Edward Everett, "Gettysburg Oration," 19 November 1863

 
                    STANDING beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields
                 now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghanies
                 dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is
                 with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of
                 God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be
                 performed; — grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.
 
                      It was appointed by law in Athens, that the obsequies of the citizens
                 who fell in battle should be performed at the public expense, and in the
                 most honorable manner. Their bones were carefully gathered up from the
                 funeral pyre where their bodies were consumed, and brought home to the
                 city. There, for three days before the interment, they lay in state, beneath
                 tents of honor, to receive the votive offerings of friends and relatives, -
                 flowers, weapons, precious ornaments, painted vases (wonders of art,
                 which after two thousand years adorn the museums of modern Europe),
                 — the last tributes of surviving affection. Ten coffins of funereal cypress
                 received the honorable deposit, one for each of the tribes of the city, and
                 an eleventh in memory of the unrecognized, but not therefore unhonored,
                 dead, and of those whose remains could not be recovered. On the fourth
                 day the mournful procession was formed: mothers, wives, sisters,
                 daughters, led the way, and to them it was permitted by the simplicity of
                 ancient manners to utter aloud their lamentations for the beloved and the
                 lost; the male relatives and friends of the deceased followed; citizens and
                 strangers closed the train. Thus marshalled, they moved to the place of
                 interment in that famous Ceramicus, the most beautiful suburb of Athens,
                 which had been adorned by Cimon, the son of Miltiades, with walks and
                 fountains and columns, — whose groves were filled with altars, shrines,
                 and temples, — whose gardens were kept forever green by the streams
                 from the neighboring hills, and shaded with the trees sacred to Minerva
                 and coëval with the foundation of the city, — whose circuit enclosed

                                      "the olive grove of Academe,
                               Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
                               Trilled his thick-warbled note the summer long," —

                 whose pathways gleamed with the monuments of the illustrious dead, the
                 work of the most consummate masters that ever gave life to marble.
                 There, beneath the overarching plane-trees, upon a lofty stage erected for
                 the purpose, it was ordained that a funeral oration should be pronounced
                 by some citizen of Athens, in the presence of the assembled multitude.
 
                        Such were the tokens of respect required to be paid at Athens to the
                 memory of those who had fallen in the cause of their country. For those
                 alone who fell at Marathon a peculiar honor was reserved. As the battle
                 fought upon that immortal field was distinguished from all others in Grecian
                 history for its influence over the fortunes of Hellas, — as it depended upon
                 the event of that day whether Greece should live, a glory and a light to all
                 coming time, or should expire, like the meteor of a moment; so the honors
                 awarded to its martyr-heroes were such as were bestowed by Athens on
                 no other occasion. They alone of all her sons were entombed upon the
                 spot which they had forever rendered famous. Their names were inscribed
                 upon ten pillars erected upon the monumental tumulus which covered their
                 ashes (where, after six hundred years, they were read by the traveller
                 Pausanias), and although the columns, beneath the hand of time and
                 barbaric violence, have long since disappeared, the venerable mound still
                 marks the spot where they fought and fell, -

                             "That battle-field where Persia's victim-horde
                              First bowed beneath the brunt of Hellas' sword."

 

                        And shall I, fellow-citizens, who, after an interval of twenty-three
                 centuries, a youthful pilgrim from the world unknown to ancient Greece,
                 have wandered over that illustrious plain, ready to put off the shoes from
                 off my feet, as one that stands on holy ground, — who have gazed with
                 respectful emotion on the mound which still protects the dust of those who
                 rolled back the tide of Persian invasion, and rescued the land of popular
                 liberty, of letters, and of arts, from the ruthless foe, — stand unmoved
                 over the graves of our dear brethren, who so lately, on three of those
                 all-important days which decide a nation's history, — days on whose issue
                 it depended whether this august republican Union, founded by some of the
                 wisest statesmen that ever lived, cemented with the blood of some of the
                 purest patriots that ever died, should perish or endure, — rolled back the
                 tide of an invasion, not less unprovoked, not less ruthless, than that which
                 came to plant the dark banner of Asiatic despotism and slavery on the free
                 soil of Greece? Heaven forbid! And could I prove so insensible to every
                 prompting of patriotic duty and affection, not only would you,
                 fellow-citizens, gathered many of you from distant States, who have come
                 to take part in these pious offices of gratitude, — you, respected fathers,
                 brethren, matrons, sisters, who surround me, — cry out for shame, but the
                 forms of brave and patriotic men who fill these honored graves would
                 heave with indignation beneath the sod.
 
 
 

                       We have assembled, friends, fellow-citizens, at the invitation of the
                Executive of the great central State of Pennsylvania, seconded by the
                Governors of seventeen other loyal States of the Union, to pay the last
                tribute of respect to the brave men who, in the hard-fought battles of the
                first, second, and third days of July last, laid down their lives for the
                country on these hillsides and the plains before us, and whose remains have
                been gathered into the cemetery which we consecrate this day. As my eye
                ranges over the fields whose sods were so lately moistened by the blood of
                gallant and loyal men, I feel, as never before, how truly it was said of old
                that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country. I feel, as never
                before, how justly, from the dawn of history to the present time, men have
                paid the homage of their gratitude and admiration to the memory of those
                who nobly sacrifice their lives, that their fellow-men may live in safety and
                in honor. And if this tribute were ever due, to whom could it be more justly
                paid than to those whose last resting-place we this day commend to the
                blessing of Heaven and of men?
 

 

                       For consider, my friends, what would have been the consequences to
                the country, to yourselves, and to all you hold dear, if those who sleep
                beneath our feet, and their gallant comrades who survive to serve their
                country on other fields of danger, had failed in their duty on those
                memorable days. Consider what, at this moment, would be the condition
                of the United States, if that noble Army of the Potomac, instead of gallantly
                and for the second time beating back the tide of invasion from Maryland
                and Pennsylvania, had been itself driven from these well-contested heights,
                thrown back in confusion on Baltimore, or trampled down, discomfited,
                scattered to the four winds. What, in that sad event, would not have been
                the fate of the Monumental City, of Harrisburg, of Philadelphia, of
                Washington, the Capital of the Union, each and every one of which would
                have lain at the mercy of the enemy, accordingly as it might have pleased
                him, spurred by passion, flushed with victory, and confident of continued
                success, to direct his course?
 
 

                       For this we must bear in mind, — it is one of the great lessons of the
                war, indeed of every war, that it is impossible for a people without military
                organization, inhabiting the cities, towns, and villages of an open country,
                including of course the natural proportion of non-combatants of either sex
                and of every age, to withstand the inroad of a veteran army. What defence
                can be made by the inhabitants of villages mostly built of wood, of cities
                unprotected by walls, nay, by a population of men, however high-toned
                and resolute, whose aged parents demand their care, whose wives and
                children are clustering about them, against the charge of the war-horse
                whose neck is clothed with thunder, — against flying artillery and batteries
                of rifled cannon planted on every commanding eminence, — against the
                onset of trained veterans led by skilful chiefs? No, my friends, army must
                be met by army, battery by battery, squadron by squadron; and the shock
                of organized thousands must be encountered by the firm breasts and valiant
                arms of other thousands, as well organized and as skilfully led. It is no
                reproach, therefore, to the unarmed population of the country to say, that
                we owe it to the brave men who sleep in their beds of honor before us,
                and to their gallant surviving associates, not merely that your fertile fields,
                my friends of Pennsylvania and Maryland, were redeemed from the
                presence of the invader, but that your beautiful capitals were not given up
                to threatened plunder, perhaps laid in ashes, Washington seized by the
                enemy, and a blow struck at the heart of the nation.
 
 

                       Who that hears me has forgotten the thrill of joy that ran through the
                country on the Fourth of July, — auspicious day for the glorious tidings,
                and rendered still more so by the simultaneous fall of Vicksburg, — when
                the telegraph flashed through the land the assurance from the President of
                the United States that the Army of the Potomac, under General Meade,
                had again smitten the invader? Sure I am, that, with the ascriptions of
                praise that rose to Heaven from twenty millions of freemen, with the
                acknowledgments that breathed from patriotic lips throughout the length
                and breadth of America, to the surviving officers and men who had
                rendered the country this inestimable service, there beat in every loyal
                bosom a throb of tender and sorrowful gratitude to the martyrs who had
                fallen on the sternly contested field. Let a nation's fervent thanks make
                some amends for the toils and sufferings of those who survive. Would that
                the heartfelt tribute could penetrate these honored graves!
 
 

                       In order that we may comprehend, to their full extent, our obligations
                to the martyrs and surviving heroes of the Army of the Potomac, let us
                contemplate for a few moments the train of events which culminated in the
                battles of the first days of July. Of this stupendous rebellion, planned, as its
                originators boast, more than thirty years ago, matured and prepared for
                during an entire generation, finally commenced because, for the first time
                since the adoption of the Constituion, election of President had been
                effected without the votes of the South (which retained, however, the
                control of the two other branches of the government), the occupation of
                the national capital, with the seizure of the public archives and of the
                treaties with foreign powers, was an essential feature. This was in
                substance, within my personal knowledge, admitted, in the winter of
                1860-61, by one of the most influential leaders of the rebellion; and it was
                fondly thought that this object could be effected by a bold and sudden
                movement on the 4th of March, 1861. There is abundant proof, also, that
                a darker project was contemplated, if not by the responsible chiefs of the
                rebellion, yet by nameless ruffians, willing to play a subsidiary and
                murderous part in the treasonable drama. It was accordingly maintained by
                the Rebel emissaries in England, in the circles to which they found access,
                that the new American Minister ought not, when he arrived, to be received
                as the envoy of the United States, inasmuch as before that time
                Washington would be captured, and the capital of the nation and the
                archives and muniments of the government would be in the possession of
                the Confederates. In full accordance also with this threat, it was declared
                by the Rebel Secretary of War, at Montgomery, in the presence of his
                Chief and of his colleagues, and of five thousand hearers, while the tidings
                of the assault on Sumter were travelling over the wires on that fatal 12th of
                April, 1861, that before the end of May "the flag which then flaunted the
                breeze," as he expressed it, "would float over the dome of the Capitol at
                Washington."
 
 

 

                       At the time this threat was made the rebellion was confined to the
                cotton-growing States, and it was well understood by them, that the only
                hope of drawing any of the other slaveholding States into the conspiracy
                was in bringing about a conflict of arms, and "firing the heart of the South"
                by the effusion of blood. This was declared by the Charleston press to be
                the object for which Sumter was to be assaulted; and the emissaries sent
                from Richmond, to urge on the unhallowed work, gave the promise, that,
                with the first drop of blood that should be shed, Virginia would place
                herself by the side of South Carolina.
 
 

                       In pursuance of this original plan of the leaders of the rebellion, the
                capture of Washington has been continually had in view, not merely for the
                sake of its public buildings, as the capital of the Confederacy, but as the
                necessary preliminary to the absorption of the Border States, and for the
                moral effect in the eyes of Europe of possessing the metropolis of the
                Union.
 
 

                       I allude to these facts, not perhaps enough borne in mind, as a
                sufficient refutation of the presence, on the part of the Rebels, that the war
                is one of self-defence, waged for the right of self-government. It is in reality
                a war originally levied by ambitious men in the cotton-growing States, for
                the purpose of drawing the slaveholding Border States into the vortex of
                the conspiracy, first by sympathy, — which in the case of Southeastern
                Virginia, North Carolina, part of Tennessee, and Arkansas succeeded, —
                and then by force, and for the purpose of subjugating Maryland, Western
                Virginia, Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, and Missouri; and it is a most
                extraordinary fact, considering the clamors of the Rebel chiefs on the
                subject of invasion, that not a soldier of the United States has entered the
                States last named, except to defend their Union-loving inhabitants from the
                armies and guerillas of the Rebels.
 

                       In conformity with these designs on the city of Washington, and
                notwithstanding the disastrous results of the invasion of 1862, it was
                determined by the Rebel government last summer to resume the offensive
                in that direction. Unable to force the passage of the Rappahannock where
                General Hooker, notwithstanding the reverse at Chancellorsville in May,
                was strongly posted, the Confederate general resorted to strategy. He had
                two objects in view. The first was, by a rapid movement northward, and
                by manœuvring with a portion of his army on the east side of the Blue
                Ridge, to tempt Hooker from his base of operations, thus leading him to
                uncover the approaches to Washington, to throw it open to a raid by
                Stuart's cavalry, and to enable Lee himself to cross the Potomac in the
                neighborhood of Poolesville and thus fall upon the capital. This plan of
                operations was wholly frustrated. The design of the Rebel general was
                promptly discovered by General Hooker, and, moving with great rapidity
                from Fredericksburg, he preserved unbroken the inner line, and stationed
                the various corps of his army at all the points protecting the approach to
                Washington, from Centreville up to Leesburg. From this vantage-ground
                the Rebel general in vain attempted to draw him. In the mean time, by the
                vigorous operations of Pleasonton's cavalry, the cavalry of Stuart, though
                greatly superior in numbers, was so crippled as to be disabled from
                performing the part assigned it in the campaign. In this manner General
                Lee's first object, namely, the defeat of Hooker's army on the south of the
                Potomac, and a direct march on Washington, was baffled.
 

                       The second part of the Confederate plan, which is supposed to have
                been undertaken in opposition to the views of General Lee, was to turn the
                demonstration northward into a real invasion of Maryland and
                Pennsylvania, in the hope that, in this way, General Hooker would be
                drawn to a distance from the capital, and that some opportunity would
                occur of taking him at disadvantage, and, after defeating his army, of
                making a descent upon Baltimore and Washington. This part of General
                Lee's plan, which was substantially the repetition of that of 1862, was not
                less signally defeated, with what honor to the arms of the Union the heights
                on which we are this day assembled will forever attest.
 
 

                       Much time had been uselessly consumed by the Rebel general in his
                unavailing attempts to out-manœuvre General Hooker. Although General
                Lee broke up from Fredericksburg on the 3d of June, it was not till the
                24th that the main body of his army entered Maryland. Instead of crossing
                the Potomac, as he had intended, east of the Blue Ridge, he was
                compelled to do it at Shepherdstown and Williamsport, thus materially
                deranging his entire plan of campaign north of the river. Stuart, who had
                been sent with his cavalry to the east of the Blue Ridge, to guard the
                passes of the mountains, to mask the movements of Lee, and to harass the
                Union general in crossing the river, having been very severely handled by
                Pleasonton at Beverly Ford, Aldie, and Upperville, instead of being able to
                retard General Hooker's advance, was driven himself away from his
                connection with the army of Lee, and cut off for a fortnight from all
                communication with it, — a circumstance to which General Lee, in his
                report, alludes more than once, with evident displeasure. Let us now
                rapidly glance at the incidents of the eventful campaign.
 

                       A detachment from Ewell's corps, under Jenkins, had penetrated, on
                the 15th of June, as far as Chambersburg. This movement was intended at
                first merely as a demonstration, and as a marauding expedition for supplies.
                It had, however, the salutary effect of alarming the country; and vigorous
                preparations were made, not only by the General Government, but here in
                Pennsylvania and in the sister States, to repel the inroad. After two days
                passed at Chambersburg, Jenkins, anxious for his communications with
                Ewell, fell back with his plunder to Hagerstown. Here he remained for
                several days, and then, having swept the recesses of the Cumberland
                valley, came down upon the eastern flank of the South Mountain, and
                pushed his marauding parties as far as Waynesboro. On the 22d the
                remainder of Ewell's corps crossed the river and moved up the valley.
                They were followed on the 24th by Longstreet and Hill, who crossed at
                Williamsport and Shepherdstown, and, pushing up the valley, encamped at
                Chambersburg on the 27th. In this way the whole Rebel army, estimated at
                90,000 infantry, upwards of 10,000 cavalry, and 4,000 or 5,000 artillery,
                making a total of 105,000 of all arms, was concentrated in Pennsylvania.

                       Up to this time no report of Hooker's movements had been received
                by General Lee, who, having been deprived of his cavalry, had no means
                of obtaining information. Rightly judging, however, that no time would be
                lost by the Union army in the pursuit, in order to detain it on the eastern
                side of the mountains in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and thus preserve his
                communications by the way of Williamsport, he had, before his own arrival
                at Chambersburg, directed Ewell to send detachments from his corps to
                Carlisle and York[.] The latter detachment, under Early, passed through
                this place on the 26th of June. You need not, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg,
                that I should recall to you those moments of alarm and distress, precursors
                as they were of the more trying scenes which were so soon to follow.
 
                       As soon as General Hooker perceived that the advance of the
                Confederates into the Cumberland valley was not a mere feint to draw him
                away from Washington, he moved rapidly in pursuit. Attempts, as we have
                seen, were made to harass and retard his passage across the Potomac.
                These attempts were not only altogether unsuccessful, but were so
                unskilfully made as to place the entire Federal army between the cavalry of
                Stuart and the army of Lee. While the latter was massed in the
                Cumberland valley, Stuart was east of the mountains, with Hooker's army
                between, and Gregg's cavalry in close pursuit. Stuart was accordingly
                compelled to force a march northward, which was destitute of strategical
                character, and which deprived his chief of all means of obtaining
                intelligence.
                                                                         18
 

                       Not a moment had been lost by General Hooker in the pursuit of Lee.
                The day after the Rebel army entered Maryland the Union army crossed
                the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry, and by the 28th of June lay between
                Harper's Ferry and Frederick. The force of the enemy on that day was
                partly at Chambersburg, and partly moving on the Cashtown road in the
                direction of Gettysburg, while the detachments from Ewell's corps, of
                which mention has been made, had reached the Susquehannah opposite
                Harrisburg and Columbia. That a great battle must soon be fought no one
                could doubt; but, in the apparent and perhaps real absence of plan on the
                part of Lee, it was impossible to foretell the precise scene of the encounter.
                Wherever fought, consequences the most momentous hung upon the result.
                                                                         19
 

 

                       In this critical and anxious state of affairs General Hooker was
                relieved, and General Meade was summoned to the chief command of the
                army. It appears to my unmilitary judgment to reflect the highest credit
                upon him, upon his predecessor, and upon the corps commanders of the
                Army of the Potomac, that a change could take place in the chief
                command of so large a force on the eve of a general battle, — the various
                corps necessarily moving on lines somewhat divergent, and all in ignorance
                of the enemy's intended point of concentration, — and that not an hour's
                hesitation should ensue in the advance of any portion of the entire army.
                                                                         20

 

                       Having assumed the chief command on the 28th, General Meade
                directed his left wing, under Reynolds, upon Emmettsburg and his right
                upon New Windsor, leaving General French with 11,000 men to protect
                the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and convoy the public property from
                Harper's Ferry to Washington. Buford's cavalry was then at this place, and
                Kilpatrick's at Hanover, where he encountered and defeated the rear of
                Stuart's cavalry, who was roving the country in search of the main army of
                Lee. On the Rebel side, Hill had reached Fayetteville on the Cashtown
                road on the 28th, and was followed on the same road by Longstreet on the
                29th. The eastern side of the mountain, as seen from Gettysburg, was
                lighted up at night by the camp-fires of the enemy's advance, and the
                country swarmed with his foraging parties. It was now too evident to be
                questioned, that the thunder-cloud, so long gathering blackness, would
                soon burst on some part of the devoted vicinity of Gettysburg.
                                                                         21
 

                       The 30th of June was a day of important preparation. At half past
                eleven o'clock in the morning General Buford passed through Gettysburg,
                upon a reconnoissance in force, with his cavalry, upon the Chambersburg
                road. The information obtained by him was immediately communicated to
                General Reynolds, who was, in consequence, directed to occupy
                Gettysburg. That gallant officer accordingly, with the First Corps, marched
                from Emmettsburg to within six or seven miles of this place, and encamped
                on the right bank of Marsh's Creek. Our right wing, meantime, was moved
                to Manchester. On the same day the corps of Hill and Longstreet were
                pushed still farther forward on the Chambersburg road, and distributed in
                the vicinity of Marsh's Creek, while a reconnoissance was made by the
                Confederate General Petigru up to a very short distance from this place.
                Thus at nightfall on the 30th of June the greater part of the Rebel force was
                concentrated in the immediate vicinity of two corps of the Union army, the
                former refreshed by two days passed in comparative repose and deliberate
                preparation for the encounter, the latter separated by a march of one or
                two days from their supporting corps, and doubtful at what precise point
                they were to expect an attack.
                                                                         22
 

                       And now the momentous day, a day to be forever remembered in the
                annals of the country, arrived. Early in the morning on the 1st of July the
                conflict began. I need not say that it would be impossible for me to
                comprise, within the limits of the hour, such a narrative as would do
                anything like full justice to the all-important events of these three great
                days, or to the merit of the brave officers and men of every rank, of every
                arm of the service, and of every loyal State, who bore their part in the
                tremendous struggle, — alike those who nobly sacrificed their lives for
                their country, and those who survive, many of them scarred with honorable
                wounds, the objects of our admiration and gratitude. The astonishingly
                minute, accurate, and graphic accounts contained in the journals of the day,
                prepared from personal observation by reporters who witnessed the
                scenes and often shared the perils which they describe, and the highly
                valuable "Notes" of Professor Jacobs of the University in this place, to
                which I am greatly indebted, will abundantly supply the deficiency of my
                necessarily too condensed statement. [1]
                                                                         23
 

                       General Reynolds, on arriving at Gettysburg in the morning of the 1st,
                found Buford with his cavalry warmly engaged with the enemy, whom he
                held most gallantly in check. Hastening himself to the front, General
                Reynolds directed his men to be moved over the fields from the
                Emmettsburg road, in front of McMillan's and Dr. Schmucker's, under
                cover of the Seminary Ridge. Without a moment's hesitation, he attacked
                the enemy, at the same time sending orders to the Eleventh Corps (General
                Howard's) to advance as promptly as possible. General Reynolds
                immediately found himself engaged with a force which greatly outnumbered
                his own, and had scarcely made his dispositions for the action when he fell,
                mortally wounded, at the head of his advance. The command of the First
                Corps devolved on General Doubleday, and that of the field on General
                Howard, who arrived at 11.30 with Schurz's and Barlow's divisions of the
                Eleventh Corps, the latter of whom received a severe wound. Thus
                strengthened, the advantage of the battle was for some time on our side.
                The attacks of the Rebels were vigorously repulsed by Wadsworth's
                division of the First Corps, and a large number of prisoners, including
                General Archer, were captured. At length, however, the continued
                reinforcement of the Confederates from the main body in the
                neighborhood, and by the divisions of Rodes and Early, coming down by
                separate lines from Heidlersberg and taking post on our extreme right,
                turned the fortunes of the day. Our army, after contesting the ground for
                five hours, was obliged to yield to the enemy, whose force outnumbered
                them two to one; and toward the close of the afternoon General Howard
                deemed it prudent to withdraw the two corps to the heights where we are
                now assembled. The greater part of the First Corps passed through the
                outskirts of the town, and reached the hill without serious loss or
                molestation. The Eleventh Corps and portions of the First, not being aware
                that the enemy had already entered the town from the north, attempted to
                force their way through Washington and Baltimore Streets, which, in the
                crowd and confusion of the scene, they did with a heavy loss in prisoners.
                                                                         24
 

                       General Howard was not unprepared for this turn in the fortunes of
                the day. He had in the course of the morning caused Cemetery Hill to be
                occupied by General Steinwehr, with the second division of the Eleventh
                Corps. About the time of the withdrawal of our troops to the hill General
                Hancock arrived, having been sent by General Meade, on hearing of the
                death of Reynolds, to assume the command of the field till he himself could
                reach the front. In conjunction with General Howard, General Hancock
                immediately proceeded to post troops and to repel an attack on our right
                flank. This attack was feebly made and promptly repulsed. At nightfall, our
                troops on the hill, who had so gallantly sustained themselves during the toil
                and peril of the day, were cheered by the arrival of General Slocum with
                the Twelfth Corps and of General Sickles with a part of the Third.
                                                                         25
 

 

                       Such was the fortune of the first day, commencing with decided
                success to our arms, followed by a check, but ending in the occupation of
                this all-important position. To you, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg, I need not
                attempt to portray the anxieties of the ensuing night. Witnessing as you had
                done with sorrow the withdrawal of our army through your streets, with a
                considerable loss of prisoners, - mourning as you did over the brave men
                who had fallen, — shocked with the wide-spread desolation around you,
                of which the wanton burning of the Harman House had given the signal,-
                ignorant of the near approach of General Meade, you passed the weary
                hours of the night in painful expectation.
                                                                         26

 

                       Long before the dawn of the 2d of July, the new Commander-in-Chief
                had reached the ever-memorable field of service and glory. Having
                received intelligence of the events in progress, and informed by the reports
                of Generals Hancock and Howard of the favorable character of the
                position, he determined to give battle to the enemy at this point. He
                accordingly directed the remaining corps of the army to concentrate at
                Gettysburg with all possible expedition, and breaking up his head-quarters
                at Taneytown at 10 P.M., he arrived at the front at one o'clock in the
                morning of the 2d of July. Few were the moments given to sleep, during
                the rapid watches of that brief midsummer's night, by officers or men,
                though half of our troops were exhausted by the conflict of the day, and the
                residue wearied by the forced marches which had brought them to the
                rescue. The full moon, veiled by thin clouds, shone down that night on a
                strangely unwonted scene. The silence of the graveyard was broken by the
                heavy tramp of armed men, by the neigh of the war-horse, the harsh rattle
                of the wheels of artillery hurrying to their stations, and all the indescribable
                tumult of preparation. The various corps of the army, as they arrived, were
                moved to their positions, on the spot where we are assembled and the
                ridges that extend southeast and southwest; batteries were planted, and
                breastworks thrown up. The Second and Fifth Corps, with the rest of the
                Third, had reached the ground by seven o'clock, A.M.; but it was not till
                two o'clock in the afternoon that Sedgwick arrived with the Sixth Corps.
                He had marched thirty-four miles since nine o'clock on the evening before.
                It was only on his arrival that the Union army approached an equality of
                numbers with of the Rebels, who were posted upon the opposite and
                parallel ridge, distant from a mile to a mile and a half, overlapping our
                position on either wing, and probably exceeding by ten thousand the army
                of General Meade. [2]
                                                                         27
 

                       And here I cannot but remark on the providential inaction of the Rebel
                army. Had the contest been renewed by it at daylight on the 2d of July,
                with the First and Eleventh Corps exhausted by the battle and the retreat,
                the Third and Twelfth weary from their forced march, and the Second,
                Fifth, and Sixth not yet arrived, nothing but a miracle could have saved the
                army from a great disaster. Instead of this, the day dawned, the sun rose,
                the cool hours of the morning passed, the forenoon and a considerable part
                of the afternoon wore away, without the slightest aggressive movement on
                the part of the enemy. Thus time was given for half of our forces to arrive
                and take their place in the lines, while the rest of the army enjoyed a
                much-needed half-day's repose.
                                                                         28
 

                       At length, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, the work
                of death began. A signal-gun from the hostile batteries was followed by a
                tremendous cannonade along the Rebel lines, and this by a heavy advance
                of infantry, brigade after brigade, commencing on the enemy's right against
                the left of our army, and so onward to the left centre. A forward movement
                of General Sickles, to gain a commanding position from which to repel the
                Rebel attack, drew upon him a destructive fire from the enemy's batteries,
                and a furious assault from Longstreet's and Hill's advancing troops. After a
                brave resistance on the part of his corps, he was forced back, himself
                falling severely wounded. This was the critical moment of the second day;
                but the Fifth and a part of the Sixth Corps, with portions of the First and
                Second, were promptly brought to the support of the Third. The struggle
                was fierce and murderous, but by sunset our success was decisive, and the
                enemy was driven back in confusion. The most important service was
                rendered toward the close of the day, in the memorable advance between
                Round Top and Little Round Top, by General Crawford's division of the
                Fifth Corps, consisting of two brigades of the Pennsylvania Reserves, of
                which one company was from this town and neighborhood. The Rebel
                force was driven back with great loss in killed and prisoners. At eight
                o'clock in the evening a desperate attempt was made by the enemy to
                storm the position of the Eleventh Corps on Cemetery Hill; but here, too,
                after a terrible conflict, he was repulsed with immense loss. Ewell, on our
                extreme right, which had been weakened by the withdrawal of the troops
                sent over to support our left, had succeeded in gaining a foothold within a
                portion of our lines, near Spangler's Spring. This was the only advantage
                obtained by the Rebels to compensate them for the disasters of the day,
                and of this, as we shall see, they were soon deprived.
                                                                         29
 

                       Such was the result of the second act of this eventful drama, — a day
                hard fought, and at one moment anxious, but, with the exception of the
                slight reverse just named, crowned with dearly earned but uniform success
                to our arms, auspicious of a glorious termination of the final struggle. On
                these good omens the night fell.
                                                                         30
 

 

                       In the course of the night General Geary returned to his position on the
                right, from which he had hastened the day before to strengthen the Third
                Corps. He immediately engaged the enemy, and, after a sharp and decisive
                action, drove them out of our lines, recovering the ground which had been
                lost on the preceding day. A spirited contest was kept up all the morning
                on this part of the line; but General Geary, reinforced by Wheaton's
                brigade of the Sixth Corps, maintained his position, and inflicted very
                severe losses on the Rebels.
                                                                         31
 

                       Such was the cheering commencement of the third day's work, and
                with it ended all serious attempts of the enemy on our right. As on the
                preceding day, his efforts were now mainly directed against our left centre
                and left wing. From eleven till half past one o'clock all was still, - a solemn
                pause of preparation, as if both armies were nerving themselves for the
                supreme effort. At length the awful silence, more terrible than the wildest
                tumult of battle, was broken by the roar of two hundred and fifty pieces of
                artillery from the opposite ridges, joining in a cannonade of unsurpassed
                violence, — the Rebel batteries along two thirds of their line pouring their
                fire upon Cemetery Hill, and the centre and left wing of our army. Having
                attempted in this way for two hours, but without success, to shake the
                steadiness of our lines, the enemy rallied his forces for a last grand assault.
                Their attack was principally directed against the position of our Second
                Corps. Successive lines of Rebel infantry moved forward with equal spirit
                and steadiness from their cover on the wooded crest of Seminary Ridge,
                crossing the intervening plain, and, supported right and left by their choicest
                brigades, charged furiously up to our batteries. Our own brave troops of
                the Second Corps, supported by Doubleday's division and Stannard's
                brigade of the First, received the shock with firmness; the ground on both
                sides was long and fiercely contested, and was covered with the killed and
                the wounded; the tide of battle flowed and ebbed across the plain, till, after
                "a determined and gallant struggle," as it is pronounced by General Lee, the
                Rebel advance, consisting of two thirds of Hill's corps and the whole of
                Longstreet's, - including Pickett's division, the élite of his corps, which had
                not yet been under fire, and was now depended upon to decide the fortune
                of this last eventful day, — was driven back with prodigious slaughter,
                discomfited and broken. While these events were in progress at our left
                centre, the enemy was driven, with a considerable loss of prisoners, from a
                strong position on our extreme left, from which he was annoying our force
                on Little Round Top. In the terrific assault on our centre Generals Hancock
                and Gibbon were wounded. In the Rebel army, Generals Armistead,
                Kemper, Petigru, and Trimble were wounded, the first named mortally, the
                latter also made prisoner, General Garnett was killed, and thirty-five
                hundred officers and men made prisoners.
                                                                         32
 

                       These were the expiring agonies of the three days' conflict, and with
                them the battle ceased. It was fought by the Union army with courage and
                skill, from the first cavalry skirmish on Wednesday morning to the fearful
                rout of the enemy on Friday afternoon, by every arm and every rank of the
                service, by officers and men, by cavalry, artillery, and infantry. The
                superiority of numbers was with the enemy, who were led by the ablest
                commanders in their service; and if the Union force had the advantage of a
                strong position, the Confederates had that of choosing time and place, the
                prestige of former victories over the Army of the Potomac, and of the
                success of the first day. Victory does not always fall to the lot of those who
                deserve it; but that so decisive a triumph, under circumstances like these,
                was gained by our troops, I would ascribe, under Providence, to the spirit
                of exalted patriotism that animated them, and a consciousness that they
                were fighting in a righteous cause.
                                                                         33
 

                       All hope of defeating our army, and securing what General Lee calls
                "the valuable results" of such an achievement, having vanished, he thought
                only of rescuing from destruction the remains of his shattered forces. In
                killed, wounded, and missing he had, as far as can be ascertained, suffered
                a loss of about 37,000 men, — rather more than a third of the army with
                which he is supposed to have marched into Pennsylvania. Perceiving that
                his only safety was in rapid retreat, he commenced withdrawing his troops
                at daybreak on the 4th, throwing up field-works in front of our left, which,
                assuming the appearance of a new position, were intended probably to
                protect the rear of his army in their retreat. That day - sad celebration of
                the 4th of July for an army of Americans! — was passed by him in hurrying
                off his trains. By nightfall the main army was in full retreat on the Cashtown
                and Fairfield roads, and it moved with such precipitation, that, short as the
                nights were, by daylight the following morning, notwithstanding a heavy
                rain, the rear-guard had left its position. The struggle of the last two days
                resembled in many respects the Battle of Waterloo; and if, in the evening of
                the third day, General Meade, like the Duke of Wellington, had had the
                assistance of a powerful auxiliary army to take up the pursuit, the rout of
                the Rebels would have been as complete as that of Napoleon.
                                                                         34
 

 

                       Owing to the circumstance just named, the intentions of the enemy
                were not apparent on the 4th. The moment his retreat was discovered, the
                following morning, he was pursued by our cavalry on the Cashtown road
                and through the Emmettsburg and Monterey passes, and by Sedgwick's
                corps on the Fairfield road. His rear-guard was briskly attacked at
                Fairfield; a great number of wagons and ambulances were captured in the
                passes of the mountains; the country swarmed with his stragglers, and his
                wounded were literally emptied from the vehicles containing them into the
                farm-houses on the road. General Lee, in his report, makes repeated
                mention of the Union prisoners whom he conveyed into Virginia, somewhat
                overstating their number. He states, also, that "such of his wounded as
                were in a condition to be removed" were forwarded to Williamsport. He
                does not mention that the number of his wounded not removed, and left to
                the Christian care of the victors, was 7,540, not one of whom failed of any
                attention which it was possible, under the circumstances of the case, to
                afford them, not one of whom, certainly, has been put upon Libby Prison
                fare, — lingering death by starvation. Heaven forbid, however, that we
                should claim any merit for the exercise of common humanity!
                                                                         35
 

 

                       Under the protection of the mountain-ridge, whose narrow passes are
                easily held even by a retreating army, General Lee reached Williamsport in
                safety, and took up a strong position opposite to that place. General
                Meade necessarily pursued with the main army by a flank movement
                through Middletown, Turner's Pass having been secured by General
                French. Passing through the South Mountain, the Union army came up with
                that of the Rebels on the 12th, and found it securely posted on the heights
                of Marsh Run. The position was reconnoitred, and preparations made for
                an attack on the 13th. The depth of the river, swollen by the recent rains,
                authorized the expectation that the enemy would be brought to a general
                engagement the following day. An advance was accordingly made by
                General Meade on the morning of the 14th; but it was soon found that the
                Rebels had escaped in the night, with such haste that Ewell's corps forded
                the river where the water was breast-high. The cavalry which had rendered
                the most important services during the three days, and in harassing the
                enemy's retreat, was now sent in pursuit and captured two guns and a large
                number of prisoners. In an action which took place at Falling Waters,
                General Petigru was mortally wounded. General Meade, in further pursuit
                of the Rebels, crossed the Potomac at Berlin. Thus again covering the
                approaches to Washington, he compelled the enemy to pass the Blue
                Ridge at one of the upper gaps; and in about six weeks from the
                commencement of the campaign, General Lee found himself again on the
                south side of the Rappahannock, with the probable loss of about a third
                part of his army.
                                                                         36

 

                       Such, most inadequately recounted, is the history of the
                ever-memorable three days, and of the events immediately preceding and
                following. It has been pretended, in order to diminish the magnitude of this
                disaster to the Rebel cause, that it was merely the repulse of an attack on a
                strongly defended position. The tremendous losses on both sides are a
                sufficient answer to this misrepresentation, and attest the courage and
                obstinacy with which the three days' battle was waged. Few of the great
                conflicts of modern times have cost victors and vanquished so great a
                sacrifice. On the Union side, there fell, in the whole campaign, of generals
                killed, Reynolds, Weed, and Zook, and wounded, Barlow, Barnes,
                Butterfield, Doubleday, Gibbon, Graham, Hancock, Sickles, and Warren;
                while of officers below the rank of general, and men, there were 2,834
                killed, 13,709 wounded, and 6,643 missing. On the Confederate side,
                there were killed on the field or mortally wounded, Generals Armistead,
                Barksdale, Garnett, Pender, Petigru, and Semmes, and wounded, Heth,
                Hood, Johnson, Kemper, Kimball, and Trimble. Of officers below the
                rank of general, and men, there were taken prisoners, including the
                wounded, 13,621, an amount ascertained officially. Of the wounded in a
                condition to be removed, of the killed, and the missing, the enemy has
                made no return. They are estimated, from the best data which the nature of
                the case admits, at 23,000. General Meade also captured three cannon
                and forty-one standards; and 24,978 small arms were collected on the
                battlefield.
                                                                         37
 

                       I must leave to others, who can do it from personal observation, to
                describe the mournful spectacle presented by these hillsides and plains at
                the close of the terrible conflict. It was a saying of the Duke of Wellington,
                that next to a defeat, the saddest thing is a victory. The horrors of the
                battle-field, after the contest is over, the sights and sounds of woe, - let me
                throw a pall over the scene, which no words can adequately depict to
                those who have not witnessed it on which no one who has witnessed it,
                and who has a heart in his bosom, can bear to dwell. One drop of balm
                alone, one drop of heavenly life-giving balm, mingles in this bitter cup of
                misery. Scarcely has the cannon ceased to roar, when the brethren and
                sisters of Christian benevolence, ministers of compassion, angels of pity,
                hasten to the field and the hospital, to moisten the parched tongue, to bind
                the ghastly wounds, to soothe the parting agonies alike of friend and foe,
                and to catch the last whispered messages of love from dying lips. "Carry
                this miniature back to my dear wife, but do not take it from my bosom till I
                am gone." "Tell my little sister not to grieve for me; I am willing to die for
                my country." "O that my mother were here!" When since Aaron stood
                between the living and the dead was there ever so gracious a ministry as
                this? It has been said that it is characteristic of Americans to treat women
                with a deference not paid to them in any other country. I will not undertake
                to say whether this is so; but I will say, that, since this terrible war has been
                waged, the women of the loyal States, if never before, have entitled
                themselves to our highest admiration and gratitude, — alike those who at
                home, often with fingers unused to the toil, often bowed beneath their own
                domestic cares, have performed an amount of daily labor not exceeded by
                those who work for their daily bread, and those who, in the hospital and
                the tents of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, have rendered
                services which millions could not buy. Happily, the labor and the service
                are their own reward. Thousands of matrons and thousands of maidens
                have experienced a delight in these homely toils and services, compared
                with which the pleasures of the ball-room and the opera-house are tame
                and unsatisfactory. This on earth is reward enough, but a richer is in store
                for them. Yes, brothers, sisters of charity, while you bind up the wounds of
                the poor sufferers, — the humblest, perhaps, that have shed their blood for
                the country, — forget not WHO it is that will hereafter say to you,
                "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
                BRETHREN, ye have done it unto me."
                                                                         38
 

                       And now, friends, fellow-citizens, as we stand among these honored
                graves, the momentous question presents itself, Which of the two parties to
                the war is responsible for all this suffering, for this dreadful sacrifice of life,
                — the lawful and constituted government of the United States, or the
                ambitious men who have rebelled against it? I say "rebelled" against it,
                although Earl Russell, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in
                his recent temperate and conciliatory speech in Scotland, seems to intimate
                that no prejudice ought to attach to that word, inasmuch as our English
                forefathers rebelled against Charles I. and James II., and our American
                fathers rebelled against George III. These certainly are venerable
                precedents, but they prove only that it is just and proper to rebel against
                oppressive governments. They do not prove that it was just and proper for
                the son of James II. to rebel against George I., or his grandson Charles
                Edward to rebel against George II.; nor, as it seems to me, ought these
                dynastic struggles, little better than family quarrels, to be compared with
                this monstrous conspiracy against the American Union. These precedents
                do not prove that it was just and proper for the "disappointed great men "
                of the cotton-growing States to rebel against "the most beneficent
                government of which history gives us any account," as the Vice-President
                of the Confederacy, in November, 1860, charged them with doing. They
                do not create a presumption even in favor of the disloyal slaveholders the
                South, who, living under a government of which Mr. Jefferson Davis, in the
                session of 1860-61,said that it was "the best government ever instituted by
                man, unexceptionably administered, and under which the people have been
                prosperous beyond comparison with any other people whose career has
                been recorded in history," rebelled against it because their aspiring
                politicians, himself among the rest, were in danger of losing their monopoly
                of its offices. What would have been thought by an impartial posterity of
                the American rebellion against George III., if the colonists had at all times
                been more than equally represented in Parliament, and James Otis and
                Patrick Henry and Washington and Franklin and the Adamses and
                Hancock and Jefferson, and men of their stamp, had for two generations
                enjoyed the confidence of the sovereign and administered the government
                of the empire? What could have been thought of the rebellion against
                Charles I., if Cromwell and the men of his school had been the responsible
                advisers of that prince from his accession to the throne, and then, on
                account of a partial change in the ministry, had brought his head to the
                block, and involved the country in a desolating war, for the sake of
                dismembering it and establishing a new government south of the Trent?
                What would have been thought of the Whigs of 1688, if they had
                themselves composed the cabinet of James II., and been the advisers of
                the measures and the promoters of the policy which drove him into exile ?
                The Puritans of 1640 and the Whigs of 1688 rebelled against arbitrary
                power in order to establish constitutional liberty. If they had risen against
                Charles and James because those monarchs favored equal rights, and in
                order themselves "for the first time in the history of the world" to establish
                an oligarchy "founded on the corner-stone of slavery," they would truly
                have furnished a precedent for the Rebels of the South, but their cause
                would not have been sustained by the eloquence of Pym or of Somers, nor
                sealed with the blood of Hampden or Russell.
                                                                         39
 

                       I call the war which the Confederates are waging against the Union a
                "rebellion," because it is one, and in grave matters it is best to call things by
                their right names. I speak of it as a crime, because the Constitution of the
                United States so regards it, and puts "rebellion" on a par with "invasion."
                The constitution and law, not only of England, but of every civilized
                country, regard them in the same light; or rather they consider the rebel in
                arms as far worse than the alien enemy. To levy war against the United
                States is the constitutional definition of treason, and that crime is by every
                civilized government regarded as the highest which citizen or subject can
                commit. Not content with the sanctions of human justice, of all the crimes
                against the law of the land it is singled out for the denunciations of religion.
                The litanies in every church in Christendom whose ritual embraces that
                office, as far as I am aware, from the metropolitan cathedrals of Europe to
                the humblest missionary chapel in the islands of the sea, concur with the
                Church of England in imploring the Sovereign of the universe, by the most
                awful adjurations which the heart of man can conceive or his tongue utter,
                to deliver us from "sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion." And reason
                good; for while a rebellion against tyranny — a rebellion designed, after
                prostrating arbitrary power, to establish free government on the basis of
                justice and truth — is an enterprise on which good men and angels may
                fool; with complacency, an unprovoked rebellion of ambitious men against
                a beneficent government, for the purpose — the avowed purpose - of
                establishing, extending, and perpetuating any form of injustice and wrong,
                is an imitation on earth of that first foul revolt of "the Infernal Serpent,"
                against which the Supreme Majesty of heaven sent forth the armed myriads
                of his angels, and clothed the right arm of his Son with the three-bolted
                thunders of omnipotence.
                                                                         40
 

 

                       Lord Bacon, in "the true marshalling of the sovereign degrees of
                honor," assigns the first place to "the Conditores Imperiorum, founders of
                States and Commonwealths "; and, truly, to build up from the discordant
                elements of our nature the passions, the interests, and the opinions of the
                individual man, the rivalries of family, clan, and tribe, the influences of
                climate and geographical position, the accidents of peace and war
                accumulated for ages, - to build up from these oftentimes warring elements
                a well-compacted, prosperous, and powerful State, if it were to be
                accomplished by one effort or in one generation would require a more than
                mortal skill. To contribute in some notable degree to this, the greatest work
                of man, by wise and patriotic counsel in peace and loyal heroism in war, is
                as high as human merit can well rise, and far more than to any of those to
                whom Bacon assigns this highest place of honor, whose names can hardly
                be repeated without a wondering smile, — Romulus, Cyrus, Caesar,
                Othman, Ismael, — is it due to our Washington as the founder of the
                American Union. But if to achieve or help to achieve this greatest work of
                man's wisdom and virtue gives title to a place among the chief benefactors,
                rightful heirs of the benedictions, of mankind, by equal reason shall the bold
                bad men who seek to undo the noble work, Eversores Imperiorum,
                destroyers of States, who for base and selfish ends rebel against beneficent
                governments, seer; to overturn wise constitutions, to lay powerful
                republican Unions at the foot of foreign thrones, to bring on civil and
                foreign war, anarchy at home, dictation abroad, desolation, ruin, — by
                equal reason, I say, yes, a thousand-fold stronger, shall they inherit the
                execrations of the ages.
                                                                         41
 

                       But to hide the deformity of the crime under the cloak of that sophistry
                which strives to make the worse appear the better reason, we are told by
                the leaders of the Rebellion that in our complex system of government the
                separate States are "sovereigns," and that the central power is only an
                "agency," established by these sovereigns to manage certain little affairs, —
                such, forsooth, as Peace, War, Army, Navy, Finance, Territory, and
                Relations with the Native Tribes, which they could not so conveniently
                administer themselves. It happens, unfortunately for this theory, that the
                Federal Constitution (which has been adopted by the people of every
                State of the Union as much as their own State constitutions have been
                adopted, and is declared to be paramount to them) nowhere recognizes
                the States as "sovereigns," — in fact, that, by their names, it does not
                recognize them at all; while the authority established by that instrument is
                recognized, in its text, not as an "agency," but as "the Government of the
                United States." By that Constitution, moreover, which purports in its
                preamble to be ordained and established by "the people of the United
                States," it is expressly provided, that "the members of the State legislatures,
                and all executive and judicial officers, shall be bound by oath or affirmation
                to support the Constitution." Now it is a common thing, under all
                governments, for an agent to be bound by oath to be faithful to his
                sovereign; but I never heard before of sovereigns being bound by oath to
                be faithful to their agency.
                                                                         42
 

                       Certainly I do not deny that the separate States are clothed with
                sovereign powers for the administration of local affairs. It is one of the
                most beautiful features of our mixed system of government; but it is equally
                true, that, in adopting the Federal Constitution, the States abdicated, by
                express renunciation, all the most important functions of national
                sovereignty, and, by one comprehensive self denying clause, gave up all
                right to contravene the Constitution of the United States. Specifically, and
                by enumeration, they renounced all the most important prerogatives of
                independent States for peace and for war, — the right to keep troops or
                ships of war in time of peace, or to engage in war unless actually invaded;
                to enter into compact with another State or a foreign power; to lay any
                duty on tonnage, or any impost on exports or imports, without the consent
                of Congress; to enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; to grant
                letters of marque or reprisal, and to emit bills of credit, — while all these
                powers and many others are expressly vested in the general government.
                To ascribe to political communities, thus limited in their jurisdiction, — who
                cannot even establish a post-office on their own soil, — the character of
                independent sovereignty, and to reduce a national organization, clothed
                with all the transcendent powers of government, to the name and condition
                of an "agency" of the States, proves nothing but that the logic of secession
                is on a par with its loyalty and patriotism.
                                                                         43
 

                       O, but "the reserved rights"! And what of the reserved rights? The
                tenth amendment of the Constitution, supposed to provide for "reserved
                rights," is constantly misquoted. By that amendment, "the powers not
                delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to
                the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The
                "powers" reserved must of course be such as could have been, but were
                not delegated to the United States, — could have been, but were not
                prohibited to the States; but to speak of the right of an individual State to
                secede, as a power that could have been, though it was not delegated to
                the United States, is simple nonsense.
                                                                         44
 

                       But waiving this obvious absurdity, can it need a serious argument to
                prove that there can be no State right to enter into a new confederation
                reserved under a Constitution which expressly prohibits a State to "enter
                into any treaty, alliance, or confederation," or any "agreement or compact
                with another State or a foreign power"? To say that the State may, by
                enacting the preliminary farce of secession, acquire the right to do the
                prohibited things, — to say, for instance, that though the States in forming
                the Constitution delegated to the United States, and prohibited to
                themselves, the power of declaring war, there was by implication reserved
                to each State the right of seceding and then declaring war; that, though they
                expressly prohibited to the States and delegated to the United States the
                entire treaty-making power, they reserved by implication (for an express
                reservation is not pretended) to the individual States, to Florida, for
                instance, the right to secede, and then to make a treaty with Spain
                retroceding that Spanish colony, and thus surrendering to a foreign power
                the key to the Gulf of Mexico, — to maintain propositions like these, with
                whatever affected seriousness it is done, appears to me egregious trifling.
                                                                         45
 

 

                       Pardon me, my friends, for dwelling on these wretched sophistries.
                But it is these which conducted the armed hosts of rebellion to your doors
                on the terrible and glorious days of July, and which have brought upon the
                whole land the scourge of an aggressive and wicked war, — a war which
                can have no other termination compatible with the permanent safety and
                welfare of the country but the complete destruction of the military power of
                the enemy. I have, on other occasions, attempted to show that to yield to
                his demands and acknowledge his independence, thus resolving the Union
                at once into two hostile governments, with a certainty of further
                disintegration, would annihilate the strength and the influence of the country
                as a member of the family of nations; afford to foreign powers the
                opportunity and the temptation for humiliating and disastrous interference in
                our affairs; wrest from the Middle and Western States some of their great
                natural outlets to the sea and of their most important lines of internal
                communication; deprive the commerce and navigation of the country of
                two thirds of our sea-coast and of the fortresses which protect it: not only
                so, but would enable each individual State, — some of them with a white
                population equal to a good-sized Northern county, — or rather the
                dominant party in each State, to cede its territory, its harbors, its
                fortresses, the mouths of its rivers, to any foreign power. It cannot be that
                the people of the loyal States — that twenty-two millions of brave and
                prosperous freemen — will, for the temptation of a brief truce in an eternal
                border-war, consent to this hideous national suicide.
                                                                         46

 

                       Do not think that I exaggerate the consequences of yielding to the
                demands of the leaders of the Rebellion. I understate them. They require of
                us, not only all the sacrifices I have named, not only the cession to them, a
                foreign and hostile power, of all the territory of the United States at present
                occupied by the Rebel forces, but the abandonment to them of the vast
                regions we have rescued from their grasp, — of Maryland, of a part of
                Eastern Virginia and the whole of Western Virginia; the sea-coast of North
                and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida; Kentucky, Tennessee, and
                Missouri; Arkansas, and the larger portion of Mississippi, Louisiana, and
                Texas, — in most of which, with the exception of lawless guerillas, there is
                not a Rebel in arms, in all of which the great majority of the people are
                loyal to the Union. We must give back, too, the helpless colored
                population, thousands of whom are perilling their lives in the ranks of our
                armies, to a bondage rendered tenfold more bitter by the momentary
                enjoyment of freedom. Finally, we must surrender every man in the
                Southern country, white or black, who has moved a finger or spoken a
                word for the restoration of the Union, to a reign of terror as remorseless as
                that of Robespierre, which has been the chief instrument by which the
                Rebellion has been organized and sustained, and which has already filled
                the prisons of the South with noble men, whose only crime is that they are
                not the worst of criminals. The South is full of such men. I do not believe
                there has been a day since the election of President Lincoln, when, if an
                ordinance of secession could have been fairly submitted, after a free
                discussion, to the mass of the people in any single Southern State, a
                majority of ballots would have been given in its favor. No, not in South
                Carolina. It is not possible that the majority of the people, even of that
                State, if permitted, without fear or favor, to give a ballot on the question,
                would have abandoned a leader like Petigru, and all the memories of the
                Gadsdens, the Rutledges, and the Cotesworth Pinckneys of the
                Revolutionary and Constitutional age to follow the agitators of the present
                day.
                                                                         47
 

                       Nor must we be deterred from the vigorous prosecution of the war by
                the suggestion, continually thrown out by the Rebels and those who
                sympathize with them, that, however it might have been at an earlier stage,
                there has been engendered by the operations of the war a state of
                exasperation and bitterness, which, independent of all reference to the
                original nature of the matters in controversy, will forever prevent the
                restoration of the Union, and the return of harmony between the two great
                sections of the country. This opinion I take to be entirely without
                foundation.
                                                                         48
 

                       No man can deplore more than I do the miseries of every kind
                unavoidably incident to war. Who could stand on this spot and call to mind
                the scenes of the first days of July with any other feeling? A sad foreboding
                of what would ensue, if war should break out between North and South,
                has haunted me through life, and led me, perhaps too long, to tread in the
                path of hopeless compromise, in the fond endeavor to conciliate those who
                were predetermined not to be conciliated. But it is not true, as is pretended
                by the Rebels and their sympathizers, that the war has been carried on by
                the United States without entire regard to those temperaments which are
                enjoined by the law of nations, by our modern civilization, and by the spirit
                of Christianity. It would be quite easy to point out, in the recent military
                history of the leading European powers, acts of violence and cruelty, in the
                prosecution of their wars, to which no parallel can be found among us. In
                fact, when we consider the peculiar bitterness with which civil wars are
                almost invariably waged, we may justly boast of the manner in which the
                United States have carried on the contest. It is of course impossible to
                prevent the lawless acts of stragglers and deserters, or the occasional
                unwarrantable proceedings of subordinates on distant stations; but I do not
                believe there is, in all history, the record of a civil war of such gigantic
                dimensions where so little has been done in the spirit of vindictiveness as in
                this war, by the Government and commanders of the United States; and
                this notwithstanding the provocation given by the Rebel Government by
                assuming the responsibility of wretches like Quantrell, refusing quarter to
                colored troops, and scourging and selling into slavery free colored men
                from the North who fall into their hands, by covering the sea with pirates,
                refusing a just exchange of prisoners, while they crowd their armies with
                paroled prisoners not exchanged, and starving prisoners of war to death.
                                                                         49
 

                       In the next place, if there are any present who believe, that, in addition
                to the effect of the military operations of the war, the confiscation acts and
                emancipation proclamations have embittered the Rebels beyond the
                possibility of reconciliation, I would request them to reflect that the tone of
                the Rebel leaders and Rebel press was just as bitter in the first months of
                the war, nay, before a gun was fired, as it is now. There were speeches
                made in Congress in the very last session before the outbreak of the
                Rebellion, so ferocious as to show that their authors were under the
                influence of a real frenzy. At the present day, if there is any discrimination
                made by the Confederate press in the affected scorn, hatred, and
                contumely with which every shade of opinion and sentiment in the loyal
                States is treated, the bitterest contempt is bestowed upon those at the
                North who still speak the language of compromise, and who condemn
                those measures of the administration which are alleged to have rendered
                the return of peace hopeless.
                                                                         50
 

 

                       No, my friends, that gracious Providence which overrules all things for
                the best, "from seeming evil still educing good," has so constituted our
                natures, that the violent excitement of the passions in one direction is
                generally followed by a reaction in an opposite direction, and the sooner
                for the violence. If it were not so, if injuries inflicted and retaliated of
                necessity led to new retaliations, with forever accumulating compound
                interest of revenge, then the world, thousands of years ago, would have
                been turned into an earthly hell, and the nations of the earth would have
                been resolved into clans of furies and demons, each forever warring with
                his neighbor. But it is not so; all history teaches a different lesson. The
                Wars of the Roses in England lasted an entire generation, from the battle of
                St. Albans in 1455 to that of Bosworth Field in 1485. Speaking of the
                former, Hume says: "This was the first blood spilt in that fatal quarrel,
                which was not finished in less than a course of thirty years; which was
                signalized by twelve pitched battles; which opened a scene of
                extraordinary fierceness and cruelty; is computed to have cost the lives of
                eighty princes of the blood; and almost entirely annihilated the ancient
                nobility of England. The strong attachments which, at that time, men of the
                same kindred bore to each other, and the vindictive spirit which was
                considered a point of honor, rendered the great families implacable in their
                resentments, and widened every moment the breach between the parties."
                Such was the state of things in England under which an entire generation
                grew up; but when Henry VII., in whom the titles of the two houses were
                united, went up to London after the Battle of Bosworth Field, to mount the
                throne, he was everywhere received with joyous acclamations, "as one
                ordained and sent from heaven to put an end to the dissensions" which had
                so long afflicted the country.
                                                                         51
 

                       The great Rebellion in England of the seventeenth century, after long
                and angry premonitions, may be said to have begun with the calling of the
                Long Parliament in 1640, and to have ended with the return of Charles II.
                in 1660, — twenty years of discord, conflict, and civil war; of confiscation,
                plunder, havoc; a proud hereditary peerage trampled in the dust; a national
                church overturned, its clergy beggared, its most eminent prelate put to
                death; a military despotism established on the ruins of a monarchy which
                had subsisted seven hundred years, and the legitimate sovereign brought to
                the block; the great families which adhered to the king proscribed,
                impoverished, ruined; prisoners of war — a fate worse than starvation in
                Libby — sold to slavery in the West Indies; in a word, everything that can
                embitter and madden contending factions. Such was the state of things for
                twenty years; and yet, by no gentle transition, but suddenly, and "when the
                restoration of affairs appeared most hopeless," the son of the beheaded
                sovereign was brought back to his father's blood-stained throne, with such
                "unexpressible and universal joy " as led the merry monarch to exclaim "he
                doubted it had been his own fault he had been absent so long, for he saw
                nobody who did not protest he had ever wished for his return." "In this
                wonderful manner," says Clarendon, "and with this incredible expedition,
                did God put an end to a rebellion that had raged near twenty years, and
                had been carried on with all the horrid circumstances of murder,
                devastation, and parricide, that fire and sword, in the hands of the most
                wicked men in the world" (it is a royalist that is speaking) "could be
                instruments of, almost to the desolation of two kingdoms, and the
                exceeding defacing and deforming of the third. . . . . By these remarkable
                steps did the merciful hand of God, in this short space of time, not only
                bind up and heal all those wounds, but even made the scar as undiscernible
                as, in respect of the deepness, was possible. which was a glorious addition
                to the deliverance."
                                                                         52
 

                       In Germany, the wars of the Reformation and of Charles V. in the
                sixteenth century, the Thirty Years' War in the seventeenth century, the
                Seven Years' War in the eighteenth century, not to speak of other less
                celebrated contests, entailed upon that country all the miseries of intestine
                strife for more than three centuries. At the close of the last-named war, -
                which was the shortest of all and waged in the most civilized age, — "an
                officer," says Archenholz, "rode through seven villages in Hesse, and found
                in them but one human being." More than three hundred principalities,
                comprehended in the Empire, fermented with the fierce passions of proud
                and petty States; at the commencement of this period the castles of robber
                counts frowned upon every hill-top; a dreadful secret tribunal, whose seat
                no one knew, whose power none could escape, froze the hearts of men
                with terror throughout the land; religious hatred mingled its bitter poison in
                the seething caldron of provincial animosity: but of all these deadly enmities
                between the States of Germany scarcely the memory remains. There are
                controversies in that country, at the present day, but they grow mainly out
                of the rivalry of the two leading powers. There is no country in the world in
                which the sentiment of national brotherhood is stronger.
                                                                         53
 

                       In Italy, on the breaking up of the Roman Empire, society might be
                said to be resolved into its original elements, — into hostile atoms, whose
                only movement was that of mutual repulsion. Ruthless barbarians had
                destroyed the old organizations, and covered the land with a merciless
                feudalism. As the new civilization grew up, under the wing of the Church,
                the noble families and the walled towns fell madly into conflict with each
                other; the secular feud of Pope and Emperor scourged the land; province
                against province, city against city, street against street, waged remorseless
                war with each other from father to son, till Dante was able to fill his
                imaginary hell with the real demons of Italian history. So ferocious had the
                factions become, that the great poet-exile himself, the glory of his native
                city and of his native language, was, by a decree of the municipality,
                condemned to be burned alive if found in the city of Florence. But these
                deadly feuds and hatreds yielded to political influences, as the hostile cities
                were grouped into States under stable governments; the lingering traditions
                of the ancient animosities gradually died away, and now Tuscan and
                Lombard, Sardinian and Neapolitan, as if to shame the degenerate sons of
                America, are joining in one cry for a united Italy.
                                                                         54
 

                       In France, not to go back to the civil wars of the League in the
                sixteenth century and of the Fronde in the seventeenth; not to speak of the
                dreadful scenes throughout the kingdom which followed the revocation of
                the edict of Nantes; we have, in the great revolution which commenced at
                the close of the last century, seen the bloodhounds of civil strife let loose as
                rarely before in the history of the world. The reign of terror established at
                Paris stretched its bloody Briarean arms to every city and village in the
                land; and if the most deadly feuds which ever divided a people had the
                power to cause permanent alienation and hatred, this surely was the
                occasion. But far otherwise the fact. In seven years from the fall of
                Robespierre, the strong arm of the youthful conqueror brought order out of
                this chaos of crime and woe; Jacobins whose hands were scarcely
                cleansed from the best blood of France met the returning emigrants, whose
                estates they had confiscated and whose kindred they had dragged to the
                guillotine, in the Imperial antechambers; and when, after another turn of the
                wheel of fortune, Louis XVIII. was restored to his throne, he took the
                regicide Fouché who had voted for his brother's death, to his cabinet and
                confidence.
                                                                         55
 

 

                       The people of loyal America will never ask you, sir, to take to your
                confidence or admit again to a share in the government the hard-hearted
                men whose cruel lust of power has brought this desolating war upon the
                land, but there is no personal bitterness felt even against them. They may
                live, if they can bear to live after wantonly causing the death of so many
                thousands of their fellow-men; they may live in safe obscurity beneath the
                shelter of the government they have sought to overthrow, or they may fly to
                the protection of the governments of Europe, — some of them are already
                there, seeking, happily in vain, to obtain the aid of foreign powers in
                furtherance of their own treason. There let them stay. The humblest dead
                soldier, that lies cold and stiff in his grave before us, is an object of envy
                beneath the clods that cover him, in comparison with the living man, I care
                not with what trumpery credentials he may be furnished, who is willing to
                grovel at the foot of a foreign throne for assistance in compassing the ruin
                of his country.
                                                                         56

 

                       But the hour is coming and now is, when the power of the leaders of
                the Rebellion to delude and inflame must cease. There is no bitterness on
                the part of the masses. The people of the South are not going to wage an
                eternal war for the wretched pretexts by which this rebellion is sought to be
                justified. The bonds that unite us as one People, — a substantial
                community of origin, language, belief, and law (the four great ties that hold
                the societies of men together); common national and political interests; a
                common history; a common pride in a glorious ancestry; a common interest
                in this great heritage of blessings; the very geographical features of the
                country; the mighty rivers that cross the lines of climate, and thus facilitate
                the interchange of natural and industrial products, while the
                wonder-working arm of the engineer has levelled the mountain-walls which
                separate the East and West, compelling your own Alleghanies, my
                Maryland and Pennsylvania friends, to open wide their everlasting doors to
                the chariot-wheels of traffic and travel, - these bonds of union are of
                perennial force and energy, while the causes of alienation are imaginary,
                factitious, and transient. The heart of the People, North and South, is for
                the Union. Indications, too plain to be mistaken, announce the fact, both in
                the East and the West of the States in rebellion. In North Carolina and
                Arkansas the fatal charm at length is broken. At Raleigh and Little Rock
                the dips of honest and brave men are unsealed, and an independent press
                is unlimbering its artillery. When its rifled cannon shall begin to roar, the
                hosts of treasonable sophistry — the mad delusions of the day — will fly
                like the Rebel army through the passes of yonder mountain. The weary
                masses of the people are yearning to see the dear old flag again floating
                upon their capitols, and they sigh for the return of the peace, prosperity,
                and happiness which they enjoyed under a government whose power was
                felt only in its blessings.
                                                                         57
 

                       And now, friends, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg and Pennsylvania, and
                you from remoter States, let me again, as we part, invoke your benediction
                on these honored graves. You feel, though the occasion is mournful, that it
                is good to be here. You feel that it was greatly auspicious for the cause of
                the country, that the men of the East and the men of the West, the men of
                nineteen sister States, stood side by side, on the perilous ridges of the
                battle. You now feel it a new bond of union, that they shall lie side by side,
                till a clarion, louder than that which marshalled them to the combat, shall
                awake their slumbers. God bless the Union; — it is dearer to us for the
                blood of brave men which has been shed in its defence. The spots on
                which they stood and fell; these pleasant heights; the fertile plain beneath
                them; the thriving village whose streets so lately rang with the strange din of
                war; the fields beyond the ridge, where the noble Reynolds held the
                advancing foe at bay, and, while he gave up his own life, assured by his
                forethought and self-sacrifice the triumph of the two succeeding days; the
                little streams which wind through the hills, on whose banks in after-times
                the wondering ploughman will turn up, with the rude weapons of savage
                warfare, the fearful missiles of modern artillery; Seminary Ridge, the
                Peach-Orchard, Cemetery, Culp, and Wolf Hill, Round Top, Little Round
                Top, humble names, henceforward dear and famous, — no lapse of time,
                no distance of space, shall cause you to be forgotten. "The whole earth,"
                said Pericles, as he stood over the remains of his fellow-citizens, who had
                fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian War, — "the whole earth is the
                sepulchre of illustrious men." All time, he might have added, is the
                millennium of their glory. Surely I would do no injustice to the other noble
                achievements of the war, which have reflected such honor on both arms of
                the service, and have entitled the armies and the navy of the United States,
                their officers and men, to the warmest thanks and the richest rewards
                which a grateful people can pay. But they, I am sure, will join us in saying,
                as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever
                throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read,
                and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of
                our common country there will be no brighter page than that which relates
                THE BATTLES OF GETTYSBURG.

                ____________

                Notes:

                1 Besides the sources of information mentioned in the text, I have been kindly
                favored with a memorandum of the operations of the three days drawn up for me by
                direction of Major-General Meade (anticipating the promulgation of his official
                report), by one of his aids, Colonel Theodore Lyman, from whom also I have
                received other important communications relative to the campaign. I have received
                very valuable documents relative to the battle from Major-General Halleck,
                Commander-in-Chief of the army, and have been much assisted in drawing up the
                sketch of the campaign, by the detailed reports, kindly transmitted to me in
                manuscript from the Adjutant-General's office, of the movements of every corps of
                the army, for each day, after the breaking up from Fredericksburg commenced. I have
                derived much assistance from Colonel John B. Bachelder's oral explanations of his
                beautiful and minute drawing (about to be engraved) of the field of the three days'
                struggle. With the information derived from these sources I have compared the
                statements in General Lee's official report of the campaign, dated 31st July, 1863, a
                well-written article, purporting to be an account of the three days' battle, in the
                Richmond Enquirer of the 22d of July, and the article on "The Battle of Gettysburg
                and the Campaign of Pennsylvania," by an officer, apparently a colonel in the British
                army, in Blackwood's Magazine for September. The value of the information
                contained in this last essay may be seen by comparing the remark under date 27th of
                June, that "private property is to be rigidly protected," with the statement in the next
                sentence but one, that "all the cattle and farm-horses having been seized by Ewell,
                farm labor had come to a complete stand-still." He also, under date of 4th July,
                speaks of Lee's retreat being encumbered by "Ewell's immense train of plunder."
                This writer informs us, that, on the evening of the 4th of July, he heard "reports
                coming in from the different Generals that the enemy (Meade's army) was retiring,
                and had been doing so all day long." At a consultation at head-quarters on the 6th,
                between Generals Lee, Longstreet, Hill, and Wilcox, this writer was told by some
                one, whose name he prudently leaves in blank, that the army had no intention at
                present of retreating for good, and that some of the enemy's despatches had been
                intercepted, in which the following words occur: "The noble, but unfortunate Army
                of the Potomac has again been obliged to retreat before superior numbers !" He does
                not appear to be aware, that, in recording these wretched expedients, resorted to in
                order to keep up the spirits of Lee's army, he furnishes the most complete refutation
                of his own account of its good condition. I much regret that General Meade's official
                report was not published in season to enable me to take full advantage of it, in
                preparing the brief sketch of the battles of the three days contained in this Address.
                It reached me but the morning before it was sent to the press. (return to text)

                2 In the Address as originally prepared, judging from the best sources of
                information then within my reach, I assumed the equality of the two armies on the 2d
                and 3d of July. Subsequent inquiry has led me to think that I underrated somewhat
                the strength of Lee's force at Gettysburg, and I have corrected the text accordingly.
                General Halleck, however, in his official report accompanying the President's
                messages, states the armies to have been equal                                                                         58