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with, and personal liberty inseparable from every inch of American soil.
The enduring evidence of the loyalty of the men who composed that army shines forth from every star, and is written by the finger of heroism upon every stripe of the Nation's flag. The music of prosperous industries, blending with pæans of lasting peace, coming up from a Nation of sixty millions of free men, voice the results of their devotion to the Union of the States. “ The silent tents of green,” where sleep four hundred thousand of their comrades who went out in '61 - 2 and 3, but did not return, are the eternal witnesses of their patriotism.
“Four hundred thousand of the brave,
Made this, our ransomed soil, their grave." They were Americans, the loyal sons of the Republic, the representatives of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, and the highest civilization known to nations.
Duty to humanity, duty to their country, duty to their God was their “ pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night." In following that pillar, whether under the leadership of a Meade, a Hancock, a Thomas, a Logan, a McPherson, a Sheridan, a Sherman, or a Grant, they marched forward with as much confidence as did Moses of old. Their achievements in liberty's cause shall go
down in song and story beyond the time:
“When the war drum throbs no longer, and the battle flags are furled,
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world." Their victories have done much to hasten the fulfillment of the prophesy of Charles Sumner of the glad “ coming time when the whole continent, with its various states shall be a plural unit, with one constitution, and one liberty, and one destiny."
Their indomitable courage in battle was equaled by their magnanimity in victory. Grant, the great Field Marshal, voiced their sentiments and his own in the memorable words of unparalleled generosity to Lee's surrendered army—“Take your horses with you, you will need them for spring plowing."
The war ended. The army did not remain a menace to civil liberty. It melted away as snow in summer before the risen sun of Peace. The veteran soldiers of yesterday returned to the shop, the work-bench, the field, the office, the school-room, the bar, the bench, the pulpit, gladly assuming the duties of civil life, which he had but temporarily laid aside to go to the tented field at his
country's call, as the American volunteer imbued with the patriotism of an Arnold Winkelreid and the dauntless courage of a Marshal Ney.
Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, who presided over and developed the useful and ornamental arts of the Athenians, mythology tells us sprang full grown from the brain of Jupiter. So the American citizen, fully armed and equipped for the discharge of the duties in every walk in civil life, sprang from the disbanded Union army. He and his comrades had not sunk the citizen in the soldier. They comprehended the principles for the maintenance of which they fought; they returned home fully capable of perpetuating them for the honor and safety of our country. “ With malice toward none,” they resumed the duties of civil life with the high resolve “to bind up the Nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphans.”
The spirit of fraternity, charity and loyalty that had made them comrades in sunshine and storm, they took with them to their homes. This spirit that had bound them together as brothers in the frozen camp, in the hardships and privations of the march, in the pain and suffering of the hospital, in the dark and untold agonies of the prison pen—this spirit that had been tried in the fire of battle is the corner-stone on which rests the grandest civic organization of the world the Grand Army of the Republic. Its membership is the Nation's roll of honor, a roll emblazoned with the most illustrious names of the age. Its doors are open to every honorably discharged soldier or sailor of the war of the Rebellion, provided he has done nothing as a citizen casting a stain upon his honorable service, rendering him an unfit associate for his old comrades-in-arms It buries all sectarian and political differences in the spirit of fraternity and charity.
“Binding one another in comradeship by memories sweet." Its fraternity and charity are shown not by words, which are "the children of the wind,” but by deeds, that warm the cold, clothe the naked and feed the hungry—“deeds that are the daugh. ters of the soul.” It holds that there is no higher obligation of the government than that of providing for its disabled and destitute veterans—the Nation should blush to see one of them an inmate of an alms-house or his widow or orphan begging bread. The Na
tion owes them a debt" which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent” in the day of the Nation's extremity-a debt that should be freely and not grudgingly paid, a debt that should not be avoided by technicalities.
The Grand Army Post is the old veterans' love feast, where in a spirit of soldierly fraternity they fight their battles over again; where the old and broken comrade may “shoulder his crutch and show how fields were won;" where the general and the private meet as equals; the highest rank known to the order is that of comrade. Over this banquet presides the General of the Army of the United States, the acknowledged military genius age, a comrade of the Grand Army of the Republic. His name is inseparably linked with the Union-around it cluster the grandest triumphs of the Republic, "all of which he saw and a great part of which he was.” His fame is in all the land and is secure in the hearts of his country, beyond the reach of the honeyed phrases of the flatterer and the envenomed tongue of the calumniator. The Grand Army of the Republic sends him greeting.
Sir, our comrades are growing old, death is making rapid inroads in their ranks. In the score and three years that have elapsed since the war, more than three hundred thousand of the old veterans have marched across that invisible and shadowy line separating time from eternity, and have pitched their tents on the eternal camping ground on the other side. But a few weeks since, they and those who had gone before were joined by that incomparable cavalry leader, that grand soldier, our beloved comrade, Phillip H. Sheridan. "God's finger touched him and he slept.” And amid a Nation's tears, softly from his cottage by the sea, two angels issued where but one went in.” “ When we think of our comrades dead we worship God; when we worship God we think of them" and feel the spirit of fraternity, charity and loyalty strengthening the tender bonds of comradeship that unite us to our comrades living
The President: Before we call the last toast, I will request Mrs. Ainsworth to sing us one of our old war songs—“Tenting To-night on the Old Camp Ground.”
Mrs. Ainsworth having complied with the request, the President continued:
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the last toast on
the evening, which I will announce: “ The Army Sutler;" and to this response will be made by General William H. Gibson.
Eighth TOAST.—“The Army Sutler."
Response by General WILLIAM H. Gibson. MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTEMEN:
When I received an invitation to this banquet, and was asked to respond to this sentiment, I accepted promptly, and most gladly accepted it, because it afforded to me a long-desired opportunity to do justice to a long-neglected army of the service, whose well considered charges had shaken many a heroic division, and led to compromise. Books and volumes without number have been written about generals and campaigns, and 117 books about the privates; and chaplains have been immortalized in song and story. The surgeons have had their friends. And even the army mule has been extoled in the pages of history, and honored as one of the saviors of the Republic. All this, and yet no one has yet risen to champion and defend the fame of the sutler. I consider myself fortunate, and shall now proceed to say to you that but for the sutler the Nation would have been divided.
Now the distinguished President of this Society will remember the serious embarrassment under which we labored in that magnificent campaign against Elizabethtown.
The President:—Yes; I remember.
General Gibson:—There wasn't a sutler there. I have often been astonished that we ever got Elizabethtown-how we ever ascended the rugged slopes of Muldraugh's Hill and captured the village of Elizabethtown without sutlers! I think it was owing more to fortune than vigor, Mr. President. But the time soon came in the history of the war when we had to have sutlers, and every man of military capacity recognized that fact.
I suppose there are a great many people here that have overlooked the great services of the sutler. Now I am going to tell you what they did: They saved whole armies. You never thought of it! I will tell you. Do you remember when the Army of the Cumberland was camped at Belle Creek and we started towards home? I was there, and I was in the advance, too, next to the sutlers. There were two great armies, one led by Buell and the other by Bragg, and all of them were led by the sutler! Our army was turned wrong end foremost, and I had the distinguished honor
to lead the wrong end. Therefore, I am better qualified, probably, than any living man to testify to the distinguished services rendered in that magnificent march. I never occupied so proud a position in my life, and never expect again, unless Mr. Cleveland should make me Secretary of War. Now, I do think I could add distinguished honor to his administration if he would turn out Mr. Endicott and put me in. I tell you, I would put the sutlers on the pension rolls at once. It is time this Nation should arouse itself. That was a grand campaign. We got back to Louisville and they wouldn't let us go home. The sutlers planned another campaign. Now, I know they planned it, because I was advised on the subject myself. They knew the gallantry with which I had defended their stores on that march, 350 miles—for I came into Louisville with every sutler
all sound-not one lost. I realized at that early period of the war that we must protect the sutlers if we would save the country, and I was determined to protect them. We started to go, brigade the other end foremost. We had a rough time for it. And there the sutler was at his best. I well remember, on the banks of Salt river, when Kirby Smith got after General
division. I was commanding a brigade then, and I had my sutler with me, too, at that time. They attacked us very early in the morning. Before they attacked us we had agreed to fight them. We knew they could whip us, but we intended to run slowly. I was to feel them until I wanted to run; then I was to run through two brigades that were posted in the timber. I thought I would try the sutlers on them, and run a wagon out on an open field, for I knew that the Confederacy appreciated sutlers more highly than we did. I thought if I could get a rally on that sutler' wagon, I would open on them with six pieces of artillery, and give them sweet home. It was one of the most consummate pieces of strategy in that regard in the war. I came here because I wanted to record it. I run that wagon out, and then drew up Andrews' battery of six guns. The Johnnies were hungry, and I knew it. I had a regiment in my command, the 22d Indiana, that I knew every man of them would die for a sutler's wagon. I put that regiment in a position where I could handle it, and then I addressed them in most eloquent terms, and told them that their country asked much of them, and that there was a sutler's wagon in which were boxes and divers cases of liquid, stronger than anything I have seen here to-night, and I think two