Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/233
Unveiling of the Statue to Governor William Smith. 225
In April, 1861, the storm so long threatened burst upon us. The land was alive with men hurrying to the front. It is scarcely a figure of speech to say, that the plow was left in the furrow, and the bride at the altar, by those eager to be in place when the curtain was rung up on the greatest tragedy of ancient or modern times.
In Virginia, Manassas was the first point of concentration, witli an advanced post at Fairfax Courthouse composed of a company of infantry from Fauquier under John Ouincy Marr, a cavalry com- pany from Rappahannock under Captain Green, and another from Prince William under Captain Thornton. Such was the beginning of the Army of Northern Virginia. Drawn from all ranks and employments in life, it represented every social phase, condkion and occupation, fused and welded by the seismic force of that tremendous upheaval into an organization whose deeds were pre- destined soon to make all the world wonder.
On the night of the 3ist of May, or more accurately in the early morning of the istof June, a body of United States cavalry charged into Fairfax Courthouse, effecting an almost complete surprise, coming in with the videttes whose duty it was to give warning of their approach. Everything was in confusion. But it chanced that on the preceding evening Governor Smith, like a knight errant in search of adventure, had arrived upon the scene and was spend- ing the night at the house of a friend. Awakened from his sleep before the dawn, he quickly dressed and armed, and with that break-of-day courage which Napoleon loved and found so rare, he hurried to the scene of conflict. Colonel (afterwards General) Ewell was in command, but he being presently wounded, our old friend took charge. What then happened has always been to me a wonderful thing. It is said by Byron, that when you have been under fire
"once or twice, The ear becomes more Irish and less nice."
But here we see one verging upon sixty-four years of age, kindly in all his dealings with his fellow-man, whom the gentle Cowper might well have called his friend, for he would not needlessly have set his foot upon a worm, and yet he springs from his bed with arms in his hands, and with the coolness of a veteran and the skill of a born soldier he at once grasps the situation, and by his exam- ple rallies a part of the men from the disorder into which they had