« EelmineJätka »
of these distinguished commanders. The press, the historian, the orator and the poet have each and all held their names before the people for a quarter of a century, and who dares to attempt to bring forth a new thought touching them? Aye, Mr. President, some of the names of these commanders have been the bright themes of every civilized nation for a quarter of a century. Is not then my task a hard one, to be brought in as a substitute, to afford any entertainment or information touching these mighty soldiers of the Union?
Grant! No soldier, dead or living, ever disputed, or ever will, his first place as a fighter. God bless his memory, as we all do here. We have seen him oft, and know what metal he was made of. That great, military, brave cube of courage; I can see him yet at Shiloh, sitting on a stump, smoking his cigar, when many of the surprised regiments of the morning were weakening around him, when the shells were hissing over his head, and the balls playing their requiems around him, when the trees, the air and everything was quaking, excepting Grant. Nearly the whole army thought they were beaten excepting Grant. He knew better. And that little man, nerved by God for the great mission of the republic, sat there and held the destinies of the battle until he turned the scale. He has passed from us, but we have him here yet. And here we will keep him until the Judge of the living and the dead destroys his resting place. Yes, he has been laid away; and, Mr. President, the nation knelt around his grave when the silent soldier was laid with his kindred dust.
And General Sherman next! I ask no better thing, Mr. President, than to be called upon at a hundred days' or ten seconds' notice to dish you up when you are not here. But it is not in ac. cordance with my mettle or my methods to say before General Sherman's face what is double-shotted in my heart. I am in no hurry to fill a niche for you. I am in no hurry to plan a monument for
This is not the time for me to pay tributes to that commander who was always invincible, whether at a cannon's or a woman's mouth. Oh, you cannot look me out of countenance, Mr. President. I have seen him on Pennsylvania avenue, and I have seen him in tougher places than that. So that I may not be misunderstood, it was many years ago, when there were a good many witnesses. We have got General Sherman here with us in our arms and hearts, and there we will hold him until forced to
surrender him. And, General, by the looks of things, it looks as if there are a good many of us who will have to surrender before
McPherson! Ah, boys, there is a theme that the soldier loves to dwell upon.
Who was more soldierly than McPherson? He had his little faults; but dare we call them faults, when we know that the ones he had sprung from the very warmest fountains of his generous soul? No, he was every inch one of the bravest, cleanest soldiers that ever commanded an army on American soil. And I have stood in the little McPherson square, in the capital of the Nation, and seen the “boys” go by with nothing but the little bronze button in their lapel, and stand before the silent statue of McPherson when the tears rolled down their bronzed faces in memory of their gallant commander. Ah, this Army of the Tennessee has a galaxy of great men to remember and to love.
General Howard! One of the greatest military chieftains living told me only yesterday—I will not tell you who my authority was—that General Howard was one of the most accomplished soldiers of the late war; that no man received an order with more recipient attention, and no man executed it with greater fidelity than General Howard. I asked General Sherman yesterday if he was not a very religious general. He said yes, he was very pious—too pious. When we consider the elevated standard of my authority, General Sherman, his piety, you know that General Howard is wholly beyond the domain of Christian criticism. But he was a philanthropist, a typical Christian soldier, and General Sherman forgives all that, for he never allowed his piety to lead him to neglect a single order that was given him.
General John A. Logan:-Let your hearts speak; I will not speak for them. General John A. Logan, the leader and the idol of the volunteer soldier of America. No man living or deadand I would not belittle the memory of any comrade-ever so planted himself in the hearts of the rank and file of the Union army as the Black Eagle of Illinois. Now, you have got me up here, Mr. President, and I am going to tell the truth as I view it, and I think I know something of the heart-beats of the common soldiery of my country. John A. Logan would scold when he got orders sometimes. General Logan had a dash of the suspicious in his character. I know it well. There is no public man on earth but is suspicious, and they all know it. I am a little
that way myself. But General Logan is the only man in public life that I ever knew who had the courage and the honesty to show it openly. He never learned the tricks of diplomacy. He did not draw his inspiration from Talleyrand or any other sycophant. He was a great-hearted, brave, outspoken man, and that is why the millions loved him. Standing here within the presence of the gloom that fell over the nation when Logan died, I pronounce him the soldier of all the Union that planted himself deepest in the common soldier's heart. I would not say that he would have been the safest man to trust with the weightiest commands. I do not claim that for General Logan. No. But I do contend that wherever the commandant was needed who could enthuse his spirit into his soldiery, no man in the army equaled John A. Logan. Our distinguished and always just President bows his head in approval of the sentiment. I thank him for it. Poor Logan has left us. I wish he was with us to scold us tonight. I loved that fellow, even when I was quarreling with him, and I ever will, for there is something in the breasts of the American people that likes honesty and frankness and hates covering and diplomacy. And now, Mr. President and Army of the Tennessee, I am not a worshiper of military men. I am not a hero worshiper. I have read Tom Carlyle pretty carefully on heroes and hero-worship, and I am not a worshiper of military heroes. It is not a profession that I admire. I am frank to say that. Yet I honor, love and respect each of the commanders of the Army of the Tennessee. They were not soldiers; they were patriots. That is what I like about them. The sword that flashes into the air for liberty for all the people, for their independence and freedom to their country in the lowest hovel or finest mansion. That is the soldier that I follow. And I never would have been a soldier of this Union, but for that, perhaps, illegal order of General Fremont's holding the slaves who came into his camp. I believe in striking at the root of things. That is why I like our President. He gets at the root of things. That is why I liked Grant. He was not only a great fighter, but he was a patriotic soldier, laying his thoughts down deep at the foundations of battle. “Let us have peace,” he said. That sentiment was greater than his greatest won victory in battle. But I do believe, gentlemen of the Army of the Tennessee, that educated soldiers are needed. Misunderstand me not. So long as war must accompany the
destinies of the highest civilized people, trained soldiers will be needed, and well was it for us that in 1861-5, that we had our Grants, our Shermans, our McPhersons, and our Slocums, our Dodges, and our other heroes to take command of the throbbing forces ready to be led anywhere to save the Union.
But, Mr. President, before I sit down, let me say this of our commanders, greatly as we love them each and all, profoundly as we appreciate their military genius, civil powers, and manly qualities; let it never be forgotten that the key to their greatness lay in the fact that they led a citizen-soldiery. All that the armies that they led needed was to be let loose, and they would win victories. Chieftains are well enough, and we had them, and the best, but it was the armies that they commanded who fought the battles, won the victories, and lifted them to fame.
General Sherman:-I will now announce the
THIRD TOAST.-" The American Soldier."
“Ours are no hirelings trained to fight,
Response by Rev. CHARLES O'Riley.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Whilst profoundly and sincerely grateful to the partiality which has accorded me this exceptional honor, still, in face of the fact that your toast compromises a subject worthy of the best ability in the world, I can not but express as profound and sincere a regret for the untoward circumstance that has, on this occasion, deprived us of it.
I do not deem it needful to disclaim the inference that your committee, repulsed on their first charge, retired in that good order contemplated by European military maneuvers, and so fell back upon the next best. I was a child during the war, yet I know the leading and original features of American tactics; and in this instance, I am bound to say, that whatever your committee may have been guilty of, they certainly have acted after the instincts of American discipline. The ancient Romans massed their men in war; the more modern nations determined and told off the mass into ranks or files; these the English threw three
deep into squares; Napoleon reduced the conflicting front to two. It remained for the American to trust the fortune of the front of war to one good rank upon the consciousness that the whole American people stood behind it. So it seems to me, mon general, your committee has been eminently American and eminently military in so far as they calculated that, failing the first rank, any American would do. The lot has fallen, as it looks, on me, as being an American lying around loose in the locality. That I am an American is in some way attested by the fact, which I am in nowise loth to acknowledge, that I entertain a disposition closely corresponding to the action of the committee in the prem. ises, and consider myself good enough to do anything the American people call upon me to do, and none too good to stand in the footmarks of any American, when and by whatever chance he has fallen out of line. And in this disposition-I may be pardoned for suggesting-is discernible the genesis of the American soldier, who is immediately deducible from the American freeman-or better, let me say, is in fact, but a “mode of motion” of the American freeman. The American soldier is a type of man that any man on earth may be righteously desirous of realizing, and one which reaches out to and lays hold upon the highest aspirations of the American mind, as it gathers in its grasp the tenderest tendrils of the American heart. Ever fitted for the highest, ever ready to discharge the lowest duty that devolves upon his citizenship, he has no prototype in the antecedent civilizations of the world, no peer in the serried ranks of earth's contemporaneous millions. He is sui generis,of himself and his own kind—at once the creator and creation of a country to which he is devoted with an affection that is paramount to all considerations under God, and induces a self-sacrifice that borders on self-forgetfulness. At her first instance he comes forth from the portals of profoundest peace and familiarly engages in the most ensanguined war, and, the emergency definitely past, he relapses without effort into habits of decorous repose or industrious enterprise, the most law-abiding subject of the state, the most companionable man in the community, the embodiment of domestic love, and the exemplar of domestic virtue. In the ferocity of conflict, he has surpassed Pyrrhus, in magnanimity to the vanquished he has distanced Theodocius, in the complex relations of civil life he has looked like Aristides. This is not the language