Page images

houses, but in the consciousness of a noble duty well done, and in the possession of those priceless memories that will become more precious as time rolls on. The day will come when not a man in this land but would share with you his wealth, could he say like you, that he too was in the Army of the Tennessee, and could tell his children that he heard the first hostile shot at Fort Henry and the last boom of cannon at Raleigh.” [Applause.] And why should he not? What is there in life more satisfying and ennobling than the consciousness of a duty well done? What prouder legacy can children inherit than the certificate of a father's service to his country? We builded better than we knew. With our limited vision, we only saw at best the Union preserved, but crippled, bankrupt, enfeebled. But, lo! from the ashes of the old system, a new Nation arose like a temple in a single night. When liberty and stability both appeared on the new banner of the Republic, the world scrambled to lay riches and populations at our feet. Westward the star of empire takes its way. That star of empire passed from Persia to Greece, from Greece to Italy, from Italy to Great Britain. But when the clouds of our great conflict cleared away, it was seen through the heavens hanging like a benediction over the new Empire of the West. “And there," as Dr. Strong observes, “ it shall remain, for there is no further West. Beyond is the Orient." Think of the transformation. In attempting to make a loan of ten millions in the winter of 1861, we were compelled to sell the notes of the government at 12 per cent. discount, and it was difficult to dispose of them then. In the face of a gigantic civil war National bankruptcy seemed inevitable, and yet we went on. We spent 3,000 millions of dollars, one half of the Union was devastated, the other half taxed to the maximum,


of struggle and waste ensued, but to-day behold the significant truth that the wit of man finds the chief menace to our government in the fact that the treasury at Washington is bursting with the riches piled up by the people. [Applause.) Great God! what a country is that which can present such a record! Oh, men of the south, sharers to-day in the glories of this land, what did we do you

and your children, as well as ourselves! Our work was well done and is well nigh finished. A little while ago we would have thought it impossible to go on with these reunions with the great gaps in our ranks which we now observe. How wide they open with so many of our leaders gone!


How we remember them all, and with what peculiar tenderness we think of McPherson, of Logan, of Sheridan, of Grant, of Lincoln. Adopting the language of the martyred President, let me say, giving it a wider sense: “ The world will little note, or long remember, what we say here. It will never forget what they did here.” McPherson, the first to fall, meeting a soldier's death with a soldier's heroism, in a soldier's way. Logan, with his great rugged soul, whom we loved for the very imperfections of his nature, going down at the very moment when he seemed fitted to live and serve his country best.

Sheridan, dead so recently that his living presence seems still with us; whom we can again see as he appeared on that golden October morning, at Winchester, his face transfigured with desperate resolve, shining as the face of Moses shone when he heard the voice of God speaking to him from Sinai! One inspired man with the power of ten thousand, turning back the billows of defeat and conquering fate itself as he rode it down on his way to triumph and immortality

Grant, who twice conquered the rebellion-once at Appomattox, and again when he brought the South in mourning around his bier. Who put back death with one hand, while with the other he toiled for his country and his family; and then, when his great work was finished, wearing in death as in life the white flower of a blameless life, turning like Samuel of old and saying: “ Lord, here am I!”

When the earth began falling on the coffin of Commodore Decatur an old man-of-war man pushed through the crowd of distinguished personages about the grave, exclaiming in a broken voice: “Stand aside and let an old sailor take a last look at the main-mast of the navy!” When the funeral train that bore the remains of General Grant from Mt. McGregor to New York, was slowly passing through an agricultural district, far from towns, the funeral escort beheld standing by the way-side a solitary man dressed in the garb of the Grand Army of the Republic. He did not lift his eyes, he only stood bowed with uncovered head as the ashes of the great commander passed. So a million bowed as all that was mortal of Sheridan was borne to rest on the banks of the Potomac. So they shall bow when the beloved President of this Society, God keep him with us for many a year, shall at last take up his final march to the sea.

The years are flying—let them go! I am content to have lived in the great crisis that came in our time, and I thank God, to-night more than ever before, that I was of the Army of the Tennessee, and aided in my humble place in saving the life and maintaining the integrity of the American Union.

The President:-Comrades, the next item given by the local committee on our programme is a solo by Mrs. Ainsworth. I will put on my spectacles and tell you exactly-Mrs. W. W. Ainsworth.

Mrs. Ainsworth's solo was greeted with applause, after which General Sherman continued:

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the last thing on the programme is what is called a “Camp-fire." Probably some of you don't understand the meaning. The camp-fire I understand in this case is the camp-fire adopted by the Grand Army of the Republic, which generally is composed of all the members, with their wives and children, sometimes sitting at tables, and they sing old songs, and tell stories, and one thing and another. As I understand, this evening, this is a modified camp-fire, and every man who has been rash enough to come on this stand is liable to be called on to sing a song, to tell a story, or to make a speech. Whether to extend it to the whole audience or not, I don't know. I rather think we had better confine it to the Society. If there be any member of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee that wants to hear any person on the stand, I will use my authority, so far as it goes.

There were loud calls for General Belknap.

General Belknap:-Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: So many speeches have been made at these reunions of twenty-one or two years that have passed, that all language, and words, and sentiments seem to have been used up. But still, after the lapse of fifteen years, the Army of the Tennessee is with you once again. Some of them the years have touched tenderly, and some of them the frosts of passing winters have crowned with the touch of time. All of them drop the sigh of soldierly regret as here and there some name is missed from the roll-call. And all of them, forgetting the hardships and darker days of martial life, clasp in friendly greeting the hands of unforgotten comrades, and cheer these hours with the memories of soldier days.

All of you will admit that the men of the Army of the Tennes

see did their work well. On hill and mountain, in valley, field, and forest, they made their mark; and the flowing streams and the pathless woods of the south, though without voices, hold in their silent keeping the history of their most eventful march. Think of their fight on picket line and in the midst of action, as bravè men should. And to the end of time the hills and rocks of Kenesaw will bear on their great parapets the autographs of the Army of the Tennessee, made there by minnie balls and solid shot, to stay forever.

May the brave men and fair women who have given us this generous welcome ever be as happy as the men of the Army of the Tennessee are to-night; made so, gentlemen of Toledo, by your warm welcome, and ladies, by your bright smiles.

General McArthur was loudly called for, and in response said:

Mr. President, comrades, and friends:- What a comforting and consoling effect it has upon me, and I am sure upon all of you, to think that we have so many comrades and friends; while we are marching down the river together, that we are accompanied by such a goodly number of tried and true comrades. And if those steps falter for a time, we have this consoling reflection also, that we have got so many friends throughout the country to guide us, and to aid us, and to assist us. It was only my fortune to be a simple division commander in the Army of the Tennessee. We were educated simply to obey orders, without making any comments. We have been sometimes called the wheel-horses of the army. I know that the division commanders were expected to, and I think in every instance the orders of their superiors were executed without any speech-making. I didn't expect to be called up to say a word, but simply to get up and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindly greeting.

The President:-If you will give me your attention once more, I will give you one of the old army songs.

Mrs. Ainsworth has kindly consented to sing it. All join in the chorus: - Tramp, tramp,"-you will all unite.

The audience, led by Mrs. Ainsworth, sang, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching"

The President:-Now, is there any other gentleman on the platform you would like to hear from? [Cries of, “ Leggett! Leggett!"]



I don't believe that you want to hear a speech from me to-night. I am not certain that I can say anything in addition that will interest anybody.

Those of who have read General Grant's Memoirs, and I suppose all have, have noticed that he, in speaking of the commencement of the Vicksburg campaign, when we marched down on the line of the Central Mississippi road, and got down below Oxford, and then were halted in consequence of our supplies being destroyed, and took Holly Springs in our rear, he says that while it was a great sacrifice, the loss of time and the loss of men, yet it was not without its compensation. He says that he there learned a great lesson that he found very useful during the balance of the war, and that was, that the army could live off the country where it was serving. He first learned the lesson of foraging. Many persons, who were not in the Army of the Tennessee, got an idea—they are kind of getting over it; such talks as we have had to-night has cured them—they got an idea that the Army of the Tennessee was made up of brave men, men that would fight well and would steal well; that they were splendid foragers; not much order, not much discipline, but every man would go in and fight on his own hook. That is about the idea that a great many had of the Army of the Tennessee towards the close of the war.

I was on the platform in Washington during the two days of that review at the close of the war. The first day the Army of the Potomac marched in review, and the second day General Sherman's army marched in review. During the whole of the first day I sat and saw the troops march by. During the second day my division was near the head of the column, and as soon as its head had passed, I took my place upon the platform, and remained there during the rest of the day. And I was interested in the conversation of the generals of the eastern army, while our troops were maching by. They would turn, and look at each other, and say, “Why, they march as if they were well drilled, and they march as if they understood tactics as well as our army!” Perfectly astonished that we could march well, and that we could keep an alignment, and that we could be real soldiers. If they had seen the men running out from the lines, and catch a chicken on the side of

« EelmineJätka »