Page images
PDF
EPUB

pinnacle-crag of the loyal, ore-ribbed Rocky Mountains, spread his cloud-bathed wings, multifloral rainbows and frost wrought splendors of the aurora borealis realms to where the billowed sunshine of Hondurian gulfs chants its ceaseless anthem to shores of everlasting green and gold, and trumpet forth, in universereverberating tones, his "Cock-a-doole-Yankee-doole.doo" of exultation and defiance to all the world and the rest of mankind. Earth's two greatest oceans, three thousand miles apart, shall roll up in thundering oratorio their echo of the high and glad refrain; the vastest gulf and grandest lakes in all creation shall join the chant; river after river, huge rolling floods, shall conspire to swell the giant pæan; Superior's waves, old Mississippi's torrents, Niagara’s misty thunders, shall roar it far and wide; the hurricane crashing through ten thousand mountain gorges, from the Alleghanies to the Cordilleras, from the Adirondacks to the Sierras, shall chime it; the raging blizzards, hurling six inch hail stone on sky-bounded and horizon-fenced Nebraskan plains, shall whistle and rattle it; the catamount shall shriek it; the prairie wolf shall howl it; the lone owlet hoot it, and grizzly bear shall growl it, and the burden of it all shall be: “America for Americans! One country, one flag, swei lager from Greenland's icy mountains to Darien's golden strands! E Pluribus Unum! Erin Go Bragh! Now, henceforth, and forevermore, world without end-amen, a woman!

Gentlemen who fought and wore the blue, for retaining me as a citizen, be it ever so humble, of this resplendent national fabric, I pour out to you all the gratitude of my heart and soul. God grant the day may not be far distant when

every Southern shall recognize his patriotic obligation to you and your heroic comrades, and say, as I do now: "Henceforth your country shall be my country, your people my people, your flag my flag, and your God my God.” [Applause.]

The President:-We now come to the

man

SEVENTH TOAST.—“ The Memories of the Camp Fire."

“As letters some hand has invisibly traced,

When held to the flame will steal out to the sight,
So many a feeling that long seemed effaced,

The warmth of a meeting like this brings to light.”
Response by General BELKNAP.

General Belknap rose to his feet amid a general outburst of applause. When it subsidied he responded as follows:

MR. PRESIDENT, COMRADES OF THE SOCIETY:

When the camp-fires of this Army burned brightly on the fields and mountains and in the valleys of the South, the soldier's heart went out towards home.

His thoughts, in quiet hours, were with those to whom he was tied by bonds of kindred and of love, and who, as he left his home's threshhold for the field, mingled with the sorrow of the parting word their approval of his manly course. For though he would be missed, his voice no longer heard, and his form be no longer seen, that voice would be heard in the midst of action; that form would be seen facing danger for his country's sake, and this was the solace of the parting.

To them from tented camps and hasty bivouacs his thoughts were carried, and came back laden with dear memories of which he talked to comrades as the nights wore on.

He did not know, as he knows now, that the marches which he made, the fights which he fought, the friendships which he formed, and the countless happy and unhappy accidents of military life would all be gathered in by him in coming time, and cherished with affection.

But so it is. All that the men around him said or did ; the words of his commanders in times of peril, or in hours of rest, fresh in his memory, come up now, and its chords are touched and quickened by the mention of the days whose light is swiftly waning. And as minutes run to months, and months make years, these recollections, one upon another, become more vivid by the flight of time.

One of the marshals of France, looking back upon his varied life of camp and court, and battle and quiet peace, said when he died: “I have dreamed a beautiful dream.” So we, although some days were dark and some hopes broken, gather the relics of remembrance which were left from army life, and weave from them a chaplet of memory which can always be worn with delight.

The trials of campaigns seem more like pleasures now. Dan. ger and death were then the least of cares. We gave but little thought to them, save that as they came to others they might be

ours at last. The little vexations of sudden marching and late camps, which then were hard to bear, now are as nothing. And no words are more welcome than those which renew the recollections of days of peril and nights of bivouac, when rest was the only luxury that came.

There meet here now those who have not met for years. They talk of Donelson and “immediate surrender,” and their eyes are bright with joy as they recall the victory. Of Shiloh, where was a crash of armies as they came together, which had no equal with us in the West. They tell of Vicksburg, and that maneuver of real genius which struck that stronghold ere its commander was aware, as on the Nation's greatest day there went to the North the story of its fall. They talk of Atlanta and its pounding siege, and of that fearful fight where our McPherson, crowned with honor and flushed with brilliant life, rode to the front, and saluting the enemy, wheeled his horse and died.

And there was Chattanooga, where they were told by Grant that "no enemy could withstand” them. They talk too of the memorable march which parted, as with a knife, that Southern land; which showed to the nation that our advancing columns as they struck Savannah and moved north, were with a leader who in his onward march had men to follow him who knew that Sherman would go where he wished; and they recall with grateful hearts that supreme hour of triumph when, after they had waded the streams, the swamps, and quicksands of the Carolinas, and had cheered over the surrender of the armies which had combined against them, they marched in grand review, from curb to curb, on the Capital's broad streets.

The camp-fires of the field, and this camp-fire to-night, mingle their memories of war and peace together; they tell of many men and deeds, but above all, of him who began with us his active military life, and ended his career, the marvel of all history.

The bugle “sang truce” at Riverside over him who was for us a leader, and to the world a wonder. Its beautiful notes sounded "lights out” here forever, for that immortal man. The dying strains rolled through the still air in waves of music across the placid Hudson, and as the echo came cleariy and sweetly from the hills beyond, it seemed as if it brought a heavenly welcome from that great army of his comrades which had gone before and gathered on the shore of the unknown river to bear their old

leader with them to the Celestial City. No fear had he, as he marched with his men to receive the final order of the God of Armies.

The traces of war are rapidly departing. For the labors and dangers of our service, we have a reunited nation as our reward. The flag which was ours in victory or defeat now flies everywhere triumphant. However men may differ in the world's ways, our army ties will last until the end. And as age advances, the memories of the camp-fire will be our best memories, untouched by time, and guarded in our hearts forever.

Soxo.—The Soldier's Farewell,” by quartette.

The President announced the

Eighth TOAST.--"West Point and Annapolis." - Training schools for the army and navy; ever let the lesson of loyalty to the flag be the first and the last there taught.

Response by Captain EUGENE CARY.

If this were an assembly of former students and graduates of West Point and Annapolis, much might be told, no doubt, of personal anecdote, association and adventure, not unmixed perhaps with incident of romance, and even pathos, relating to academy days, that would contribute to the interest and enjoyment of the hour.

But to most of us who are here, the academies of West Point and Annapolis are of interest only as they stand related to the national life and history, and for this we care little for the details of their organization or that the one is located on the Hudson in New York, or the other on the Severn river in Maryland.

When we turn to ancient Rome, we give little thought to particulars, but think of it as where "great imperial Cæsar” lived, where the immortal Cicero denounced treason and conspirators, and as the theatre whence other great actors moved out into the world's history with great thoughts and great deeds.

We think of ancient Athens not as a city built around the rocky Acropolis, not as the capital of any kingdom save that of human thought, but as lying out in the great realm of letters and art; as associated with her academies of learning and philosophy; but mainly as where Phidias and Socrates and Plato and

their illustrious associates lived and labored and taught, and wrought out their great and perpetual influences on the world's thought and destiny.

Mars Hill is remembered because the great Paul preached there, and even the tub of Diogenes has stirred a kindly interest and sentiment for more than two thousand years, not because it was a tub; 0, no! But because Diogenes had slept in it. Millions of other tubs have been floated out on the stream of time, but this alone attained to immortality, for only this one ever sheltered such a philosopher and wit.

Thus it is that objects and localities and institutions become historic and are remembered only as associated with the great forces, individual and moral, that help, or have helped, to move and shape the thoughts and actions of men, and mould and decide the destiny of the world or a nation.

From this plane of thought and illustration, it is safe to assert that, while other schools shall drop out of history, West Point and Annapolis have an assured immortality in that associated with their history are the names of such illustrious patriots and commanders, in addition to others that might be named, as the broad, solid and constant Thomas; the dashing but cool, certain and resistless Sheridan; the versatile, magnetic, swift-footed, ever moving and invincible Sherman; and that modest but matchless hero, the round, full and perfect Grant. Certainly never before did any generation or any institutions of learning give to a single nation such a galaxy of immortal names.

However, although West Point and Annapolis have acquired such renown, no false standard of judgment must be raised concerning them as training schools for the army and navy, and no claims or demands made for them, or on them, of impossible accomplishment

There are some things which a nation needs in stress of war and peril, and which a safe commander must have, that no academy can furnish and no training supply.

One of these is patriotism.

Patriotism is the product of no academy. It is the offspring of the soul in contact with the mountain, the valley, the plain, the sky, the sea, the shore, the home, the friendship, the liberty, the associations and everything that enters into the common life and greatness of a people.

« EelmineJätka »