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Speaking for the enlisted men, I can say with truth, that they constituted the proudest and best army, that ever trod the soil of either continent. For intelligence, patriotism, bravery, and devotion to the cause of their country, they have never been equalled by the soldiery of any age, or any nation. They were our fellowcitizens at home, representatives of every class and every calling -tillers of the soil, workers of wood and brass and iron, members of all the learned professions, young men fresh from our schools and colleges, those we were accustomed to look to with respect in all the many and varied walks of life—men whom a noble and disinterested love for the dear old flag that had been rudely assailed, bore away from pleasant homes and happy firesides to encounter the untold hardships of war. The pages of all history cannot boast of brighter examples of devotion, than the records of our recent strife will show on the part of our enlisted men; for there is no devotion purer or brighter, than that when men offer up their lives, without hope of honor or fame, that their fellow-men may live more free.
The lines we were compelled to draw for the time between officers and men were only temporary lines—they are now almost entirely forgotten; and I can remember moments, when, in the heat of the strife, the private soldier raised himself to an equality with his commanding officer, by the display of the noblest qualities belonging to our nature. And I will appeal to you, Mr. President, to say whether or not, for the time, you did not look with equal pride on the soldier and the officer, when, on the 29th of September, the division which you had the honor to command, moved with even step and fearless nerve to the attack, and paused not, until its flags floated in triumph from the crests of Fort Harrison. I appeal to the gallant commander of the Tenth Corps to say, whether for the moment, he did not forget the distinction between the sword and the musket, when those long lines of glittering steel, backed by long lines of heroic hearts, crossed the deadly sands in front of Fort Fisher, and crowned the name of Terry with an immortality of fame.
And not only we, but our states, our cities, and our towns, follow the sentiment expressed in the toast, not only in giving place and honor to the living, but in preserving and honoring the mem
of the dead. Side by side, on the monuments which a thankful people are erecting over the graves of our nation's defenders, we read the names of the soldier and his commander, just as side by side, they fell in the thickness of the fight. They sleep, too, side by side, in a perfect equality, the common sleep of death, beneath the soil where they fought so well, on every field from the Potomac to the Gulf. We have all shared a common danger, and to the living and the dead, let us always give a common honor.
I will close, by repeating a happily-expressed tribute to the memory of the private soldiers of all the armies, who have given their lives to the cause of their country, and which equally well expresses our sense of the loss, and our honor to the memory, of those once associated with us in the duties of command :
Scattered on Southern fields they lie,
But doubly hallowed here by us
At the conclusion of Colonel Bruce's remarks, the President said that this sentiment, like others which had been given, deserved more than a simple response, and called upon General Plaisted.
RESPONSE OF BREV. MAJOR-GENERAL HARRIS M. PLAISTED
COLONEL 11TH ME. Vols.
MR. PRESIDENT: In responding to your call, I feel very sensibly my inability to speak, in fitting terms, of the brave men by whom our battles were fought, our victories won, and our country saved. No words of mine can express our appreciation of their exalted merit. No tongue or pen can now do them justice. Their valor and their devotion will be the theme of the historian, the orator, and poet, for centuries to come. We know, indeed, that “theirs was the greater share of the burdens of the war," and freely do we concede to them the greater share of the honors." In calling to mind their heroic and patriotic virtues, we forget that we were more than spectators—witnesses merely of their sacrifices, their valor, and their deeds. With what patient endurance, with what heroic constancy, they bore their hardships as good soldiers, and all for country's sake. All men are heroes when victorious. It was in adverse and desperate emergencies that the great qualities of our soldiers were most conspicuous. Battles were fought in a day, that in Europe would have terminated a campaign, followed by battles daily for a week—a week of great battles, without decisive results, which in the great wars of history would have decided the fate of nations; and yet, with ranks terribly thinned, our men still faced the enemy with all the valor and determination of victorious troops. This was more than great soldiership; it was something wonderful. All the world wondered because it knew not the men of the republic, their intelligence and patriotism, and their high resolve that if the republic must perish, they would not survive it. It was the intelligence
and patriotism of the enlisted men, that distinguished our armies from all the armies of the old world. What shall we say of the patriotism and devotion of the re-enlisted veterans, the tens of thousands of them, who, after experiencing the hardships and dangers of the service for nearly three years, then and there, in the field, re-enlisted for three years longer, or during the war? The spirit of these veterans was well expressed, by the reply I heard one of them make to his comrade, who, about to be mustered out with his regiment, asked the veteran if he did not then wish he had not re-enlisted, so he might go home with his regiment:
No," said he; “I'd rather re-enlist for twenty years than that nur folks should give up the Government.” Those bronzed and scarred veterans felt their country's need of them. They knew that none but veterans could successfully meet the veterans of the rebel armies. Hence, their country's call was to them as the voice of God; and there was no other post of duty for them but the post of danger, so long as the republic was in danger.
It was long before our armies found a leader who knew what they could do, and how they might be trusted. The faith which General Grant had in their intelligence and patriotism, was what most distinguished him, and was the true secret of his great suc
General Sherman said, he believed General Grant to be as brave, patriotic, and just as his great prototype, Washington, and as unselfish and honest as a man should be; but that his chief characteristic was the simple faith he always manifested in his army-a faith which he could liken to nothing else than the faith of the Christian in his Saviour. This “simple faith" of General Grant—this secret of his success—where did he learn it? Not at West Point; not in the army-for the same confidence he manifested at Belmont and Donelson, as at Vicksburg and The Wilder
He learned it in that great school of Democracy, the West, not as a soldier, but as a civilian, in his intercourse with his intelligent and patriotic fellow-citizens. He knew their intelligence and love of country, and that those qualities were to be relied on, to make up for any lack of experience in the field, or deficiency in drill and discipline. Hence there was no delay with him, no unreadiness. He “moved immediately on the enemy's works," with his “raw militia," and they never failed him. This was his
strategy, and his men comprehended it, and, terrible as it was, they realized its necessity. I once heard a private soldier sum up the whole policy of General Grant in four words. He was passing through Philadelphia with his regiment, on the eve of the Presidential election of 1864, after his three years' service. Beset by the Philadelphians, men and women, to vote for “Little Mac,” he said, “No, he should vote for old Abe.” 66 A vote for old Abe," said one, “will be a vote for that butcher, Grant.” With great vehemence the soldier replied, “ Grant is right. We must fight 'ern! we must FIGHT 'EM'!! we must FIGHT ’EM !!!” Who shall say that General Grant was better comprehended by any of his staff, than by this soldier of the ranks? General Grant was but the true representative and worthy commander of the common soldiers, if they may be called common soldiers, of the republic.
Permit me Mr. President, in closing to offer
This SENTIMENT——“ They were our best Officers, who best appre
ciated, and reposed most confidence, in the Citizen Soldiers of the Republic."
At this point, General Hawley announced, that by the tenor of their resolutions, every man who had been in the Army of the James should be made welcome on this occasion, and he had by accident discovered near him a former private in the Army of the James. He then proposed three cheers for Private Sullivan, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers, which were heartily given.
TWELFTH SENTIMENT—" The Colored Troops of the Army of
the James. By their valor, they proved themselves worthy of the Liberty for which they fought.” General Hinks was called upon to respond.
RESPONSE OF BREV. MAJOR-GENERAL EDWARD W. HINKS.
General Hinks said, that although he had been called upon late in the evening, he was happy to say that these troops were never late in responding to the call of duty. He had not forgotten the bravery of the Division under him on that memorable 4th