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“That somewhere out of human view,
Whate'er those hands are set to do,
“The whole earth,” says the Greek historian, “is the sepulchre of illustrious men." And now, so it is, that our land seems fairer and nobler than before, for these heroes that it bears in its bosom ; that our mountains seem to raise their heads to heaven more grandly; that the James and the Potonac move to the sea with a more majestic sweep, as they bear wide as the waters, the glory of those whose life-blood has mingled with their streams :
“They fell devoted but undying,
Comrades, whatever be the anxieties of the present hour, the soldiers of the Republic have done their work so thoroughly, that they have left behind no problem which in good time will not be solved satisfactorily. Purified by the fires of the rebellion, our country will stand among the nations of the earth, grander and more august than before; there is no sorrow, no distress, which shall not receive its compensation in her added glory. As at the opening of the rebellion, so now, as we greet each other with cordial welcome when the battle is fought and the victory won, we renew again to our common country our pledge of constant affection to all her people, however high or however humble, and our undying devotion to her true honor and glory, at home or abroad, on land or on sea.
General Devens's remarks were frequently interrupted with loud applause, and at the close, three cheers were given.
For the interest of those not acquainted with the circumstance, it may not be improper to state, that the lady to whom he referred in his speech, was Miss Van Lew, a name familiar to Union men in that part of Virginia during the war.
After Gen. Devens's address, the band played the reveille in fine style, and in a manner which recalled old times effectually. “O carry me back to Old Virginny” succeeded, as did also “Auld Lang Syne,” and “When Johnny comes Marching Home,” the whole forming one of those finely chosen pot-pourris for which Gilmore is famous.
Loud calls were then made for Gen. Terry, and the company were assured by the President, that they would hear from that General in due time, and the calls finally terminated for the time in three hearty cheers.
The President then proposed as a token of their love for their
FIRST SENTIMENT.—“ The health of the constitutional head of the
Union, the President of the United States."
The sentiment was heartily received, and, after the “StarSpangled Banner” by the band, Hon. Thomas Russell, Collector of the port, was introduced and responded as follows:
RESPONSE OF JUDGE THOMAS RUSSELL.
You ask me to respond for a great name—for the representative of the American people—the people of the United States, united still; thanks to the loyalty and courage of you and such as you. Had it not been for the devotion of our soldiers, we had been as South America—and the hope of the world would have failed.
What can I say, except that America, from all her happy homes, with all her brilliant hopes, thanks you with her whole heart for the great deliverance which you have wrought out for her-and' not America alone. Freedom throughout the world acknowledges her debt. It was not only a few loyal women of Richmond that watched the coming of our troops. Liberty herself looked for that gleaming line of steel; and Humanity was glad when the Army of the James bore the Union flag into the conquered capital of rebellion.
But there is good reason that I should make no speech, or a
short one. First, there is that maxim of Confucius—we all quote Confucius here. The tempest, which of late disturbed our old Boston tea-pot has somewhat “over-blown ;” but the scent of the tea-leaves will hang round it still, and when our nerves are disturbed by Hyson or Congo, we turn for relief to the Chinese sage, and this is his rule: “Let thy speech be short, that the remembrance thereof may be long."
You receive that "junk” of wisdom so kindly that I will digress and give you another authentic maxim of the great man. “Confucius,” says his biographer, “had a fixed limit for eating; but in drinking his only rule was to drink till he was happy, for that is the object of drinking." Oh, how many men have been philosophers all their days without knowing it.
There is a serious reason why I should not speak at all. For those of us whose fault, or whose misfortune it is, that we never served our country in the field; for those who, however good our excuse is, must go to our graves mourning that what should have been the crowning grace of life, is forever wanting for us in presence of men who have so often led the charge; who, shattered with wounds, could not leave the field, but still guided their battalions; in presence of those before whom fortresses almost impregnable fell at once; of those who conquered the grimmest monsters of the sea—in this presence, I say, our fitting part is modest and respectful and adıniring silence.
You come to renew the recollections of perils braved, and hardships shared, and of good deeds done for America. We come to thank you, and to see you,—to look in some faces that we have seen before, and upon other faces that have passed into the history of the nation; to greet men whose names our children's children will repeat as long as America is a nation; and that, thanks to your devotion, will be as long as the world stands.
Your victories were won not for this country and this time alone. All nations recognize the life and strength of armed democracy as illustrated by the volunteers for the Union. America has only begun to receive the tribute of respect which you won for her. When you conquered the body of rebellion, you conquered at the same time the heart of the world.
And now in the assurance of your ready loyalty; now that
so many soldiers have become peaceful citizens; now that you meet in harmony, with no rancor in your hearts towards your old foes in arins; with no feeling but a hope for the full restoration of the dear old Union,-now we see the bow in the cloud, which assures us that the deluge of rebellion will no more cover the land-never, for all time. If danger should ever again threaten the Union, you can follow no better example than your
You can need no better inspiration than the memory of those who have fallen by your side. Said the loyal Scotchman, when asked in a day of peril, whither he was going : “Wherever the spirit of Montrose shall direct me.” In any crisis of our country's life, your best guide will be found in the spirit of your fallen comrades.
If I had time to frame a sentiment, it would be something like this : Both armies of the James—both armies of the Union,those that still tread the earth, and those that sleep beneath its surface. In time of need, all alike would come from their homes and from their graves to strike once more for endangered Union and for endangered Liberty.
Judge Russell's remarks were warmly applauded and his closing sentiment loudly cheered. The President
SECOND SENTIMENT.—“The Army of the James, and the health of
its First Commander, Major-General Benjamin F. Butler."
(Loud applause and cheers.)
Col. Jonas II. French, formerly a member of Gen. Butler's staff, was introduced amid loud applause, and responded as follows :
RESPONSE OF COL. JONAS H. FRENCH.
Col. French said: I regret the absence of the distinguished gentleman who was to respond to this sentiment, and I must confess, sir, that I hesitate, because so poorly prepared, to give expression to the feelings that animate me. But, sir, I would do injus
tice to my own feelings, I would do injustice to the warmest and closest friendship, did I not thank you, on behalf of Gen. Butler, for the kindness of your reception and the heartiness of your welcome. Truly, sir, if he were here, I know that as a man he would grasp each of you by the hand (applause), to thank you for the welcome, and thank you sincerely as a great big heart can do, to his companions in arms and his fellow-soldiers. (Three cheers for Gen, Butler.) Truly, Mr. President, if he were here, I know there would come welling up from the bottom of his heart, expressions of the sincerest friendship; and as you know, there are no friendships so sincere as the soldier's, no attachment so close as the soldiers'. (Applause.) Were he here, I know he would welcome you to Massachusetts, to his adopted State; he would welcome you to his home, and thank God that so many of his old comrades survived to meet about the festive board, and congratulate each other upon the successes they have obtained. I beg humbly to offer a sentiment :
“The true soldier ; his deeds never need encomium. Let the prejudices and passions of the day pass; history will do all soldiers justice.”
At the close of Col. French's remarks the band played “The Bould Soger Boy," after which the President said that he would have been glad to have seen with them all the former officers of the Army of the James—the gallant Birney, who fell a victim to disease; Ord, Smith, Weitzel, Gillmore, and others whom they loved to name, but they could not be present. He rejoiced, however, that they had with them one whose name had passed into the history of his country, made famous as the conqueror of Fort Fisher; he therefore proposed as the
THIRD SENTIMENT: “The Corps Commanders of the Army of
the James—distinguished alike by ability, courage, and fidelity to the Union.”
Gen. Terry was then loudly called for, and greeted with nine hearty cheers when he arose to speak. When silence was restored he spoke as follows :