494 Southern Historical Society Papers.
war to rush to writino- books, to give their account of the government they did so much to break down. We owe it therefore to our dead, to our living, and to our children, to be active in the work of pre- serving the truth and repelling the falsehoods, so that we may secure for them and for us just judgment from the only tribunal before which we can be fully and fairly heard.
If the full truth can be secured and preserved, we shall have nothing to fear in the comparison with our enemy which history will make. The courage of our. troops is beyond perversion. The fact that we killed, wounded and captured a greater number of the enemy than we had soldiers in our armies, is a tribute to our gallantry and skill which the records of no civilized war can surpass. With infe- rior arms and limited resources, shut up from supplies from the out- side world, and with unfortunate and fatal divisions between the Southern States and among ourselves, we made a fight for indepen- dence which no people on earth ever yet equalled
Equally wonderful were the achievements of our statesmanship. In the beginning we had neither government, nor army, nor navy, nor treasury. All these we had to improvise in the very hearing of an arming foe, who had an established government, an organized army, a powerful navy, and all the sinews and appliances of war in extravagant abundance. And yet, when the enactments and mea- sures of the Confederate Government shall be critically examined, they will be found to have sprung into existence with a wisdom, a vigor, an aptitude for the crisis and a strict conformity to all the principles of free institutions, which must challenge the admiration of publicists and statesmen for all time.
No people, ancient or modern, can look with more pride to the verdict which history will be compelled to render upon the merits and characters of our two chief leaders — the one in the military and the other in the civil service. Most other leaders are great because of fortunate results, and heroes because of success. Davis and Lee, because of qualities in themselves, are great in the face of fortune, and heroes in spite of defeat.
When the future historian shall come to survey the character of Lee, he will find it rising like a huge mountain above the undulating plain of humanity, and he must lift his eyes high towards Heaven to catch its summit. He possessed every virtue of other great com- manders without their vices. He was a foe without hate ; a friend without treachery ; a soldier without cruelty ; a victor without oppres- sion, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without