Page images
PDF
EPUB

© Robert Edward.
LEE MEMORIAL MEETING.

On the 25th day of October, 1870, the following address appeared in the public prints:

To the Surviving Officers and Soldiers of the Army of Northern

Virginia: Comrades—The sad tidings of the death of our Great Commander came at a time when, by the interruption of all the ordinary modes of traveling, very many of us were debarred the privilege of participating in the funeral ceremonies attending the burial of him we loved so well, or, by concerted action, of giving expression to our feelings on the occasion. While the unburied remains of the illustrious hero were yet under the affectionate care of friends who were bowed down with a sorrow unutterable, the hoarse cry of "treason" was croaked from certain quarters, for the vile but abortive purpose of casting a stigma upon his pure and exalted character. His fame belongs to the world, and to history, and is beyond the reach of malignity; but a sacred duty devolves upon those whom, in defence of a cause he believed to be just and to which he remained true to the latest moment of his life, he led so often to battle, and for whom he ever cherished the most affectionate regard. We owe it to our fallen comrades, to ourselves and to posterity, by some suitable and lasting memorial, to manifest to the world, for all time to come, that we were not unworthy to be led by our immortal CHIEF, and that we are not now ashamed of the principles for which Lee fought and Jackson died.

Already steps have been taken by some Confederate officers and soldiers, assembled at Lexington, the place of General Lee's death and burial, to inaugurate a memorial association; and being, as I believe, the senior in rank of all officers of the Army of Northern Virginia now living in the State, I respectfully suggest and invite a conference at Richmond, on Thursday, the 3d day of November next, of all the survivors of that army, whether officers or privates, and in whatever State they may live, who can conveniently attend, for the purpose of procuring concert of action in regard to the proceeding contemplated. I would also invite to that conference the surviving officers and soldiers of

all the other Confederate armies, as well as the officers, sailors and marines of the Confederate navy.

This call would have been made sooner but for my absence up to this time in a county where there are no railroads or telegraphs, and where I was detained by imperative duties. Your friend and late fellow soldier,

J. A. EARLY. LYNCHBURG, VA., October 24, 1870.

Pursuant to this call, the soldiers and sailors of the Confederate States met to do honor to the memory of their great chieftain, General ROBERT EDWARD LEE, in the First Presbyterian Church, in the city of Richmond, on Thursday evening, the 3d day of November, A. D. 1870.

The meeting was called to order by Brigadier-General Bradley T. Johnson, on whose motion Lieutenant-General Jubal A. Early was appointed temporary chairman, and Captain George Walker, of Westmoreland, Captain Campbell Lawson, of Richmond, and Sergeant George L. Christian, of Richmond, temporary secretaries.

General Early, on taking the Chair, delivered an appropriate address.

ADDRESS OF GENERAL EARLY.

Friends and Comrades-When the information of the death of our illustrious Commander was flashed over the telegraphic wires to all parts of the civilized world, good men everywhere mourned the loss of him who, in life, was the noblest exemplar of his times of all that is good, and true, and great in human nature; and a cry of anguish was wrung from the hearts of all true Confederate soldiers, which was equalled only by that which came up from the same hearts when the fact was realized that the sword of Robert E. Lee was sheathed forever, and that the banner to which his deeds had given such lustre was furled amid gloom and disaster. After the first burst of grief had subsided, the inquiry arose in the breasts of all, What can we do to manifest our esteem and veneration for him we loved so well? It was but necessary that the suggestion should be made to elicit an expression of the general sentiment. I thought that I could take the liberty of making that suggestion to my old comrades, and I therefore made the call under which you are here assembled. Although I made that call as the former senior in rank of all the officers of the Army of Northern Virginia now living in the State, I desire to say to you that at the tomb of General Lee all distinctions of rank cease. The private soldier who, in tattered

uniform and with sore and bleeding feet, followed the banner upheld by Lee and Jackson, and did not desert his post or skulk in the hour of danger, but did his duty faithfully to the end of the war, and is now doing his duty by remaining true to the principles for which he fought, is the peer of the most renowned in fame or exalted in rank among the survivors. He has an equal share in the proud heritage left us in the memory of the glorious deeds and exalted virtues of our great Chieftain. All such I greet and welcome here, as I do those of every rank, claiming them all as my friends, comrades and brothers.

My friends, if it is expected that I shall on this occasion deliver a eulogy on General Lee, you will be disappointed. I have not the language with which to give expression to my estimate of the greatness and goodness of his character. I will say, however, that as extended as is his fame, the world at large has not fully appreciated the transcendant abilities of General Lee, nor realized the perfection of his character. No one who has not witnessed the affectionate kindness and gentleness, and often playfulness, of his manners in private, his great self-control and dignity in dealing with important public affairs, the exhibition of his high and unyielding sense of duty on all occasions, and the majestic grandeur of his action and appearance in the shock of battle, can form more than an approximate estimate of his real character.

Monuments of marble or bronze can add nothing to the fame of General Lee, and to perpetuate it it is not necessary that such should be erected. But the student of history in future ages who shall read of the deeds and virtues of our immortal hero, will be lost in amazement at the fact that such a man went down to his grave a disfranchised citizen by the edict of his cotemporaries—which infamous edict, by the fiat of an inexorable despotism, has been forced to be recorded on the statute book of his native State. We, my comrades, owe it to our own characters, at least, to vindicate our manhood and purge ourselves of the foul stain, by erecting an enduring monument to him, that will be a standing protest, for all time to come, against the righteousness of the judgment pronounced against him, without arraignment, without trial, without evidence, and against truth and justice. The exact locality of that monument I do not now propose to suggest. When we are in a condition to erect it, it will, in my opinion, be the proper time to settle definitely its locality; and I merely say now that it should be where it will be accessible to al' his boys and their descendants.

Something has been suggested with regard to the resting place of all that was mortal of our beloved commander. This is a

question, at this time, solely for the determination of the immediate family of General Lee. Let us respect the feelings of those who have sustained so terrible a bereavement. I am sure that the soldiers who followed himn through such dreadful trials will have regard for the wishes of that noble Virginia matron, who, being allied to Washington, has been through life the cherished bosom companion of Lee.

Comrades, I am more than gratified at the fact that the great statesman and pure patriot who presided over the destinies of the Confederate States—who selected General Lee to lead her armies and gave him his entire confidence throughout all his glorious career-is here to mingle his grief with ours, and to join in paying tribute to the memory of him we mourn.

The Rev. Charles Minnigerode, D. D., Rector of Saint Paul's Church, Richmond, then made a fervent and appropriate prayer.

General Bradley T. Johnson moved the appointment of Committees on Permanent Organization and Resolutions; whereupon the Chair appointed the following:

ON PERMANENT ORGANIZATION,

General WILLIAM TE Y, Chairman.................... Beilford.
Major ROBERT STILES

Richirond.
Sergeant J. VANLEW MCCREERY

.Richinond. Corporal WILLIAM C. Kean, Jr.....

.Louisa. Lieutenant John E. ROLLER.....

Rockingham. Lieutenant HENRY C. CARTER...

Richmond. General GEORGE E. PICKETT..

... Richmond. General JOHN R. COOKE....

King William. General HARRY HETH ....

.................. Baltimore. Colonel THOMAS H. CARTER..

King William. Colonel H. P. JONES

Hanover. Private W. H. EFFINGER

Rockingham. Captain JAMES WILLIAM FOSTER.

Leesburg. Colonel THOMAS L. PRESTON .....

........ ......... Albemarle. General WILLIAM H. PAYNE.....

Fauquier. Colonel ROBERT S. PRESTON ...............................

Montgoniery. Captain W. C. NICHOLAS.

Maryland. Colonel WILLIAM ALLAN

Lexington. Private ABRAM WARWICK

.Richmond. Major A. R. VENABLE.

Prince Edward. Lieutenant SAMUEL WILSON

.Surry. Major ROBERT W. HUNTER .................................

Winchester. Lieutenant JAMES POLLARD.

.King William. Colonel WILLIAM NELSOX.......... ....................... Hanover. Captain R. D. MINOR.

.Richmond. General JAMES H. LANE......

........................... ...... North Carolina. Colonel W. W. GORDON .................................... New Kent. Hon. WILLIAM WELSH .................................... Kent county, Md. Captain J. L. CLARKE.....

........ Baltimore.

« PreviousContinue »