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VII. The Hampton Roads' Conference. A Conclusive State-
NoTH.-—The foot-note at page 105, added by the Editor, it seems, refers to
Southern Historical Society Papers.
Vol. XXV. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1897.
The Career of Wise's Brigade, 1861-5.
Delivered by GENERAL HENRY A. WISE, near Cappahoosic,
The following graphic address, is now first printed, from the original manuscript in the autograph of the "Noble Old Roman" who died at Richmond,Va., Sept. 12, 1876, an "unrepentant rebel," without government pardon.
It is unfortunately undated, and without definite statement of place of deliv ery. The object appears to have been to secure funds to meet the cost of gathering together the remains of soldiers from Gloucester county, who died in defence of the South, and to duly mark their graves. A monument has been since erected at Gloucester Courthouse.
The address has been furnished by Mr. Barton Haxall Wise, a young lawyer of Richmond, Va., who has in preparation a life of his distinguished grandfather, whose public services thread the warp of our National history for quite a half century:
Surviving Comrades of the Confederate War,
of the County of Gloucester, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The people of no section of the South were more self-sacrificing in their devotion to the "Confederate Cause," or more heroic in its defence, than were the inhabitants of the five peninsulas lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock, the Rappahannock and the York, the York and the James, the James and the Nottoway, and the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
The whole Atlantic and Bay Coasts from Hatteras to Assateague Island and the mouth of the Potomac river, were accessible to war steamers far above the head of tidewater, and the rivers and estuaries so parted each from the others that they could not readily or
adequately support each other in their defences. None were more exposed to the ravages of war, and none worse scourged by them than were these people between the Rappahannock and the York. Homes, houses, labor, fences, crops, provisions, furniture, teams, stock, household necessaries and comforts, things of affection and things sacred, the very cradles and graves of families, the persons of women and children, and the lives and personal liberty of men were all alike exposed to the dangers and disasters of both servile and civil war; and from the first to the last of hostilities all that the inhabitants of the low-lands had and held dear was laid under the guns of invading and marauding na\ ies and armies. There was no mode of escape, no place of refuge. The defenceless condition was unmitigated, the enemy was unscrupulous and relentless. The fathers and sons and brothers could not stay by the firesides and altars and defend them, and they could not leave them without vengeance being taken for their absence; yet, mainly, they obeyed the calls of duty, honor and patriotism, left all to the Providence of God and the fate of war, and betook themselves, with manly decision, to the camps of the Confederate soldiers, joined them in their privations, endured their marches, hungered and thirsted with them, helped to fight their glorious battles, braved their dangers, shouted in their victories, wept in their defeats, and did all that good and true men could do for country, kindred, honor and renown, from the first, the tocsin gun of Fort Sumter, to the stacking of arms at Appomattox.
We are here to-day not only to collect the means to gather the remains of their dead, but to plead that the good which the living and the dead did, shall not be interred with their bones.
Of these patriotic heroes and martyrs, it becomes me to speak. They were the comrades of my command. They largely filled the rank and file of my noble Brigade, and I know full well where to place them in the estimation of men and soldiers. In speaking of them I do not shrink from being compelled to speak of myself. To have been associated with them; to have been the General who ordered them; to have had their confidence and cheerful obedience; to have had the sympathy of their brave hearts; to have been loved by them as well as to have led and loved them; to have shared with them privations and dangers; to have shouted with them in the charge and in victory, and to have wept with them when all was lost, made of me, even me, that "stern stuff," of which they were composed in earnest, in the unsuccessful because unequal struggle of a war for a principle, a faith, and a feeling, without counting the cost