Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/254
Southern Historical Society Papers.
April 5th to 10th, 1865—Our hospital life is monotonous and varied only by daily discussions of reports of General Lee's situation, gathered from the rabid, black Republican papers we are permitted to buy. The news to-day (10th) is dreadful indeed. "General Lee has surrendered" is repeated with hushed breath from lip to lip. No human tongue, however eloquent, no pen, however gifted, can give an adequate description of our dismay and horror at the heart-rending news. The sudden, unexpected calamity shocked reason and unsettled memory. The news crushed our fondest hopes. On every countenance rests the shadow of gloom, on every heart the paralyzing torpor of despair. We move about, or sit on our beds, silent, almost motionless, in the speechless agony of woe, in the mute eloquence, of unutterable despair. After four long weary years of battle and marches, of prayers and tears, of pain and sacrifice, of wounds and woe, of blood and death, such an ending of our hopes, such a shocking disappointment, is bitter, cruel, crushing. Few tears are shed; there is no time for weakness or sentiment. The grief is too deep, the agony too terrible to find vent through the ordinary channels of distress. Hope seems forever buried, and naturally too. After four years of gallant resistance, heroic endurance and incredible suffering, we find ourselves broken in fortunes, crushed, ruined; yet, amid our misery and wretchedness, though sad and sick at heart, we have no blush of shame. We feel deep, unutterable regret at our failure, but no humiliation. We have done nothing wrong. Our rights were trampled upon, our property stolen, and our liberties attacked, and we did but our sacred duty to defend them as well as we could. We freely offered up our lives and property in defence of principle and right and honor. A stern, conscientious sense of duty has influenced us to fight, bleed and suffer all these terrible years. The Yankees of New England first practiced and taught us the doctrine of secession, and then by force forbade us to apply it peaceably. The heroic men who fought, bled and died, are in prison or in exile for this principle, this inherent right, ought not and will not be known in history as traitors. Sorrow has crushed us, defeat has ruined us, but we must not and shall not forget or cease to cherish the brave deeds of as brave hearts as the world ever produced. Our homes