Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/33
Heroes of the old Camden District, S. C. 27
In that old Waxhaw churchyard I have seen this quaint inscription upon a stone:
" Here lies the body of William Blair, who departed this life in the sixty-fourth year of his age on the 2d July, A. D, 1821, at 9 P. M. He was born in the county of Antrim, Ireland, on the 24th March, 1759. When about thirteen years old he came with his father to this country, where he resided till his death.
"He was a Revolutionary patriot, and in the humble station of private soldier and wagon master, he contributed more to the estab- lishment of American independence than many whose names are proudly emblazoned on the page of history.
" In the language of Pope, "The noblest work of God is an honest man."
There was more truth in this old homely epitaph probably than in many more elegant and heroic inscriptions upon towering monu- ments to the great. But, however that may be, this we know that in the humble sphere of private soldiers, thousands and thousands of glorious spirits were sacrificed in our war. To this, my comrades, you can testify with me. Who of us cannot recall some man from the ranks who he hopes to see in another world glorified above gene- rals and presidents and kings and potentates ?
Let me recall an instance in our own experience to show that the race of heroic teamsters was not extinct. Upon the retreat after the battle of Gettysburg the enemy's cavalry made a rush upon our wagon trains at Williamsport. The Confederate cavalry there were insufficient for the defence of the place, and the quartermasters were called upon for men to assist. About fifty were furnished by McGowan's brigade, and, no doubt, some of the Twelfth among them, and were placed under the command of Captain R. E. B. Hewitson, quartermaster of the First. A sharp fight ensued, but the detail of teamsters from our brigade charged the line opposed them, drove them back and held the ground until relieved at night. Two of our men were killed and five or six wounded. General Imboden called it " the battle of the teamsters."
The humble private in our war did indeed do more to the estab- lishment of our independence if that had been so ordained of God