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country. Women and men make a country and we have here with us to-night the highest possible embodiment of our country and our flag in Uncle Billy the commander, the President of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, and who long ago might have been and ought to have been the president of our country. [Applause.]
Some years ago, in one of the Southern States, I had the honor and pleasure of listening to Hon. William H. Seward, who was then Secretary of State of the United States, relate an incident of his travels in Egypt. Said Mr. Seward, “In company with a party of American ladies and gentlemen, I was traveling in Egypt, and we observed as we were going up a hill, a party of armed soldiers following in our rear and to our astonishment, when we had reached the top of the hill, coming up on the other side, was another armed party of soldiers. They were enemies, and about to engage in battle. There we were, a little party of American ladies and gentlemen, across the ocean, thousands of miles from home, between two contending forces, or forces about to contend in battle, and what to do we at first did not know. What we did was this, we took from a portmanteau an American flag, and unfolding it we threw it across the limb of a tree, and then sat down beneath it. That fag was instantly recognized, known, respected, and honored, and we were as safe beneath it as if we had been sitting in the shadow of our own Capitol at Washington.” [Applause.] Though far from home, and across the ocean, the symbol of our country gave to those American ladies and gentlemen complete protection.
Another incident, a soldier belonging to my regiment, the Ninety-Second Illinois, was captured in North Georgia. You, who have been soldiers, my comrades, know something of the wonderful love and affection that the soldier learns to feel for the flag under which he marches and fights. You, who have not been soldiers, can never know it. This soldier went the rounds of the rebel prison pens. For weary month after weary month his eyes had never once feasted on that bright starry banner of the Republic. No one who has not been a soldier can appreciate the wonderful love and affection that a soldier feels for the flag under which he marches and fights.
When Lee had surrendered, and it was evident that the war had come to an end, the rebel prison guards at Andersonville, I
believe it was, said to a party of Union soldiers imprisoned there: “ You can, if you choose, go to Pensacola, Fla., and into the Union lines.” With glad and happy hearts, they set out upon their slow and toilsome march. They were bareheaded, barefooted, without coats, some of them without shirts, all of them nearly starved to Leath, mere skeletons. For weary day after day, they kept their happy way, for they were going home. One mornir: when a few miles from Pensacola, they caught a glimpse through the pine trees of the American flag, floating over the camp of the Union troops in that city. Said a soldier: “We, boys, when we saw that flag were never so happy before in all our lives, and we never expected and do not now expect to be so happy again. We thought we would give the flag three cheers, but we c uld i ot do it. We were too weak to cheer, and we just lay down and c'ied.” [Applause.]
My friends, that bright banner of the Republic, borne by Washington and his compeers of the Revolutionary War, and borne by you of the Army of the Tennessee, floats to-day as proudly as in the revolution, known and respected because of your valor and the valor of men like you throughout all of the civilized world, everywhere, among every people on the face of the globe, in whose language can be found a word to express liberty, that flag and our country, one. [Applause. ]
The President:-I am so glad that I do not have to rap. I thank you again for your close attention. I did not even have to rap you to order. I have been at a great many army society meetings, and I think this is the first time that it has ever happened. It must be owing to the presence of the ladies, and I thank them for it.
Fifth Toast. “The President of the United States."
Response by Colonel Tuthill.. doir. PRESIDENT AND COMRADES:
It has been since its organization a custom of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee in its banquets to testify its loyalty and respect for the chief magistrate of the nation by a toast to the president. During all the years of our Society life prior to 1984, that illustrious office was filled by those who had been our comrades during the bloody struggle of the War of the Rebellion, whom a patriotic people had called to fill this highest office, not only be
cause of their distinguished services and ability in civil affairs, but as well as a fitting recognition of their inestimable services to the Nation on its battlefield in defense of the Union and liberty. And it is one of the chief glories of this Society of the Army of the Tennessee that the first commander of that army was, at the close of the war, called-twice called by the liberty-loving people of the United States to their chief magistracy, and that in that high office he displayed a civil ability and lofty statesmanship resting on a solid foundation of the purest patriotism, which were not less admiral and indeed wonderful, than were his incomparable, inestimable military services. [Applause.]
In times of party strife and partisan rancor this truth was not by all acknowledged, and many fiercely questioned it. So there was during their lives found many who would strongly deny to Washington and to Lincoln place among the great statesmen and civil rulers of the world. They passed away, and soon impartial his. tory wrote their names at the head of the list of American statesmen.
So will it be, so it is now, among those who thoughtfully and impartially consider his civil administration; so will it be in history; Grant the statesman will be given a place by the side of the greatest, the wisest, and the best civil magistrates and statesmen this country or the world has ever known. [Applause.) During the darkest days of the rebellion the country turned to the Army of the Tennessee in agonizing search for one who could lead its armies to victory. At the close of the war, when the land was once more threatened by dangers imperiling the integrity of its government, it again turned to the ranks of those who had been its Army of the Tennessee and found a leader who carried the banner of loyalty and patriotism full high, advanced to vic. tory. There are perils yet to be encountered. Our national existence must from the nature of things be ever a struggle. Insidious foes more dangerous than our enemies in armed array to-day threaten the life and perpetuity of the Government we fought and so many of our comrades died for. Wisdom, courage, decision of character of the highest order, and a patriotism as un. questioned as was that of a Washington, a Lincoln, or a Grant are to-day demanded in the highest executive of the nation. [Applause.]
We are able to judge the future alone by the past. The patriotic people of the country want at such a time one whom
they have already tried and never found wanting ; one who has, whether on the battlefields of his country or in its civil administration, been proven always able, always safe, always patriotic. For such a one all eyes not blinded by personal interest or by prejudice turn again, as in 1863 and in 1868, to the now rapidlythinning ranks of the old Army of the Tennessee. There can be found a soldier, a statesman, a patriot, a man of the people, and whom the people love, who can lead on to victory [applause], and who in the presidential office would wisely and safely direct the ship of state through the stormy seas which at times seem about to engulf it.
Of the distinguished citizen who to-day is our and all the people's president it will be more fitting to speak at length after his retirement from official position March 4th, 1889. [Applause.] Of President Cleveland personally I have only the kindest feelings and sincerest regards, for no president could have treated me personally with greater kindness than did he. I propose to him and his beautiful young wife health, happiness, and prosperity. [Applause.]
MR. PRESIDENT, COMRADES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
I do not know that it is very interesting to an audience to have a speaker excuse himself for want of preparation, but you see at the foot of this toast the name of the man whose place I was called upon, just before coming into supper, to fill. There are a number of the officers of the regular army present, one of whom might better perhaps have been selected than myself, but I understand no one was willing to respond on such short notice, and our President said the Carr family had to do it. My big brother said it would not do for him to do it, because it would be considered a put-up job for him to get a chance to make a speech. We have present with the Army of the Tennessee, General John E. Smith, General Brackett, three young officers stationed at the Arsenal here, to say nothing of our President and an ex-Secretary of War. I believe that I am the oldest officer in the line of the army, except perhaps four or five, and probably I can answer for that army in words to some little extent, though I am proud to
say the army has always answered for itself in the field. [Applause. ]
On an occasion like this, it is usual to simply indulge in glittering generalities, but there are one or two things that I wish to mention in regard to the regular army to correct some mistakes which have arisen. It is thought by some that the greater part of the officers of the regular army are West Point graduates. The contrary is the fact. I think about three-fourths of the present officers of the army are not graduates of West Point. They are men who came into the service at the close of the war, or during the war, or who have come in since civil life. Almost all the field officers and captains are men who are not graduates of West Point. Another mistake is that a large proportion of the officers of the army resigned at the opening of the war, and went South. There was a comparatively small proportion even of those whose homes were in the South, a goodly number remaining loyal to the Aag. One example is General Thomas whom we all knew. [Applause.] The regular army is naturally loyal to the government. I have been through two sieges where at one time I had to be loyal to a government that was pro-slavery, and another time to a government that was anti-slavery. During the troubles in Kan. sas, the army, no matter what its sympathies were, was obliged to throw its weight on the side of a government which was in favor of forcing slavery upon Kansas. When the rebellion broke out, the government was the other way. Not only the officers remained loyal, but a great many of the soldiers who were born in the South, and enlisted in the South were as loyal as any men in the service. Another mistake is that promotion from the ranks is almost unknown. On the contrary every year there are eral soldiers promoted from the ranks. The law now provides that any soldier who is recommended by his officers, shall be examined and be recommended for promotion if he passes the examination. The President can not place a civilian in the army as long as there is a vacancy which can be filled by a soldier who has passed the examination. When I became Colonel, I found one man whose claims, for some reason, had been disregarded. I took some pains and got him promoted to be a Second Lieutenant, and he has been further promoted, so that at this time he holds the valuable and lucrative office of sutler at one of the largest posts in the army. [Laughter.]