Page images




freedmen should have the right to vote as promised them by the Amended Constitution, or the Southern States should be deprived of that proportion of representation in the National Congress. That is what Governor Foraker means by the “results of the war," and the war won't be over till that is done. Therefore, don't unbuckle your belts too much. I, however, do not apprehend any more fighting. Reason can surely master this problem, and it really is not so bad as it seems. Nobody can understand the case

statement, but the time is opportune to bring to bear on it the wisdom of our rulers, and for the young men like Foraker to handle it.

I merely state the case and let it take its course.

I wish you (turning to Governor Foraker) all honor, all glory, all fame. I wish to see you rise to the highest position the Amercan people can give. We of the Army of the Tennessee are bound to give a lift to a comrade when we can. I have often done so, and sometimes when it was not deserved. We now fully realize that we are thoroughly welcome here in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in this beautiful, magnificent and glorious hall with an atmos. phere we can breathe in perfect comfort and peace. And (turning to the audience and Society) now again, comrades, I resume my command, and want you to behave yourselves and keep quiet so as to hear the real orator of the evening; thus far the speaking has only been skirmishing.

Allow me to present the orator of the evening, Colonel J. F. How, of St. Louis, Mo.


Eighty-five years had passed since that memorable July morning, when the old bell on Independence Hall rang forth the momentuous tidings proclaiming " Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Eighty-five years,

but a little longer than the allotted life of man, an infinitesimal number in the history of the world, yet sufficient to convert those original thirteen feeble colonies into a mighty Republic, honored and envied among the great governments of both hemispheres.

Deserving had those men, who issued that Declaration of Independence, shown themselves of the freedom they claimed, and nobly had their descendants fostered the heritage which was transmitted to them.

In less than a century, under the invigorating influences of a republican form of government, the rebellious colonies of George III had become a mighty Nation, reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the rugged pineries of the North to the orange groves of the sunny South. Men still living had witnessed the onward strides of civilization break through the boundaries of the Allegheneys and build up flourishing cities and states in the vast country beyond. Those scarcely yet in middle life had seen an iron pathway extended far in the direction of the setting sun, over the apparently boundless prairies, which a few years before had not even been traversed by a beaten trail. On the bleak coast of Massachusetts where Miles Standish had planted his standard of freedom, and with puritanical severity had guided the career of those refugees from despotism, who sought in the new world a liberty of thought not permitted them in the old, worthy descend. ants of the Pilgrim fathers built and manned staunch American ships to dispute with their English cousins the supremacy of the

The din of countless machinery, the smoke from thousands of prosperous industries in thriving marts of trade in growing towns and cities, marked the vicinity of the mighty rivers from whose banks the original possessors of the soil had retired before the advancing march of empire, leaving little behind to recall their occupancy and their intense love for those grand streams but the musical Indian names. Far in the Southwest, the Lone Star, tribute to our national prowess, had been added to the cluster, which upon our ensign had already grown from thirteen to thirty-four. And beyond the seas, welcomed and respected in every European court, diplomats from the United States demonstrated the prominent position which our Government had taken among the nations of the world. Thus, prosperous at home, honored abroad, the Nation founded by the fearless men who met in Independence Hall vindicated the wisdom of the bold and patriotic action then taken.

But one foul spot dimmed the escutcheon of the Republic. Founded upon the idea that all men are born equal, it had tolerated from its very inception a system of bondage within its borders


which growing with its growth had at last assumed threatening proportions. Time had but served to increase the enormity of the evil. In 1860, the population of the country had grown to be over 31,000,000, of whom 3,600,000 were slaves. Thus, in a nation ushered into existence through resistance to tyranny, eleven and one half of the community were objects of merchandise, with a value placed upon the body of each whenever the whims or necessities of their fellow-men dictated a traffic, conducted with no regard to the severence of ties most dear to humanity.

Well might patriots then tremble for the future as they noted the increase of a wrong, the abolishment of which would be resi sted by numbers of their countrymen, to whom such abolishment meant great financial loss. A loss so great that when in 1860 the political party whose entire sympathies were directed to the ultimate abolishment of slavery gained the ascendency, fear of pecuniary suffering proved stronger among the slave-holding communities than did their devotion to the Union, under which they had grown and prospered, and they attempted its dissolution and thus inaugurated a civil war.

Can pen picture, can words convey, even with meager justice, a description of those next four years? The thrill of horror which shook the land as the echoes from Sumpter resounded from state to state, the sundering of family ties which that war necessitated, the deserted fire-sides, the vacant offices, the depleted work-shops, and thinly peopled farms, caused by the prompt response to the repeated calls for troops; the constant waiting for reports from the front; the pathetic watching for the absent ones who never returned, the terrible depression on the receipt of bad news; the heartfelt rejoicing which hailed the tidings of victory; the hardships of the camp, the dangers and fatigue of the battlefield; the suffering in the hospitals; the rapidly increasing cities of the soldier dead; the bravery and self-sacrificing heroism of the troops;

“A thousand glorious actions that might claim,

Triumphant laurels and immortal fame,"' What memories do the mere mention of such things recall; memories as difficult to depict in appropriate coloring as it would be to describe to you, who were there, the events of that period as vividly as you remember them. Your fatigue and foot-soreness on those forced marches; your craving for almost the actual

necessities of life which marked the periods of half rations; the discomforts of those many nights when your resting place was a plowed field, a stone your pillow and that invaluable friend, the army overcoat, your only protection from the elements; or worse than hunger or hardships, the perils of the battle-field. Can mere words portray to you these things as you saw and felt them? Is it possible to do more than the faintest justice to that little army which scaled the heights at Chickasaw, undismayed by the deathly greeting which attended every foot of their upward assault; worthy followers of their cool, intrepid leader, who knew no such word as fear. Can they appropriately picture, as you remember it, the passage of that fleet which braved the batteries of Vicks. burg, running a gauntlet of shot and shell--a hell on earth! Or truthfully describe the heroism of those dauntless volunteers who participated in that undertaking, which seemed to promise almost certain death? Is it possible to convey any idea of the tireless labor on that unused canal opposite Vicksburg, or the perilous marches of the subsequent campaign? Of the sanguinary battles at Jackson and Champion Hills, fought as only men can fight who realize the full consequences of a defeat when isolated in the midst of an enemy's country? Of the privations, endurance and dangers of the siege that followed; the glorious termination of which not only spread dismay throughout the South, but was productive of corresponding confidence in the success of our cause everywhere in the loyal states, and fixed our faith in the ability and skill of the great General who carried to a successful close this glorious campaign; a faith which growing with time, never wavering even during that protracted and trying period when all eyes were turned towards Virginia, hailed at last the fitting termination of our hero's military labors under that famous tree at Appomatox. Or can pen do justice to the magnetic influence of our American Murat, as he rallied his dispirited and broken columns at Winchester and turned defeat into victory? Quite as fruitless would be any attempt to record the devotion we felt for that brav: young General, whose ever sunny smile and friendly greeting w can never forget, who led us victoriously from Corinth to Vicks burg, from Vicksburg to Chattanooga and on, still on, into the enemy's country, until he poured out his young life's blood on that terrible 22nd of July before Atlanta. Sacred to every member of

the Army of the Tennessee is his last resting place at Clyde, in this, his native state, he loved so well.

As vain would be any effort to present in appropriate and descriptive language that memorable campaign against Atlanta; a campaign embodying such knowledge of strategy, such skill in using that knowledge, that it will occupy a prominent place in military history long after the romantic interest justly surrounding the brilliant conception and execution of the “March to the Sea" is forgotten, and will rank the great commander to whom the glory of both these achievements is due, as the peer of the leading strategists of this or any age.

History, Mr. President, can do you only partial justice, but written in the hearts of every member of your old command is a feeling of love and admiration for you beside which, could you know its extent, the most glowing tribute pen can inscribe would seem to you as naught.

Already the youngest who were in that war have passed middle

age and the ranks of those who survived its perils and hardships are rapidly thinning. Already the great conflict has become a thing of the far past, and soon the historian or essayist, nonparticipants, men of a later generation, will with the calm dis. passionateness of their vocation and unmoved by any of the sentiments which then prevailed, treat the subject with the cool scrutiny of the analyst of events, and with the voluminous record of the pension office before them, with the countless data of death, suffering and hardship which it discloses, consider the question whether the end justified the cost.

Ask that question of the veteran with shattered limb and broken constitution, constant reminders of the cost of the victory gained! Go with that inquiry to the thousands of saddened homes, scattered broadcast throughout the land, where feeble women with blighted lives, toil and suffer, bereft of the strong support which war took from them! Seek the answer from tens of thousands who have grown from childhood to manhood, guided by no father's hand, aided by no father's legacy save that embraced in the mournful satisfaction that he died that their country might be saved! Or seek it from any of those four hundred and fifty thousand whose monthly allowance from our Nation's overflowing treasury is but meager recognition of the wounds and disabilities received by them or their representatives in the great struggle,

« EelmineJätka »