Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/182
176 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Captain Robert Barnwell of the engineers, seized a regimental battle flag, and recklessly leaping upon the exposed ramparts, he drove its staff into the sand, and held it there until the garrison flag had been hoisted in its place. There was one Jasper at Moultrie. There were a score of them at Wagner. In the meantime the city of Charleston was aflame with excitement ; the battery, house-tops and steeples were crowded with anxious spectators. Hundreds of fair women were there with hands clasped in silent prayer for the success of their gallant defenders ; strong men looked on with throbbing hearts and broke forth into exclamations which expressed their hopes and fears. How can the fort hold out much longer? It has ceased firing altogether ! Its battery has been silenced! Yes but see the colors streaming still amid the battle smoke! Suddenly the flag is seen to droop, then rapidly descend. Oh God! was the agonized cry, Wagner has at last struck her colors, and surrendered. Oh ! the unspeakable suspense of that moment. Then tumultuous cheers arose from an hundred throats, amid the waiving of snowy handker- chiefs. No! no! they shouted, look! look! it has gone up again, and its crimson cross flashes once more amid shot and shell and battle smoke. What a wonderful power there is in the flag of one's country. How mysterious the influence by which it sways and moves the hearts of men. A distinguished general in the Confede- rate army, who had been an officer in the old army, was so strongly imbued with the power of this influence over the will of men that he expressed the belief that if the Confederate Government had adhered to the stars and stripes, thousands in the North, who, early in the war were southern sympathizers, would have rallied around it, and thousands, who were actually arrayed against us, would have refused to fire upon it. The colors of an army have carried more strong- holds than the bayonet, and battered down more fortresses than artillery. Even in Holy Writ we find the expression " As terrible as an army with banners." 'Twas the flag that floated again over Wagner which restored confidence in Charleston, and the exultant cry which broke from the lips of these lookers on, was the echo of that hoarser shout in the battle-scarred fort in the midst of the roar of cannon. The banner of the stars and stripes is again the flag of our united country, and long may it wave over the land and the sea, for it is the symbol and emblem of a union never again to be sun- dered. The Southern heart is true and loyal to that flag, but base is the soul and craven is the heart of him who marched and fought