Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/130

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122 Southern Historical Society Papers.

cerned, having nothing- to regret, to excuse or to extenuate, I am yet here on this day to respond to a sentiment in honor of the mil- itary leader once opposed to us a Virginian and a Confederate.


" I shall confine myself to that one attribute of Lee which, recog- nized in a soldier by an opponent, I cannot but regard as his surest and loftiest title to enduring fame. I refer to his humanity in arms and his scrupulous regard for the most advanced rules of civilized warfare.

" On this point two views, I am well aware, have been taken from the beginning and still are advanced. On the one side it is con- tended that warfare should be strictly confined to combatants and its horrors and devastations brought within the narrowest limits; that private property should be respected, and devastation and .violence limited to that necessary to overcome armed opposition at the vital points of conflict. This by some. But, on the other hand, it is in- sisted that such a method of procedure is mere cruelty in disguise; that war at best is hell, and that true humanity lies in exaggerating that hell to such an extent as to make it unendurable. By so doing it is forced to a speedy end. On this issue I stand \vith Lee. More- over, looking back over the awful past, replete with man's inhumanity to man, I insist that the verdict of history is distinct that war is hell at best; then make it hell, indeed. That cry is not original with us. Far from it. It echoes down the ages.


" No more creditable order ever issued from a commanding gene- ral than that formulated and signed by Robert E. Lee at the close of June, 1863, he advanced on a war of invasion. ' No greater dis- grace,' he then declared, 'can befall the army, and through it our whole people, than the perpetration of barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenseless. Such proceedings not only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected with them, but are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army, and destructive of the ends of our movement. It must be remembered that we make war only on armed men.'

" In scope and spirit Lee's order was observed, and I doubt if a hostile force ever advanced in an enemy's country or fell back from it in retreat, leaving behind it less cause of hate and bitterness than did the Army of Northern Virginia in that memorable campaign