Page:Wearing of the Gray.djvu/607

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601
LEE'S LAST BATTLES.

troops were spared; but there were many who wanted to die then.

This retreat was a terrible episode of military life, unlike any which the present writer ever before saw; but he does not regret having borne his part in its hardships, its sufferings, and its humiliations. He is glad to have seen the struggle out under Lee, and to have shared his fate. The greatness and nobility of soul which characterize this soldier were all shown conspicuously in that short week succeeding the evacuation of Petersburg. He had done his best, and accepted his fate with manly courage, and that erect brow which dares destiny to do her worst; or rather, let us say, he had bowed submissively to the decree of that God in whom he had ever placed his reliance. Lee, the victor upon many hard-fought fields, was a great figure; but he is no less grand in defeat, poverty, and adversity. Misfortune crowns a man in the eyes of his contemporaries and in history; and the South is prouder of Lee to-day, and loves him more, than in his most splendid hours of victory.

John Esten Cooke.

Virginia, June, 1865.