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and I thought I should escape the ordeal. I have been suffering all day from sickness; still, as the President has called on me, I will endeavor to comply with his request, especially as I deem it to be the duty of the soldier never to forsake or neglect his duty. I should like to know why I am called upon to speak for General Grant? He never speaks himself (laughter), and perhaps I shall say something which will render me liable to be tried by courtmartial, for speaking disrespectfully of my superior officer. (Loud laughter.) My acquaintance with General Grant began many years ago at West Point, and I well remember, and that with great pleasure, that I aided in forming the mind of a man destined to lead armies to victory, and a lover of justice, of liberty, and of equality. (Applause.) I offer you, as a sentiment–Our Country: no weapon that is formed against her shall prosper, and every tongue that rises in judgment against her she shall condemn. (Loud cheers.)
At the conclusion of General Vogdes' remarks, the President said, that as we had heard from one who had been the instructor of General Grant, he would call up Major-General Gordon, who had been his fellow-student.
RESPONSE OF BREV. MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE H. GORDON.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN : I agree with the gentleman on my left (Gen. Hawley), that we may claim as comrades all who have borne their part in the late warfare for our national salvation, and I may also claim for myself, that nowhere in the length and breadth of our land, can I look in the faces of our soldiers, without feeling that I am lifted up in the light of the noble action, of the noble men, who have rescued their country from destruction.
In rising to respond to the great name which I am sure we all delight to honor, while I recognize in Gen. Grant another of the noble citizens of the United States, who offered his all for the salvation of his country, I may call him, too, by the endearing name of comrade.
How shall I speak of Gen. Grant? How shall I find words to tell you of that calmness and self-possession, with which he bore upon his shoulders the destinies of our country, carrying us from victory to victory, as unmoved by his successes, as we by the most ordinary and trifling incidents that befall us?
How shall I tell you of him, who was equal to every occasion, who inspired his troops and his people with that belief in our success, which in his own heart never wavered, however dark the cloud that lowered upon us; how shall I speak of him, whom the people have nominated as their candidate for the highest office in our Government, thus showing that they repose in him, in peace, the same confidence that his soldiers felt in time of war?
Of Gen. Grant's earlier life I can say but a single word now. He was one of that little band known before the war as the old army, scarce numbering sixteen thousand men, but whose victories and magnificent achievements, have illustrated the annals of our country for almost three-quarters of a century. I can go still further back in the early life of Gen. Grant, and recall him as a cadet at the National Military Academy. I can well remember the calmness and pluck which he always manifested in his young life, and the conviction that I then felt, in looking into that impassible face, that if God spared his life, he would be great among the greatest of his countrymen.
The scenes you have presented here to-night, remind me of the closing hours of the rebellion, when our great chieftain sat quietly in front of his tent on the Potomac. Before him, his army confronting the rebel lines; around him, senators, foreign ministers, and distinguished gentlemen from all parts of the country;—upon such an occasion, in an anxious hour like this, not for a moment was his true heart in gloom or distrust; not for an instant was his temper ruffled or disturbed ; receiving despatches from the front of momentous import, he retired for a moment, only to return and engage as pleasantly in conversation, as if no responsibility for the safety of a nation rested upon him.
Recalling these scenes, I may say, that I believe the character, the achievements of Gen. Grant, entitle him to a place in that plane of greatness, to which it pleases our Almighty Father to elevate some members of the human race.
I am thankful to God that He has preserved Gen. Grant, that he may in the future, as in the past, do his part in lifting up still higher in the rank of nations, his country and his countrymen. (Loud cheers.)
The President then said, that they had with them an officer of high rank in the Navy, who had often acted in co-operation with the troops of which the Army of the James was afterwards in part composed, and who had rendered the name he bore illustrious in the second generation, in the annals of naval warfare, and called upon Commodore John Rodgers, U. S. Navy, to respond to the TENTH SENTIMENT: “ The Navy of the United States, which has
done its work on the sea, as gallantly as our armies have done theirs on the land."
Commodore Rodgers on rising was greeted with loud cheers.
RESPONSE OF COMMODORE JOHN RODGERS, U. S. N. Commodore Rodgers in responding said, that his vocation in the war was on the sea, as that of the others was on the land. Their recollections perhaps, could not accompany him in anything he might have seen, and he felt on this occasion his utter inability to respond in an appropriate manner.
Gen. Hawley said, he could not let this sentiment go without a passing word. He had seen much of the work of our navy, and he called for three cheers for it, which were given with a will.
The President then said, that they had with them an officer from whom all had been impatient to hear, and under whom many had served, at the time they were immediately engaged in co-operation with the navy, and called upon Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, who on rising was greeted with the warmest applause, and spoke as follows:
RESPONSE OF MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN G. FOSTER.
MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW-SOLDIERS: Called upon suddenly as I am to perform an unaccustomed duty, I know you will readily ex
cuse me if I fail to express appropriately the thoughts and feelings that come rushing to my mind, or to find apt words in which to return my thanks, for the hearty manner in which you have been pleased to greet my name. In the plain language of a soldier, I thank you for it; and this the more heartily, for the reason that I was in another field of service when those great and glorious deeds were performed by you, which will make the name of the Army of the James illustrious through all time.
Standing here, I yet feel myself no stranger among you; for I hold it among my pleasant memories that from time to time, and in different fields, nearly all of the troops constituting your army were associated with me, and a large proportion of them under my immediate command. If I miss on this occasion, the honor and glory of having shared with you in your later, and more brilliant achievements, yet I esteem it no slight satisfaction to recur, as now I do, to the work performed by me in organizing, educating, and perfecting, so many of the splendid regiments that afterwards helped to win a name for your army. I remember the Eighteenth Corps—a corps resplendent from victories won at Petersburg and Fort Harrison; a corps heroic in its devotion at Cold Harbor—was first organized by me in North Carolina; that I gave what assisttance and encouragement I could, in bringing forward into active service those troops, which afterwards, as the Twenty-fifth Corps of the Army of the James, overcame the last prejudice against them, by their unsurpassed bravery and good conduct in carrying the Newmarket Heights.
I would be glad to go further, and mention by name some of the
ny of your officers who served under me, and whose genius for arms I early detected, and which the later campaigns brought to the notice of the whole country, but time will not permit me to perform this pleasant duty.
I believe I am expected to say a word for the Navy. It needs no word of commendation from me, and yet I cannot refrain from expressing here the willing and gallant manner in which it always performed the part assigned it, when acting in co-operation with me on the Virginia and North Carolina coast; and I will now close by saying, that your sentiment expresses not only my own convictions, but the convictions of the whole country. It has per
formed its duty on the sea, as gallantly as our armies have performed theirs on the land. ELEVENTH SENTIMENT.—“The enlisted men of the Army—they
have endured the greater share of the burdens of the war : let them share freely in every honor also.” Col. Bruce was called upon to respond.
RESPONSE OF BREV. LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GEORGE A. BRUCE,
13th N. H. VOLS.
Mr. PRESIDENT AND COMRADES: Meeting here as we do to-night, as an association of the officers of one of the great armies which has made for itself a name and a history during our recent struggle for national existence, it is eminently wise and fitting that we should recall and recognize the services of those who, under us, endured the heat and burden of the war, and by whose valor, the victory was finally secured—the great third estate of
There is a truth in the sentiment that has just been read, which we all have had innumerable occasions to witness, and which, as men worthy of having been officers, we are most ready and willing to acknowledge. Being surrounded by those possessed of equal knowledge with myself, it seems hardly necessary for me to indicate the heavy burdens so patiently endured by the enlisted men, from which we, in whole or in part, were exempt—the long and tedious marches under the weight of knapsack and of gun; the thousand calls for labor at every halt s the building and policing of camps; the construction of endless fortifications; and then that weary, trying, and ever-returning duty of standing guard for the safety of the army, by night and by day, in sunshine and in storm; and when we recall the faithful manner in which these and all other duties were met and performed, we may well say in the language of the sentiment, “Let them share freely in every honor also.”
It is impossible for us to separate the great work of the soldier from the great work of the officer. The exploits of the one, are the exploits of the other; the heroic deeds of the one, are mingled with the heroic deeds of the other. They cannot be divided.