Page images

one good monument, “On the banks of the Hudson” where he now lies buried in peace and at rest eternal.

General Sherman was frequently interrupted by applause, and when at the close, he for a moment took his seat, cheers arose from all parts of the auditorium.

SONG.-"In Memoriam," by the Imperial Quartette.

The President:-I now present to you the orator of the evening, General John B. Sanborn.

General Sanborn was warmly greeted as he came forward. He delivered the following oration:


That great, wise, wonderful man who had accepted your invitation to deliver the oration at this meeting, who would have spoken to you as no other man can, and to whom you would have listened as you can to no other man, is no more. That voice, whose gentlest accents moved mighty armies and commanded the attention of queens, kings and emperors, has been silenced, and our nation mourns for its greatest chief, its mightiest fallen, and we for the most distinguished, honored and beloved of our comrades and commanders.

This Society, more than any other organization, may justly claim a special interest in and title to his unparalleled fame and greatness. His patriotism, zeal, wisdom and skill crowned the Army of the Tennessee with power, victory and glory, and the victories and glories of that army made the future greatness and unspeakable renown of its first commander. The man made the army, and the army made the man. He imparted to it his zeal and his power, and became the exponent of all that it was and all that it accomplished.

Of Washington, Lord Brougham wrote: “It will be the duty of the historian and sage of all nations to let no occasion pass of commemorating this illustrious man, and until time shall be no more will a test of the progress which the human race has made in wisdom and virtue be derived from the veneration paid to the immortal name of Washington.” We consider that the same statement is applicable to, and can be made with equal propriety of our first commander, and that the hour cannot be more advan

tageously spent than in the review of some of the services and achievements of his life, and in the contemplation of those traits of character that made those services and achievements possible.

It is of no public moment at what particular time or place such a man was born, or when or where he died and was buried, for his renown is of all nations, and his influence for good is for all time, and the whole earth is the sepulchre of a man so illustrious.

There is no injustice done to any living or dead officer who served in the war of the Rebellion by the statement that he who commanded the Army of the Tennessee in its first movements into the enemy's country and in its first great battle was its greatest and most distinguished commander, and we would fain discover the hidden source of that power,—some of those innate principles of that mental and moral force and greatness which in simplicity, humility and apparent weakness was led forth from obscurity at the commencement of the organization of this army, and of the war, but which soon proved to be a chariot of fire, "borne on irresistible wheels and drawn by steeds of immortal race, and which was destined to crush the necks of the mighty, and sweep away the serried strength of armies."

More fortunate than any other of our comrades, we are, by special favor of Heaven, permitted to meet here twenty years after the last sound of battle was heard in the land whose institutions were saved by the valor of our armies, under the happiest auspices; a union of States fully restored, with fifty-five millions of people at peace, in the full enjoyment of the blessings of the highest type of Christian civilization, the legitimate results of the war secured in the fundamental law of the land to all nationalities and classes. Where all was tumult and alarm, war and strife, now all is quiet and happiness; all is peace and harmony. The earth rewards all who gently call upon her buunty, and whitewinged commerce, contented and secure, greets our eyes upon every river, lake and ocean. Education and religion take the rising generations by the hand, and lead them to the overflowing fountains of knowledge and truth. The unspeakable happiness flow. ing from the domestic relations-from kindred, parents and children-is securely enjoyed by all orders and classes of our people. We enjoy without molestation the increase of the earth and the smiles of heaven. To picture the conditions of this land if the principles for which the war of 1861 was waged and carried on

by our government had been overthrown, would be revolting beyond description. Even the suggestion will bring to the minds of all as repulsive a scene as the argument on this occasion requires. Dissolved and discordant communities; degradation and vice of every type among all classes; violence and bloodshed running riot throughout the land, make up some of the salient features of the scenes which fill the whole perspective.

When we think of the vast work of one man in securing to fifty-five millions of people the happiness of to-day and averting the calamities that not only threatened, but were impending and imminent in 1861, we feel justified in using the form of language adopted by one of the apostles in recounting the events immedily preceding the advent of the Christian era: “There was a man sent from God" to take command of the armies of the free, and lead them to complete and final victory.

In most important respects he was unlike all ordinary men, and in the hundred generations that have passed since the commencement of historical time, he has no equal in achievements, no superior in patriotism, integrity or statesmanship.

One of the salient points of his character, which must always attract the attention of the biographer and historian, was his absolute mastery over all his mental and mural faculties. Of the hundreds of thousands that have witnessed his daily life for long periods of time, no one can say that he ever heard him utter a word or saw him do an act from revenge, or passion, or impulse. All was the result of the clearest understanding and the highest purposes and aims. He had complete rule over his own spirit. Insults and the unmerited disgrace that were heaped upon him in the beginning of his career were borne with equanimity and contentment. When, on the 16th of February, 1861, after a campaign through the swamps of the Tennessee, amid overflowing rivers and in rain and snow, he had compelled the capitulation of the rebel force of more than fifteen thousand men at Fort Donelson, not only did he receive no congratulatory letter from his superior officers, but he was humiliated and chagrined by a dispatch sent to the commander-in-chief of the army, at Washington indicating that he was defeated in his campaign, except for the interposition of General Smith, and that “Smith, by his glory and bravery at Fort Donelson, when the battle was at its height, had carried the enemy's outworks," followed by a recommendation

that Smith be made a major-general, and without one word of commendation of the commander of that army, and no recom mendation for his promotion, and intimating that he had failed as a general in that campaign. This injustice was followed, a few days afterwards, by the stinging words, also communicated to the President of the United States “I can get no returns, no reports, no information of any kind from him (Grant). Satisfied with the victory, he sits down and enjoys it without any regard for the future. I am worried and tried by this neglect and inefficiency. C. F. Smith is almost the only officer equal to the emergency;" and directing General Grant to place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of the expedition, and remain himself at Fort Henry; closing with the question, “Why do you not obey my orders to report the strength and position of your command?” Under all this ignominy he remained as cool and deliberate as if his achievements had met with due appreciation from his superior, and has nothing to say further than “you may rely on my carrying out your instructions in every particular to the best of my ability,” which was only followed by his superior with the extreme indignity of informing him that he had been advised to arrest him on his return from Nashville. To have made the campaign against strongly fortified positions, to have carried these positions and forced the surrender of an army seemed to be a matter of little or no moment, while the failure to write a letter, or forward a report, was a matter of the most serious concern.

With all critical military students, and all students of history, the battle of Pittsburg Landing must be considered one of the most important fought in our war, and probably, in its results, one of the most important in the history of civilization. the first engagement of large armies in the field without intrenchments in the war of 1861. The armies that met on that field were the embodiments—the personifications respectively—of the spirit and temper of the Northwest and Southwest. When the battle opened, the Confederate army outnumbered the Federal forces on the field by about twenty thousand men, and deducting from the Federal force the troops that were stampeded in the morning, the Confederate force on the field exceeded the Federal by more than two to one. But the army was so handled by Generals Grant and Sherman, that against this overwhelming odds the field was held and victory won. During this day's battle, with a small

It was

army-twenty-five thousand volunteers actually engaged-eight thousand of the enemy had been placed hors du combat.

Later in the war, armies of one hundred thousand well-drilled men were permitted to fight days without weakening the enemy as much. In this battle the spirit of the North had its first fair trial in the war, and, being skillfully directed, was found equal to the emergency. Our illustrious general, when asked by the speaker, more than a year afterwards, what event could have happened that day that would have resulted in the defeat of our army, considerately and fairly answered, that if either himself or General Sherman had been disabled before the formation of the last line was completed, which was between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, the field would probably have been lost. So severely was the rebel army of the Southwest punished in the battle that it immediately resorted to picks and shovels, and fought but little more outside of breastworks during the war.

Yet, for this glorious and unparalleled achievement, this illustrious man was heralded throughout the country as unfit to command any force, as negligent, careless and unskillful, unduly under the influence of stimulants on the momentous occasion.

That service for which other nations would have bowed down and worshiped—a service like that which England has many times rewarded by donations of millions of dollars-brought to this hero dishonor and disgrace. His official report was demanded before the commanding general of one of his leading divisions, who had been ordered to hold his position till the line of the balance of the army had been reformed-even at the risk of capture—and had done so at terrible loss and final capture, could be heard from, and hence was unable to do more than forward, without comment, the reports of his subordinate officers. Thank Heaven, he lived long enough for the passions of men to cool, and was permitted to submit to the candid consideration of the world, before his death, his plain, simple report of this great battle. After this immense service, he was derided by the press

from one end of the land to the other. He was removed from the actual command of the army, and during the siege of Corinth was often seen two or three files in rear of the general commanding. in-chief, among staff officers and aid-de-camps, and yet no one

« EelmineJätka »