Зображення сторінки

triumphs of German and Italian unity, which has despoiled the Papacy of its temporal power, which has secured the British Empire in India, which has introduced so prominently the principle of arbitration in the settlement of national disputes, which has wrought such surpassing deeds of missionary enlightenment in India, in Madagascar, and the South Seas, and whose wonders of science and industry and invention have been paralleled in no age. The nineteenth century is not purblind. It has good eyes. It has a good heart also, and will not suffer itself to be hoodwinked. It is, therefore, likely to see its true defense as well as its peril. It knows better than to seek to quell its fears by force alone, and will surely learn — is begin. ning already to learn *- that its labor-saving inventions are not of themselves going to lighten the burden of labor ; that its social science can give neither the impulse nor the ground for social progress; that its increase of wealth, its industry, its intelligence, instead of being instruments of defense, may all be turned into deadly weapons of destruction; that self-interest does not secure self-preservation; and that in the principle of self-forgetfulness, wherein each one pleases not himself but his neighbor, even as Christ pleased not himself, is the only true means of social safety and strength and growth.

It would be a very narrow intellect which should think lightly of those triumphs of invention or achievements of science which form so prominent a characteristic of the present age; but it would be a very short-sighted vision which should not see the inaptitude of these to secure social perfection. The penetrating thought will reach to the full requirements of the case; and the nineteenth century, not lacking in penetration, will see that it can only be saved, and will only be satisfied, by becoming more Christlike.

These positions do not rest upon the optimistic persuasion that there is in human nature an inherent tendency to a progressive improvement, for such a persuasion cannot be justified by facts. When we look at history comprehensively, no such tendency appears. Viewed simply in respect of extent of territory or numbers embraced, deterioration shows more prominently in the actual history of the world than progress. Arts and litera

*“It is questionable,” says John Stuart Mill, "if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being."“Polit. Econ," B. 10; ch. 6.

tures and civilizations and religions have decayed far oftener than they have manifested an increasing growth.

Taking the facts as they are, without prejudging them by any theory, human nature shows a singular aptitude to slip away from its vantage-grounds, as though it was far more powerfully controlled by a proclivity to a lower state, than by an impulse to a higher one. This aptitude is just as evident today as ever. No one can look carefully at our present civilization without noting signs of evil which in other civilizations have been portents of ruin. But, in the words of the sagacious Niebuhr, “as the consideration of nature shows an inherent intelligence which may also be conceived as coherent with nature, so does history, on a hundred occasions, show an intelligence which is distinct from nature, which conducts and determines those things which may seem to us accidental; and it is not true that the study of history weakens the belief in a Divine Providence. History is, of all kinds of knowledge, the one which tends most decidedly to this belief." There is thus another factor than human agency, entering into the product of human history. The historical evidence alone, closely scrutinized, shows what can only be denominated a divine superintendence. The historical movement is a movement with a divine purpose, of whose meaning we get glimpses, with increasing clearness from increasing study of the actual procedure. The incarnation of the Son of God is the focal point to which all lines preceding it con: erge, and from which radiate the most potent influences in the subsequent history of the world. These influences are still mighty. They are an exhaustless source of power. They show themselves guided by unerring wisdom. We need not therefore anticipate from them either a mistake or a failure. They preach to us courage, even while human endeavors, left to themselves, are as likely as ever to end in disaster.



PUBLIC attention having of late been occasionally called to some of the events that occurred in the closing scenes of the Virginia campaign, terminating at Appomattox Court-house, April 9, 1865, I feel it my duty to give to history the following facts:

When, April 4, 1865, being at the head of the cavalry, I threw across the line of General Lee's march, at Jettersville, on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, my personal escort, the First United States Cavalry, numbering about 200 men, a tall, lank man was seen coming down the road from the direction of Amelia Court-house, riding a small mule and heading toward Burkesville Junction, to which point General Crook had, early that morning, been ordered with his division of cavalry, to break the railroad and telegraph lines. The man and the mule were brought to a halt, and the mule and himself closely examined, under strong remonstrances at the indignity done to a Southern gentleman. Remonstrance, however, was without avail, and in his boots two telegrams were found from the Commissary-General of Lee's army, saying: “The army is at Amelia Courthouse, short of provisions; send 300,000 rations quickly to Burkesville Junction.” One of these dispatches was for the Confederate Supply Department at Danville, the other for that at Lynchburg. It was at once presumed that, after the dispatches were written, the telegraph line had been broken by General Crook north of Burkesville, and they were on their way to some station beyond the break, to be telegraphed. They revealed where Lee was, and from them some estimate could also be formed of the number of his troops. Orders were at once given to General Crook to come up the road from Burkesville to Jettersville, and to General Merritt, who, with the other two divisions of cavalry, had followed the road from Petersburg, on the south side of and near the Appomattox River, to close in without delay on Jettersville, while the Fifth Army Corps, under the lamented Griffin, which was about ten or fifteen miles behind, was marched at a quick pace to the same point, and the road in front of Lee's army blocked until the arrival of the balance of the army of the Potomac the afternoon of the next day. My command was pinched for provisions, and these dispatches indicated an opportunity to obtain a supply; so, calling for Lieutenant-Colonel Young, commanding my scouts, four men, in the most approved gray, were selected-good, brave, smart fellows, knowing every cavalry regiment in the Confederate army, and as good " Johnnies” as were in that army, so far as bearing and language were concerned. They were directed to go to Burkesville Junction and there separate. Two were to go down the Lynchburg branch of the railroad until a Confederate telegraph station was found, from which they were to transmit by wire the above-mentioned rebel dispatches, represent the suffering condition of Lee's army, watch for the trains, and hurry the provisions on to Burkesville, or in that direction. The other two were to go on the Danville branch, and had similar instructions. The mission was accomplished by those who went out on the Lynchburg branch, but I am not certain about the success of the other party; at all events, no rations came from Danville that I know of.

I arrived at Jettersville with the advance of my commandthe First United States Cavalry - on the afternoon of the 4th of April. I knew the condition and position of the rebel army from the dispatches referred to, and also from the following letter (erroneously dated April 5th), taken from a colored man who was captured later in the day :

“AMELIA C. H., April 5, 1865. "DEAR MAMMA: Our army is ruined, I fear. We are all safe as yet. Shyron left us sick. John Taylor is well; saw him yesterday. We are in line of battle this morning. General Robert Lee is in the field near us. My trust is still in the justice of our cause and that of God. General Hill is killed. I saw Murray a few minutes since. Bernard Terry ho said was takon prisoner, but may get out. I send this by a negro I geo passing up the railroad to Michlenburg. Love to all.

“Your devoted son,

“Wm. B. TAYLOR, Colonel.” I accordingly sent out my escort to demonstrate and make as much ado as they could, by continuous firing in front of the enemy at or near Amelia Court-house, pending the arrival of the Fifth Corps. That corps came up in the course of the afternoon, and was put into position at right angles with the Richmond and Danville road with its left resting on a pond or swamp on the left of the road. Toward evening General Crook arrived with his division of cavalry, and later General Merritt, with his two divisions; and all took their designated places. The Fifth Corps, after its arrival, had thrown up earth-works and made its position strong enough to hold out against any force for the period which would intervene before the arrival of the main body of the army of the Potomac, now rapidly coming up on the lines over which I had traveled.

On the afternoon and night of the 4th, no attack was made by the enemy upon the small force in his front,—the Fifth Corps and three divisions of cavalry,—and by the morning of the 5th, I began to believe that he would leave the main road if he could, and pass around my left flank to Sailor's Creek and Farmville. To watch this suspected movement, early on the morning of the 5th, I sent Davies's brigade of Crook's division of cavalry, to make a reconnoissance in that direction. The result was an encounter by Davies with a large train of wagons, under escort, moving in the direction anticipated. The train was attacked by him, and about 200 wagons were burned, and five pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners captured. In the afternoon of April 5th, the main body of the army of the Potomac came up. General Meade was unwell and requested me to put the troops in position, which I did, in line of battle, facing the enemy at Amelia Court-house. I thought it best to attack at once, but this was not done. I then began to be afraid the enemy would, in the night, by a march to the right from Amelia Court-house, attempt to pass our left flank and again put us in the rear of his retreating columns. Under this impression I sent to General Grant the following dispatch:


JETTERSVILLE, April 5, 1865.-3 P. M. “Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commanding Armies of the United States.

General: I send you the enclosed letter, which will give you an idea of the condition of the enemy and their whereabouts. I sent General Davies's brigade this morning around on my left flank. He captured at Fames's Cross-roads five pieces of artillery, about 200 wagons, and eight or nine battle-flags, and a number of prisoners. The Second Army Corps is now

« НазадПродовжити »