Banquet to the Honorable Carl Schurz/Speech of General John T. Lockman

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I am to speak to you, gentlemen, as the former comrade of General Schurz, in the armies of the Union. The regiment that I led was part of his command in many a memorable campaign. I knew him first as soldier, and to his qualities and worth as a soldier, I am glad to offer here the heartiest tribute.

When, in the spring of 1861, following the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President, the rebellion broke out in State after State, and when finally Sumter fell, Carl Schurz was one of the first to answer the call to arms. He hurried to New-York, and there raised the first regiment of volunteer cavalry enlisted for the war, and was commissioned as its Colonel. Before he might lead his men to the front, another duty called. Lincoln expressed the wish that he should go to Spain, as Minister. Our relations with the Spanish Government were of a delicate nature. The recognition of the Confederacy was feared, and a man endowed with a rare development of the diplomatic instinct was needed. Schurz was chosen, and with Schurz the wish of Lincoln was a command. His regiment was given to Reynolds, and the brilliant young patriot—our friend was then but thirty-three—hurried to the Court of Madrid. Six months later he secured a recall, eager to join the rapidly gathering armies of the Republic. Gladly be left a life of splendor and tasteful luxury for the hardships of the camp. To fight for the principles for which he had so vigorously spoken was now his chief desire. The President met his wishes, appointed a successor to the Spanish Court, and commissioned Schurz a Brigadier-General of volunteers. [Applause.]

Schurz's first service was under Fremont, the rugged “Pathfinder,” for whom, five years before, he had made his first public speeches in America as the champion of the Slave. Shortly afterwards he was with Sigel's command, fighting conspicuously and bravely at the Second Bull Run, from early morning until the day fell, and constantly inspiring his troops to greater effort. From that day till the war ended, Schurz was rarely at rest. In the spring of 1863 he was commissioned a Major-General, for meritorious services, and assigned to the command of the Third Division of the old Eleventh corps. In April, President Lincoln, reviewing the Army of the Potomac, pronounced that division the most soldierly in the line. [Applause.]

Then came the Chancellorsville campaign, with Hooker in command of the Union forces. The story of those days is written in the history of the nation, but will, perhaps, bear repetition here. The first successful movement to the south Rappahannock bank will be remembered. To the south the Union line was formed, the Eleventh corps—three small divisions of ten thousand men, holding the right. Lee sent Jackson, with 25,000, the flower of his army, to attack that thin right line. The plan was discovered and reported. Schurz pleaded earnestly for permission to change front to the west and northwest, but his request was denied. He was informed, as were all others who reported the enemy's movements, that Lee was in retreat. Schurz, not satisfied, sent a trusted officer—Dilger—to reconnoitre, with orders not to return until sure that the flank was not in danger. Dilger, riding less than a mile from the Union pickets, encountered Jackson's whole advance. He was pursued by cavalrymen, and narrowly escaped capture. Late in the afternoon he reported at Schurz's headquarters. Acting on his own initiative, Schurz hurriedly executed part of the plan he had urged earlier in the day. Hardly had the batteries been changed when, with crashing musketry and piercing yells, the Confederates fell upon Deven's division and threw it upon Schurz in confusion. Schurz resisted until both his flanks were turned, and then, beaten back by overwhelming numbers, and losing heavily in officers and men, contested every inch of ground, until, Jackson, at 7.15, halted his troops—too weary to continue the contest. All of the resistance that Jackson met that day, to the time that he fell, came from the devoted Eleventh corps, a third in strength, but bravely led and gallant to a man.

Soon the centre of operations shifted northward. Then came the marches of our troops to Pennsylvania and the commencement of the campaign that ended at Gettysburg. Many of the incidents of those days those who were nearest the General will always well remember. His good humor and spirit of fellowship helped us wonderfully. I recall a typical incident near Leesburg, in Virginia. General Schurz had placed a regiment on the flank to guard against the approach of the enemy. Visiting the front, as was his custom, he called the commanding officer to his side, and, pointing to a large flock of sheep, said: “Colonel, if you are attacked by those sheep I trust that you will know how to defend yourself.” It is needless to add that the savor of roasting mutton that night pervaded the camp, and from the contented look that General Schurz bore through the next day's march there has been a lurking suspicion in the speaker's mind that at least one rash sheep made a fierce attack on the Division headquarters.

Had Creasy brought his list of decisive battles to our day he would have added to the twelve he has named, Gettysburg. The gallant Reynolds fell early on the first day. Howard succeeded to the command of the field, Schurz to the Eleventh corps, holding the right. So well was the attack here repelled that it was late in the afternoon before the Confederates entered Gettysburg. On the evening of that day Schurz led a successful charge, defeating an attempt of the enemy to break the Union lines. In the defence against the world-famed charge of Pickett, his artillery was used with fearful effect. In the crucial work of all three days his post was one of prominence and distinction. When, after the fighting, orders were received to follow Lee in retreat, although his men had marched for thirty-three miles that day, he readily complied.

In September of 1863 the Eleventh and Twelfth corps were sent to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland, then at Chattanooga. I shall not keep you with the story of these new campaigns. The night battles on the Wahatchie, pronounced by General Thomas “among the most brilliant and daring exploits of the war,” have always had a dramatic interest. Schurz was the inspiring genius there. He distinguished himself repeatedly by his rapid action and by his leadership in the taking of new positions. The driving of the Confederates across Lookout Creek, and the decisive battle on Mission Ridge, when Bragg was driven from one of the strongest positions ever held by an army, turned the course of the war toward other fields.

Through 1864 General Schurz led his division on in fight after fight. In May of 1865 he resigned his commission, and was soon as actively engaged in the work of reconstruction as he had been for the upholding of the Union in arms. Thus closed the military career of a man who, at the outbreak of the war, mastered the problems of strategy and tactics, who was rapid in combinations under fire, who, as his men often boasted, was always himself seen “on the firing line,” who was wise in counsel, magnanimous in victory, the friend of the fallen foe, and among the first to hold forth the hand of re-union and fellowship—then the gallant soldier of the great Republic—now its eminent citizen—General Carl Schurz. [Applause.]