Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/364

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360 Southern Historical Society Papers.

a trumpet's tongue and a thunder's voice. Think of it. Thirty- three years after the close of the war there are more pensioners upon the list, basing their claims upon service in the Federal army, directly or indirectly, than the Southern Confederacy ever had men in the field, including the living and the dead.

On and on rolled the surging, fiery billows of war, till scarcely a home in the Southland was beyond the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry. Stronger and stronger grew the Federal army; weaker and weaker grew the Southern, till at last our chieftain, Robert E. Lee, beside whom as man and soldier, there is no one to place who can claim to be his peer, surrendered the remnant of the gallant army. Our flag was furled, our hopes were blasted, our cause was lost.

LEE THE CENTRAL FIGURE.

Amid all these stirring scenes who was the central figure ? Around whom did all the hopes of the people cluster? To whom did the people of the Southland look in the darkest hour with a confidence that knew no wavering ? To that grand man and great commander, Robert E. Lee. And what shall I say of him ? Language which my feeble ability enables me to command, is inadequate to express my admiration for him, and my conception of his greatness as man and soldier. The Southland, ploughed with graves and reddened with blood, that 'can look the proudest nation fearlessly in the face, and whose sons he led to battle, will ever cherish for him the highest regard and the deepest affection. Aye, more, his fame is not bounded by the country of which he was a citizen, but it has gone across the waters, and wherever there is a heart upon whose altar burn the fires of liberty, and a soul that appreciates all that is great and good, there the name of Robert E. Lee is enshrined, and when the monuments we may build to his memory shall have crumbled into dust, his vir- tues will still live a high model for the imitation of generations yet unborn. As has been beautifully said, "he was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocracy, and a man without guilt. He was Caesar without his ambition; Frederick without his tyranny; Napo- leon without his selfishness, and Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and royal in authority as