« PreviousContinue »
In respect to the disparity of numbers we have the authority of the editor of Cornwallis's correspondence, who states the whole number of the British side as 1,050, and admits Morgan's force to have been “hardly equal.” The contemporary estimate of the American force, by Governor Moultrie, was 1,020; but this was undoubtedly exaggerated. Graham has since reduced the number actually engaged on the American side to 850, and Greene to 8oo. When we consider that the British loss comprised 80 killed (ten being officers), 150 wounded and 600 prisoners, and that the Americans lost but 12 killed and 69 wounded, the result was simply amazing. Few battles, where the advantages of position were so nearly equal, have ever showed such inequality of results. And when we finally remember that every one of Tarleton's men was a veteran soldier, while Morgan's Continentals made but about half his force, we can understand the amazement of Cornwallis when the news came in. We need feel no surprise when Moultrie tells us that he heard the paroled prisoners at Charleston deploring the folly of “entrusting such a command to a boy like Tarleton.” Yet, after all, no general is to be blamed for at last encountering a general more brave or more fortunate than himself.
Others have detailed or will detail for you the remoter results of the victory at the Cowpens. How far away seem now the contests of the Revolutionary time! Between those days and these has rolled the smoke of a later strife, now happily passed by. To heal the terrible wounds of the later contest; to criticise each other nobly and frankly, as friends, not vindictively, as enemies; to encounter side by side the new social problems of the new age; this should now be the generous rivalry of the descendants of the “Old Thirteen.” There are sins enough for all to repent; errors enough for all to correct. It is useless now to distribute the award of praise or blame. There is not a State of the Union which has not its own hard problems to work out, its own ordeals to go through. No State can dare to be permanently clouded by the ignorance of any class of its people, or to allow any class to oppress any other. The bad effect of a single act of injustice may be felt among children's children. But each generation learns its own lessons, and Time is the great
healer. I have seen for myself, since the war, upon Southern soil, the spectacle of two races whose whole relations were utterly wrenched apart, and who are yet learning, year by year, to adapt themselves to the new and changed condition. No people ever had to face a harder problem. We of the North, believe me, are not ignorant of the difficulties, the temptations, the mutual provocations; nor can we forget that the greater responsibility must rest upon the more educated and enlightened race. Noblesse oblige! In the words of President Lincoln in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation's wounds.”
[Address by Colonel Higginson, delivered at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass., Decoration Day, May 30, 1870.]
We meet to-day for a purpose that has the dignity and the tenderness of funeral rites without their sadness. It is not a new bereavement, but one which time has softened, that brings us here. We meet not around a newlyopened grave, but among those which Nature has already decorated with the memorials of her love. Above every tomb her daily sunshine has smiled, her tears have wept; over the humblest she has bidden some grasses nestle, some vines creep, and the butterfly—ancient emblem of immortality—waves his little wings above every sod. To Nature's signs of tenderness we add our own. Not “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” but blossoms to blossoms, laurels to the laureled.
The great Civil War has passed by—its great armies were disbanded, their tents struck, their camp-fires put out, their muster-rolls laid away. But there is another army whose numbers no Presidential proclamation could reduce; no general orders disband. This is their camping-ground—these white stones are their tents—this list of names we bear is their muster-roll—their camp-fires yet burn in our hearts. I remember this “Sweet Auburn’’ when no sacred associations made it sweeter, and when its trees looked down on no funerals but those of the bird and the bee. Time has enriched its memories since those days. And especially during our great war, as the Nation seemed to grow impoverished in men, these hills grew richer in associations, until their multiplying wealth took in that heroic boy who fell in almost the last battle of the war. Now that roll of honor has closed, and the work of commemoration begun. Without distinction of nationality, of race, of religion, they gave their lives to their country. Without distinction of religion, of race, of nationality, we garland their graves to-day. The young Roman Catholic convert, who died exclaiming “Mary! pardon''' and the young Protestant theological student, whose favorite place of study was this cemetery, and who asked only that no words of praise might be engraven on his stone—these bore alike the cross in their lifetime, and shall bear it alike in flowers to-day. They gave their lives that we might remain one Nation, and the Nation holds their memory alike in its arms. And so the little distinctions of rank that separated us in the service are nothing here. Death has given the same brevet to all. The brilliant young cavalry general who rode into his last action, with stars on his shoulders and his death-wound on his breast, is to us no more precious than that sergeant of sharpshooters who followed the line unarmed at Antietam, waiting to take the rifle of Some one who should die, because his own had been stolen; or that private who did the same thing in the same battle, leaving the hospital service to which he had been assigned. Nature has been equally tender to the graves of all, and our love knows no distinction. What a wonderful embalmer is death! We who survive grow daily older. Since the war closed the youngest has gained some new wrinkle, the oldest some added gray hair. A few years more and only a few tottering figures shall represent the marching files of the Grand Army; a year or two beyond that, and there shall flutter by the window the last empty sleeve. But these who are here are embalmed forever in our imaginations; they will not change; they never will seem to us less young, less fresh, less daring, than when they sallied to their last battle. They will always have the dew of their youth; it is we alone who shall grow old.
And, again, what a wonderful purifier is death! These who fell beside us varied in character; like other men, they had their strength and their weaknesses, their merits and their faults. Yet now all stains seem washed away; their life ceased at its climax, and the ending sanctified all that went before. They died for their country; that is their record. They found their way to heaven equally short, it seems to us, from every battle-field, and with equal readiness our love seeks them to-day.
“What is a victory like?” said a lady to the Duke of Wellington. “The greatest tragedy in the world, madam, except a defeat.” Even our great war would be but a tragedy were it not for the warm feeling of brotherhood it has left behind it, based on the hidden emotions of days like these. The war has given peace to the nation; it has given union, freedom, equal rights; and in addition to that, it has given to you and me the sacred sympathy of these graves. No matter what it has cost us individually— health or worldly fortunes—it is our reward that we can stand to-day among these graves and yet not blush that we survive.
The great French soldier, de Latour d'Auvergne, was the hero of many battles, but remained by his own choice in the ranks. Napoleon gave him a sword and the official title “The First Grenadier of France.” When he was killed, the Emperor ordered that his heart should be intrusted to the keeping of his regiment—that his name should be called at every roll-call, and that his next comrade should make answer, “Dead upon the field of honor.” In our memories are the names of many heroes; we treasure all their hearts in this consecrated ground, and when the name of each is called, we answer in flowers, “Dead upon the field of honor.”
BENJAMIN HARVEY HILL
WORK OF UNIVERSITIES IN THE SOUTH
[Address by Benjamin H. Hill, statesman, United States Senator from Georgia (born in Jasper County, Georgia, September 14, 1823; died in Atlanta, Ga., August 19, 1882), delivered before the University of Georgia, at Athens, Ga., July 31, 1871.)
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE ALUMNI SoCIETY:—I congratulate you on this assembling to-day. I congratulate our dear, though unfortunate, old State, because of the purpose which has prompted us to come together. And I greet with words of cheer and hope the many who shall come after us, because of the work, which, I trust, we shall this day inaugurate.
Residents in every portion of our commonwealth—representatives of every interest in this, the land we love— sharers in all the trials of the past, sufferers in all the destitutions of the present, and yet partakers, all, of that blissinspiring ambition which looks for compensation to the glories with which we ourselves shall help to enrich the future, we her children, gather this day, in this, her nursery hall, to ask our beloved mother what she needs to place and keep her, the equal of the greatest, the peer of the noblest, in the progressive world of science, letters, and art.
In the present far more than any preceding age, ideas govern mankind. Not individuals, nor societies; nor kings nor emperor; nor fleets nor armies, but ideas uproot dynasties, overturn established systems, subvert and reorganize governments, revolutionize social forms, and direct civilizations. True, we have the most wonderful physical developments, as marvelous in character as they