« EelmineJätka »
During the war you found that the regular army always affiliated with the volunteers. Those of you who were under my command know that I took great pains to drill and train you, and that we always had most agreeable and friendly relations. The volunteers had an idea that the officers of the regular army knew something about war, and they were always anxious to learn from them.
Let me say for the navy, that I do not agree with the sentiment appended to the toast. While there may not be as many ships as could be desired, and while other nations may have more pow. erful iron-clads, yet it is a mistake to believe that the navy has been sold for old iron or that old iron is all that remains of it. There are many good ships now available and others are to be constructed, and as for the personnel we have many fine officers remaining over from the war, as well as many new ones. My acquaintance with the navy is slight, but you can all recollect the names of officers whom you knew, with Porter at the head, who are now efficient and who will do good service to the country if occasion shall arise. The exploits of the navy in running the batteries at Vicksburg, New Orleans and Mobile, covered it with imperishable glory, and I have no doubt that in case an emergency arises, we can improvise the means of naval warfare and our naval men can use them.
Let me urge upon our statesmen and legislators to take care of the army and navy. We soldiers rarely vote. In many of the states the statutes forbid it, and in others the soldiers are rarely at home on election days. We not only tried to do our duty in the war and to show you how to do yours, but we have since then been constantly performing the most arduous duties and undergoing the greatest hardships. Service during the war was far easier and more comfortable than service against Indians. I have, since the war, been for months without tents or other shel. ter, living on the most meager fare, and was once reduced to horse-meat. I was in 1876 for a long time, without tents, and at one time we captured an Indian camp, got a little cloth, and I made a tent six feet long and three feet high, which was more comfort to me than any house that I was ever in in my life. Since the war the army has had an opportunity to do some little service in the new settlements and we take pride in believing that our presence in Chicago and other cities, restored confidence and
prevented destruction of life and property, and that without firing a gun. [Applause. You see in the papers the names of Miles and Lawton, but remember there are four thousand officers and soldiers who have been enduring heat and dust and thirst and hunger and fatigue for several years, in order to accomplish the results with which their names are connected.
Now, my comrades, as I am going again to the west, I bid you farewell. I think it a source of just pride to have commanded and served with such men as I see before me and such regiments as came from the northwest ; and it is an exquisite pleasure to meet again those with whom I enjoyed such cordial relations, who were always ready for any duty, march, fight, fun or frolic, and whom I now meet in this hospitable region and find as reliable and warm hearted as of yore. [Applause.]
Seventh Toast.—“Loyal Citizenship, etc."
The President:—I do not know what that “etc.” means unless it is to give the speaker wide latitude. I therefore give him an extra five minutes.
Response by Colonel FLETCHER.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
All honor to the loyal citizen, whether in the days of the rebellion, or now, or at any time. [Applause.] Honor to the citizen who in all civic affairs stood forth true to the constitution and laws of his country, and to those who to-day, by the ballot and the weight of their personal influence, uphold the government as the only security for life, liberty, and prosperity, and aid in the enforcement of all laws to that end. [Applause.] The loval citizen who upheld the national authority within his legal sphere of action performed a duty not less important than the duty performed by the soldier who fought on the field of battle to enforce that same national authority. The soldier did his duty. The statesman performed his. I wish they had performed it a little more fully, and while amending the fundamental law and adjusting it to the free republic, had written such words as would have forever closed out the yawp of the old smooth-bore, flintlock class of resurrected politicians about state rights. [Applause ] O, yes, comrades, we want, now and forever, to do honor to the loyal citizen who endured the soul-wearing process of
political contest with Copperheads at home while we were in the field. You remember that in 1864, while Grant [applause] was pounding the head of the rebellion to pieces, and Sherman [applause] was tearing out its vitals, there assembled a grand convention upon the shore of the lake, and then and there solemnly proclaimed that our war to enforce the national authority was a failure. God bless the loyal citizen who prayed for and believed in our ultimate success, and through the ballot-box, in tones that echoed and reverberated throughout the land like the artillery of Mission Ridge, proclaimed the Chicago resolution a cowardly lie and cheered us on, saying: We will stand by you till you plant the flag over every foot of the soil of the republic, and Abraham Lincoln shall still be your great leader till the national authority shall be acknowledged from the lakes to the gulf. [Applause.)
Comrades, the hardships which we endured were not equal to the trials, dangers, and hardships which the loyal citizen of the border states was called to pass through. Aye! that was a patriotism never excelled. It was exhibited in all the border states. The armies swept to and fro over them. The lone chimney stood a silent monument out on the prairie, marking the spot where once stood the happy home of one who loved his home, his family, his country, his government. He went forth in the inclemency of the dreary winter with wife and children, houseless, homeless, but he trusted in God and the power of the national government, and he did not trust in vain. For his faith, for his trust, for his steadfastness to the cause in the hour of his sore trial, if he be living, here is to his prosperity and happiness, and if he be dead, let there be never-fading honor to his memory. [Applause.)
The President:- Ladies and gentlemen, I will announce to you that we have been in this hall three hours. It is now, according to my time, about twenty minutes after eleven. We have but one more toast upon the list. It is “Retrospection. To which Governor Pierce will respond, and after he is through, we may have time, if it be the pleasure of our Society and the ladies present, for any volunteer toasts—two or three. Therefore, during the time that Governor Pierce is speaking: if any one will send up to me, on a slip of paper, a toast with the name of the person whom he would like to hear respond, it will be considered. I will not promise that I will put it, but I will give it considera.
tion, and we will continue for a half an hour or so, to make it up to about twelve o'clock. I think by so doing, I act in accordance with the sentiment of our Society.
Eighth Toast. “Retrospection.”
Response by COLONEL PIERCE.
When a sergeant of the regular army was one time drumming up recruits, he came
an Irishman to whom he explained the glories of fighting for his country at some length, but after reflection the Irishman said, “But my boy what is all the world to a man whose wife is a widow?” [Laughter.] It does not seem to me more than fifteen minutes ago, but the President said we had been here three hours, that Captain Andreas came to me and said, that the committee was in great stress, that Governor Kirkwood was not here and asked me to respond to this toast, and said what an honor it was to speak to such a Society. I said, “My dear boy, what is all this honor compared with the disappointment of such a body of ladies and gentlemen?”
One of the saddest reminiscences for me, connected with this whole business, is that of the time when the ladies were not permitted to come to the banquets. I spoke last night of some of my feelings connected with these assemblages, I do not care whether it is the Army of the Tennessee, the Grand Army of the Republic or any other society connected with them, when I see a body of soldiers gathered together, and hear the old voices and see the old faces of the war, the remembrances of army days come so thick and fast upon me, that I can scarcely contain myself; and those remembrances, as I said last night, come to every member of this Society. I mind me of the time when we were called upon after the firing upon Fort Sumter, to enlist, and I remember very well the day that I went down into the country to say good-bye to the old folks, and I told my father that I was going into the army, and he said, “Well, it is rather foolish, I think it won't amount to much, and the time will be lost, but that is all there is about it probably,” and he turned away. And I went to my old mother, as many of you gentlemen did, no doubt, and I puzzled my brain a good deal as to what I was to say to the old lady. I finally told
her that I had been elected a Second Lieutenant, and I said, • Mother, do you know that the officers and especially the second lieutenants stand way back to the rear of all the rest of the fellows?” [Laughter.] “And the company may be all slain, I will be perfectly safe and I will get back;” and then I kissed the old lady, and with a great lump in my throat I went out. I remember that assemblage in the village square on Sunday, when all the churches united in the service, and they bid farewell to these boys, and we scarcely knew whether we ought to laugh or to cry, and did a little of both. The remembrances come to me more vividly of the first three months' struggle than all the other remembrances of the war. A few days ago, up in Dakota I at. tended a military encampment, and we had a banquet, and at the table there were two ex-confederate officers, one of them General Harris, of Mississippi, and the other Major Barrett, of Virginia, and it did my heart good to have General Harris rise in his place and say, "Boys, whatever I might have been twenty years ago, during that bloody strife, no man among you venerates that old flag, more than I do to-day.” [Applause.] I am glad to see that spirit abroad among those men who fought so bitterly during all that time. When they called on Major Barrett, he said, "My friends," for they were nearly all of them old soldiers, “I am glad to meet you to-night, but there was a time when I hated to see you very much, and I have no doubt that my experience was something like some
yours. I never saw a fight that I did not want to get out of, and,” he said, “I was a good deal like the sergeant of a company in the seven days' fight around Richmond, who was out in the advance, and when the bullets began to fly thick and disturbed the brush a great deal, a rabbit jumped up and ran towards the rear. The sergeant looked regretfully at him, and said, 'Go it, old cotton tail; if it was not for reputation, I would be right with you.?” [Laughter.] I told Major Barrett that I knew that our boys had a good deal of pluck, but there wasn't one of them that didn't have common sense enough to feel just that way.
Now, soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee, we meet at these annual reunions and we have a good time. We laugh and shake hands and almost forget that great army of martyrs whom the shadow of time seems to have concealed, but who stand, I be. lieve, looking down, not like Banquo's ghost, reproachfully, but