Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/371
Captain Francis Huger Harleston. 361
Captain Francis Huger Harleston. By Rev. (General) Ellison Capers.
[The following address was delivered at "the Citadel," Charles- ton, S. C, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Mural Tablet erected to the memory of Captain Francis Huger Harleston, and both as a tribute from a gallant soldier to one of Sumter's heroic defenders, and as the delineation of the character of a fair specimen of "the men who wore the gray," it is worthy of preservation.]
In April, i860, seven young gentlemen graduated from this academy :
Francis Huger Harleston, A. J. Norris, A. S. Gaillard, William E. Stoney, S. S. Kirby and Frank deCaradeuc.
With high hopes and happy hearts they formed their class on com- mencement day for the last time, and taking their place in rear of the escort of their fellow- cadets, marched out of the archway, to the Hibernian Hall.
A brilliant audience, in fullest sympathy with the occasion, greeted the procession.
As I recall the scene to-day, though twenty-four years have passed, it seems as but yesterday !
When life is crowded with duties and cares, time is not recorded in its rapid flight, and the years come and go without our notice.
And what years we have known since that commencement-day ! Who of us who heard Harleston' s valedictory dreamed of the future that was immediately before those young men?
Who of us imagined that within four years yfz'^ of the seven were to seal their devotion to Carolina with their heart's blood, dying as true heroes die, at the post of their duty?
DeCaradeuc, in Virginia ; Erwin, on Sullivan's Island ; Kirby, at Rivers' Bridge, on the Saltkehatchie ; Gaillard, mortally wounded at Bentonville ; Frank Harleston, at Fort Sumter !
And if Stoney and Norris are not with their classmates to-day, in the silent bivouac of the gallant dead, it is not because they did not freely offer their lives to their country.
Graduating in April, i860, but a few months elapsed before South Carolina called her sons to arms.
Harleston's class promptly answered the summons.
The cadets were sent to Morris' Island, and charged with the duty