« EelmineJätka »
books about war, and had written one himself,-in disgrace for having taken fort Donelson and 17,000 prisoners; one morning at the precise moment when the great in-door general thought that the out door general ought to have been engaged in making his morning report, it was General Sherman with his broad, comprehensive common sense who prevented General Grant from packing up in disgust and leaving the field. Still later, in February, 1865, when the imagination of the people had been fired by the march to the sea, when the name of Sherman was upon all lips, and there was a wild clamor of the people that he should supplant General Grant. General Sherman wrote to Grant from South Carolina, January 21, 1865, among other things : “I have been told that Congress meditates a bill to make another Lieu*tenant-General for me. I have written to John Sherman to stop it, if it is designed for me. It would be mischievous, for there are enough rascals who would try to sow differences between us, whereas you and I are now in perfect understanding. I would rather have you in command than anybody else. The flurry attending my recent success will soon blow over and give place to new developments.”
To this letter, General Grant replied on February 7, 1865, from City Point, Va., in a letter in which he said among other things: “No one would be more pleased at your advancement than I; and if you should be placed in my position and I put subordinate, it would not change our personal relations in the least. I would make the same exertions to support you
you have ever done to support me, and would do all in my power to make our cause win.”
Written less than three months before Appomattox, we may search in vain for nobler words all the
pages of Plutarch. The men who have to go through life without having the sensations we have had from '61 to '65, are to be pitied; and we pity them from the bottom of our hearts. One of our objects in meeting year after year is to express our sorrow for those who were not with us.
Let us imagine ourselves in one of our camps a quarter of a century ago. We have reached a place where there is wood and water. It is a hot summer day. We have had our coffee, beans and bacon. We are sore and weary with marching We are dirty and uncomfortable, and there is a running stream where we
can bathe. We think we are to have a quiet day, as it were a clay off. The men are telling stories, chaffing one another, laughing and reading their letters-letters from mother, wife, sister, sweetheart may be, full of love, full of affection, full of tenderness, full of fervent prayers that this cruel war might end.
One big, manly fellow is all by himself, and his eyes fill with tears as he reads the sweet words of her to whose arms he may never again return; she whose eyes, full of a pure and unblemished soul, had looked into his and filled forever his whole being with pure delight.
Two young striplings, neither one old enough to go away from home in time of peace, but both already war veterans, are chaffing a homesick married man by pretending to compare notes as to why they enlisted: “Well, you see,” said one, “ I am a single man, and I enlisted because I love war.” Then came the turn of the other: “I am a married man,” said he, “and I love peace, that's why I came to the war.”
Another group is examining a colored preacher as to whether he was ever caught stealing his master's chickens. “No, gemmen,” said he, “I never done stole no chickens; leastwise I never was done ketched at it yet. It seems as if there was a higher power watching over me."
One regiment in the brigade is from Kentucky, and the Kentucky colonel commands the brigade. A wag of a soldier is telling what happened when the Kentucky colonel had his measure taken for his uniform. The tailor was taking his measure for trousers. “One hip pocket or two?” said the tailor. “Two," said the colonel. “Pint or quart, sah?” Quart.”
But listen! It is a single shot. It is picket firing. No, there goes another, and another, and another, and it is very near, and there goes a cannon, and there a volley-we rush to arms. The drums and the bugles are heard everywhere. Towards the front, in every direction, white smoke begins to curl up. Men slightly wounded are beginning to come to the rear. We are moving forward into the old battle against wrong and oppression. We are moving forward to fire our volleys, and stand or fall for civilization. It is the same grand old fight that has been going on from the beginning of the world, and must continue to go on forever. We are moving forward in line of battle, and now we are under fire. And the firing becomes general-a hundred guns belch,
forth-the crashing of shells fills the air--and there's the rebel yell. Our comrades are falling; but we close up the ranks, and again we touch elbows. The battle rages. The sun sinks lower and lower, and yet the battle rages. But listen! On the flank there is a cry of victory. It is not a rebel yell. It is a Union cheer! The yells are heard no more.
Louder and louder and nearer and nearer are the Union cheers, and in them we hear the prophecy of a better day, when all shall cheer for the Union.
The address of Colonel Jacobson was well and enthusiastically received—he was frequently interrupted by hearty applause.
The President called Colonel How, Vice-President, to the chair.
Now, comrades, we have reached that point where it is given to the members of our Society the privilege of calling upon any one whom they desire, and I want you to call their names clearly and distinctly.
General Slocum was called for, was introduced by the President, and spoke as follows: Mr. PRESIDENT, COMRADES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
This is the first meeting of this Society I have attended in nineteen years. The first of its meetings I ever attended was held at Chicago nineteen years ago. At that time our country was just in the throes of the reconstruction period. None of us had any right to look forward to such a period of prosperity as has been given to this country from that date to this, and I doubt if there is on the face of the earth any country that has ever been so blessed by Divine Providence as has ours during the last twenty years. In our national wealth we have increased beyond the dreams of our best wishes. So far as the reconstruction measures were concerned, there were none of us at that time who dared to predict the state of affairs which now exists. It has been said to you here to-night by your orator that the South has been more blessed by the war even than the North. It is true. The South is richer to-day by far than it would have been had it not been for the result of our war. I guess it is about the only instance in which a great people has ever been defeated who were perfectly willing, in less than a quarter of a century, to confess that they had been blessed by getting a good, wholesome thrashing.
The Society of the Army of the Tennessee selected Michigan to hold its reunion in. Why it did so I don't know, unless it was because of the beauty of this city and the patriotism of the people. It is certainly a fact that there were not a great many Michigan soldiers in the Army of the Tennessee. The great bulk of the soldiers in this state went to serve in the Army of the Potomac, and I am willing to confess here to you, gentlemen of the Army of the Tennessee, that I have always had a very great admiration and love for that old Army of the Potomac, and, being here in Michigan, and knowing that my words will not go eastward, I am willing to confess that the fact that Michigan sent most all of its soldiers there will, perhaps, account for the bravery and fidelity of the army, and that fact alone, in a measure, had its influence. Michigan certainly did a great thing for the Army of the Potomac. She did a good thing, too, for the Army of the Tennessee, although she did not send a great many men there, but at an early period in the war Governor Blair from this State went about the country hunting for a cavalry leader. He had raised in this state a regiment of men who were to act as cavalrymen, and Governor Blair went to the Army of the Tennessee to find a man to command them. He found down there a young man, who was a class-mate of mine at West Point, who was then performing the duties of quartermaster, and, through some process which I cannot exactly understand, Governor Blair discov. ered in this young man a great future. He applied for him and had him appointed to the command of a cavalry regiment. The young man soon made himself pretty well known to his regiment, and in the course of a few weeks to his brigade, and in a few weeks longer to his division, in a few weeks longer to his corps, and but a few months had elapsed before his fighting qualities were well known and his qualities as a soldier were well known to all the western army, and not eighteen months had elapsed before his name was spread broadcast all over the Union, and to-day his reputation is as extended as the English language. He is known all over the world as one of the greatest, as one of the most gallant soldiers our army, or any other army, has ever known. I allude, of course, to the gallant Phil. Sheridan.
If the State of Michigan had sent to the Army of the Tennes
see, or to
other army, one hundred thousand men it could not have done more for the Union cause than it did when it took gallant Phil. Sheridan out of the quartermaster department and made him a cavalry leader.
The Army of the Cumberland owes something, too, to Michigan. That army had in it a corps which, from Chattanooga to Atlanta and from Atlanta down to the sea, was coinmanded by a Michigan man, a gentleman who had spent all his best years here in Detroit. I served with him from the close of the battle of Antietam to the close of the war. He was honored in the Army of the Cumberland, he was honored in the Army of the Tennessee, for thev all knew him. They had fought by his side. I allude to Alpheus S. Williams, and I am glad to hear from your Mayor to-night words which indicate that he was as well appreciated here at home as he was among his fellow-soldiers.
Now, my friends, I am not going to take your time longer, because I know these gentlemen have come here to hear from some of their old associates. I did not belong to the Army of the Ten. nessee, and I have no right to take the time of this Society, so I will retire and make way for others.
The remarks of General Slocum received close attention and he was frequently applauded.
General Clinton B. Fisk was then called for, and being introduced by the President, said:
This is not the first time General Sherman has given me a good lift. I have been bursting with a speech all the evening, but I had no idea I should be asked to deliver it.
When Governor Luce stood before you I was astonished at his age. It seems but a little time ago, when a c!erk in a country store in Michigan, I used to cut off his calico for him and sheeting, and he and I together would roll a barrel of salt into his wagon, which he would take off to his home in Branch county. And now he is a Governor and I am not a Governor. It was but a little time ago that Colonel Jacobson had as much hair on his head as I have now, and now he reads this magnificent oration behind a pair of glasses, and so tempus keeps fugiting with us old soldiers.
General Sherman cannot say too much for Michigan soldiers. No state responded with a greater alacrity to the call to arms