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their loyal mothers, not one single recorded act of hostility toward unarmed men or insult to unprotected women has left a blot upon the fair fame of American manhood. In the light of such a record it appears unnecessary to discuss the question whether Columbia was burned by Union or Confederate soldiers. It simply fell a sacrifice to the fortunes of the war, from which no southern city save possibly Charleston-had less reason for pleading exemption.
Making ample-aye, liberal-provision for the protection and subsistence of the citizens of that unfortunate city, his columns were swiftly moved forward to Cheraw, across the Pedee, up to Fayetteville and over the Cape Fear river, to fight and win the battles of Averyboro and Bentonville; and finally form a junction with the forces of Schofield and Terry at Goldsboro, the objective point of a campaign to which military critics will hereafter refer as a standard by which to estimate the extreme maximum endurance and marching abilities of a well organized, thoroughly disciplined, and magnificently commanded, veteran corps, that safely accomplished the longest and most difficult march ever before made by an army through an enemy's country.
Pausing only long enough to refill his ammunition and subsistence trains he directed his heads of column upon Smithfield, where Johnston had taken up a defensive position, only to find that he had fallen back upon Raleigh. Changing his route toward Salisbury in order to intercept Johnston's retreat southward Sher man forced from his antagonist a plea for the suspension of hostilities, with a view to determining whether arrangements could not be made for terminating the war-negotiations which finally resulted in the surrender of Johnston's army. And thus at Durham's station the curtain fell upon the last important act of that terrible drama of civil war which opened with the crime of treason and closed with the curse of assassination.
Peace came with this glorious ending of his last campaign, a fitting conclusion to that brilliant series which impressed many with the belief that Sherman was the brightest military genius of an epoch fruitful in the production of heroes.
While General Sherman may have developed peculiarities of genius that were observed severally in other men, in none, however, were such peculiarities ever before found in such happy combinations. He certainly excelled all in his ability to rapidly organize, equip, supply, and move an army in the field. His tracklayers kept pace with the music of his marching columns, and the shrieks of his locomotives -evidencing the integrity of his "cracker-line” – were the ever welcome greetings to his skirmishers. Resistless courage, unshaken steadiness, limitless endurance, and unbounded confidence were the distinguishing features of a command that bore the impress of his brilliant personality.
Firin, but not exacting; prudent, but not timid; brave, but not rash; he never became disconcerted in presence of danger or sentimental in the presence of death; but when the business was over and he relieved from the stern necessity of the hour, no one ever displayed more respect for the memory of the dead or considerate care for the wounded.
While at all times subordinate, he never hesitated to proffer his advice or express his disapproval of measures not calculated to benefit the cause, even going to the extent of criticising the action of the authorities at Washington in matters of promotion, upon one noted occasion saying, “ If the rear be the post of honor, then we had better all change front on Washington," and upon another occasion when short of transportation, for which he had made frequent requisition, he was astonished by the arrival of two newly appointed Brigadier-Generals, who had been ordered to report to him for assignment to duty. He promptly telegraphed “I made no requisition for Brigadier-Generals; I want 'mules.''
He appeared to have little respect for rank attained through political favoritism, or other influence than creditable conduct on the field of battle. Words were to him nothing, actions everything; and the confidence he reposed in the invincibility of his army was fully reciprocated by its confidence in the infallibility of their leader. Together they shared the honors of his successive promotions, and the assumption of those more responsible duties which he accepted so modestly and performed so ably.
It was his raid to Meridian, his campaign to Atlanta, his march to the sea, and his terrible crusade with sword and torch through the Carolinas that first brought the south to a realizing sense of the destructive character of aggressive warfare. When to General Hood he said: “ War is the science of barbarism ” he sounded the keynote to his military methods, which history may yet record as the science of war's humanities; for there are none who do not now realize that they sooner brought the end, and in thus bringing the end conferred the greatest possible blessing upon all concerned. A brighter day never dawned upon either the north or south than that upon which Sherman tendered the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift to the Union. The privations of war, the experiences of defeat, the teachings of adversity, and the examples of northern energy, enterprise, and industry were the educating influences that inspired that emulation, stimulated that application, and encouraged that labor, which has been instrumental in developing the mineral wealth and industrial commercial agencies of the south, until the progress of some sections now rival that of the north, a progress that can no longer be stayed by the remaining adherents of a barren ideality—the “ lost cause, Even those who suffered most are now rejoicing in the birth of a "new south,” which gladly shares the universal prosperity of a country saved by Sherman's military genius from disunion, slavery, and national death.
With the dawn of peace came his assignment to the command of the military division of Missouri and subsequent promotion to “General of the Army.” It is doubtful if any man ever before more thoroughly enjoyed the remaining years of a life devoted to the performance of most agreeable official duties. And thus time passed away until having reached the law's limitation to term of service, the 8th day of February, 1884, he surrendered the command of the army and retired to private life, carrying with him not only the respect, but the love and affection of a nation.
Having no longer an opportunity of applying his restless energy to the accomplishment of military purposes, and being totally devoid of political ambition, he at once devoted himself to the pleasures and excitements of the social world. Tall, erect, and wiry, with silvered auburn hair, close-cut beard, and dark inquiring eyes, he was in personal appearance the typical soldier, whose every feature and lineament marked the imperious will and chilling reserve of a born commander, until changed by the charms of social intercourse, when his face would be lighted up by smiles as winning and as attractive as those of a handsome woman, forcibly reminding one of Richard's words: “Grim visaged war has smoothed its wrinkled front.”
Though at times possibly a little blunt and impetuous, but generally kind and tolerant, his constantly increasing honors and fame never caused him to forget his earlier associations and friendships; his love and affections for those allied by terms of service were as kind, cordial and tender as a mother's love.
He had no pretensions to oratory, but as an impromptu public speaker he was forcible, fluent and frequently brilliant; his short, sharp, crispy sentences reflected the nervous energy of his character, and reminded one of his swift attacks in battle. Outspoken in every presence, intense in his friendships, fixed in his convictions, and immovable in his prejudices, he was ever the enthusiastic supporter of loyal men and the uncompromising enemy of their detractors.
As a writer-particularly upon military subjects—General Sherman stood without a peer among our military chieftains. The glint of his sword could always be traced in the work of his pen, His orders, letters and military correspondence were marvels of directness and precision of statement, leaving no room for doubt as to his meaning. His “ Memoirs ” will be to the citizens of this republic what “Caesar's Commentaries” were to the Romans.
His daily life was an illustration of the possibilities of American manhood, for probably no man ever lived, who in the beginning was more severely criticised, and before the ending more highly honored. Certainly none ever died more intensely loved or more sincerely mourned. While no memorable words were the last recorded utterances of the sleeping hero, he might well have said as did England's dying Nelson, “ Thank God I have done my
Millions of loyal people with bated breath looked upon that last final struggle, which marked an epoch in our country's history; and seeking consolation found it only in the fact the sunset of his career was, if possible more glorious than the springtime of his military glory. He was not only honored for what he did, but loved for what he was; and many an eye grew moist with a tear of genuine sorrow when the tolling bells announced the death of your old commander, around whose name will ever cluster the most hallowed memories of the days when the destinies of our imperiled country hung trembling in the balance, until the weight of his untiring energy, military genius, and mighty personality were thrown upon the side of loyalty and love of country. Brave, generous, and noble, his name and his fame will be the pride and boast of America's coming centuries.
After music by the Elgin band and singing by the Imperial quartette, tattoo and taps were sounded, and the meeting ad. journed.
The following letter was received by Captain Sexton.
CITY OF CHICAGO, HEMPSTEAD WASHBURNE, MAYOR,
CHICAGO, October 8, 1891. COLONEL JAMES A. SEXTON,
Chicago, Ills. My Dear Colonel:- I did not have an opportunity last evening to congratulate you upon your masterly and eloquent speech. Such congratulations might naturally come from one friend to another; but in addition to that I wish to thank you for the beautiful tribute, and kind words, which you said on that occasion, in reference to my father. I appreciate it more than I can express to you, and I take this method of acquainting you with the fact that I am not oblivious to kind words spoken of one for whom I have so much respect, veneration and love.
I congratulate you upon your very successful reunion, and the soldiers of this country are to be congratulated upon the magnificent demonstration before the monument of Grant. This country has never beheld such an outpouring of popular sentiment and gratitude, and we shall not live to see again such a sight as we beheld yesterday. If anything were needed to demonstrate the fact that patriotism is not dead in the American people, that occasion has come and passed, and demonstrated the fact that the American people are as patriotic as they were in '61. Your sincere friend,