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less fall. Five were engaged in the salvation of Washington at Antietam. Four were with Burnside at Fredericksburg, where some of Kimball's Hoosiers were picked up lying nearer than all others to the pitiless embrasures. Five were at Chancellorsville, where Stonewall Jackson took victory out of Hooker's hand and carried it with him to his grave. Six were almost annihilated at Gettysburg: One, an infantry regiment, marched nearly ten thousand miles; literally twice around the Rebellion, fighting as it went. Four were part of the besom with which Sheridan swept the Shenandoah Valley.
Finally, when Grant, superseding Halleck, transferred his headquarters to the East, and began the last grand march against Richmond, four of our regiments, joined soon after by another, followed him faithfully, leaving their dead all along the way—in the Wilderness, at Laurel Hill, at Spottsylvania, at Po River, at North Anna River, at Bethesda Church, at Cold Harbor, in front of Petersburg, down to Clover Hill-down to the final halt in the war in which Lee yielded up the sword of the Rebellion.
Sir, it is my opinion that our regiments were all equally brave and patriotic; that some achieved a wider distinction than others, was because their opportunities were better and more frequent. Such being my belief, I hope to be forgiven if I stop here and make special mention of the 7th, 13th, 14th, 19th, and 20th regiments. Theirs was a peculiar lot. Throughout the war they served in the East as our representatives. Commanded entirely by Eastern officers, who were naturally less interested in them than in the people of their own States, it was their fate to be little mentioned in reports and seldom if ever heard of in Eastern papers.
In fact, they were our lost children; as effectually lost in the mazes of the great Eastern campaigns as De Soto and his people were lost in the wilderness of the New World, and like them again, wandering here and there, never at rest, seldom halting except to fight. The survivors—alas! that they should come back to us so broken and so few—were in the service nearly five years, and of that time they lived quite three years on the march, in the trenches, in rifle-pits, “on the rough edge of battle," or in its very heart.
But, sir, most of the flags returned to you belong to the
regiments whose theater of operations cannot well be territorially described; whose lines of march were backward and forward, through fifteen States of the Union.
If one seeks the field in which the power of our State, as well as the valor of our people, had the finest exemplification, he must look to the West and South. I will not say that Indiana's contributions to the cause were indispensable to its final success. That would be unjust to the States more populous and wealthy and equally devoted. But I will say, that her quotas precipitated the result; without them the war might yet be in full progress and doubtful.
Let us consider this proposition a moment. At Shiloh, Indiana had thirteen regiments; at Vicksburg, she had twenty-four; at Stone River, twenty-five; at Chickamauga, twenty-seven; at Mission Ridge, twenty; in the advance from Chattanooga to Atlanta, fifty; at Atlanta, Sherman divided them so that exactly twenty-five went with him down to the sea, while twenty-five marched back with Thomas, and were in at the annihilation of Hood at Nashville. What a record is thus presented! Ask Grant or Rosecrans or Sherman if from the beginning to the end of their operations there was a day for which they could have spared those regiments. No; without them, Bragg might yet be on Lookout Mountain; or Sherman still tilting like a Titan among the gorges of Kenesaw and Resaca; or, worse yet, Halleck, that only one of all our generals who never saw a battle, might be General-in-Chief, waiting for the success at Vicksburg to reduce him to his proper level-chief of an unnamed staff.
I regret that time limits me to such a meagre analysis of the services of our soldiers. Still it is enough to challenge inquiry concerning them; enough at least to show how sacred these flags are. I know you will receive them reverently. I know you will do all in your power to have them put where no enemy other than time can get at them. Yet, with shame be it said, there are men who deny their sanctity. We have neighbors, all of us, who see or affect to see in them nothing but hated symbols of venality, ambition, and murder. God pity such a wretched delusion! The conflict is gone, let us hope never to return; but what a sum of human hopes and promises was involved in it!
What a sum of human good will result from it! Its conclusion was a renewal of our liberty—a proclamation of eventual liberty to all mankind—a yielding up forever of that unhallowed thing called Christian slavery.
Put them away tenderly. They are suggestive mementoes of a glorious cause magnificently maintained. They will serve many good purposes yet. In the years to come the soldiers will rally around them, not as formerly called from fitful slumbers by the picket's near alarm, or in the heat and fury of the deadly combat; but in the calm of peace, and in the full enjoyment of all they struggled for. If only from habit, where the flags are the veterans will come; and they will look at them through teardimmed eyes, and tell where they flew on such a day; what well-remembered comrades bore them through such a fight; who were wounded; who died under them. If only to make the veterans glad, and enable them, it may be, in old age to renew their youth, and with each other to march their marches and fight their battles over again, I pray you put the holy relics safely away,
Sir, we do not realize the war just ended; we only remember it while in progress; we only think of it by piecemeal. Our most vivid impressions of it are derived from mere incidents. Not merely what is thought of it now, but what has been said and written about it is colored by the misconceptions, prejudices, and partialities of the hour. But this will be changed. The day will come when the volumes of facts now under lock and key and withheld from fear, affection, or policy will be exposed; and there will be historians to collate and refine them, and poets to exalt them, and artists to picture them, and philosophers to analyze their effects upon society, religion, and civilization.
Then, and not until then, will the struggle be wholly realized. Meantime it will grow in the estimation of each succeeding generation, and be continually more and more sanctified. And in those days mementoes will be in request. There are unjeweled swords, not worth the looking at now, that will be fortunes then. Bullets, gleaned by the plowmen from famous fields, will wear shining labels in richest cabinets; and letters, at present not as valuable as old colonial deeds, will then be of inestimable
virtu because they are originals from the hand of a Lincoln or a Grant, written in the crisis of the great Rebellion. In that day what a treasure will this collection of flags be to our successors! And what pilgrimages there will be to see the tattered, shot-torn, blood-stained fragments which streamed so often with more than a rainbow's beauty through the vanished clouds of the dreadful storm! And at sight of them, how men will be reminded of the thousand battles fought; of Shiloh, that tournament to the death in which the vaunting chivalry of the Southwest met for the first time the despised chivalry of the Northwest, and were overthrown in the very midst of a supposed victory; of Vicksburg, that operation the most daring in conception, most perfect in execution, and the most complete in results of modern warfare; of the advance to Atianta, in which the genius of the general was so well supported by the splendid endurance of the soldier; and of the march to the sea, memorable chiefly as a cold, rigid, retributive triumph in which the horrors of a ruthless progress were so strangely blent with the prayers and blessings of a race raised so sublimely and after such ages of suffering from the plantation to the school, from slavery to freedom, from death to life!
You know, sir, how prone men are in prosperity to forget the pangs of adversity. Ordinarily, what cares the young spendthrift, happy in the waste of his father's fortune, for that father's life of toil and self-denial? It is to be hoped these flags will prevent such indifference on the part of our posterity. Think of them grouped all in one chamber! What descendant of a loyal man could enter it, and look upon them, and not feel the ancestral sacrifices they both attest and perpetuate? And when the foreigner, dreaming, it may be, of invasion or conquest, or ambition, political or military, more dangerous now than all the kings, shall come into their presence, as come they will; though they be not oppressed with reverence, or dumb-stricken with awe, as you and I and others like us may be, doubt not that they will go away wiser than they came; they will be reminded of what the Frenchman had not heard when he landed his legions on the palmy shore of Mexico; of what a ruler of England overlooked when he was willing to make haste to recognize the Rebellion;
of what the trained leaders of the Rebellion themselves took not into account when they led their misguided followers into the fields of war; they will be reminded that this people, so given to peace, so devoted to trade, mechanics, agriculture, so occupied with schools and churches and a Government which does their will through the noiseless agency of the ballot-box, have yet when roused a power of resistance sufficient for any need however great; that this nationality, yet in youth's first freshness, is like a hive of human bees—stand by it quietly and you will be charmed by its proofs of industry, its faculty of appliance, its well-ordered labor; but touch it, shake it rudely, menace its population, or put them in fear, and they will pour from their cells an armed myriad whom there is no confronting -or rather that it is like the ocean, beautiful in calm, but irresistible in storm.
Fellow soldiers! Comrades: When we come visiting the old flags, and take out those more especially endeared to us because under them we each rendered our individual service, such as it was, we will not fail to be reminded of those other comrades—alas! too many to be namedwho dropped one by one out of the ranks or the column to answer at roll-call nevermore; whose honorable discharges were given them by fever in the hospital or by a bullet in battle; whose bones lie in shallow graves in the cypress swamp, in the river's deepening bed, in the valley's Sabbath stillness, or on the mountain's breast, blackened now by tempests—human as well as elemental. For their sakes let us resolve to come here with every recurrence of this day, and bring the old colors to the sunlight, and carry them in procession, and salute them martially with roll of drums and thunder of guns. So will those other comrades of whom I speak know that they are remembered at least by us; and so will we be remembered by them.
In the armies of Persia there was a chosen band called the Immortals. They numbered ten thousand;. their ranks were always full, and their place was near the person of the king. The old poets sing of this resplendent host as clad in richest armor, and bearing spears pointed with pomegranates of silver and gold. We, too, have our Immortals! Only ours wear uniforms of light, and they