Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/379
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of what in their inmost souls they felt to be their sacred and inalien- able birthright.
Traitors and rebels verily they were not. They were true-hearted patriots, worthy to rank with the noblest souls that ever battled for freedom. They fought for home and country, and to maintain the fundamental principle of all free government that the right to govern arises from and is coexistent with the consent of the governed.
WERE SUBLIME HEROES.
And if patient self-denial, and cheerful self-sacrifice, and unequal- ing fortitude and unfaltering devotion to country, and unwavering loyalty to duty, and dauntless courage in defence of the right, make heroism, the men whom we honor to-day, and whom we would not have our children forget, were sublime heroes. History has no more illustrious page than that which tells of their achievements. Poorly equipped, poorly clad, poorly fed, and virtually without pay, they confronted at least three times their number of as well-equipped, well-clothed, well-fed, and well-paid soldiers as ever marched to bat- tle; wrested from them a series of victories unsurpassed in brilliancy; and for four years, stormy with the red blasts of war, successfully resisted all their power. In dangers and hardships that " tried men's souls" the defenders of the South were tried, and always found "true as tempered steel." Laboring under disadvantages which even their friends can never fully appreciate; supplementing their scanty rations with weeds and grasses ; their bare feet often times pressing the frozen ground or blistered on the burning highway ; their garments as tattered as the battle-torn banners that they bore, they bravely fought on for the cause they loved, and sealed their devotion to it with their blood.
I need not name the many glorious fields on which the soldiers of the Confederacy, by their splendid courage, hurled back army after army, each one greatly outnumbering them, and supposed by the North to be strong enough to crush them. I need not recount the battles in which the sailors of the Confederacy made up in skill and daring for lack of equipment, and fought with a valor unsurpassed in naval warfare. On the land and on the sea they made a record to which their country may point with a just and noble pride. His- tory bears witness to their unrivalled martial qualities. By their deeds they " set with pearls the bracelet of the world," and won for themselves a place in the foremost rank of mankind's Legion of