Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/119

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Personal Experiences of Malvern Hill. 115

which we shared at Seven Pines, did not amount to an engage- ment. It can never be indifferent to note the feelings with which a soldier enters his first battle. Of all things battle is the most terrible. And to us all life is the dearest thing, and the love of life is by nature made the first law of our being. We instinctively shrink from imperilling our lives, and yet with what glad shout we have seen soldiers rush into the fiercest battles. What a glorious thing is manhood! How God-like is the devotion of man to duty to a cause in cheerfully giving up life to its service. What a noble and master passion is patriotism. How it exalts and glorifies man. To have once felt it propitiates ones self esteem and makes us ever a hero to ourselves. Shall I say it? Yes, for it can be equally said of each of you who were there. I have ever seemed to myself to have been a hero at Malvern Hill if to be a hero is to feel the loftiest enthusiasm of patriotism to disdain danger to stand in the raging storm of shot and shell with a glad sense of duty and privi- lege to be there, and to be unreservedly willing to meet death for the good of one's country. All this you felt with me on that memor- able charge.

It was in this spirit of devotion, the good, the brave and the loved Vermillion gave there to his country his life. This hero's name bids us pause. How tenderly we all remember him as the warm, generous, frank hearted friend. Brave and chivalrous in spirit, ardent and devoted to duty, graceful in deportment, manly in character, true and proud in self-respect, he commanded the ad- miration and love of all who knew him. In peace and in war at home and in camp, he was the same true, manly man. He was ardently patriotic and was passionately devoted to his State and to its cause. He fell while gallantly leading his company on this charge. He fell in the flush of young manhood when life to him was full of high hopes and full of all the sweet endearments of home. He cheerfully gave his life to his country, and his blood was a willing libation to its cause. As among the departed braves Heaven tenderly keeps his happy spirit, so may his memory be ever lovingly cherished among the living. In this same spirit of devotion there fell Prentis, Dozier, Lewer, Parker, Bennett, Fiske, White and others dear in the memory of us all.

Let us recall the part which our own regiment, the Ninth Vir. ginia, took in this memorable charge. Armistead's Brigade, to which our regiment belonged, were the first troops to reach the