Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/67
Memoir of Gen. C. B, Wheat 59
at New Orleans, on his way out, a goodly number of histories and biographies.
The writer of this memoir dwells with melancholy pleasure upon these recollections of a boyhood that gave the brightest promise of a distinguished future. The bread of religious training cast upon the waters of his young life was gathered after many days. The pre- cious seed, hidden for a time from human observation under the un- friendly influences of a soldier's life, yielded nevertheless, in due time, a glorious harvest of piety and heroism, even to the sacrifice of life upon the altar of duty. He early adopted as his own his father's motto, ** Astra Castra," being terminals of the disiich —
'* Non per sylvas, sed per castra, Nobis iter est ad astra.
and which he rather freely rendered :
Through rural quiet doth thy pathway lie ? Unending conflicts bear me to the sky.
In his letters to his mother — to whom he always showed a rever- ential and chivalrous devotion — he frequently assures her that** Astra Castra" is the governing principle of his life. In one, written on his way to join Garibaldi, he says : '* We hope soon to be doing good service in the great cause of human liberty. Do not, dear Ma, fret about me. God will take me out of the world when He sees fit ; and if He takes me while fighting for liberty, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain."
Major Wheat's request to be buried on the battlefield was made the subject of several poems which were published in various papers of the South, accompanied by eulogistic notices of his character and services on behalf of the Confederacy. The following verses inter- pret his request most correctly, and in perfect agreement with his known sentiments upon the subject. The subsequent interment in
- Hollywood " was thought by his friends to be a virtual compliance,
for all the neighborhood of Richmond was included in the battlefield.
THE LAST WORDS OF MAJOR WHEAT.
- Bury me on the field, boys !* and away to the glorious fight ;
You will come this way again, boys, in your triumph march to-night, But when you pass this spot, boys, I would not have you sigh — In holy cause of country, boys, who would not gladly die ?