tried to correct this mistake at the beginning and end of his cadet's life, without success, and to history his name must ever be U. S. Grant.
I remember his personal appearance at the time, but the gulf of separation between a First Classman and Plebe at West Point was, and still is, deeper and wider than between the General-inChief and a private soldier in the army; so that I hardly noticed him.
His reputation in the 4th Infantry, in which he served through the Mexican War, and until he resigned his commission of Captain, in Oregon, July 31, 1854, was of a good, willing officer, always ready for duty, extremely social and friendly with his fellows, but in no sense conspicuous, brilliant, or manifesting the wonderful qualities afterwards developed in him.
I recall an instance when I met him in St. Louis, in 1857, when he was a farmer in the country, and I, too, was out of the military service. The only impression left on my memory is, that I then
concluded that West Point and the Regular Army were not good schools for farmers, bankers, merchants and mechanics.
I did not meet him again till the Civil War had broken out, when chaos seemed let loose, and the gates of hell wide open in every direction. Then came the news of General Grant's attack on the enemy's camp at Belmont, of the 7th of November, 1861; soon followed by the events at Columbus, Paducah, Henry and Donelson-all so simple, so direct, so comprehensible, that their effect on my mind was magical. They raised the dark curtain, which before had almost hidden out all hope for the future, and displayed the policy and course of action necessary only to be followed with persistence to achieve ultimate success.
Great as were his after achievements, I shall ever rate those of Henry and Donelson among the best, yet by one of those accidents so common in war, he had incurred the displeasure of his superior, General Halleck, whom I then esteemed as the master mind, ruling and directing the several armies, subject to his orders from his headquarters in St. Louis. So that when, in March 1862, I was permitted to take the field from Padacah, with a new division, I found General Grant at Fort Henry, under orders from General Halleck to remain there, and to turn over the command of his main army, then flushed with victory, under his immediate leadership, to General C.F. Smith, his next in rank. It so happened that General Smith had been Adjutant and Commandant when Grant and I were cadets at West Point, and he was universally esteemed as the model soldier of his day. He had also acquired large fame in the Utah Expedition, and in the then recent capture of Ft. Donel
So that General Grant actually looked up to him as the older, if not the better, soldier, though he was at that time the senior by commission.
Not one word of complaint came from him, only a general expression of regret that he had been wrongly and unjustly represented to General Halleck, and he advised me to give to General Smith my most loyal support.
General Smith conducted the expedition up the Tennessee river to Savannah, Eastport and Pittsburg landing, gave all the orders and instructions up to within a few days of the Battle of Shiloh, when his health, shattered by the merest accident, compelled him to relinquish the command again to General Grant,