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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: Tribute to the Confederate Soldier

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tribute to the Confederate Soldier

January 20, 1912 – Magnolia Gazette

At a recent reunion here of Stockdale Camp U.C.V., Dr. W.M. Wroten read the following splendid and interesting tribute to the men who wore the gray.

A little more than 51 years ago, Mississippi, resuming her sovereignty, took her stand with her sister Southern states, beneath a new flag.

More than four decades and a half have passed since wreathed around with laurel and with cypress, that banner passed into eternal silence, here live forever the deathless dead. During that eventful struggle from 1861 to 1865, Mississippi sent 85,600 stalwart sons to make her declaration good. More than one-third came not back again. Dead by the fire of battle, dead by wound, dead by disease, from exposure and hardship, thousands of our bravest and best are sleeping their last sleep on different battlefields.

Whenever in that ring of fire, that encircled the Confederacy, we faced the fearful odds that slowly but steadily drove us onward.

In the four and a half decades which have since passed, the leaded hail of years has driven great gaps in the ranks of the survivors. Another third and perhaps of the remaining third have joined their comrades in the great bivouac of the dauntless host, who carried on their bayonet points the fortune of the Confederacy, as well as the fame and honor of Mississippi. Of these less than 8000 are still with us.

In 1860 just prior to the beginnings of the Civil war, Mississippi had only 60,000 men of military age, yet she furnished 85,600 to fight her battles.

In 1861, when our war began, the South had no government. It had to create one. It had not a soldier and not a dollar. It had to raise an army, organize, equip and feed it. It had no arsenals, no powder, and but few guns.

The enemy had 42,000,000 people while we had only 6,000,000, and many of these were colored.

They had an army and navy organized. They had an overflowing treasury and ready access to the outside world from which they drew recruits and supplies of every kind. When they lost a soldier killed or wounded they could fill the place with two or three others. When we lost a man there was no one to take his place.

They put 2,800,000 men in the field, while we never had from first to last but 600,000. Quite a number of these were reenlistments and counted twice.

While our Northern friends claimed we had more than 600,000, it is a fact that we had many less.

In 1872 France and Germany engaged in a war. Each had an army of 400,000 men already equipped for war. The army of France was inspired by remembering the glories of Napolean, and that of Germany by the victories of Fredrick the Great. In six months the German army had captured Paris and 1,000,000 French troops. The French were a brave and martial race, and their equal in numbers.

It took the North four years to travel from Washington to Richmond, a little more than 100 miles, against an army one fourth their number. Had Albert Sidney Johnston lived one hour longer at Shiloh, Grant and his army would have been prisoners. Had Stonewall Jackson lived Hooker’s army would have been cut off from U.S. ford and made prisoners. Either event would have ended the war in our favor.

The valor of our soldiers and the genius of our generals were equal to success. You can measure the magnitude of our struggle in another way. In the great war of the revolution in which we won our independence, the Patriots, during the entire seven years, left only 1,735 men dead on the battle fields.

In the war of 1812 our second war with Great Britain, we had only 1,235 killed. In the war with Mexico we lost 1,047 killed. Mississippi lost in battle nearly 5,000 men, including deaths from wounds about 10,000 more.

In the long centuries that are to come, legend and song in this fair Southland will keep bright the story of the Confederate soldiers. His memory will sparkle in the fountain and the mountain peaks will recall remembrances of his marches.

Posterity will recall the sublime faith and courage with which, when the end came, you turned your faces homeward, and there picking up the web of life, where the sword had cut it, you’ve began again where you left off four years before.

Your powerful aid dissipated the evil influences that came over your native land. You cleared your fields of the brambles that had grown up, and your government of the bad men, who had been placed in power. Honor and integrity became again are the attendants of your public services.

You did all this and more, and that will stand for your everlasting honor. In the struggle from 1861 to 1865 you were faithful to the highest ideals of the soldier, and years following you were equal to the highest duties of a citizen.

Patriotism is a part of your very existence. The stress of years and the storm of battle have reduced your numbers and enfeebled your steps.

The heads of the survivors have whitened with the snows that never melt, but your patriotism has not diminished with your numbers or your strength and the state has none more jealous of her honor or more obedient to her laws.


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