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Battle echoes : or, Lessons from the war online

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The glorious uprising of the North in defence of
the Union is another indication eloquent with a like
response. Scarcely four months have passed since
the gloom of doubt and indecision hung, like a death-
pall, over all the Free States. The new Adminis-
tration, which had then just entered upon office,
found every channel of Governmental action de-
ranged and obstructed by the weakness or the
treachery of its predecessor. Treason battened in all


the Departments raved in the halls of Congress
pervaded the Army and Navy corrupted every
branch of the Public Service. Treason had plun-
dered the nation's treasury, stolen its munitions of
war, seized its forts and arsenals, and rendered una-
vailable its scanty forces on land and sea, by scatter-
ing them to remote and widely separated points.
State after State was declaring its connection with
the Union dissolved. Fortress after fortress was
passing into the power of the insurgents. And all
this while, a dead torpor, a hideous enchantment,
benumbed and stupefied the loyal States. The
North was thought to be divided ; the Government
seemed paralyzed ; its friends confounded ; its ene-
mies alone awake and jubilant.

At length, the spell was broken. As the first roll
of the thunder lays open the cloud and sets free the
pent-up shower ; so the first gun at Sumter dissolved
the deathlike trance of Northern patriotism. Then
outgushed the Northern heart. Then uprose the
Northern might, to avenge the dishonored flag.
Strife and dissension were abashed into silence.
Parties, long hostile, vied with each other in their
zeal to sustain the Government. All voices were
merged in the one cry, " The Union must and shall
be preserved." As the fiery cross sped over the hills
of Scotland, summoning the clans to battle ; so from


mountain to mountain, from valley to valley, from
sea-coast and river, and lake and prairie, over all the
vast North, went that cry, growing sterner and
louder as it went, till it swelled into the shout of
twenty millions rallying for the Union. Treasure
flowed forth like water. Men volunteered in myri-
ads. An army was extemporized in a day. On,
on to the rescue of the Capitol on, on to the suc-
cor of the Government on, on, to hurl back the
traitorous assailants rushed the shouting legions.
And on still they go, regiment after regiment,
with steady tramp, and in quick succession, burn-
ing to meet the rebels, and drive treason from our
shores. The North, which yesterday was palsied
by apathy and rent by faction, is erect, energetic,
united to-day. The Government, that appeared im-
becile, tottering, forsaken, is now firm, strong, but-
tressed by unnumbered hearts and hands. And the
flag, " the dear old flag," that a little while ago was
torn by rebel cannon and insulted by rebel scoffs,
now waves over three hundred thousand men in
arms for their country ; while behind them stand
countless thousands more, eager to engage in the
same glorious service.

It is a marvellous transformation the most mag-
nificent outburst of patriotism which human history
has ever seen. What has done it? Not politics,
not the Press, not the Pulpit, not eloquent harangues


stirring up the passions of the masses. It is the
power of God. His finger has touched the hearts
of the people, as the rod of Moses struck the rock
in the desert. The same energy, which at the crea-
tion woke the dead universe into life, has breathed
over the stagnant, slumberous depths of popular feel-
ing, and the nation has been born again. It is a
resurrection. Love of country, love of liberty, self-
sacrificing devotion to the public safety, have come
up from the graves in which Mammon and political
partisanship had buried them ; and the redeemed
land, shaking off the sluggish dreams of a long
peace, confronts the rebellion to-day with more than
the heroism of Revolutionary tunes. In view of such
a fact in view of this wonderful upspringing of
patriotic unanimity and zeal, which only God's inter-
position could have produced can we fail to dis-
cern His will ? The regeneration of the North is the
great central jewel which Jehovah has set on the
bosom of the age ; and in its lustre, which now fills
the earth, inspiring the nations with admiration,
cariying hope to the oppressed, and flashing dismay
on the bandit hordes leagued to stay the march of
Freedom, how legibly, how impressively, may we
read the command, " Go up against them ! "

That God's hand is in this war, and that His voice
calls us to it, is evident from its harmony with the
general movements of His providence throughout


the world. The scene so sublimely pictured by
prophecy the great Battle of Armageddon is
now enacting on our globe. It is a conflict of prin-
ciples, in which the antagonistic powers of Light and
Darkness have met in final encounter to decide the
destiny of our race. On one side are ranged Tyran-
ny, Barbarism, Irreligion on the other, Civilization,
Liberty, Christianity. Wherever and however the
combat may be waged, it is the same the struggle
of the Many to break from the domination of the Few,
and assert the dignity of their being ; and the effort
of the Few to retain then- hold upon the victims who
have so long worn their fetters. We may call it
the war for Independence in Italy, the war for
Nationality in Hungary, and the war with Slavery
in America. But the battle is one, the cause one,
the impulse one. There are volcanic currents
underlying the seas, and producing eruptions and
earthquakes at the same moment in continents sepa-
rated by a thousand leagues of ocean. So there are
moral currents that reach and influence, at the same
time, populations widely distant from each other.
We failed hi our Atlantic telegraph. But God has
not failed in His ; and along its wires He sends the
electric spark of His power to all the nations. It is
that spark which has kindled the holy flame now
burning within us and around us. The contest with
Slavery is a part of the grand warfare which He is


carrying on for the moral redemption of the world.
It is His purpose that men of all ranks and climes
shall finally be free, enlightened, and happy. To
the fulfilment of this benevolent design Slavery is
one of the chief hindrances. In its nature and in
its tendencies, it stands in direct opposition to the
humanizing spirit and precepts of the Gospel. Its
overthrow is, therefore, essential to the ultimate
triumphs of Truth and Salvation. Hence, the con-
nection of our present struggle with the unfoldings
of Providence, and the cause of Humanity in all
lands, is readily seen. That struggle, though nom-
inally earned on against rebellion, is really against
the Slave-power itself, in whose behalf the rebellion
has been undertaken. Slavery is our true antago-
nist. And when we marshal our forces to resist its
aggressions, and cripple the despots who would
extend its evils over the whole continent, and per-
petuate them through all time, do we not see that
we work in perfect concert with that Divine Agency,
which is everywhere active, "overturning, over-
turning, till He shall come whose right it is"?
Here, then, we again have the answer, "Go up
against them."

So clear, so numerous are the proofs that the
Almighty is with us in this war for the Government
and the Union. It is under His sanction, and by
His command, that we have taken up arms against


the foul treason that has struck at the heart of Free-
dom, and against the fouler institution which incited
the deed. If the armies of the Crusaders could
march to the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, shout-
ing, " It is the will of God ! it is the will of God ! "
much more may we march with that battle-cry, to
save from pollution the Ark of our liberties and the
altars of true religion.

Let us, then, prosecute the war with confidence
and energy. It must necessarily involve great cost
and sacrifice. We shall suffer in our pecuniary
interests. The business of the country may be
widely deranged, and even prostrated. We may be
required to send forth to battle, perhaps to death,
our sons, our husbands, our brothers. But the
result when achieved, will bring ample compensa-
tion for all the toil and loss incurred in its attainment.
E-ighteous wars are means of grace ; and the last
few months of unselfish solicitude for the country's
weal, and of active preparation for its defence, have
done more to elevate the North, to give manliness
to its people, and raise them above the walks of
mere money-getting, to the high plane of conscience
and duty, than could have been effected by a hun-
dred years of peace. We have every reason to go
into this war with our whole hearts, and with all our
means. Let us strike hard, and strike home,


assured that God strikes with us, and that under
His leading victory is certain.

We should cany on this war in a deeply religious
spirit. It is a holy war, embracing in its issues all
that is dear to us, not only as patriots, but as chris-
tians. Never ought we to forget, in the petitions
of the Closet and of the Sanctuary, to beseech Him
in whom all wisdom dwells, and in whose ordering
are all events, to guide the nation's leaders by His
counsels, and to go forth with our armies in the day
of battle. And, above all, let us take heed that the
outward stir and excitement inseparable, perhaps,
from the present condition of public affairs, do not
overpower our interest in the duties of personal
religion, and thus provoke Jehovah to withhold from
our churches and from our country the blessing
which alone can insure success and triumph.

The circumstances in which we are placed, call
upon us to cherish a feeling of entire dependence
on that Omnipotent One, who holds the destinies of
nations in His hands ; who doeth according to His
will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabi-
tants of the earth. Without His aid, we cannot
hope to achieve the tremendous undertaking which
lies before us. However ample may be our resources
in men and means, however large our armies, how-
ever sagacious and skilful our commanders, if we
trust in these, and put God out of sight, we may


well fear that He will humble our self-confidence by
repulses and disasters. Such was His dealing with
the men of Israel. Relying on their vastly superior
numbers, they did not, at first, supplicate the aid of
the Almighty in putting down the rebellion of Ben-
jamin, but merely asked which of the Tribes should
begin the attack. In this spirit, thrice they essayed
the battle, and were thrice defeated with great
slaughter. And it was not till they prostrated them-
selves before the Lord in despair of their own suffi-
ciency, and penitently implored His intervention, that
victory rested on their banners. Similar may be our
experience, if we confide in mortal strength alone.
Let us, then, keep our eye fixed on the Eternal
Throne from which our help must come. So shall
the encl be glorious, bringing peace to the country,
perpetuity to the Union, and health and succor to
the world.

Soldiers of the Tenth ! Brave sons of Western
Massachusetts ! You see the sacredness of your
vocation. You have enlisted in a high and holy
cause the cause of Freedom against Despotism
of Order against Anarchy of Civilization against
Barbarism of Righteousness against the most
flagrant system of Wrong that ever polluted the
earth. You are God's soldiers. His behest sends
you forth. His honor, and the welfare, not only of
your native laud, but of the human race, are inter-


ested in the manner in which you bear yourselves.
Be true ; be valiant ; be worthy of the blood from
which you sprung worthy of your New England
home, the nurse of free thoughts and of free men,
where the love of Liberty is drawn in with the first
breath of infancy, and where every wind that rocks
her mountain pines, and sweeps her wild blue lakes,
sounds out its glorious anthem.

And if you are God's soldiers, see that the char-
acter be not dishonored in your keeping. Avoid
the temptations of the camp. Flee from intemper-
ance, profanity, licentiousness. Let your conduct
be as bright in illustrating the goodness of your
cause, as your swords are sharp in defending it.
By faith in the atonement of Christ, seek to be in
heart, as well as in body, soldiers of the Lord. Thus
combining religion with courage, the fear of God
and prayer with military ardor, you will so act your
part as to insure the approval of your country and
of Heaven.

In this spirit, gallant men, give yourselves to the
work you have chosen. Our prayers and blessings
shall follow you to the tented field, and to the bloody
conflict. We trust that, under the protection of a
merciful Providence, you may all be permitted to
return to us in safety when your task is clone, and
to enjoy for long years the love and gratitude of
your fellow-citizens, as the reward of noble deeds


achieved in this Second War of Independence. But
should it be the pleasure of Him who sees not as we
see, that any of you should fall, tenderly shall your
companions send back to us the bodies slain in Free-
dom's fight. Tenderly will we receive them. Ten-
derly will we strew them with garlands and bedew
them with tears. Tenderly will we cariy thorn to
their rest among the green hills and valleys you love
so well, and tenderly lay them there, in spots hal-
lowed evermore, in the hope, the cheering hope,
that you will each have so lived and died, as to
receive, not merely the crown of honor below, but
the crown of Immortality above.



FIDENT." Psalm xxvii. 3.

-EVER since the first planting of our Com-
monwealth has the summons to public thanks-
giving gone forth under circumstances so
peculiar, and apparently so inopportune, as
those in which we are now assembled. War has risen
against us a war of the direst and deadliest kind
civil war a war of treason and rebellion. The
whole slaveholding section of our country, insane
with its hatred of freedom, urged on by ambition
and a mad lust for power, has thrown of its allegiance
to the General Government, conspired to break up
the Union cemented by the toil and blood of our fa-
thers, and inaugurated for the carrying out of their
fell scheme, an intestine conflict the most ruthless
and gigantic which the world has ever seen. An
earthquake rocks the nation. The songs of peace,
the cheerful hum of industry and traffic, have given
place to the din of martial preparation, the clash of
arms, and the shout of battle. Over large portions
of our once happy land, the fields of the husband-
man are trampled down by the hoofs of marching


squadrons, and the fruits of his labor swept away by
rapine. Social order is annihilated. Schools are
dispersed. Churches are converted into barracks
or hospitals. Public works are destroyed. Towns
and villages are laid waste. Families are broken
up and scattered. The heavens are red with the
light of burning homes ; and the ground is wet with
blood shed by kindred hands. A million of men,
lately clasped in the bonds of amity and brother-
hood, now stand with hostile weapons levelled at
each other. The struggle is terrible, vast, all-
embracing. From the Eastern to the Western Ocean,
from the frozen Lakes of the North to the fervid
waters of the Gulf, the Demon of Slaughter unfurls
his gory flag, cries " Havoc, and lets slip the dogs
of war."

And is it at such a tune is it amidst calamities
like these that we are called to the exercise of
thanksgiving ? Shall we celebrate our harvest-home ,
and exult in the bounties that have crowned the
year, while War's sharp sickle is strewing the earth
with its bloody sheaves ? Shall we be required to
keep the Feast of Joy, while our hearts tremble for
the Ark of Freedom, and the gloom of doubt and
peril hangs thick over the future of our country?
Shall we, can we lift up the voice of praise in the
Sanctuary , and then gather with wonted cheer around
our richly furnished boards, with children and friends


by our side, when we think how many New England
homes are desolate to-day, mourning for the loved
ones who lie buried in the soil of Virginia, or sleep
beneath the waves of the Potomac ? Oh ! the accus-
tomed observances of Thanksgiving do seem incon-
gruous and unseasonable at such an hour ; and the
Proclamation of the Executive sounds like the
mocking command of the Assyrian conquerors, ask-
ing of the Jews the festive songs of Zion in the
land of their captivity. Whose harp, if struck
now, must not send forth a dirge? The present
condition of public affairs would appear, on a cursory
survey, to afford far more cause for tears than for
laughter ; far more occasion for anxiety than for con-
fidence ; far more reason to humble ourselves under
impending judgments, than to rejoice and be glad
in the review of our blessings.

And yet the Proclamation is right. Even amidst
the tremendous crisis in which we stand, the eye
that is illumined from above can discover abun-
dant grounds for assurance and gratitude. The
royal bard of Israel, while environed by difficulty
and danger, looking to a help mightier than man's
could say, " Though a host should encamp against
me, my heart shall not fear ; though war should rise
against me, in this will I be confident." And we,
if, guided by a similar faith, we study more closely
the aspects of the storm that is sweeping over the


land, and mark the bow of promise which God has
set on its front, shall perceive, mingling with its
fierce and destructive elements, much that is adapted
to inspire trust and thankfulness.

It will, therefore, be my endeavor to trace some
of those bright spots in the cloud that hangs over us,
which beam with hope, and call for grateful confi-

One of these may be seen in the striking allevia-
tions of the hardships incident to a state of war,
with which Divine Providence is favoring us. War,
especially civil war, is the most fearful disaster which
can befall a people. From whatever cause it may
originate, and for whatever objects it may be carried
on, it is, in itself, and during its continuance, an
unspeakable calamity, spreading, like the tornado,
ruin and devastation wherever it goes. The arrest
whi<^ it puts on national development ; the shock
and dislocation which it produces in the moral sen-
tuaents and habits of society ; the blood which it
$ours out like water; the hecatombs of valuable
lives which it immolates render it the fellest
scourge that ever came from the abyss to ravage and
pollute the earth ; a thing of woe and horror, to be
shrunk from and averted by every sacrifice save that
of right and justice.

Among the evils of war, not the least afflictive,
perhaps, is the prostration of material interests which


it usually occasions. War is a great waster. Lavish
expenditure, interruption of commerce, paralysis of
industry, the blocking up of all the customary chan-
nels of business, financial derangement, panic and
bankruptcy, are the dire followers that stalk in its
train. The bustle of trade, the whirr of the spin-
dle, the whistle of the ploughman as he drives his
team afield, soon cease amid the braying of trumpets
and the roaring of cannon. And the suffering and
misery inflicted, when the whole industrial machinery
of a people is thus brought to a pause, are not less
in severity, and far greater in extent, than those
which are caused directly by the wounds and blood-
shed of battle.

Now, these monetary disturbances, so inseparable
from war, were the very evils to which, at the com-
mencement of the Rebellion, we looked forward
with the liveliest dread. We feared that, in the loss
of Southern trade, our manufactures would languish,
the music of our looms and anvils die away, and our
ships lie rotting at their wharves. We feared that
a general stagnation of business, and consequent
lack of employment, would bring starvation to the
doors of our toiling millions. We feared that the
products of our soil would be absorbed in feeding
the vast armies that must be maintained ; and that,
in the cessation of the export of cotton, an immense
foreign debt would accumulate, whose liquidation


would drain our specie, crush our banks, and spread
financial ruin, from the crowded marts of the sea-
board to the farthest hamlets of the Western wilds.'
This we feared. This the rebels hoped. They
hoped that their foul conspiracy would create through-
out the Free States, and especially in New England,
a depth of pecuniary distress, such as human expe-
rience had never before fathomed. And we feared
that their fiendish hope might, in a large degree, be

But how little of these wishes on the one side
and these forebodings on the other has actually
come to pass. It is true that we have been shut out
from the markets of the South. It is true that un-
counted millions due the North have been shamefully
repudiated by the traitors. And equally true is it
that from these causes our merchants and artisans
have suffered for a time much loss and inconven-
ience. But the embarrassment has been only tem-
porary. No fluctuations of business, no infelicity
of events, can permanently cripple the energies of a
free people, dwelling in a free land, where labor is
honorable, and success open to all. The vigorous
North, strong to do and to bear, rose up elastic from
the blow. Enterprise, clammed up in its old chan-
nels, soon found for itself new ones. The mechani-
cal skill, formerly employed in ministering to the
wants or the luxuries of the Southern oligarchs, now


busies itself in furnishing supplies and fabricating
arms for the mighty hosts, by which the rebellion
of those oligarchs is to be put down and punished.
The innumerable rills of industry, which spring forth
all over this land of working men, welling from
every hill-side, and sending their refreshing waters
through every valley, though obstructed and thrown
back for awhile, have broken through the barrier,
or made other ways for their passage ; and the great
river of public wealth, swelled by their united con-
tributions, flows on again with banks as full, and a
current as broad and swift as ever. We cannot
now, indeed, pay for foreign fabrics by the export
of Southern products. But we can do better, as we
have already begun to do. We can cease, as we
have ceased, importing, and depend on our own
resources. The grain of our broad Western fields
has more than supplied the place of the lost staples
of the South. King Cotton, imprisoned in his own
dominions by his own subjects, has torn off his
crown, and kicked over his throne in disgust. But
King Corn, marching from the Prairies, with brist-
ling spears, and tassels waving, and countless legions
at his back, puts on the fallen crown, and mounts
the abdicated throne.

How signal has been the interposition of Provi-
dence in our behalf! At the very point of time
when the wants of the Government required extraor-


dinary revenues, and the sources were closed from
which treasure had been wont to flow in from abroad,
the almighty Disposer of events ordained short crops
and scarcity for Europe, and ample harvests and
overflowing plenty for ourselves; thus creating a
demand for bread there, and a supply here, which
have caused the tide of wealth to set strongly upon
our shores. This immense exportation of food
comes back to us in gold and silver. The inflowing
stream of the precious metals goes into the vaults of
our moneyed institutions, thence into the Treasury
of the Government, thence out again, by channels
endlessly ramified, into all the departments of trade
and occupation, till there is not a workshop in our
villages, nor a cabin in the wilderness, where the
yellow drops send not their tribute . By this remark-
able chain of circumstances, England and France,
though their rulers may look coldly on our cause,
and their haughty aristocracies exult in our expected
fall, and their merchants rave at the blockade, and
their financiers cry down our national loan, are never-

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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 2 of 19)