Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/318
312 Southern Historical Society Papers.
I would eliminate, too, the higher grades of service.
The purest spirit, the deepest love, the greatest hero, the noblest manhood, was in the infantry private of the South.
He was reared when the " irrepressible conflict " quickened the pulse of the people. He was inspired by the intellectual gladiators of the South.
He gloried in the heroism of his ancestors, which had won the republic from England.
He shouldered the burden of his convictions, he grasped his mus- ket for his cause, he inhaled the smoke of battle, he felt the sting of bullet, he bled from shot and shell.
He dared to die when he could foresee his unurned ashes scattered on the soil of his enemies.
Where is loftier heroism ?
Where is nobler patriotism ?
Where is truer manhood ?
Where is grander chivalry ?
Where a more ideal hero ?
For principles, he carried the heaviest cross.
For principles, he courted an unknown grave.
He touched elbows in the unwavering line of charge.
He gained victory with the point of the bayonet.
He dauntlessly rushed over earthworks.
He stood lik<l a " stone wall " on the field.
He was strongest in battle.
He was gentlest in victory.
He was most powerful in the face of menace.
He was tenderest to the captured.
His pride was grand, his bravery exalted, his heroism majestic !
His marvelous simplicity of conduct was consonant with his beauty of heart?
His life in camp was characterized by praiseworthy endurance.
He met his privations with the calmness of a philosopher.
He enjoyed the pastimes of his tent with the guilelessness of a child.
He doted on his faded uniform and jeered at the " slick" silk hat, even on the head of a Confederate congressman.
When the first year of his service had passed he was bright with hope.
Fort Sumter had fallen and Manassas had emblazoned his bayonet with glory!