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Volunteers.” The world looked amazed at the gigantic preparations made for war after the Bull Run scratch. It was a scratch that was a national disgrace. But like the toad, ugly and venomous, it had a precious jewel in its head. It emboldened our enemies, it aroused the Northern heart as it had never been aroused before. It gave an insight into the future-not then fully realized save but by a few—that a namby pamby policy of 75,000 men for ninety days and peace in sixty was the greatest humbug of the century. It forced the nation with its representatives to stand up nearly abreast with popular sentiment, that, let come what may, this Union shall be preserved and the head of the snake of secession shall be crushed under the iron heel of the war. Need I ask you who the volunteers were! They came from hillside, from valley, from village, from the cot, from the town, from the city, they came from the colleges. The intelligent mechanic was there; the sturdy son of the farmer was there. The people's college, the little log schoolhouse was there in force. The choicest and best of all the gifts that were there was the mother who gave her rosy. cheeked boy as a sacrifice, if need be, for the country's perpetuity. With as much faith she led him up to that altar as did Abraham when he took his Isaac at the command of his Maker to render him up. She had a faith and that faith went to her boy.
The world was amazed again to see what such an army could do. It was an army of brains and not an army of matter.
One, if not the brightest star shining with the greatest brilliancy at the close of the war, stands in the same relation to us which Jupiter bears to the sun. His military career commenced by the loyal press stigmatizing him as insane, and he closed campaign after campaign more brilliant than the world had ever seen by being suspected through the channels of the same press of disloy. alty in North Carolina because he dared trust his comrade in arms. William Tecumseh Sherman was a volunteer.
Rejected as city surveyor in St. Louis; the son of a tanner and a clerk in the office, with difficulty securing a commission from the great state of Illinois where we now are, the hero of Vicksburg and the victor of Appomattox—the incomparable Grantwas a volunteer.
With such men in line and with such men to direct and lead the line, with the fire of an inspired patriotism glowing in their hearts, brighter and brighter, as march after march and battle after battle was fought, where was there any force in this world that could have conquered such matter as that?
They might be repulsed. but they were only repulsed to come again with vastly greater momentum than they had before; and they needed it all, because the men they were fighting were of like mettle with themselves. William and Mary, the University of Virginia, and the colleges of the South had sent their brain too, and it was brain against brain, and in that battle we won, because our cause was just.
It boots but little to speak of the battle, the sieges, the marches, the suffering, the dying, and the dead of war. It is the same thing from the skirmish expanded to the greatest battle. It is enough for us to say that the volunteer army was great, measured by the results, which is the measure that will determine actually what merit is. They brought back into this Union thirteen states. They did more than that. They brought back to us, by the family fireside, to gather with us as brothers, the bravest men that we had met during that long war, the choicest blood, the choicest chivalry, the finest spirit of the South. They increased our family by that addition; and they did more than that. They, by that restoration to this country, have joined with them the sons of the men with whom we battled, to stand shoulder to shoulder and keep the touch of elbow with our sons, if any nation on the face of God's earth ever dare have the impudence to insinuate they could whip us in a battle.
It is for us, for you, to preserve the record and memory of such men, to keep alive for those of your comrades who are dead, all their noble deeds of daring, all of their patriotic devotion to the country.
I regret to say that the tendency of the age is such that the drift of time is sweeping a species of sand so as to wipe out the line of demarckation between what was well understood in time of war were the component factors of the army. The volunteer is fast being confounded with the conscript, and the conscript, noble he is beside the other class I shall allude to, is being confounded with the patriot for revenue of 1863–64–65. And there is still another class whose memory is dear to me as it is to you, and whose memory should be dear under every roof and wherever the American language is spoken or an American heart beats. I mean the veteran volunteer-a word, to those who understand its import, more choice than any other word that can be applied to the private soldier in that or any other war.
How few among the people who bandy upon their lips from day to day the term “old vet,” sometimes in respect, more often in derision, know what they are talking about. Do they know as you know that the title of veteran volunteer is a distinctive one, that no man is entitled to wear it, and no patriot ought to apply it to any man except to such as it belongs to; that it belongs, under the orders of the Government, to the men who, in the dark hours of 63 and ’64, after the novelty of war had worn off, whose patriotism was still undimmed, and when the call came for an extension of service, with a prayer in their hearts for the loved ones at home, God bless them, but the fire of patriotism still burning bright, with unblanched face and with steady hand, wrote their names for three years more, or during the war.
It is for you to see that terms are applied to those whose are entitled to them, that the distinction should be observed, and that the heritage left by our dead to their children, and the heritage which will be left by you to your children, be not shared with equal glory by him of four years' service, and him whose record is only found in 1865 in the traditions of the home camp or the ambulance train. The responsibility is with you. What you say will be respected, for you talk of that of which you know. Let politicians scratch the backs of the February volunteers of 1865 with $800 bounty. But, soldiers, I ask you to stand by the men of 1861–’62 and the re-enlistments of 1863–64. Then our children will see that the meed of patriotism is given to those to whom it belongs. How do we expect to breed and raise soldiers if, twentyfive years after the war, we put cowards on the same footing with heroes. The poet says:
In tangled wood, in mountain glen,
E'en as I speak, see!
Loved ones who've crossed to the further side,
But their voices are lost in the dashing tide.
Ninth Toast.—“The Memory of General Sherman.”
We mourn our great chief. We mourn our commander in whom our confidence was limitless. We mourn our leader who was at the same time our warm, genial personal friend.
For the place in history which General Sherman is to hold among the world's great commanders we care nothing. His deeds will take care of his fame. He did whatsoever his hand found to do. He did his best at Shiloh. He helped to free the Mississippi. He took Atlanta. He marched to the sea and made the heart of the Nation leap for joy. With sixty thousand living clinchers of Daniel Webster's argument he marched through the state of John C. Calhoun, and thereby clinched forevermore the argument for the preservation of the Union. He moved north and helped to induce General Lee to move south. Of conquest he never thought. Victor and vanquished were to him alike the children and joint heirs of American liberty.
His public career finished, in the fullness of his years he settled down in his own modest little home, among other quiet citizens, and became one of them, a tender, loving father, with his children and grand-children about him, loving him as he loved them.
General Sherman was the most interesting man of his day. For years he wrote and spoke incessantly, but the people never had enough and always wanted to hear and read more. The people wanted to hear him because he was American to the core. Whatever he said and did smacked of American soil. The Tiber and the Mediterranean were nothing to him compared with the Mississippi and Lake Michigan. To him the river Jordan didn't begin to be as sacred as the Tennessee.
The government of the United States was to General Sherman the best mankind has hitherto achieved—the very acme of human wisdom. It was to him a government of law and stability and all else was chaos. Whatsoever stood in its way must get out of the way or be crushed. He knew the weakness of men as well as their strength. He labored under no delusion as to the character of the men who might for the time being administer the government. They might be weak. They might be timid. They might be foolish or even corrupt. But the government of the United
States, itself, was to him the most sacred thing on earth. It was the ark of the covenant. It was the holy of holies.
General Sherman's Americanism grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength. In the beginning of the war, in our day of national woe and humiliation, he saw that the ruling classes in Europe did not and could not favor us. The privileged classes of England shouted for joy at our misfortunes. The London Times thought it perpetrated the greatest joke of its existence when it called us the Untied States of America. It was a glad day in the Tuileries when Jefferson Davis announced the advent of the Southern Confederacy. To show how completely he believed we were undone, the little Napoleon, who was the Boss Tweed of France, sent a toy Emperor to Mexico to be an offense in the nostrils of the free people of this free land.
But the Lancashire weavers were our friends, and voted that they would rather starve than that the slave confederacy should triumph. The poor and the struggling everywhere were instinctively our friends. They knew that our cause was their cause. They knew that the government for which we were fighting was a government such as they needed and wanted, and for which they were hungering and thirsting.
“God said: I am tired of kings,
I suffer them no more;
Shall constitute a state." This people and this government General Sherman served nearly all his life. The people loved him and they love his memory. His place in the heart of the American people can never be disturbed. It follows that of Grant as Grant follows Lincoln, as Lincoln follows Washington. It is Washington, Lincoln, Grant and Sherman, and so shall it be so long as there shall be on earth an American heart to beat and an American tongue to wag.