Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/333
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and Johnston. He remembered as though it were only yesterday, every incident of that war, and spoke of the death of Albert Sidm y Johnston, the brave and peerless, whose loss, as Mr. Davis said in his nx-s^avM- to Congress, was irreparable; whose last breath cheered his comrades on to victory, whose last thought was his country. " I never >hall forget," continued Mr. Semmes, " how strong men wept when the special message of Mr. Davis was read on the floor of the Confederate Congress, and how sobs almost choked the voice of the reader as he concluded: 'Among the shining hosts of the great and good, who now cluster around the banner of our country, there exists no purer spirit, no more heroic soul than that of the illustrious man whose death I join you in lamenting.' '
"Tell about our visit to the battlefield of Manassas," said Mr. Semmes to his wife, as he warmed with his subject, and with a sweet pathos, Mrs. Semmes told how, after the famous First Manassas, it was resolved to erect a marble shaft on the spot where General Bar- tow had fallen, shot through the heart. General Bartow was one of the bravest and most promising spirits in the South. He had led the Georgia regiment, which had fought with the 4th Alabama like tigers in the strife. General Berrien, a brother-in-law of Dr. Semmes; Mr. and Mrs. Semmes, the doctor, General Sam Jones and Staff, all went out to Manassas early in the morning to see the shaft erected. For some reason or other it was impossible for Mr. Davis, who had been expected to be the orator of the day, to be present. At the last moment the Georgia regiment and General Sam Jones called upon Mr. Semmes to be the orator of the occasion.
" He was so totally taken by surprise," said Mrs. Semmes, " that he came up to me and whispered, ' I really don't know what to say on such short notice.' ' Yes you do,' I replied, 'just tell them about the bravery and heroism of our Southern boys; tell them how they are suffering and how they still cling to the cause which is so dear to us all.' "And he did," said Mrs. Semmes. " I think that it was the grandest speech he ever made in his life, even if he is my husband. Perhaps it was the time and place, but I know that we were all in tears as he spoke of our Southern boys and the brave man who had laid down his life for the cause. I shall never forget how Manassas looked that day; it seemed as though a hurricane had swept over the place. The battle had raged long and fiercely between two wooden houses known as the Henry and Robinson houses, at some distance from each other on the plateau. General Bartow r had fallen