"Lee was never really defeated. Lee could not be defeated! Overpowered, foiled in his efforts, he might be; but never defeated until the props which supported him gave way. Never, until the platform sank beneath him, did any enemy ever dare pursue. On that melancholy occasion, the downfall of the Confederacy, no Leipsic, no Waterloo, no Sedan, can ever be recorded.
"General Lee is known to the world as a military man; but it is easy to divine from his history how mindful of all just authority, how observant of all constitutional restriction, would have been his career as a civilian. When, near the conclusion of the war, darkness was thickening about the falling fortunes of the Confederacy, when its very life was in the sword of Lee, it was my proud privilege to know with a special admiration the modest demeanor, the manly decorum, respectful homage, which marked all his dealings with the constituted authorities of his country. Clothed with all power, he hid its very symbol behind a genial modesty, and refused ever to exert it save in obedience to law. And even in his triumphant entry into the territory of the enemy, so regardful was he of civilized warfare, that the observance of his general orders as to private property and private rights left the line of his march marked and marred by no devastated fields, charred ruins, or desolated homes. But it is in his private character, or rather I should say his personal emotion and virtue, which his countrymen will most delight to consider and dwell upon. His magnanimity, transcending all historic precedent, seemed to form a new chapter in the book of humanity. Witness that letter to Jackson, after his wounds at Chancellorsville, in which he said: 'I am praying for you with more fervor than I have ever prayed for myself;' and that other, more disinterested and pathetic: 'I could, for the good of my country, wish that the wounds which you have received had been inflicted upon my own body;' or that of the latter message, saying to General Jackson that 'his wounds were not so severe as mine, for he loses but his left arm, while I, in my loss, lose my right;' or that other expression of unequalled magnanimity which enabled him to ascribe the glory of their joint victory to the sole credit of the dying hero. Did I say unequalled? Yes, that was an avowal of unequalled magnanimity, until it met its parallel in his own grander self-negation in assuming the sole responsibility for the defeat at Gettysburg. Ay, my countrymen, Alexander had his Arbela, Caesar his Pharsalia, Napoleon his Austerlitz; but it was reserved for Lee to grow grander and more illustrious in defeat than even in victory—grander, because in defeat he showed a spirit greater than in the heroism of battles or all the achievements of war, a spirit which crowns him with a chaplet grander far than ever mighty conqueror wore.
"I turn me now to that last closing scene at Appomattox, and I will draw thence a picture of that man as he laid aside the sword, the unrivalled soldier, to become the most exemplary of citizens.
"I can never forget the deferential homage paid this great citizen by even the Federal soldiers, as with uncovered heads they contemplated in mute admiration this now captive hero as he rode through their ranks. Impressed forever, daguerreotyped on my heart is that last parting scene with that handful of heroes still crowding around him. Few indeed were the words then spoken, but the quivering lip and the tearful eye told of the love they bore him, in symphonies more eloquent than any language can describe. Can I ever forget? No, never can I forget the words which fell from his lips as I rode beside him amid the defeated, dejected, and weeping soldiery, when, turning to me, he said, 'I could wish that I was numbered among the fallen in the last battle;' but oh! as he thought of the loss of the cause—of the many dead scattered over so many fields, who, sleeping neglected, with no governmental arms to gather up their remains—sleeping neglected, isolated, and alone, beneath the weeping stars, with naught but their soldiers' blankets about them!—oh! as these emotions swept over his great soul, he felt that he would have laid him down to rest in the same grave where lay buried the common hope of his people. But Providence willed it otherwise. He rests now forever, my countrymen, his spirit in the bosom of that Father whom he so faithfully served, his body beside the river whose banks are forever memorable, and whose waters are vocal with the glories of his triumphs. No sound shall ever wake him to martial glory again; no more shall he lead his invincible lines to victory; no more shall we gaze upon him and draw from his quiet demeanor lessons of life. But oh! it is a sweet consolation to us, my countrymen, who loved him, that no more shall his bright spirit be bowed down to earth with the burdens of the people's wrongs. It is sweet consolation to us that his last victory, through faith in his crucified Redeemer, is the most transcendently glorious of all his triumphs. At this very hour, while we mourn here, kind friends are consigning the last that remains of our hero to his quiet sleeping-place, surrounded by the mountains of his native State—mountains the autumnal glory of whose magnificent forests to-day seem but habiliments of mourning. In the Valley, the pearly dew-drops seem but tears of sadness upon the grasses and flowers. Let him rest! And now as he has gone from us, and as we regard him in all the aspects of his career and character and attainments as a great captain, ranking among the first of any age; as a patriot, whose sacrificing devotion to his country ranks him with Washington; as a Christian, like Havelock, recognizing his duty to his God above every other earthly consideration, with a native modesty that refused to appropriate the glory of his own, and which surrounds now his entire character and career with a halo of unfading light; with an integrity of life and a sacred regard for truth which no man dare assail; with a fidelity to principle which no misfortune could shake—he must ever stand peerless among men in the estimation of Christendom, this representative son of the South, Robert E. Lee, of Virginia."
A meeting was held on November 3d, presided over by Mr. Jefferson Davis. Mr. Davis delivered an address, of which we regret that we have received no complete copy. We give it as reported in the Richmond Dispatch.
REMARKS OF PRESIDENT DAVIS.
As Mr. Davis arose to walk to the stand, every person in the house stood, and there followed such a storm of applause as seemed to shake the very foundations of the building, while cheer upon cheer was echoed from the throats of veterans saluting one whom they delighted to honor.
Mr. Davis spoke at length, and with his accustomed thrilling, moving eloquence. We shall not attempt, at the late hour at which we write, to give a full report of his address.
He addressed his hearers as "Soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy, comrades and friends: Assembled on this sad occasion, with hearts oppressed with the grief that follows the loss of him who was our leader on many a bloody battle-field, a pleasing though melancholy spectacle is presented. Hitherto, and in all times, men have been honored when successful; but here is the case of one who amid disaster went down to his grave, and those who were his companions in misfortune have assembled to honor his memory. It is as much an honor to you who give as to him who receives; for, above the vulgar test of merit, you show yourselves competent to discriminate between him who enjoys and him who deserves success.
"Robert E. Lee was my associate and friend in the Military Academy, and we were friends until the hour of his death. We were associates and friends when he was a soldier and I a Congressman; and associates and friends when he led the armies of the Confederacy and I presided in its cabinet. We passed through many sad scenes together, but I cannot remember that there was ever aught but perfect harmony between us. If ever there was difference of opinion, it was dissipated by discussion, and harmony was the result. I repeat, we never disagreed; and I may add that I never in my life saw in him the slightest tendency to self-seeking. It was not his to make a record, it was not his to shift blame to other shoulders; but it was his, with an eye fixed upon the welfare of his country, never faltering, to follow the line of duty to the end. His was the heart that braved every difficulty; his was the mind that wrought victory out of defeat.
"He has been charged with 'want of dash.' I wish to say that I never knew Lee to falter to attempt any thing ever man could dare. An attempt has also been made to throw a cloud upon his character because he left the Army of the United States to join in the struggle for the liberty of his State. Without trenching at all upon politics, I deem it my duty to say one word in reference to this charge. Virginian born, descended from a family illustrious in Virginia's annals, given by Virginia to the service of the United States, he represented her in the Military Academy at West Point. He was not educated by the Federal Government, but by Virginia; for she paid her full share for the support of that institution, and was entitled to demand in return the services of her sons. Entering the Army of the United States, he represented Virginia there also, and nobly. On many a hard-fought field Lee was conspicuous, battling for his native State as much as for the Union. He came from Mexico crowned with honors, covered by brevets, and recognized, young as he was, as one of the ablest of his country's soldiers. And, to prove that he was estimated then as such, let me tell you that when Lee was a captain of engineers stationed in Baltimore, the Cuban Junta in New York selected him to be their leader in the struggle for the independence of their native country. They were anxious to secure his services, and offered him every temptation that ambition could desire. He thought the matter over, and, I remember, came to Washington to consult me as to what he should do; and when I began to discuss the complications which might arise from his acceptance of the trust, he gently rebuked me, saying that this was not the line upon which he wished my advice: the simple question was, 'Whether it was right or not?' He had been educated by the United States, and felt wrong to accept a place in the army of a foreign power. Such was his extreme delicacy, such was the nice sense of honor of the gallant gentleman whose death we deplore. But when Virginia withdrew, the State to whom he owed his first and last allegiance, the same nice sense of honor led him to draw his sword and throw it in the scale for good or for evil. Pardon me for this brief defence of my illustrious friend.
"When Virginia joined the Confederacy, Robert Lee, the highest officer in the little army of Virginia, came to Richmond; and, not pausing to inquire what would be his rank in the service of the Confederacy, went to Western Virginia under the belief that he was still an officer of the State. He came back, carrying the heavy weight of defeat, and unappreciated by the people whom he served, for they could not know, as I knew, that if his plans and orders had been carried out the result would have been victory rather than retreat. You did not know, for I would not have known it had he not breathed it in my ear only at my earnest request, and begging that nothing be said about it. The clamor which then arose followed him when he went to South Carolina, so that it became necessary on his going to South Carolina to write a letter to the Governor of that State, telling him what manner of man he was. Yet, through all this, with a magnanimity rarely equalled, he stood in silence without defending himself or allowing others to defend him, for he was unwilling to offend any one who was wearing a sword and striking blows for the Confederacy."
Mr. Davis then spoke of the straits to which the Confederacy was reduced, and of the danger to which her capital was exposed, just after the battle of Seven Pines, and told how General Lee had conceived and executed the desperate plan to turn their flank and rear, which, after seven days of bloody battle, was crowned with the protection of Richmond, while the enemy was driven far from the city.
The speaker referred also to the circumstances attending General Lee's crossing the Potomac on the march into Pennsylvania. He (Mr. Davis) assumed the responsibility of that movement. The enemy had long been concentrating his force, and it was evident that if he continued his steady progress the Confederacy would be overwhelmed. Our only hope was to drive him to the defence of his own capital, we being enabled in the mean time to reenforce our shattered army. How well General Lee carried out that dangerous experiment need not be told. Richmond was relieved, the Confederacy was relieved, and time was obtained, if other things had favored, to reenforce the army.
"But," said Mr. Davis, "I shall not attempt to review the military career of our fallen chieftain. Of the man, how shall I speak? He was my friend, and in that word is included all that I could say of any man. His moral qualities rose to the height of his genius. Self-denying; always intent upon the one idea of duty; self-controlled to an extent that many thought him cold, his feelings were really warm, and his heart melted freely at the sight of a wounded soldier, or the story of the sufferings of the widow and orphan. During the war he was ever conscious of the inequality of the means at his control; but it was never his to complain or to utter a doubt; it was always his to do. When, in the last campaign, he was beleaguered at Petersburg, and painfully aware of the straits to which we were reduced, he said: 'With my army in the mountains of Virginia, I could carry on this war for twenty years longer.' His men exhausted, and his supplies failing, he was unable to carry out his plans. An untoward event caused him to anticipate the movement, and the Army of Northern Virginia was overwhelmed. But, in the surrender, he anticipated conditions that have not been fulfilled; he expected his army to be respected, and his paroled soldiers to be allowed the enjoyments of life and property. Whether these conditions have been fulfilled, let others say.
"Here he now sleeps in the land he loved so well; and that land is not Virginia only, for they do injustice to Lee who believe he fought only for Virginia. He was ready to go anywhere, on any service, for the good of his country; and his heart was as broad as the fifteen States struggling for the principles that our forefathers fought for in the Revolution of 1776. He is sleeping in the same soil with the thousands who fought under the same flag, but first offered up their lives. Here, the living are assembled to honor his memory, and there the skeleton sentinels keep watch over his grave. This citizen, this soldier, this great general, this true patriot, left behind him the crowning glory of a true Christian. His Christianity ennobled him in life, and affords us grounds for the belief that he is happy beyond the grave.
"But, while we mourn the loss of the great and the true, drop we also tears of sympathy with her who was his helpmeet—the noble woman who, while her husband was in the field leading the army of the Confederacy, though an invalid herself, passed the time in knitting socks for the marching soldiers! A woman fit to be the mother of heroes; and heroes are descended from her. Mourning with her, we can only offer the consolation of a Christian. Our loss is not his; but he now enjoys the rewards of a life well spent, and a never-wavering trust in a risen Saviour. This day we unite our words of sorrow with those of the good and great throughout Christendom, for his fame is gone over the water; his deeds will be remembered, and when the monument we build shall have crumbled into dust, his virtues will still live, a high model for the imitation of generations yet unborn."
We have given but a faint idea of the eloquent thoughts and chaste oratory of the speaker. His words were heard with profound attention, and received with frequent applause.
Colonel C.S. Venable then presented the following report of the Committee on Resolutions:
"Whereas, It is a high and holy duty, as well as a noble privilege, to perpetuate the honors of those who have displayed eminent virtues and performed great achievements, that they may serve as incentives and examples to the latest generation of their countrymen, and attest the reverential admiration and affectionate regard of their compatriots; and—
"Whereas, This duty and privilege devolve on all who love and admire General Robert E. Lee throughout this country and the world, and in an especial manner upon those who followed him in the field, or who fought in the same cause, who shared in his glories, partook of his trials, and were united with him in the same sorrows and adversity, who were devoted to him in war by the baptism of fire and blood, and bound to him in peace by the still higher homage due to the rare and grand exhibition of a character pure and lofty and gentle and true, under all changes of fortune, and serene amid the greatest disasters:
therefore, be it
"Resolved, That we favor an association to erect a monument at Richmond to the memory of Robert E. Lee, as an enduring testimonial of our love and respect, and devotion to his fame.
"Resolved, That, while donations will be gladly received from all who recognize in the excellences of General Lee's character an honor and an encouragement to our common humanity, and an abiding hope that coming generations may be found to imitate his virtues, it is desirable that every Confederate soldier and sailor should make some contribution, however small, to the proposed monument.
"Resolved, That, for the purpose of securing efficiency and dispatch in the erection of the monument, an executive committee of seventy-five, with a president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, etc., be appointed, to invite and collect subscriptions, to procure designs for said monument, to select the best, to provide for the organization of central executive committees in other States, which may serve as mediums of communication between the executive committee of the Association and the local associations of these States.
"Resolved, That we respectfully invite the ladies of the Hollywood Association to lend us their assistance and cooeperation in the collection of subscriptions.
"Resolved, That we cordially approve of the local monument now proposed to be erected by other associations at Atlanta, and at Lexington, his last home, whose people were so closely united with him in the last sad years of his life.
"Resolved, That, while we cordially thank the Governor and Legislature of Virginia, for the steps they have taken to do honor to the memory of General Lee, yet in deference to the wishes of his loved and venerated widow, with whom we mourn, we will not discuss the question of the most fitting resting-place for his ever-glorious remains, but will content ourselves with expressing the earnest desire and hope that at some future proper time they will be committed to the charge of this Association."
Generals John S. Preston, John B. Gordon, Henry A. Wise, and William Henry Preston, and Colonels Robert E. Withers and Charles Marshall, delivered eloquent and appropriate speeches, and argued that Richmond is the proper place for the final interment of the remains of General Lee.
The resolutions were adopted, and the meeting adjourned.
At a meeting in this city the following remarks were made by—
GENERAL WADE HAMPTON.
"Fellow-Citizens: We are called together to-day by an announcement which will cause profound sorrow throughout the civilized world, and which comes to us bearing the additional grief of a personal and private bereavement. The foremost man in all the world is no more; and, as that news is carried by the speed of lightning through every town, village, and hamlet of this land which he loved so well, and among those people who loved and honored and venerated him so profoundly, every true heart in the stricken South will feel that the country has lost its pride and glory, and that the citizens of that country have lost a father. I dare not venture to speak of him as I feel. Nor do we come to eulogize him. Not only wherever the English language is spoken, but wherever civilization extends, the sorrow—a part at least of the sorrow—we feel will be felt, and more eloquent tongues than mine will tell the fame and recount the virtues of Robert E. Lee. We need not come to praise him. We come only to express our sympathy, our grief, our bereavement. We come not to mourn him, for we know that it is well with him. We come only to extend our sympathy to those who are bereaved.
"Now that he is fallen, I may mention what I have never spoken of before, to show you not only what were the feelings that actuated him in the duty to which his beloved countrymen called him, but what noble sentiments inspired him when he saw the cause for which he had been fighting so long about to perish. Just before the surrender, after a night devoted to the most arduous duties, as one of his staff came in to see him in the morning, he found him worn and weary and disheartened, and the general said to him, 'How easily I could get rid of this and be at rest! I have only to ride along the line, and all will be over. But,' said he—and there spoke the Christian patriot—'it is our duty to live, for what will become of the women and children of the South if we are not here to protect them?' That same spirit of duty which had actuated him through all the perils and all the hardships of that unequalled conflict which he had waged so heroically, that same high spirit of duty told him that he must live to show that he was great—greater, if that were possible, in peace than in war; live to teach the people whom he had before led to victory how to bear defeat; live to show what a great and good man can accomplish; live to set an example to his people for all time; live to bear, if nothing else, his share of the sorrows, and the afflictions, and the troubles, which had come upon his people. He is now at rest; and surely we of the South can say of him, as we say of his great exemplar, the 'Father of his Country,' that 'he was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.'"
At a meeting of the officers and soldiers who served under General Lee, held in this city on October 15th, a number of addresses were made, which we are compelled to somewhat condense. That of Colonel Marshall, General Lee's chief of staff, was as follows:
COLONEL CHARLES MARSHALL.
"In presenting the resolutions of the committee, I cannot refrain from expressing the feelings inspired by the memories that crowd upon my mind when I reflect that these resolutions are intended to express what General Lee's surviving soldiers feel toward General Lee. The committee are fully aware of their inability to do justice to the sentiments that inspire the hearts of those for whom they speak. How can we portray in words the gratitude, the pride, the veneration, the anguish, that now fill the hearts of those who shared his victories and his reverses, his triumphs and his defeats? How can we tell the world what we can only feel ourselves? How can we give expression to the crowding memories called forth by the sad event we are met to deplore?
"We recall him as he appeared in the hour of victory, grand, imposing, awe-inspiring, yet self-forgetful and humble. We recall the great scenes of his triumph, when we hailed him victor on many a bloody field, and when above the paeans of victory we listened with reverence to his voice as he ascribed 'all glory to the Lord of hosts, from whom all glories are.' We remember that grand magnanimity that never stooped to pluck those meaner things that grew nearest the earth upon the tree of victory, but which, with eyes turned toward the stars, and hands raised toward heaven, gathered the golden fruits of mercy, pity, and holy charity, that ripen on its topmost boughs beneath the approving smile of the great God of battles. We remember the sublime self-abnegation of Chancellorsville, when, in the midst of his victorious legions, who, with the light of battle yet on their faces, hailed him conqueror, he thought only of his great lieutenant lying wounded on the field, and transferred to him all the honor of that illustrious day.
"I will be pardoned, I am sure, for referring to an incident which affords to my mind a most striking illustration of one of the grandest features of his character. On the morning of May 3, 1863, as many of you will remember, the final assault was made upon the Federal lines at Chancellorsville. General Lee accompanied the troops in person, and as they emerged from the fierce combat they had waged in 'the depths of that tangled wilderness,' driving the superior forces of the enemy before them across the open ground, he rode into their midst. The scene is one that can never be effaced from the minds of those who witnessed it. The troops were pressing forward with all the ardor and enthusiasm of combat. The white smoke of musketry fringed the front of the line of battle, while the artillery on the hills in the rear of the infantry shook the earth with its thunder, and filled the air with the wild shrieks of the shells that plunged into the masses of the retreating foe. To add greater horror and sublimity to the scene, the Chancellorsville House and the woods surrounding it were wrapped in flames. In the midst of this awful scene, General Lee, mounted upon that horse which we all remember so well, rode to the front of his advancing battalions. His presence was the signal for one of those uncontrollable outbursts of enthusiasm which none can appreciate who have not witnessed them. The fierce soldiers, with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle; the wounded, crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a common impulse. One long, unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle and hailed the presence of the victorious chief. He sat in the full realization of all that soldiers dream of—triumph; and, as I looked upon him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army, had won, I thought it must have been from some such scene that men in ancient days ascended to the dignity of the gods. His first care was for the wounded of both armies, and he was among the foremost at the burning mansion where some of them lay. But at that moment, when the transports of his victorious troops were drowning the roar of battle with acclamations, a note was brought to him from General Jackson. It was brought to General Lee as he sat on his horse near the Chancellorsville House, and, unable to open it with his gauntleted hands, he passed it to me with directions to read it to him. The note made no mention of the wound that General Jackson had received, but congratulated General Lee upon the great victory. I shall never forget the look of pain and anguish that passed over his face as he listened. With a voice broken with emotion he bade me say to General Jackson that the victory was his, and that the congratulations were due to him. I know not how others may regard this incident, but, for myself, as I gave expression to the thoughts of his exalted mind, I forgot the genius that won the day in my reverence for the generosity that refused its glory.
"There is one other incident to which I beg permission to refer, that I may perfect the picture. On the 3d day of July, 1863, the last assault of the Confederate troops upon the heights of Gettysburg failed, and again General Lee was among his baffled and shattered battalions as they sullenly retired from their brave attempt. The history of that battle is yet to be written, and the responsibility for the result is yet to be fixed. But there, with the painful consciousness that his plans had been frustrated by others, and that defeat and humiliation had overtaken his army, in the presence of his troops he openly assumed the entire responsibility of the campaign and of the lost battle. One word from him would have relieved him of this responsibility, but that word he refused to utter until it could be spoken without fear of doing the least injustice.
"Thus, my fellow-soldiers, I have presented to you our great commander in the supreme moments of triumph and defeat. I cannot more strongly illustrate his character. Has it been surpassed in history? Is there another instance of such self-abnegation among men? The man rose high above victory in one instance; and, harder still, the man rose superior to disaster in the other. It was such incidents as these that gave General Lee the absolute and undoubting confidence and affection of his soldiers. Need I speak of the many exhibitions of that confidence? You all remember them, my comrades. Have you not seen a wavering line restored by the magic of his presence? Have you not seen the few forget that they were fighting against the many, because he was among the few?
"But I pass from the contemplation of his greatness in war, to look to his example under the oppressive circumstances of final failure—to look to that example to which it is most useful for us now to refer for our guidance and instruction. When the attempt to establish the Southern Confederacy had failed, and the event of the war seemed to have established the indivisibility of the Federal Union, General Lee gave his adhesion to the new order of things. His was no hollow truce; but, with the pure faith and honor that marked every act of his illustrious career, he immediately devoted himself to the restoration of peace, harmony, and concord. He entered zealously into the subject of education, believing, as he often declared, that popular education is the only sure foundation of free government. He gave his earnest support to all plans of internal improvements designed to bind more firmly together the social and commercial interests of the country, and among the last acts of his life was the effort to secure the construction of a line of railway communication of incalculable importance as a connecting link between the North and the South. He devoted all his great energies to the advancement of the welfare of his countrymen while shrinking from public notice, and sought to lay deep and strong the foundations of government which it was supposed would rise from the ruins of the old. But I need not repeat to you, my comrades, the history of his life since the war. You have watched it to its close, and you know how faithfully and truly he performed every duty of his position. Let us take to heart the lesson of his bright example. Disregarding all that malice may impute to us, with an eye single to the faithful performance of our duties as American citizens, and with an honest and sincere resolution to support with heart and hand the honor, the safety, and the true liberties of our country, let us invoke our fellow-citizens to forget the animosities of the past by the side of this honored grave, and, 'joining hands around this royal corpse, friends now, enemies no more, proclaim perpetual truce to battle.'"
The following are among the resolutions:
"The officers, soldiers, and sailors, of the Southern Confederacy, residing in Maryland, who served under General Lee, desiring to record their grief for his death, their admiration for his exalted virtues, and their affectionate veneration for his illustrious memory—
"Resolved, That, leaving with pride the name and fame of our illustrious commander to the judgment of history, we, who followed him through the trials, dangers, and hardships of a sanguinary and protracted war; who have felt the inspiration of his genius and valor in the time of trial; who have witnessed his magnanimity and moderation in the hour of victory, and his firmness and fortitude in defeat, claim the privilege of laying the tribute of our heart-felt sorrow upon his honored grave.
"Resolved, That the confidence and admiration which his eminent achievements deserved and received were strengthened by the noble example of his constancy in adversity, and that we honored and revered him in his retirement as we trusted and followed him on the field of battle.
"Resolved, That, as a token of respect and sorrow, we will wear the customary badge of mourning for thirty days.
"Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions and of the proceedings of this meeting be transmitted to the family of our lamented chief."
On the 29th of October a meeting was held to appoint delegates to represent the State of Maryland at the Richmond Lee Monumental Convention. After some brief remarks by General I.R. Trimble, and the adoption of resolutions constituting the Lee Monument Association of Maryland, the Hon. Reverdy Johnson addressed the meeting as follows:
HON. REVERDY JOHNSON.
"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: I am here in compliance with the request of many gentlemen present, and I not only willingly complied with that request, but I am willing to do all I am able, to show my appreciation of the character, civil and military, of Robert E. Lee. It was my good fortune to know him before the Mexican War, in those better days before the commencement of the sad struggle through which we have recently passed. I saw in him every thing that could command the respect and admiration of men, and I watched with peculiar interest his course in the Mexican War. It was also my good fortune to know the late Lieutenant-General Scott. In the commencement of the struggle to which I have alluded, I occupied in Washington the position of quasi military adviser to him, and was, in that capacity, intimately associated with him. I have heard him often declare that the glorious and continued success which crowned our arms in the war with Mexico was owing, in a large measure, to the skill, valor, and undaunted courage of Robert E. Lee. He entertained for him the warmest personal friendship, and it was his purpose to recommend him as his successor in the event of his death or inability to perform the duties of his high position. In April, 1861, after the commencement of hostilities between the two great sections of our country, General Lee, then lieutenant-colonel of cavalry in the Army of the United States, offered his resignation. I was with General Scott when he was handed the letter of resignation, and I saw what pain the fact caused him. While he regretted the step his most valuable officer had taken, he never failed to say emphatically, and over and over again, that he believed he had taken it from an imperative sense of duty. He was also consoled by the belief that if he was placed at the head of the armies of the then Confederation, he would have in him a foeman in every way worthy of him, and one who would conduct the war upon the highest principles of civilized warfare, and that he would not suffer encroachments to be made upon the rights of private property and the rights of unoffending citizens.
"Some may be surprised that I am here to eulogize Robert E. Lee. It is well known that I did not agree with him in his political views. At the beginning of the late war, and for many years preceding it, even from the foundation of this Government, two great questions agitated the greatest minds of this country. Many believed that the allegiance of the citizen was due first to his State, and many were of the opinion that, according to the true reading of the Constitution, a State had no right to leave the Union and claim sovereign rights and the perpetual allegiance of her citizens. I did not agree in the first-named opinion, but I knew it was honestly entertained. I knew men of the purest character, of the highest ability, and of the most liberal and patriotic feelings, who conscientiously believed it. Now the war is over, thank God! and to that thank I am sure this meeting will respond, it is the duty of every citizen of this land to seek to heal the wounds of the war, to forget past differences, and to forgive, as far as possible, the faults to which the war gave rise. In no other way can the Union be truly and permanently restored. We are now together as a band of brothers. The soldiers of the Confederacy, headed by the great chief we now mourn, have expressed their willingness to abide by the issue of the contest. What a spectacle to the world! After years of military devastation, with tens of thousands dead on her battle-fields, with the flower of her children slain, with her wealth destroyed, her commerce swept away, her agricultural and mechanical pursuits almost ruined, the South yielded. The North, victorious and strong, could not forget what she owed to liberty and human rights. We may well swear now that as long as liberty is virtuous we will be brothers.
"Robert E. Lee is worthy of all praise. As a man, he was peerless; as a soldier, he had no equal and no superior; as a humane and Christian soldier, he towers high in the political horizon. You cannot imagine with what delight, when I had the honor to represent this country at the court of Great Britain, I heard the praises of his fame and character which came from soldiers and statesmen. I need not speak of the comparative merits of General Lee and the Union generals who opposed him; this is not the place or time for a discussion of their respective successes and defeats; but I may say that, as far as I was able to judge of the sentiments of the military men of Great Britain, they thought none of the Union officers superior to General Robert E. Lee. Their admiration for him was not only on account of his skill on the battle-field, and the skilful manner with which he planned and executed his campaigns, but the humane manner in which he performed his sad duty. They alluded specially to his conduct when invading the territory of his enemy—his restraint upon his men, telling them that the honor of the army depended upon the manner of conducting the war in the enemy's country—and his refusal to resort to retaliatory measures. I know that great influences were brought to bear upon him, when he invaded Pennsylvania, to induce him to consent to extreme measures. His answer, however, was, 'No; if I suffer my army to pursue the course recommended, I cannot invoke the blessing of God upon my arms.' He would not allow his troops to destroy private property or to violate the rights of the citizens. When the necessities of his army compelled the taking of commissary stores, by his orders his officers paid for them in Confederate money at its then valuation. No burning homesteads illumined his march, no shivering and helpless children were turned out of their homes to witness their destruction by the torch. With him all the rules of civilized war, having the higher sanction of God, were strictly observed. The manly fortitude with which he yielded at Appomattox to three times his numbers showed that he was worthy of the honors and the fame the South had given him. This is not the first time since the termination of the war I have expressed admiration and friendship for Robert E. Lee. When I heard that he was about to be prosecuted in a Virginia court for the alleged crime of treason, I wrote to him at once, and with all my heart, that if he believed I could be of any service to him, professionally, I was at his command. All the ability I possess, increased by more than fifty years of study and experience, would have been cheerfully exerted to have saved him, for in saving him I believe I would have been saving the honor of my country. I received a characteristic reply in terms of friendship and grateful thanks. He wrote that he did not think the prosecution would take place. Hearing, however, some time after, that the prosecution would commence at Richmond, I went at once to that city and saw his legal adviser, Hon. William H. McFarland, one of the ablest men of the bar of Virginia. Mr. McFarland showed me a copy of a letter from General Lee to General Grant, enclosing an application for a pardon which he desired General Grant to present to the President, but telling him not to present it if any steps had been taken for his prosecution, as he was willing to stand the test. He wrote that he had understood by the terms of surrender at Appomattox that he and all his officers and men were to be protected. That letter, I am glad to say, raised General Lee higher in my esteem. General Grant at once replied, and he showed his reply to me. He wrote that he had seen the President, and protested against any steps being taken against General Lee, and had informed him that he considered his honor and the honor of the nation pledged to him. The President became satisfied, and no proceedings were ever taken. General Grant transmitted to the President the application of General Lee for pardon, indorsed with his most earnest approval. No pardon was granted. He did not need it here, and, when he appears before that great tribunal before which we must all be called, he will find he has no account to settle there. No soldier who followed General Lee could have felt more grief and sympathy at his grave than I would, could I have been present upon the mournful occasion of his burial. I lamented his loss as a private loss, and still more as a public loss. I knew that his example would continue to allay the passions aroused by the war, and which I was not surprised were excited by some acts in that war. I love my country; I am jealous of her honor. I cherish her good name, and I am proud of the land of my birth. I forbear to criticise the lives and characters of her high officers and servants, but I can say with truth that, during the late war, the laws of humanity were forgotten, and the higher orders of God were trodden under foot.
"The resolutions need no support which human lips can by human language give. Their subject is their support. The name of Lee appeals at once, and strongly, to every true heart in this land and throughout the world. Let political partisans, influenced by fanaticism and the hope of political plunder, find fault with and condemn us. They will be forgotten when the name of Lee will be resplendent with immortal glory.
"Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, in the course of Nature my career upon earth must soon terminate. God grant that when the day of my death comes, I may look up to Heaven with that confidence and faith which the life and character of Robert E. Lee gave him! He died trusting in God, as a good man, with a good life and a pure conscience. He was consoled with the knowledge that the religion of Christ had ordered all his ways, and he knew that the verdict of God upon the account he would have to render in heaven would be one of judgment seasoned with mercy. He had a right to believe that when God passed judgment upon the account of his life, though He would find him an erring human being, He would find virtue enough and religious faith enough to save him from any other verdict than that of 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' The monument will be raised; and when it is raised many a man will visit Richmond to stand beside it, to do reverence to the remains it may cover, and to say, 'Here lie the remains of one of the noblest men who ever lived or died in America.'"
HON. GEORGE WILLIAM BROWN
"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: The able and eloquent gentlemen who have preceded me have left but little for me to say. I rise, however, to express my hearty assent to the resolutions. Their broad and liberal views are worthy of the great and good man whose virtues and fame we seek to commemorate. He has passed away from earth, and our blame or censure is nothing to him now. The most eloquent eulogies that human lips can utter, and the loftiest monuments that human hands can build, cannot affect him now. But it is a satisfaction to us to know that expressions of the love for him which lives in every Southern heart—ay, in many a Northern heart—were heard long before his death, and that honor shed noble lustre around the last years of his life. He was the representative of a lost cause; he had sheathed his sword forever; he had surrendered his army to superior numbers; he was broken in fortune and in health, and was only president of a Virginia college, yet he was one of the foremost men of all the world.
"It has been said of General Lee, as it has been said of Washington, that he was deficient in genius. His character was so complete that what would have seemed evidences of genius with other men, were lost in the combination of his character and mind. He was always, and especially in every great crisis, a leader among men. During the four years of his education at West Point he did not receive a single reprimand. As a cavalry-officer, wherever he went he was a marked man; and when General Scott made his wonderful march to the capital of Mexico, Captain Lee was his right arm. At the commencement of the late war, though only a lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, he was offered the command of the armies of the United States. What a prize for ambition! Fortune, fame, and honors, awaited him. Where would he have been to-day? Probably in the presidential chair of this great nation. But he rejected all to take his chance with his own people, and to unite with them in their resistance to the vast numbers and resources which he knew the North was able to bring against them. There is nothing more remarkable in the annals of warfare than the success with which General Lee defeated for years the armies of the United States. Consider the six-days' battles around Richmond; the second battle of Manassas; the battles at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg; the wonderful contest at Chancellorsville; then again the remarkable battle of the Wilderness, in which it has been said by Federal authority that General Lee actually killed as many men as he had under his command; the defence at Cold Harbor, the prolonged defence of Richmond and Petersburg, and the admirably-conducted retreat with but a handful before an immense army. Well has he been spoken of as 'the incomparable strategist.' Did any man ever fight against more desperate odds or resources?
"But not merely as a great general is General Lee to be admired. He claims our admiration as a great man—great in adversity. I think there is nothing more admirable in all his life than his conduct in assuming the sole responsibility at Gettysburg. In the midst of defeat Lee was calm, unmoved, showing no fear where despair would have been in the heart of any other general, and saying to his officers and men, 'The fault is all mine.' Let the monument be raised, not merely by soldiers of General Lee, but by all men, no matter of what political feelings, who appreciate and honor that which is manly, great, and patriotic. The monument at Richmond will be the resort of pilgrims from the North as well as from the South, and the grave of Lee will be second only in the hearts of the people to the grave of Washington."
At the meeting at Lexington, resolutions were adopted similar to those already given. The meeting was addressed by General Preston and others.
GENERAL W. PRESTON.
"I am permitted to accompany the report with a few remarks, although I deem it unnecessary to use one word of commendation on the character of such a man. These resolutions are no doubt very short, but they will testify the feelings of every right-minded, noble-hearted man, no matter what may have been his opinions as to the past. Every true and generous soul feels that these resolutions are expressive of the sorrow entertained by the whole country. We speak not only the common voice of America, but of the world at this hour. It is no ordinary case of eulogy over an ordinary being, but over one who was the man of the century; a man who, by mighty armies commanded with admirable skill; by great victories achieved, and yet never stained by exultation; by mighty misfortunes met with a calm eye, and submitted to with all the dignity that belongs to elevated intelligence, and by his simplicity and grandeur, challenged the admiration of civilized mankind; and still more remarkable, after yielding to the greatest vicissitudes that the world ever saw, resigned himself to the improvement of the youth of the country, to the last moment of his mortal life, looking to the glorious life which he contemplated beyond the tomb. I must confess that, notwithstanding the splendor and glory of his career, I envy him the dignity of the pacific close of his life. Nothing more gentle, nothing more great, nothing more uncomplaining, has ever been recorded in the history of the world. By returning to Napoleon, we find he murmured, we find all the marks of mortality and mortal anger; but in Lee we find a man perfect in Christian principles—dignified, yet simple.
"I knew him first when he was a captain. I was then a young man connected with one of the regiments of this State, in Mexico, the Fourth Kentucky; and when I first saw him he was a man of extreme physical beauty, remarkable for his great gentleness of manner, and for his freedom from all military and social vices. At that time, General Scott, by common consent, had fixed upon General Lee as the man who would make his mark if ever the country needed his services. He never swore an oath, he never drank, he never wrangled, but there was not a single dispute between gentlemen that his voice was not more potent than any other; his rare calmness, serenity, and dignity, were above all. When the war came on, he followed his native State, Virginia, for he was the true representative of the great Virginia family at Washington. He was the real type of his race. He was possessed of all the most perfect points of Washington's character, with all the noble traits of his own.
"Scott maintained that Lee was the greatest soldier in the army. His discerning eye compared men; and I remember when, in some respects, I thought General Lee's military education had not fitted him for the great talents which he was destined to display. I remember when General Scott made use of these remarkable words: 'I tell you one thing, if I was on my death-bed, and knew there was a battle to be fought for the liberties of my country, and the President was to say to me, "Scott, who shall command?" I tell you that, with my dying breath, I should say Robert Lee. Nobody but Robert Lee! Robert Lee, and nobody but Lee!' That impressed me very much, because, at the beginning of the campaign, Lee was not prosperous; and why? because he was building up his men with that science which he possessed. His great qualities were discerned not after his remarkable campaigns; but, long before it, his name was regarded with that respected preeminence to which it did rise under that campaign. And I now say, and even opposite officers will admit, that no man has displayed greater power, more military ability, or more noble traits of character, than Robert E. Lee. Therefore it is that America has lost much. Europe will testify this as well as ourselves in this local community. Europe will weigh this, but after-ages will weigh him with Moltke and Bazaine, with the Duke of Magenta, and with all military men, and, in my judgment, those ages will say that the greatest fame and ability belonged to Robert Lee. But let us look to his moral character, to which I have already alluded. Through his whole life he had been a fervent and simple Christian; throughout his campaigns he was a brave and splendid soldier. If you ask of his friends, you will find that they adore him. If you ask his character from his enemies, you will find that they respect him, and respect is the involuntary tribute which friend and enemy alike have to pay to elevated worth; and, to-day, as the bells toll, their sounds will vibrate with the tenderest feelings through every noble heart. Public confessions of his worth and his greatness will be made through thousands of the towns and cities throughout this broad land; and, even where they are silent, monitors within will tell that a great spirit hath fled. This secret monitor will tell that a great and good man has passed away, who has left, in my opinion, no equal behind him."
REV. DR. HENDERSON.
"Since the announcement of the death of Robert E. Lee, I have been momentarily expecting the appearance of a call to pay some tribute to his splendid memory; but, if a notice had been given of this meeting, it altogether escaped my attention, else I would have been here freely and voluntarily. If I am a stranger in Lexington, and my lot has been cast here only during the last three weeks, yet I am happy that my fellow-citizens here have paid me such great respect as to call on me, on such an occasion as the present, to testify to the greatness and glory of General Robert E. Lee. Some public calamity is required to bring us into one great brotherhood. 'One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.' Though you are all strangers to me, yet, in that common sympathy which we all feel, we are mourners together at the bier of departed worth.
"It does not become one of my profession to take any partisan view of the life of such a man, although it was my fortune to follow the same flag which he carried to victory upon so many fields. When it was furled, it was done with such calm magnificence as to win the admiration of his enemies and of the world. Yet I do not stand here to make any reference to that cause which has passed from the theatre of earth's activity, and taken its place only in history. But I do claim the right, from the stand-point which I occupy, of pointing to a man worthy of the emulation of all who love the true nobility of humanity; a man who was magnanimous to his enemies; who would weep at the calamities of his foes; who, throughout the sanguinary struggle, could preserve in himself the fullest share of human sympathy. History will challenge the world to produce a single instance in which this great man ever wantonly inflicted a blow, or ever wilfully imposed punishment upon any of his captives, or ever pushed his victory upon an enemy to gain unnecessary results—a man who, in all his campaigns, showed the same bright example to all the battalions that followed the lead of his sword. And now, since that flag which he carried has been furled, what a magnificent example has been presented to the world! It was said of Washington that he was first in war and first in peace, but, in the latter regard, Robert E. Lee showed more greatness than even the Father of his Country. He was struck down; the sun that had brightened up the horizon of hopes sank in dark eclipse to set in the shadow of disappointment. Calm and magnificent in the repose of conscious strength, he felt that he had lived and struggled for a principle that was dear to him. Though dead, it only remained for him to be our example to the stricken and suffering people for whom he labored, and to show how magnanimously a brave and true Christian could act even when all he held sacred and dear was shattered by the hand of calamity. And, at the close of his career, he devoted his splendid capacity to the culture of the minds of his country's youth. He came down from the summit on which he had won the world's admiration, to the steady, regular duties of the school-room, to take his place in the vestry of a Christian church, and to administer the affairs of a country parish in the interest of Christianity. A man who, by his dignity and simplicity, preserved the constant admiration of his enemies, without even giving offence to his friends, such a man should receive a niche in the Pantheon of Fame.
"He stood in that great struggle of which as a star he was the leader, of unclouded brightness, drawing over its mournful history a splendor which is reflected from every sentence of its chronicle. He was an example of a man, who, though branded because of defeat, still, by his exalted character, gave a dignity and nobility to a cause which, doubtless, is forever dead, yet still is rendered immortal by the achievements of Robert E. Lee's sword and character."
"Services were held last evening," says a New-York journal, "in the large hall of the Cooper Institute, in commemoration of the life and character of the late General Robert E. Lee, of the Confederate States Army, with especial reference to his civic and Christian virtues. The call for the meeting stated that, although it was inaugurated by the Southern residents in the city of New York, it was 'yet to be regarded as in no sense born of partisan feeling, but solely from the desire to do honor to the memory of a great and good man—an illustrious American.' The attendance therefore of all, without reference to section or nationality, was cordially invited.
"There was no special decoration of the hall. Grafulla's band was in attendance, and, prior to the opening of the meeting, played several fine dirges. The choir of St. Stephen's Church also appeared upon the platform and opened the proceedings by singing 'Come, Holy Spirit.' The choir consisted of Madame de Luzan, Mrs. Jennie Kempton, Dr. Bauos, and Herr Weinlich. Mr. H.B. Denforth presided at the piano.
"Among the gentlemen present on the platform were General Imboden, ex-Governor Lowe, General Walker, Colonel Hunter, General Daniel W. Adams, Dr. Van Avery, Mr. M.B. Fielding, Colonel Fellows, General Cabell, Colonel T.L. Gnead, Mr. McCormick, Mr. T.A. Hoyt, etc.
"Mr. M.B. Fielding called the meeting to order, and requested the Rev. Dr. Carter to offer prayer.
"The Hon. John E. Ward was then called to preside, and delivered the following address—all the marked passages of which were loudly applauded:
"We meet to pay a tribute of respect to the memory of one whom the whole South revered with more than filial affection. The kind manifestations of sympathy expressed through the press of this great metropolis, this assemblage, the presence of these distinguished men, who join with us this evening, testify that the afflicted voice of his bereaved people has charmed down with sweet persuasion the angry passions kindled by the conflict in which he was their chosen leader. This is not the occasion either for an elaborate review of his life or a eulogy of his character. I propose to attempt neither. Born of one of the oldest and most distinguished families of our country—one so renowned in the field and in the cabinet that it seemed almost impossible to give brighter lustre to it—General Robert E. Lee rendered that family name even more illustrious, and by his genius and virtues extended its fame to regions of the globe where it had never before been mentioned. There is no cause for envy or hatred left now. His soldiers adored him most, not in the glare of his brilliant victories, but in the hour of his deepest humiliation, when his last great battle had been fought and lost—when the government for which he had struggled was crumbling about him—when his staff, asking, in despair, 'What can now be done?' he gave that memorable reply, 'It were strange indeed if human virtue were not at least as strong as human calamity.' This is the key to his life—the belief that trials and strength, suffering and consolation, come alike from God. Obedience to duty was ever his ruling principle. Infallibility is not claimed for him in the exercise of his judgment in deciding what duty was. But what he believed duty to command, that he performed without thought of how he would appear in the performance. In the judgment of many he may have mistaken his duty when he decided that it did not require him to draw his sword 'against his home, his kindred, and his children.' But Lee was no casuist or politician; he was a soldier. 'All that he would do highly that would he do holily.' He taught the world that the Christian and the gentleman could be united in the warrior. It was not when in pomp and power—when he commanded successful legions and led armies to victories—but when in sorrow and privation he assumed the instruction and guidance of the youth of Virginia, laying the only true foundation upon which a republic can rest, the Christian education of its youth—that he reaped the rich harvest of a people's love. Goodness was the chief attribute of Lee's greatness. Uniting in himself the rigid piety of the Puritan with the genial, generous impulses of the cavalier, he won the love of all with whom he came in contact, from the thoughtless child, with whom it was ever his delight to sport, to the great captain of the age, with whom he fought all the hard-won battles of Mexico. Some may believe that the world has given birth to warriors more renowned, to rulers more skilled in statecraft, but all must concede that a purer, nobler man never lived. What successful warrior or ruler, in ancient or modern times, has descended to his grave amid such universal grief and lamentation as our Lee? Caesar fell by the hands of his own beloved Brutus, because, by his tyranny, he would have enslaved Rome. Frederick the Great, the founder of an empire, became so hated of men, and learned so to despise them, that he ordered his 'poor carcass,' as he called it, to be buried with his favorite dogs at Potsdam. Napoleon reached his giddy height by paths which Lee would have scorned to tread, only to be hurled from his eminence by all the powers of Europe which his insatiate ambition had combined against him. Wellington, the conqueror of Napoleon, became the leader of a political party, and lived to need the protection of police from a mob. Even our own Washington, whose character was as high above that of the mere warrior and conqueror as is the blue vault of heaven above us to the low earth we tread beneath our feet, was libelled in life and slandered in death. Such were the fates of the most successful captains and warriors of the world. For four long years Lee occupied a position not less prominent than that of the most distinguished among them. The eyes of the civilized world watched his every movement and scanned his every motive. His cause was lost. He was unsuccessful. Yet he lived to illustrate to the world how, despite failure and defeat, a soldier could command honor and love from those for whom he struggled, and admiration and respect from his foes, such as no success had ever before won for warrior, prince, or potentate. And, when his life was ended, the whole population of the South, forming one mighty funeral procession, followed him to his grave. His obsequies modestly performed by those most tenderly allied to him, he sleeps in the bosom of the land he loved so well. His spotless fame will gather new vigor and freshness from the lapse of time, and the day is not distant when that fame will be claimed, not as the property of a section, but as the heritage of a united people. His soul, now forever freed from earth's defilements, basks in the sunlight of God.' Pro tumulo ponas patriam, pro tegmine caelum, sidera pro facibus, pro lachrymis maria.'" (Great applause.)
Rose and said:
"It is with emotions of infinite grief I rise to perform one of the saddest duties of my life. The committee who have arranged the ceremonies on this occasion, deemed it expedient and proper to select a Virginian as their organ to present to this large assembly of the people of New York a formal preamble and resolutions, which give expression to their feelings in regard to the death of General Robert E. Lee. This distinction has been conferred by the committee upon me; and I shall proceed to read their report, without offering to submit any remarks as to the feelings excited in my own heart by this, mournful intelligence:"
"In this great metropolitan city of America, where men of every clime and of all nationalities mingle in the daily intercourse of pleasure and of business, no great public calamity can befall any people in the world without touching a sympathetic chord in the hearts of thousands. When, therefore, tidings reached us that General Robert E. Lee, of Virginia, was dead, and that the people of that and all the other Southern States of the Union were stricken with grief, the great public heart of New York was moved with a generous sympathy, which found kindly and spontaneous expression through the columns of the city press of every shade of opinion.
"All differences of the past, all bitter memories, all the feuds that have kept two great sections of our country in angry strife and controversy for so long, have been forgotten in the presence of the awe-inspiring fact that no virtues, no deeds, no honors, nor any position, can save any member of the human family from the common lot of all.
"The universal and profound grief of our Southern countrymen is natural and honorable alike to themselves and to him whom they mourn, and is respected throughout the world; for Robert E. Lee was allied and endeared to them by all the most sacred ties that can unite an individual to a community. He was born and reared in their midst, and shared their local peculiarities, opinions, and traditional characteristics; and his preeminent abilities and exalted personal integrity and Christian character made him, by common consent, their leader and representative in a great national conflict in which they had staked life, fortune, and honor; and in Virginia his family was coeval with the existence of the State, and its name was emblazoned upon those bright pages of her early civil and military annals which record the patriotic deeds of Washington and his compeers.
"By no act of his did he ever forfeit or impair the confidence thus reposed in him by his own peculiar people; and when he had, through years of heroic trial and suffering, done all that mortal man could do in discharge of the high trust confided by them to his hands, and failed, he bowed with dignified submission to the decree of Providence; and from the day he gave his parole at Appomattox to the hour of his death, he so lived and acted as to deprive enmity of its malignity, and became to his defeated soldiers and countrymen a bright example of unqualified obedience to the laws of the land, and of support to its established government. Nay, more. With a spirit of Christian and affectionate duty to his impoverished and suffering people, and with a high estimate of the importance of mental and moral culture to a generation of youth whose earlier years were attended by war's rough teachings, he went from the tented field and the command of armies to the quiet shades of a scholastic institution in the secluded valleys of his own native Virginia, and entered with all the earnestness of his nature upon the duties of instruction, and there spent the closing years of his life in training the minds and hearts of young men from all parts of the country for the highest usefulness 'in their day and generation.' By these pursuits, and his exemplary and unobtrusive life since the close of the great war in America, he won the respect and admiration of the enlightened and the good of the whole world. It is meet and natural, therefore, that his own people should bewail his death as a sore personal bereavement to each one of them. Those of us here assembled who were his soldiers, friends, and supporters, sharing all the trials and many of the responsibilities of that period of his life which brought him so prominently before the world, honored and trusted him then, have loved and admired him, have been guided by his example since; and now that he is dead, we should be unworthy of ourselves, and unworthy to be called his countrymen, did we not feel and express the same poignant grief which now afflicts those among whom he lived and died.
"Those of us who were not his soldiers, friends, and supporters, when war raged throughout the land, but who have nevertheless met here to-day with those who were our enemies then, but are now our friends and countrymen, and appreciate with them the character of Lee, and admire his rare accomplishments as an American citizen, whose fame and name are the property of the nation, we all unite over his hallowed sepulchre in an earnest prayer that old divisions may be composed, and that a complete and perfect reconciliation of all estrangements may be effected at the tomb, where all alike, in a feeling of common humanity and universal Christian brotherhood, may drop their tears of heart-felt sorrow.
"Therefore, without regard to our former relations toward each other, but meeting as Americans by birth or adoption, and in the broadest sense of national unity, and in the spirit above indicated, to do honor to a great man and Christian gentleman who has gone down to the grave, we do
"Resolve, That we have received with feelings of profound sorrow intelligence of the death of General Robert E. Lee. We can and do fully appreciate the grief of our Southern countrymen at the death of one so honored by and so dear to them, and we tender to them this expression of our sympathy, with the assurance that we feel in the contemplation of so sad an event that we are and ought to be, henceforth and forever, one great and harmonious national family, sharing on all occasions each others' joys and sympathizing in each others' sorrows.
"Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing preamble, and these resolutions, signed by the president and secretary, be transmitted to the Governor of Virginia, with a request that the same be preserved in the archives of the State; and that another copy be sent to the family of General Lee.
"J.D. IMBODEN, Ex. NORTON, JOHN MITCHEL, C.K. MARSHALL, T.L. SNEAD, NORMAN D. SAMPSON, Wm. H. APPLETON, Committee on Resolutions"
"On motion, the resolutions were unanimously adopted by a standing and silent vote, which was followed by a spontaneous outburst of hearty applause."
We have given but a small portion of the addresses which were called forth by this national calamity, and these, no doubt, have suffered injustice by imperfect reporting. But we have shown, as we wished to show, the standard by which our people estimate an heroic character, and how the South loves and honors the memory of her great leader.
A few extracts from the English press will show the feeling in that country:
THE PALL MALL GAZETTE.
"Even amid the turmoil of the great European struggle, the intelligence from America announcing that General Robert E. Lee is dead, will be received with deep sorrow by many in this country, as well as by his followers and fellow-soldiers in America. It is but a few years since Robert E. Lee ranked among the great men of the present time. He was the able soldier of the Southern Confederacy, the bulwark of her northern frontier, the obstacle to the advance of the Federal armies, and the leader who twice threatened, by the capture of Washington, to turn the tide of success, and to accomplish a revolution which would have changed the destiny of the United States. Six years passed by, and then we heard that he was dying at an obscure town in Virginia, where, since the collapse of the Confederacy, he had been acting as a school-master. When, at the head of the last eight thousand of his valiant army, the remnants which battle, sickness, and famine had left him, he delivered up his sword to General Grant at Appomattox Court-House, his public career ended; he passed away from men's thoughts; and few in Europe cared to inquire the fate of the general whose exploits had aroused the wonder of neutrals and belligerents, and whose noble character had excited the admiration of even the most bitter of his political enemies. If, however, success is not always to be accounted as the sole foundation of renown, General Lee's life and career deserve to be held in reverence by all who admire the talents of a general and the noblest qualities of a soldier. His family were well known in Virginia. Descended from the Cavaliers who first colonized that State, they had produced more than one man who fought with distinction for their country. They were allied by marriage to Washington, and, previous to the recent war, were possessed of much wealth; General (then Colonel) Robert Lee residing, when not employed with his regiment, at Arlington Heights, one of the most beautiful places in the neighborhood of Washington. When the civil war first broke out, he was a colonel in the United States Army, who had served with distinction in Mexico, and was accounted among the best of the American officers. To him, as to others, the difficult choice presented itself, whether to take the side of his State, which had joined in the secession of the South, or to support the central Government. It is said that Lee debated the matter with General Scott, then Commander-in-chief, that both agreed that their first duty lay with their State, but that the former only put the theory into practice.
"It was not until the second year of the war that Lee came prominently forward, when, at the indecisive battle of Fair Oaks, in front of Richmond, General Johnston having been wounded, he took command of the army; and subsequently drove McClellan, with great loss, to the banks of the James River. From that time he became the recognized leader of the Confederate army of Virginia. He repulsed wave after wave of invasion, army after army being hurled against him only to be thrown back, beaten and in disorder. The Government at Washington were kept in constant alarm by the near vicinity of his troops, and witnessed more than once the entry into their intrenchments of a defeated and disorganized rabble, which a few days previous had left them a confident host. Twice he entered the Northern States at the head of a successful army, and twice indecisive battles alone preserved from destruction the Federal Government, and turned the fortune of the war. He impressed his character on those who acted under him. Ambition for him had no charms, duty alone was his guide. His simplicity of life checked luxury and display among his officers, while his disregard of hardships silenced the murmurs of his harassed soldiery. By the troops he was loved as a father, as well as admired as a general; and his deeply-religious character impressed itself on all who were brought in contact with him, and made itself felt through the ranks of the Virginian army. It is said that, during four years of war, he never slept in a house, but in winter and summer shared the hardships of his soldiers. Such was the man who, in mature age, at a period of life when few generals have acquired renown, fought against overwhelming odds for the cause which he believed just. He saw many of his bravest generals and dearest friends fall around him, but, although constantly exposed to fire, escaped without a wound.
"The battles which prolonged and finally decided the issue of the contest are now little more than names. Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, are forgotten in Europe by all excepting those who study recent wars as lessons for the future, and would collect from the deeds of other armies experience which they may apply to their own. To them the boldness of Lee's tactics at Chancellorsville will ever be a subject of admiration; while even those who least sympathize with his cause will feel for the general who saw the repulse of Longstreet's charge at Gettysburg, and beheld the failure of an attempt to convert a defensive war into one of attack, together with the consequent abandonment of the bold stroke which he had hoped would terminate the contest. Quietly he rallied the broken troops; taking all the blame on himself, he encouraged the officers, dispirited by the reverse, and in person formed up the scattered detachments. Again, when Fortune had turned against the Confederacy, when overwhelming forces from all sides pressed back her defenders, Lee for a year held his ground with a constantly-diminishing army, fighting battle after battle in the forests and swamps around Richmond. No reverses seemed to dispirit him, no misfortune appeared to ruffle his calm, brave temperament. Only at last, when he saw the remnants of his noble army about to be ridden down by Sheridan's cavalry, when eight thousand men, half-starved and broken with fatigue, were surrounded by the net which Grant and Sherman had spread around them, did he yield; his fortitude for the moment gave way; he took farewell of his soldiers, and, giving himself up as a prisoner, retired a ruined man into private life, gaining his bread by the hard and uncongenial work of governing Lexington College.
"When political animosity has calmed down, and when Americans can look back on those years of war with feelings unbiassed by party strife, then will General Lee's character be appreciated by all his countrymen as it now is by a part, and his name will be honored as that of one of the noblest soldiers who have ever drawn a sword in a cause which they believed just, and at the sacrifice of all personal considerations have fought manfully a losing battle."
THE SATURDAY REVIEW.
This journal, after some remarks on the death of Admiral Farragut, continues:
"A still more famous leader in the war has lately closed a blameless life. There may be a difference of opinion on the military qualities of the generals who fought on either side in the civil war; but it is no disparagement to the capacity of Grant or of Sherman to say that they had no opportunity of rivalling the achievements of General Lee. Assuming the chief command in the Confederate army in the second campaign of the war, he repelled three or four invasions of Virginia, winning as many pitched battles over an enemy of enormously superior resources. After driving McClellan from the Peninsula, he inflicted on Burnside and Pope defeats which would have been ruinous if the belligerents had been on equal terms; but twenty millions of men, with the absolute command of the sea and the rivers, eventually overpowered a third of their number. The drawn battle of Gettysburg proved that the invasion of the Northern States was a blunder; and in 1863 it became evident that the fall of the Confederacy could not be much longer delayed. Nevertheless General Lee kept Grant's swarming legions at bay for the whole summer and autumn, and the loss of the Northern armies in the final campaign exceeded the entire strength of the gallant defenders of Richmond. When General Lee, outnumbered, cut off from his communications, and almost surrounded by his enemies, surrendered at Appomattox Court-House, he might console himself with the thought that he had only failed where success was impossible. From that moment he used his unequalled and merited authority to reconcile the Southern people to the new order of affairs. He had originally dissented from the policy of secession; and he followed the banner of his State exclusively from a sense of duty, in disregard of his professional and private interests. He might at pleasure have been Commander-in-Chief of the Northern army, for he was second in rank to General Scott. His ancient home and his ample estate on the Potomac were ravaged by the enemy; but he never expressed a regret for the sacrifice of his fortune. There can be no doubt that he was often thwarted by political superiors and by incompetent subordinates, but his equable temper and lofty nature never inclined him to complaint. The regret for his loss which is felt throughout the vast regions of the South is a just tribute to one of the greatest and purest characters in American history."
It will not be inappropriate to reproduce here the tribute which appeared in the London Standard, on the receipt of the news of General Lee's illness:
"The announcement that General R.E. Lee has been struck down by paralysis and is not expected to recover, will be received, even at this crisis, with universal interest, and will everywhere excite a sympathy and regret which testify to the deep impression made on the world at large by his character and achievements. Few are the generals who have earned, since history began, a greater military reputation; still fewer are the men of similar eminence, civil or military, whose personal qualities would bear comparison with his. The bitterest enemies of his country hardly dared to whisper a word against the character of her most distinguished general, while neutrals regarded him with an admiration for his deeds and a respect for his lofty and unselfish nature which almost grew into veneration, and his own countrymen learned to look up to him with as much confidence and esteem as they ever felt for Washington, and with an affection which the cold demeanor and austere temper of Washington could never inspire. The death of such a man, even at a moment so exciting as the present, when all thoughts are absorbed by a nearer and present conflict, would be felt as a misfortune by all who still retain any recollection of the interest with which they watched the Virginian campaigns, and by thousands who have almost forgotten the names of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania. By the South it would be recognized as a national calamity—as the loss of a man not only inexpressibly dear to an unfortunate people by his intimate association with their fallen hopes and their proudest recollections, but still able to render services such as no other man could perform, and to give counsel whose value is enhanced tenfold by the source from which it comes. We hope, even yet, that a life so honorable and so useful, so pure and noble in itself, so valuable to a country that has much need of men like him, may be spared and prolonged for further enjoyment of domestic peace and comfort, for further service to his country; we cannot bear to think of a career so singularly admirable and so singularly unfortunate, should close so soon and so sadly. By the tens of thousands who will feel as we do when they read the news that now lies before us, may be measured the impressions made upon the world by the life and the deeds of the great chief of the Army of Virginia.
"Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the merits of the generals against whom he had to contend, and especially of the antagonist by whom he was at last overcome, no one pretending to understand in the least either the general principles of military science or the particular conditions of the American War, doubts that General Lee gave higher proofs of military genius and soldiership than any of his opponents. He was outnumbered from first to last; and all his victories were gained against greatly superior forces, and with troops greatly deficient in every necessary of war except courage and discipline. Never, perhaps, was so much achieved against odds so terrible. The Southern soldiers—'that incomparable Southern infantry' to which a late Northern writer renders due tribute of respect—were no doubt as splendid troops as a general could desire; but the different fortune of the East and the West proves that the Virginian army owed something of its excellence to its chief. Always outnumbered, always opposed to a foe abundantly supplied with food, transport, ammunition, clothing, all that was wanting to his own men, he was always able to make courage and skill supply the deficiency of strength and of supplies; and from the day when he assumed the command after the battle of Seven Pines, where General Joseph Johnston was disabled, to the morning of the final surrender at Appomattox Court-House, he was almost invariably victorious in the field. At Gettysburg only he was defeated in a pitched battle; on the offensive at the Chickahominy, at Centreville, and at Chancellorsville, on the defensive at Antietam, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, and Spottsylvania, he was still successful. But no success could avail him any thing from the moment that General Grant brought to bear upon the Virginian army the inexhaustible population of the North, and, employing Sherman to cut them off from the rest of the Confederacy, set himself to work to wear them out by the simple process of exchanging two lives for one. From that moment the fate of Richmond and of the South was sealed. When General Lee commenced the campaign of the Wilderness he had, we believe, about fifty thousand men; his adversary had thrice that number at hand, and a still larger force in reserve. When the army of Virginia marched out of Richmond it still numbered some twenty-six thousand men; after a retreat of six days, in the face of an overwhelming enemy, with a crushing artillery—a retreat impeded by constant fighting, and harassed by countless hordes of cavalry—eight thousand were given up by the capitulation of Appomattox Court-House. Brilliant as were General Lee's earlier triumphs, we believe that he gave higher proofs of genius in his last campaign, and that hardly any of his victories were so honorable to himself and his army as that six-days' retreat.