Page images
PDF
EPUB

his blan fool head for him—that was all!” “But you don't mean to say the simple fact of the man's singing incited you to such a pitch of frenzy, and to the commission of such a crime as might have resulted in sheer murder?” Sam was asked. “Well, no." responded Sam, slowly, comprehending that his own position seemed never to have occurred to anybody but himself. “No, I didn't adzac'ly slug him for singin', but because his blank, blank singin' was a sowin' the seeds of sedition among the prisoners!' He continued with a sudden martial fervor and heroic spirit that shot him to his full length, while he thumped his patriotic bosom like a wet bass drum: "It wasn't his singin'," he went on excitedly, "it was what he was a-singin'. The drafted conscript and substitute! It was what he was a singin'. He was a singin':

“Sixteen dollars a month to be shot at

Is the common soldier's pay;
While the man that sent the soldier there

Gets his eight dollars a day." Simply a common patriot was Sam-a very common patriot, if you please, but a patriot, no less.

Wherever we may find this homely type repeated, invariably his origin will be found as common-place as that of Sam's. He was begotten of the love of home and the shriek and thump and rattle of a sheepskin band. In the political processions of his earliest youth the old fag glittered and fluttered in the sunshine and the wind seemed always to be laughing as though hysterically tickled over something it had promised on its honor not to tell. Its stars laughed, and its stripes laughed, and its red, white, and blue-all, all ran rippling into such an ecstasy of glee as caught his own breath as he leaned out from his mother's arms and shouted after it. Instantly he loved it, at first sight, as his father and his mother had before him, and as his children, in the far-off future years, would come to do. Therefore it is that the common patriot was raised to be an element in our country life and perpetuity as natural as the life principle of the Republic. In times of peace he may be found amid all pastoral scenes of unobtrusive industry, and toil. He is simple in his tastes and his ambitions, and is not ferered in either heart or brain. The homely comfort and content that pervaded the old home of his boyhood afford him his ideal of the home he would establish for his own and leave as blessed heritage to his children. He may not logically know it, or be able so to demonstrate the simple proposition, but it was this innate love of his first home that brought about his love for the vast home of his country. His glory in his natural rights as part possessor of this universal freehold may not be gauged or measured, but something in rough estimate of its excess may be conjectured when we see him turn from his doorway at first signal of his country's peril and with a last fond kiss for the tearful wife and cooing babe, stoically blend and lose himself amidst the thronging rank and file of those who bravely march " to victory or the grave."

It sends a thrill of jubilance through heart and soul-it wipes away the rising tear and loosens all at once the knotted ache within the throat. And as he firmly catches step with the steadfast tramp, tramp, tramp of the onward-moving army the old flag laughs back again upon him, like a loving voice that speaks aloud and bids him fair and says: “You are not going from your wife and child and home-you are going for them!"

And may I offer yet another instance of the common patriot's worth. This from the homely fact of life itself, not alone conspiring in my neighborhood, but yours. The scene of it is set upon the farm-the old home place where a race of patriots has been reared. There is the old ancestral roof, with the old locusts looming all about it, with the old sweet blossoms on them, and the old bees droning there; the old door yard; the old porch, and the old dog sleeping in the sun; the old well-sweep, the little garden patch, and the old orchard just beyond, made sacred as the family burial ground. The old house is very full of quiet now. Sometimes an old man comes out and sits upon the porch and looks wistfully across the fields to where the road to town goes by. Sometimes an old women comes out and sits there with him, saint-like and silently. They see sometimes a neighbor driving by and know him by his horses; sometimes they see go by-in early morning generally-two, three, five, sometimes as many as a dozen different wag. ons, and then they know there is “ a big day” in town. Maybe an old settlers' meeting, a political rally, or Decoration day. Vague rumors reach them of these alien affairs; but they are always interested to hear of them-especially of Decoration day-the more so since it seems to this old home-keeping couple, who have never attended this annual decoration service made so much of by the people of the town. Their Decoration day experiences the old man might sum up like this:

DECORATION DAY ON THE PLACE.

" Its lonesome-sorto' lonesome, -it's a Sund'y-day, to me,
It'pears like - more'n any day I nearly ever see!
Yit, with the Stars and Stripes above, a flutterin' in the air,
On ev'ry soldier's grave I'd love to lay a lily there.
“They say, though, Decoration days is ginerally observed

Most ev'rywheres-especially by soldier-boys that's served-
But me and mother's never went—we seldom git away-
In pint o' fact, we're allus home on Decoration day.
“ They say the old boys marches through the streets in colum’s grand,
A-follerin' the old war-tunes they're playin' on the band-
And citizens all jinin' in—and little children, too-
All marchin', under shelter of the old Red, White and Blue-
"With roses! roses! roses !-ev'rybody in the town!-
And crowds o' girls in white, jest fairly loaded down!
O! don't the boys know it, from their camp acrost the hill?—
Don't they see their com'ades coming and the old fag wavin' still?
“O! can't they hear the bugle and the rattle of the drum?-
Ain't they no way under heaven they can rickollect us some?
Ain't they no way we can coax 'em, through the roses, jest to say
They know that every day on earth’s their Decoration day?
“ We've tried that-me and mother-where Elias takes his rest
In the orchard-in his uniform, and hands acrost his breast,
And the flag he died fer, smiling' and a-ripplin' in the breeze
Above his grave—and, over that—the robin in the trees!
“And yet it's lonesome-lonesome!—It's a Sund'y-day to me,

It 'pears like-more'n any day I nearly ever see!-
Yit, with the Stars and Stripes above, a-flutterin' in the air,
On ev'ry soldier's grave I'd love to lay a lily there."

[ocr errors]

SEVENTH TOAST.—The New Recruits."

Response by Mr. CHARLES M. SHERMAN, Nephew of General Sherman.

MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Twelve years ago, when your Society met here before, you were admonished by one of your speakers that in the hour of your festivities you should not forget the babies. This year your committee has followed his advice.

I cannot recall with you the incidents of the great war. I cannot share with you the memories of camp and battle-field. But I can, I trust, share with you the sentiment which animated those

scenes, and which throbs to-night in the breast of every true citizen of this Republic.

An eminent scholar has said, that in times of national security, the feeling of patriotism among the masses is so quiescent that it seems hardly to exist. And to an unobserving mind, such might seem to be true of us now. But recent events have shown how slight a touch will rouse us from that lethargy; how jealous the watch we keep upon our nation's honor; how dearly we love our flag

More than a score of years has passed since victory crowned your arms. In that time changes have been wrought which in any country but our own would have rounded a century of progress. A new generation has come upon the scene, unskilled in the arts of war. A generation following only the pursuits of peace. And while their hearts beat less wildly than did yours in the tragic time in which your youth was spent; I trust they beat with equal courage; I hope with equal loyalty.

That the call to arms which thirty years ago rang in your ears, shall never again be sounded in this land, is the hope of young and old alike. But should it come I know you will find your example has not been in vain. As your inspiration came from Lexington and Bunker Hill, so ours shall come from Shiloh and Atlanta.

And this time too, thank God, that call shall not be heard alone by people in the North; but borne upon a friendly breeze, it will ring through sunny cotton-fields; through cane brake and plantation; on, on and on, until the winds from off the southern gulf alone shall check its flight.

Its echo will be the tramp of soldiers' clad in loyal blue, whose hearts shall beat and whose foot steps shall keep pace, not to the notes of “The Bonny Blue Flag,” but to the rattling air of “Yankee Doodle.” At the head of their great column, borne triumphantly aloft, free flung to the heavens, shall wave the fair banner of the Republic. Radiant with its stripes of red and white, and bearing that bright sisterhood of stars more beautiful to the eyes than the flaming planets of the heavens.

And when this southern band, marching toward their nation's citadel, shall meet their brothers from the North, and blended in one vast army, shoulder to shoulder, shall advance against the common foe; how glorious then shall seem your victory; how triumphant then will be your cause.

Need I describe the deeds by which this victory was won? Need I recall the names to whom our nation's debt is due? History has told that glorious tale, and nations have paid tribute to the genius of your leaders. But far beyond the praise of man; sweeter far than flattery's voice, or poet's note of song, is the consciousness of duty well performed, and the knowledge that your nation's life is safe.

All hail the Army of the Tennessee! All hail the glory of its cause!

The new recruits salute this veteran band, now on its last great march! With reverence they bare their heads as passes the riderless horse of him who dwells in loving memory in all our minds to-night. Good bye, General. God bless you. And God bless the men living and dead who followed your gallant command.

Eighth TOAST.-“ The Volunteers.

Response by General EDWARD S. BRAGG.

MR. PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE ARMY OF

THE TENNESSEE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

It was not my good fortune, although a Western man, in 1861 to have my lot cast as a soldier with the army of the West, and hence I could not share in your hardships, neither could I join you in praise over the glorious successes which were won and made an imperishable record for the pages of history and annals of war by the Army of the Tennessee. My baptism of fire came to me elsewhere. It came to me where the battle a long time hung in even balance; it came upon the bloody fields of Maryland and Virginia, where thousands and tens of thousands of the best in the land went down and were buried, monuments of patriotism, for their country's good. But although that was my fate, I feel that we were comrades engaged in a common cause, seeking a common end, and hence I may say:

“Comrades proved by faith the clearest,
Made when death was near and nearest,
Ties are those which bind us dearest,
Brothers ever more to be."

Inspired by the feeling of comaraderie as one of the atoms that made the glorious army of the Union in the war of the rebellion, I rise to-night, by your courtesy, to respond to the sentiment, “The

« EelmineJätka »