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system of autocratic seclusion, it is the custom of the President to afford the public frequent opportunities of social intercourse.
This country has become so populous, and the facility and convenience of travel so great, that thousands flock to the National Capital for pleasure and recreation, and nothing is more common than for the President to give receptions to thousands of citizens who simply call to pay their respects to the man who has been chosen as the head of a government of sixty millions of people.
It is a supreme dignity to be chosen to this great office. Its powers and duties are a great public trust which should be performed with singleness of purpose in the interest of the great body of the American people. Let us invoke that Divine Providence which has watched over the destinies of this Republic that every citizen called to that office shall be anointed with patriotism and wisdom and justice and moderation for the performance of their great tasks.
And now, Mr. President, in behalf of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, I offer the sentiment: Here is to the health of the President of the United States and his family, may they live long and be happy
The President:-Ladies and gentlemen, the next toast,
THOMAS C. FLETCHER. To those who know General Fletcher, this is sad news, indeed. I fear me, some calamity has befallen his sweet wife or his lovely daughter. I read it between the lines. It may be a death. God grant it may not be true. Governor Fletcher had a sweet family.
In this dilemma, General Fuller asked me if I would not say a few words; that he thought the members of the Army of the Tennessee would be satisfied with a very little from me. And I think so, too.
There has been a great deal of nonsense spoken about the private soldier. Our system of government, founded upon the rule
of the majority, makes many a person solicit the vote of the great
And all armies from the beginning of time have been composed of private soldiers. The words "private soldier” are not strictly construed. You are a private soldier, I am a private soldier--we are all private soldiers, we are individuals. We know the private soldier as the lowest grade in the organization of the army. Of course that lowest grade was the most numerous. You first have a great number, say 999 private soldiers, and the rest are non-commissioned officers, and commissioned officers, a few, and so on. It is built up and developing to the top, until you develop into a brigade commander, a division commander, a corps commander, or army commander. But the great extreme, the great mass, is the private soldier. Now the better the men may be who are at the base, of course the higher it raises the pyramid.
To say the mass of our men didn't think is absurd. They did think. They thought well. They thought how to get something to eat, to drink, to keep healthy, and to be ready when the time came to spring forward with the bayonet or the musket; to obey the orders of their proper superiors.
There must be organization for strength, and there must be some one above to give orders below, in the army. Different in this respect entirely, in civil life. In a civil community the mass of the governed gives orders to its president, to its civil officers, and there are many that are but abject servants—too much so, in my judgment. In the military is the one man power, and one man has the absolute say.
An officer or'a private, either one is alike honorable. A private soldier may be a good patriot, a better son; he may be a better parent and father than the general who rules the army. And so he may be better than his captain or colonel. I have known many instances where such was the case.
The private soldier, by reason of being a private, is just as much endowed by his creator with all the faculties, and health, and strength, and hope, and endurance; and he does the great mass of the labor, as we all know. To say that the generals and colonels look down upon him is simply absurd. Every colonel loves his private soldier as he loves his own children. There is not a good general commanding a brigade or an army, who rides along the front of a column standing in ranks, but what feels his bosom swell with
pride of appreciation and pride of patriotism. Now, my friends, don't expect that I shall flatter any one, be he colonel, or captain, or lieutenant, or a private soldier-I flatter nobody; but the man who does the work appointed to him to do, be he private, captain, colonel, or general, and does his work best, to him is the highest honor due, and I accord it with pleasure.
Now, gentlemen, with great pleasure I turn to the fourth toast, ** The Loyal Women,” and I have by my side one of them—we all know her, Mrs. Sherwood—who will respond to it. Mrs. Sherwood, I give you my time.
FOURTH TOAST—“The Loyal Women."
Response by Mrs. SHERWOOD. MR. PRESIDENT:
I thank, through you, the Army of the Tennessee for the distinguished honor of granting to a woman the privilege of responding to the toast, “ The Loyal Women.” We all talk very much better on any subject with which we are familiar; and while you and your comrades can better describe the campaigns and the battles of the great war of the rebellion, I think you will all agree with me that the women who were enlisted as the unarmed soldiers of the war can better speak for the work which they performed. I would now explain to the assembled guests that it was a lapse of memory upon the part of the distinguished chairman of the local committee, who sits very near me, in announcing me for a poem. I think I said strictly to the committee that the subject was fraught with too tender and bitter memories for the flowing measures of verse. And what I shall say to you this evening will be in the sternest kind of prose.
Time works wondrous changes. The vitalizing forces of yesterday are the reminiscences of to-day. Fifteen years ago a few loyal women, whose experiences were linked with the war, sat at the head of the hall, intently eager to catch the words that fell from the lips of a Hurlbut, a Custer, a Sheridan and a Grant. Tonight we sit in their vacant places to cheer the narrowing circle with the sympathy that flows from kindred minds.
Of the loyal women of America, the unarmed soldiers of the Union, what shall I say? The average after-dinner orator would tell you in flowing numbers how they wept and watched through
the long years of war; how they scraped the lint and wound the bandages. But to characterize the loyal women of the war as a tearful moh of lint-scrapers would be like describing the magnificent achievements of a million and a half of heroic men but hold. ing up the picture of the awkward squad, with a wisp of hay tied on the right foot of every man, and a wisp of straw on the left, the drill-sergeant shouting, “ Hay foot, straw foot, January, March."
True, there were tears in those days, but they were the tears of self-renunciation that moistened the good-bye kiss on the cheek of the soldier-boy, as he went with his mother's blessing to the front. There was watching in those days, but it was the alert watching of wifehood and motherhood, busy with all that love could devise to alleviate the soldiers' lot. There was lint-scraping and bandagewinding, but they were but an episode in the heaped-up bounties of woman's inexhaustible resources.
Lincoln's call for volunteers, April 15, 1861, enlisted the women with the men. For every
soldier under arms there were two un. armed soldiers to give him physical comfort and moral support. When husbands, sons and brothers flocked to the standard, the wives, mothers and sisters formed the army of supply. The loyal women whose fathers were too old, and whose brothers were too young, and whose husbands were too feeble, or too indifferent to go, were heart and hand in the ranks. God be praised, loyalty, like religion, is the property of the individual. It is neither subject to sale nor barter; it can not be married into a family, and it can never be divorced from it. The blood of Lexington and Boston Harbor swept as royally in the veins of the daughters of the land as in the sons.
The loyal woman of America fought as great battles and won as signal victories as did the Army of the Potomac, beating on the gates of Richmond, or Sherman's army thundering on its way from Lookout Mountain to the sea.
Yours was the nitro-glycerine shock clearing the rocks of ob. struction from the path of progress; ours was the balm that soothes the broken-hearted. The smiter and the healer; both united under one Commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, the greatest, whitest soul that ever marshalled an army for battle! Abraham Lincoln, the tenderest, truest champion the women of America have ever known! When brutal surgeons repulsed the
efforts of our loyal women, Abraham Lincoln was the power that removed the stumbling-block from their path. When stern military prudence expelled the camp-followers, and news-mongers, and non-combatants of every grade, it was the passport of Abraham Lincoln that excepted the loyal women, and sent the Sanitary train and the nurses to care for the wounded on the battle-field.
The work of our loyal women was as many-sided as a prism, and every color reflected a royal hue. They visited the families of needy soldiers and contributed to their necessities. They opened work rooms and supply depots, where the whitest hands in all the land grew seamed and knotty from unremitting toil. They ran restaurants, opened coffee houses, established and conducted railway hospitals. They devised great sanitary fairs that poured their thousands into the treasury. They were the best recruiting officers of the war, and marked “weighed and found wanting” every able-bodied man who failed to enlist. They bore the heaviest burdens of taxation without a murmur, and were content with shoddy prints at forty cents a yard, that went to pieces at the first washing. They went with torn shoes through the winter snows, and made garments for their little ones of tow sacks and meal bags, to eke out the twelve dollars a month sent home by the father who was earning a hundred dollars a month when he enlisted. They became butchers and bakers and shop-keepers. The inexperienced wife of to-day was the tradesman and the editor of to-morrow. They handled the stock and worked in the fields; put in the spring crops and cradeled the harvests. They gave up their tea and coffee and sugar, their meat and milk and eggs, and nurtured their nursing children on corn mush and burnt rye coffee. They closed the eyes of their dead, and laid them away with their own hands, with none to whisper words of consolation. They faced want without a shudder, and endured affliction in a hundred hideous forms. At night they walked the floor in the agony of despair, and in the morning sat down to write the absent ones that all was well at home. They received their dead, mangled and dismembered from the battle, and gazed with horror on the vacant eyes of the ghastly victims of the prison pen. They read in the common prints of their husband and father, aye, and of their firstborn and only sons, tumbled into unknown graves, and yet was their purpose unstayed and their hearts unbroken. They walked unscathed through the noisome hospital, laying healing hands on