Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/397

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Lees Birthday. 391

closed their establishments at noon and the freight depots of the railroads were also closed after that hour. The scholars of the pub- lic schools had half holiday, and the banks were closed throughout the day.

Although the intensely discomforting weather materially interfered with the purposed open air demonstration, it could not dampen the ardent regard in which the memory of the glorious leader is held.


A few minutes before 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, headed by their drum corps, Lee and Picket Camps entered the Capitol grounds escorted by the First regiment and the Richmond Howitzers. Quite a number of people had already assembled in the hall of the House of Delegates to attend the services in memory of the immortal Rob- ert E. Lee. Within a few minutes the spacious hall was completely rilled with a dense crowd. The two camps and their ladies occupied the seats of the members of the House. The Confederate flag of Lee Camp was unfurled, amid the applause of the audience, by Color-Sergeant Smith and placed at the right of the platform.

Colonel Alexander W. Archer, commander of Lee Camp, opened the meeting without any ceremony. He stated that he deemed it hardly necessary for him to introduce the gentleman and comrade who had been unanimously elected to preside over this gathering. He presented to the audience their friend, comrade and Mayor, Hon. J. Taylor Ellyson. Mayor Ellyson, who was greeted with loud applause, spoke as follows :

Ladies, Comrades, and Fellow-Citizens: We have met to-day under the auspices of Lee and Pickett Camps to do honor to the memory of one of Virginia's noblest sons. Robert E. Lee is forever enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen, and as we contemplate his virtues and heroism we are made better and purer men, and I trust the time will never come when Virginians shall fail on this, his natal day, to recount the valor and patriotism of their greatest chieftain, whose noblest aspiration in life found its completest realization in the doing of his duty to his God and to his fellow- man.

There is no danger, comrades, that the men who wore the gray will ever prove recreant to the principles that actuated them in time of war, but there is danger that our children may, and so we wish on these recurring anniversaries to tell of the chivalrous deeds of such leaders as Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Pickett, and to teach com-