Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/39
Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?
But, supposing it otherwise in the case of the son—the wound being in such case yet fresh and green—how would it be when a sufficient time has elapsed to afford the needed perspective? Let us suppose a grandson six generations removed. What Englishman, be he Cavalier or Roundhead—by descent did his ancestor charge
precedents, founded, as he claimed, in reason and patriotism, the names of battles of the war of the rebellion should be removed from the regimental colors of the national army, and from the army register. He put it on the ground that, from the republics of antiquity down to our days, no civilized nation ever thought it wise or patriotic to preserve in conspicuous and durable form the mementoes of victories won over fellow-citizens in civil war. As the sympathizing orator said at the time of Sumner's death—"Should the son of South Carolina, when at some future day defending the Republic against some foreign foe, be reminded by an inscription on the colors floating over him, that under this flag the gun was fired that killed his father at Gettysburg?" This assuredly has a plausible sound. "His father;" yes, perhaps. Though even in the immediately succeeding generation something might well be said on the other side. Presumably, in such case, the father was a brave, an honest and a loyal man—contending for what he believed to be right—for it, laying down his life. Gettysburg is a name and a memory of which none there need ever feel ashamed. As in most battles, there was a victor and a vanquished; but on that day the vanquished, as well as the victor, fought a stout fight. If, in all recorded warfare there is a deed of arms the name and memory of which the descendants of those who participated therein should not wish to see obliterated from any record, be it historian's page or battle-flag, it was the advance of Pickett's Virginian division across that wide valley of death in front of Cemetery Ridge. I know in all recorded warfare of no finer, no more sustained and deadly feat of arms. I have stood on either battlefield, and, in scope and detail, carefully compared the two; and, challenging denial, I affirm that the much vaunted charge of Napoleon's guard at Waterloo, in fortitude, discipline and deadly energy will not bear comparison with that other. It was boy's work beside it. There, brave men did all that the bravest men could do. Why then should the son of one of those who fell coming up the long ascent, or over our works and in among our guns, feel a sense of wrong because "Gettysburg" is inscribed on the flag of the battery a gun of which he now may serve? On the contrary, I should suppose he would there see that name only.