Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Hero Tales From American History by Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

leading a charge on the enemy. I immediately mounted my horse and
rode in the direction of the charge, and saw no more of the
officer who had delivered the message; I think not even to this
day." When Grant reached Vicksburg, there was no further talk of
recalling him to Grand Gulf or Port Hudson. The authorities at
Washington then saw plainly enough what had been done in the
interior of Mississippi, far from the reach of telegraphs or

As soon as the National troops reached Vicksburg an assault was
attempted, but the place was too strong, and the attack was
repulsed, with heavy loss. Grant then settled down to a siege,
and Lincoln and Halleck now sent him ample reinforcements. He no
longer needed to ask for them. His campaign had explained itself,
and in a short time he had seventy thousand men under his
command. His lines were soon made so strong that it was
impossible for the defenders of Vicksburg to break through them,
and although Johnston had gathered troops again to the eastward,
an assault from that quarter on the National army, now so largely
reinforced, was practically out of the question. Tighter and
tighter Grant drew his lines about the city, where, every day,
the suffering became more intense. It is not necessary to give
the details of the siege. On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg surrendered,
the Mississippi was in control of the National forces from its
source to its mouth, and the Confederacy was rent in twain. On
the same day Lee was beaten at Gettysburg, and these two great
victories really crushed the Rebellion, although much hard
fighting remained to be done before the end was reached.

Grant's campaign against Vicksburg deserves to be compared with
that of Napoleon which resulted in the fall of Ulm. It was the
most brilliant single campaign of the war. With an inferior
force, and abandoning his lines of communication, moving with a
marvelous rapidity through a difficult country, Grant struck the
superior forces of the enemy on the line from Jackson to
Vicksburg. He crushed Johnston before Pemberton could get to him,
and he flung Pemberton back into Vicksburg before Johnston could
rally from the defeat which had been inflicted. With an inferior
force, Grant was superior at every point of contest, and he won
every fight. Measured by the skill displayed and the result
achieved, there is no campaign in our history which better
deserves study and admiration.


Brave, good, and true,
I see him stand before me now,
And read again on that young brow,
Where every hope was new,
HOW SWEET WERE LIFE! Yet, by the mouth firm-set,
And look made up for Duty's utmost debt,
I could divine he knew
That death within the sulphurous hostile lines,
In the mere wreck of nobly-pitched designs,
Plucks hearts-ease, and not rue.

Right in the van,
On the red ramparts slippery swell,
With heart that beat a charge, he fell,
Foeward, as fits a man;
But the high soul burns on to light men's feet
Where death for noble ends makes dying sweet;
His life her crescent's span
Orbs full with share in their undarkening days
Who ever climbed the battailous steeps of praise
Since valor's praise began.

We bide our chance,
Unhappy, and make terms with Fate
A little more to let us wait;
He leads for aye the advance,
Hope's forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good
For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;
Our wall of circumstance
Cleared at a bound, he flashes o'er the fight,
A saintly shape of fame, to cheer the right
And steel each wavering glance.

I write of one,
While with dim eyes I think of three;
Who weeps not others fair and brave as he?
Ah, when the fight is won,
Dear Land, whom triflers now make bold to scorn
(Thee from whose forehead Earth awaits her morn),
How nobler shall the sun
Flame in thy sky, how braver breathe thy air,
That thou bred'st children who for thee could dare
And die as thine have done.


Robert Gould Shaw was born in Boston on October 10, 1837, the son
of Francis and Sarah Sturgis Shaw. When he was about nine years
old, his parents moved to Staten Island, and he was educated
there, and at school in the neighborhood of New York, until he
went to Europein 1853, where he remained traveling and studying
for the next three years. He entered Harvard College in 1856, and
left at the end of his third year, in order to accept an
advantageous business offer in New York.

Even as a boy he took much interest in politics, and especially
in the question of slavery. He voted for Lincoln in 1860, and at
that time enlisted as a private in the New York 7th Regiment,
feeling that there was likelihood of trouble, and that there
would be a demand for soldiers to defend the country. His
foresight was justified only too soon, and on April 19, 1861, he
marched with his regiment to Washington. The call for the 7th
Regiment was only for thirty days, and at the expiration of that
service he applied for and obtained a commission as second
lieutenant in the 2d Massachusetts, and left with that regiment
for Virginia in July, 1861. He threw himself eagerly into his new
duties, and soon gained a good position in the regiment. At Cedar
Mountain he was an aid on General Gordon's staff, and was greatly
exposed in the performance of his duties during the action. He
was also with his regiment at Antietam, and was in the midst of
the heavy fighting of that great battle.

Early in 1863, the Government determined to form negro regiments,
and Governor Andrew offered Shaw, who had now risen to the rank
of captain, the colonelcy of one to be raised in Massachusetts,
the first black regiment recruited under State authority. It was
a great compliment to receive this offer, but Shaw hesitated as
to his capacity for such a responsible post. He first wrote a
letter declining, on the ground that he did not feel that he had
ability enough for the undertaking, and then changed his mind,
and telegraphed Governor Andrew that he would accept. It is not
easy to realize it now, but his action then in accepting this
command required high moral courage, of a kind quite different
from that which he had displayed already on the field of battle.
The prejudice against the blacks was still strong even in the
North. There was a great deal of feeling among certain classes
against enlisting black regiments at all, and the officers who
undertook to recruit and lead negroes were. exposed to much
attack and criticism. Shaw felt,however, that this very
opposition made it all the more incumbent on him to undertake the
duty. He wrote on February 8:

After I have undertaken this work, I shall feel that what I have
to do is to prove that the negro can be made a good soldier. . .
. I am inclined to think that the undertaking will not meet with
so much opposition as was at first supposed. All sensible men in
the army, of all parties, after a little thought, say that it is
the best thing that can be done, and surely those at home who are
not brave or patriotic enough to enlist should not ridicule or
throw obstacles in the way of men who are going to fight for
them. There is a great prejudice against it, but now that it has
become a government matter, that will probably wear away. At any
rate I sha'n't be frightened out of it by its unpopularity. I
feel convinced I shall never regret having taken this step, as
far as I myself am concerned; for while I was undecided, I felt
ashamed of myself as if I were cowardly.

Colonel Shaw went at once to Boston, after accepting his new
duty, and began the work of raising and drilling the 54th
Regiment. He met with great success, for he and his officers
labored heart and soul, and the regiment repaid their efforts. On
March 30, he wrote: "The mustering officer who was here to-day is
a Virginian, and has always thought it was a great joke to try to
make soldiers of 'niggers,' but he tells me now that he has never
mustered in so fine a set of men, though about twenty thousand
had passed through his hands since September." On May 28, Colonel
Shaw left Boston, and his march through the city was a triumph.
The appearance of his regiment made a profound impression, and
was one of the events of the war which those who saw it never

The regiment was ordered to South Carolina, and when they were
off Cape Hatteras, Colonel Shaw wrote:

The more I think of the passage of the 54th through Boston, the
more wonderful it seems to me. just remember our own doubts and
fears, and other people's sneering and pitying remarks when we
began last winter, and then look at the perfect triumph of last
Thursday. We have gone quietly along, forming the first regiment,
and at last left Boston amidst greater enthusiasm than has been
seen since the first three months' troops left for the war.
Truly, I ought to be thankful for all my happiness and my success
in life so far; and if the raising of colored troops prove such a
benefit to the country and to the blacks as many people think it
will, I shall thank God a thousand times that I was led to take
my share in it.

He had, indeed, taken his share in striking one of the most fatal
blows to the barbarism of slavery which had yet been struck. The
formation of the black regiments did more for the emancipation of
the negro and the recognition of his rights, than almost anything
else. It was impossible, after that, to say that men who fought
and gave their lives for the Union and for their own freedom were
not entitled to be free. The acceptance of the command of a black
regiment by such men as Shaw and his fellow-officers was the
great act which made all this possible.

After reaching South Carolina, Colonel Shaw was with his regiment
at Port Royal and on the islands of that coast for rather more
than a month, and on July 18 he was offered the post of honor in
an assault upon Fort Wagner, which was ordered for that night. He
had proved that the negroes could be made into a good regiment,
and now the second great opportunity had come, to prove their
fighting quality. He wanted to demonstrate that his men could
fight side by side with white soldiers, and show to somebody
beside their officers what stuff they were made of. He,
therefore, accepted the dangerous duty with gladness. Late in the
day the troops were marched across Folly and Morris islands and
formed in line of battle within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner.
At half-past seven the order for the charge was given, and the
regiment advanced. When they were within a hundred yards of the
fort, the rebel fire opened with such effect that the first
battalion hesitated and wavered. Colonel Shaw sprang to the
front, and waving his sword, shouted: "Forward, 54th!" With
another cheer, the men rushed through the ditch, and gained a
parapet on the right. Colonel Shaw was one of the first to scale
the walls. As he stood erect, a noble figure, ordering his men
forward and shouting to them to press on, he was shot dead and
fell into the fort. After his fall, the assault was repulsed.

General Haywood, commanding the rebel forces, said to a Union
prisoner: "I knew Colonel Shaw before the war, and then esteemed
him. Had he been in command of white troops, I should have given
him an honorable burial. As it is, I shall bury him in the common
trench, with the negroes that fell with him." He little knew that
he was giving the dead soldier the most honorable burial that man
could have devised, for the savage words told unmistakably that
Robert Shaw's work had not been in vain. The order to bury him
with his "niggers," which ran through the North and remained
fixed in our history, showed, in a flash of light, the hideous
barbarism of a system which made such things and such feelings
possible. It also showed that slavery was wounded to the death,
and that the brutal phrase was the angry snarl of a dying tiger.
Such words rank with the action of Charles Stuart, when he had
the bones of Oliver Cromwell and Robert Blake torn from their
graves and flung on dunghills or fixed on Temple Bar.

Robert Shaw fell in battle at the head of his men, giving his
life to his country, as did many another gallant man during those
four years of conflict. But he did something more than this. He
faced prejudice and hostility in the North, and confronted the
blind and savage rage of the South, in order to demonstrate to
the world that the human beings who were held in bondage could
vindicate their right to freedom by fighting and dying for it. He
helped mightily in the great task of destroying human slavery,
and in uplifting an oppressed and down-trodden race. He brought
to this work the qualities which were particularly essential for
his success. He had all that birth and wealth, breeding,
education, and tradition could give. He offered up, in full
measure, all those things which make life most worth living. He
was handsome and beloved. He had a serene and beautiful nature,
and was at once brave and simple. Above all things, he was fitted
for the task which he performed and for the sacrifice which he
made. The call of the country and of the time came to him, and he
was ready. He has been singled out for remembrance from among
many others of equal sacrifice, and a monument is rising to his
memory in Boston, because it was his peculiar fortune to live and
die for a great principle of humanity, and to stand forth as an
ideal and beautiful figure in a struggle where the onward march
of civilization was at stake. He lived in those few and crowded
years a heroic life, and he met a heroic death. When he fell,
sword in hand, on the parapet of Wagner, leading his black troops
in a desperate assault, we can only say of him as Bunyan said of
"Valiant for Truth": "And then he passed over, and all the
trumpets sounded for him on the other side."


Wut's wurds to them whose faith an' truth
On war's red techstone rang true metal,
Who ventered life an' love an, youth
For the gret prize o' death in battle?

To him who, deadly hurt, agen
Flashed on afore the charge's thunder,
Tippin' with fire the bolt of men
Thet rived the rebel line asunder?


Charles Russell Lowell was born in Boston, January 2, 1835. He
was the eldest son of Charles Russell and Anna Cabot (Jackson)
Lowell, and the nephew of James Russell Lowell. He bore the name,
distinguished in many branches, of a family which was of the best
New England stock. Educated in the Boston public schools, he
entered Harvard College in 1850. Although one of the youngest
members of his class, he went rapidly to the front, and graduated
not only the first scholar of his year, but the foremost man of
his class. He was, however, much more than a fine scholar, for
even then he showed unusual intellectual qualities. He read
widely and loved letters. He was a student of philosophy and
religion, a thinker, and, best of all, a man of ideals--"the
glory of youth," as he called them in his valedictory oration.
But he was something still better and finer than a mere idealist;
he was a man of action, eager to put his ideals into practice and
bring them to the test of daily life. With his mind full of plans
for raising the condition of workingmen while he made his own
career, he entered the iron mills of the Ames Company, at
Chicopee. Here he remained as a workingman for six months, and
then received an important post in the Trenton Iron Works of New
Jersey. There his health broke down. Consumption threatened him,
and all his bright hopes and ambitions were overcast and checked.
He was obliged to leave his business and go to Europe, where he
traveled for two years, fighting the dread disease that was upon
him. In 1858 he returned, and took a position on a Western
railroad. Although the work was new to him, he manifested the
same capacity that he had always shown, and more especially his
power over other men and his ability in organization. In two
years his health was reestablished, and in 1860 he took charge of
the Mount Savage Iron Works, at Cumberland, Maryland. He was
there when news came of the attack made by the mob upon the 6th
Massachusetts Regiment, in Baltimore. Two days later he had made
his way to Washington, one of the first comers from the North,
and at once applied for a commission in the regular army. While
he was waiting, he employed himself in looking after the
Massachusetts troops, and also, it is understood, as a scout for
the Government, dangerous work which suited his bold and
adventurous nature.

In May he received his commission as captain in the United States
cavalry. Employed at first in recruiting and then in drill, he
gave himself up to the study of tactics and the science of war.
The career above all others to which he was suited had come to
him. The field, at last, lay open before him, where all his great
qualities of mind and hearthis high courage, his power of
leadership and of organization, and his intellectual powers could
find full play. He moved rapidly forward, just as he had already
done in college and in business. His regiment, in 1862, was under
Stoneman in the Peninsula, and was engaged in many actions, where
Lowell's cool bravery made him constantly conspicuous. At the
close of the campaign he was brevetted major, for distinguished
services at Williamsburg and Slatersville.

In July, Lowell was detailed for duty as an aid to General
McClellan. At Malvern Hill and South Mountain his gallantry and
efficiency were strongly shown, but it was at Antietam that he
distinguished himself most. Sent with orders to General
Sedgwick's division, he found it retreating in confusion, under a
hot fire. He did not stop to think of orders, but rode rapidly
from point to point of the line, rallying company after company
by the mere force and power of his word and look, checking the
rout, while the storm of bullets swept all round him. His horse
was shot under him, a ball passed through his coat, another broke
his sword-hilt, but he came off unscathed, and his service was
recognized by his being sent to Washington with the captured
flags of the enemy.

The following winter he was ordered to Boston, to recruit a
regiment of cavalry, of which he was appointed colonel. While the
recruiting was going on, a serious mutiny broke out, but the man
who, like Cromwell's soldiers, "rejoiced greatly" in the day of
battle was entirely capable of meeting this different trial. He
shot the ringleader dead, and by the force of his own strong will
quelled the outbreak completely and at once.

In May, he went to Virginia with his regiment, where he was
engaged in resisting and following Mosby, and the following
summer he was opposed to General Early in the neighborhood of
Washington. On July 14, when on a reconnoissance his advance
guard was surprised, and he met them retreating in wild
confusion, with the enemy at their heels. Riding into the midst
of the fugitives, Lowell shouted, "Dismount!" The sharp word of
command, the presence of the man himself, and the magic of
discipline prevailed. The men sprang down, drew up in line,
received the enemy, with a heavy fire, and as the assailants
wavered, Lowell advanced at once, and saved the day.

In July, he was put in command of the "Provisional Brigade," and
joined the army of the Shenandoah, of which in August General
Sheridan took command. He was so struck with Lowell's work during
the next month that in September he put him in command of the
"Reserved Brigade," a very fine body of cavalry and artillery. In
the fierce and continuous fighting that ensued Lowell was
everywhere conspicuous, and in thirteen weeks he had as many
horses shot under him. But he now had scope to show more than the
dashing gallantry which distinguished him always and everywhere.
His genuine military ability, which surely would have led him to
the front rank of soldiers had his life been spared, his
knowledge, vigilance, and nerve all now became apparent. One
brilliant action succeeded another, but the end was drawing near.
It came at last on the famous day of Cedar Creek, when Sheridan
rode down from Winchester and saved the battle. Lowell had
advanced early in the morning on the right, and his attack
prevented the disaster on that wing which fell upon the surprised
army. He then moved to cover the retreat, and around to the
extreme left, where he held his position near Middletown against
repeated assaults. Early in the day his last horse was shot under
him, and a little later, in a charge at one o'clock, he was
struck in the right breast by a spent ball, which embedded itself
in the muscles of the chest. Voice and strength left him. "It is
only my poor lung," he announced, as they urged him to go to the
rear; "you would not have me leave the field without having shed
blood." As a matter of fact, the "poor" lung had collapsed, and
there was an internal hemorrhage. He lay thus, under a rude
shelter, for an hour and a half, and then came the order to
advance along the whole line, the victorious advance of Sheridan
and the rallied army. Lowell was helped to his saddle. "I feel
well now," he whispered, and, giving his orders through one of
his staff, had his brigade ready first. Leading the great charge,
he dashed forward, and, just when the fight was hottest, a sudden
cry went up: "The colonel is hit!" He fell from the saddle,
struck in the neck by a ball which severed the spine, and was
borne by his officers to a house in the village, where, clear in
mind and calm in spirit, he died a few hours afterward.

"I do not think there was a quality," said General Sheridan,
"which I could have added to Lowell. He was the perfection of a
man and a soldier." On October 19, the very day on which he fell,
his commission was signed to be a brigadier-general.

This was a noble life and a noble death, worthy of much thought
and admiration from all men. Yet this is not all. It is well for
us to see how such a man looked upon what he was doing, and what
it meant to him. Lowell was one of the silent heroes so much
commended by Carlyle. He never wrote of himself or his own
exploits. As some one well said, he had "the impersonality of
genius." But in a few remarkable passages in his private letters,
we can see how the meaning of life and of that great time
unrolled itself before his inner eyes. In June, 1861, he wrote:

I cannot say I take any great pleasure in the contemplation of
the future. I fancy you feel much as I do about the
profitableness of a soldier's life, and would not think of trying
it, were it not for a muddled and twisted idea that somehow or
other this fight was going to be one in which decent men ought to
engage for the sake of humanity,--I use the word in its ordinary
sense. It seems to me that within a year the slavery question
will again take a prominent place, and that many cases will arise
in which we may get fearfully in the wrong if we put our cause
wholly in the hands of fighting men and foreign legions.

In June, 1863, he wrote:

I wonder whether my theories about self-culture, etc., would ever
have been modified so much, whether I should ever have seen what
a necessary failure they lead to, had it not been for this war.
Now I feel every day, more and more, that a man has no right to
himself at all; that, indeed, he can do nothing useful unless he
recognizes this clearly. Here again, on July 3, is a sentence
which it is well to take to heart, and for all men to remember
when their ears are deafened with the cry that war, no matter
what the cause, is the worst thing possible, because it
interferes with comfort, trade, and money-making: "Wars are bad,"
Lowell writes, "but there are many things far worse. Anything
immediately comfortable in our affairs I don't see; but
comfortable times are not the ones t hat make a nation great." On
July 24, he says:

Many nations fail, that one may become great; ours will fail,
unless we gird up our loins and do humble and honest days' work,
without trying to do the thing by the job, or to get a great
nation made by a patent process. It is not safe to say that we
shall not have victories till we are ready for them. We shall
have victories, and whether or no we are ready for them depends
upon ourselves; if we are not ready, we shall fail,--voila tout.
If you ask, what if we do fail? I have nothing to say; I
shouldn't cry over a nation or two, more or less, gone under.

Finally, on September 10, a little more than a month before his
death, he wrote to a disabled officer:

I hope that you are going to live like a plain republican,
mindful of the beauty and of the duty of simplicity. Nothing
fancy now, sir, if you please; it's disreputable to spend money
when the government is so hard up, and when there are so many
poor officers. I hope that you have outgrown all foolish
ambitions, and are now content to become a "useful citizen."
Don't grow rich; if you once begin, you will find it much more
difficult to be a useful citizen. Don't seek office, but don't
"disremember" that the "useful citizen" always holds his time,
his trouble, his money, and his life ready at the hint of his
country. The useful citizen is a mighty, unpretending hero; but
we are not going to have any country very long, unless such
heroism is developed. There, what a stale sermon I'm preaching.
But, being a soldier, it does seem to me that I should like
nothing so well as being a useful citizen. Well, trying to be
one, I mean. I shall stay in the service, of course, till the war
is over, or till I'm disabled; but then I look forward to a
pleasanter career.

I believe I have lost all my ambitions. I don't think I would
turn my hand to be a distinguished chemist or a famous
mathematician. All I now care about is to be a useful citizen,
with money enough to buy bread and firewood, and to teach my
children to ride on horseback, and look strangers in the face,
especially Southern strangers.

There are profound and lofty lessons of patriotism and conduct in
these passages, and a very noble philosophy of life and duty both
as a man and as a citizen of a great republic. They throw a flood
of light on the great underlying forces which enabled the
American people to save themselves in that time of storm and
stress. They are the utterances of a very young man, not thirty
years old when he died in battle, but much beyond thirty in head
and heart, tried and taught as he had been in a great war. What
precisely such young men thought they were fighting for is put
strikingly by Lowell's younger brother James, who was killed at
Glendale, July 4, 1862. In 1861, James Lowell wrote to his
classmates, who had given him a sword:

Those who died for the cause, not of the Constitution and the
laws,--a superficial cause, the rebels have now the same,--but of
civilization and law, and the self-restrained freedom which is
their result. As the Greeks at Marathon and Salamis, Charles
Martel and the Franks at Tours, and the Germans at the Danube,
saved Europe from Asiatic barbarism, so we, at places to be
famous in future times, shall have saved America from a similar
tide of barbarism; and we may hope to be purified and
strengthened ourselves by the struggle.

This is a remarkable passage and a deep thought. Coming from a
young fellow of twenty-four, it is amazing. But the fiery trial
of the times taught fiercely and fast, and James Lowell, just out
of college, could see in the red light around him that not merely
the freedom of a race and the saving of a nation were at stake,
but that behind all this was the forward movement of
civilization, brought once again to the arbitrament of the sword.
Slavery was barbarous and barbarizing. It had dragged down the
civilization of the South to a level from which it would take
generations to rise up again. Was this barbarous force now to
prevail in the United States in the nineteenth century? Was it to
destroy a great nation, and fetter human progress in the New
World? That was the great question back of, beyond and above all.
Should this force of barbarism sweep conquering over the land,
wrecking an empire in its onward march, or should it be flung
back as Miltiades flung back Asia at Marathon, and Charles Martel
stayed the coming of Islam at Tours? The brilliant career, the
shining courage, best seen always where the dead were lying
thickest, the heroic death of Charles Lowell, are good for us all
to know and to remember. Yet this imperfect story of his life has
not been placed here for these things alone. Many thousand
others, officers and soldiers alike, in the great Civil War gave
their lives as freely as he, and brought to the service of their
country the best that was in them. He was a fine example of many
who, like him, offered up all they had for their country. But
Lowell was also something more than this. He was a high type of a
class, and a proof of certain very important things, and this is
a point worthy of much consideration.

The name of John Hampden stands out in the history of the
English-speaking people, admired and unquestioned. He was neither
a great statesman, nor a great soldier; he was not a brilliant
orator, nor a famous writer. He fell bravely in an unimportant
skirmish at Chalgrove Field, fighting for freedom and what he
believed to be right. Yet he fills a great place in the past,
both for what he did and what he was, and the reason for this is
of high importance. John Hampden was a gentleman, with all the
advantages that the accidents of birth could give. He was rich,
educated, well born, of high traditions. English civilization of
that day could produce nothing better. The memorable fact is
that, when the time came for the test, he did not fail. He was a
type of what was best among the English people, and when the call
sounded, he was ready. He was brave, honest, high-minded, and he
gave all, even his life, to his country. In the hour of need, the
representative of what was best and most fortunate in England was
put to the touch, and proved to be current gold. All men knew
what that meant, and Hampden's memory is one of the glories of
the English-speaking people.

Charles Lowell has the same meaning for us when rightly
understood. He had all that birth, breeding, education, and
tradition could give. The resources of our American life and
civilization could produce nothing better. How would he and such
men as he stand the great ordeal when it came? If wealth,
education, and breeding were to result in a class who could only
carp and criticize, accumulate money, give way to
self-indulgence, and cherish low foreign ideals, then would it
have appeared that there was a radical unsoundness in our
society, refinement would have been proved to be weakness, and
the highest education would have been shown to be a curse, rather
than a blessing. But Charles Lowell, and hundreds of others like
him, in greater or less degree, all over the land, met the great
test and emerged triumphant. The Harvard men may be taken as
fairly representing the colleges and universities of America.
Harvard had, in 1860, 4157 living graduates, and 823 students,
presumably over eighteen years old. Probably 3000 of her students
and graduates were of military age, and not physically
disqualified for military service. Of this number, 1230 entered
the Union army or navy. One hundred and fifty-six died in
service, and 67 were killed in action. Many did not go who might
have gone, unquestionably, but the record is a noble one. Nearly
one man of every two Harvard men came forward to serve his
country when war was at our gates, and this proportion holds
true, no doubt, of the other universities of the North. It is
well for the country, well for learning, well for our
civilization, that such a record was made at such a time. Charles
Lowell, and those like him, showed, once for all, that the men to
whom fortune had been kindest were capable of the noblest
patriotism, and shrank from no sacrifices. They taught the lesson
which can never be heard too often--that the man to whom the
accidents of birth and fortune have given most is the man who
owes most to his country. If patriotism should exist anywhere, it
should be strongest with such men as these, and their service
should be ever ready. How nobly Charles Lowell in this spirit
answered the great question, his life and death, alike
victorious, show to all men.


Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.


General Sheridan took command of the Army of the Shenandoah in
August, 1864. His coming was the signal for aggressive fighting,
and for a series of brilliant victories over the rebel army. He
defeated Early at Winchester and again at Fisher's Hill, while
General Torbert whipped Rosser in a subsequent action, where the
rout of the rebels was so complete that the fight was known as
the "Woodstock races." Sheridan's plan after this was to
terminate his campaign north of Staunton, and, returning thence,
to desolate the Valley, so as to make it untenable for the
Confederates, as well as useless as a granary or storehouse, and
then move the bulk of his armythrough Washington, and unite them
with General Grant in front of Petersburg. Grant, however, and
the authorities at Washington, were in favor of Sheridan's
driving Early into Eastern Virginia, and following up that line,
which Sheri dan himself believed to be a false move. This
important matter was in debate until October 16, when Sheridan,
having left the main body of his army at Cedar Creek under
General Wright, determined to go to Washington, and discuss the
question personally with General Halleck and the Secretary of
War. He reached Washington on the morning of the 17th about eight
o'clock, left there at twelve; and got back to Martinsburg the
same night about dark. At Martinsburg he spent the night, and the
next day, with his escort, rode to Winchester, reaching that
point between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of the
18th. He there heard that all was quiet at Cedar Creek and along
the front, and went to bed, expecting to reach his headquarters
and join the army the next day.

About six o'clock, on the morning of the 19th, it was reported to
him that artillery firing could be heard in the direction of
Cedar Creek, but as the sound was stated to be irregular and
fitful, he thought it only a skirmish. He, nevertheless, arose at
once, and had just finished dressing when another officer came
in, and reported that the firing was still going on in the same
direction, but that it did not sound like a general battle. Still
Sheridan was uneasy, and, after breakfasting, mounted his horse
between eight and nine o'clock, and rode slowly through
Winchester. When he reached the edge of the town he halted a
moment, and then heard the firing of artillery in an unceasing
roar. He now felt confident that a general battle was in
progress, and, as he rode forward, he was convinced, from the
rapid increase of the sound, that his army was failing back.
After he had crossed Mill Creek, just outside Winchester, and
made the crest of the rise beyond the stream, there burst upon
his view the spectacle of a panic-stricken army. Hundreds of
slightly wounded men, with hundreds more unhurt, but demoralized,
together with baggage wagons and trains, were all pressing to the
rear, in hopeless confusion.

There was no doubt now that a disaster had occurred at the front.
A fugitive told Sheridan that the army was broken and in full
retreat, and that all was lost. Sheridan at once sent word to
Colonel Edwards, commanding a brigade at Winchester, to stretch
his troops across the valley, and stop all fugitives. His first
idea was to make a stand there, but, as he rode along, a
different plan flashed into his mind. He believed that his troops
had great confidence in him, and he determined to try to restore
their broken ranks, and, instead of merely holding the ground at
Winchester, to rally his army, and lead them forward again to
Cedar Creek. He had hardly made up his mind to this course, when
news was brought to him that his headquarters at Cedar Creek were
captured, and the troops dispersed. He started at once, with
about twenty men as an escort, and rode rapidly to the front. As
he passed along, the unhurt men, who thickly lined the road,
recognized him, and, as they did so, threw up their hats,
shouldered their muskets, and followed him as fast as they could
on foot. His officers rode out on either side to tell the
stragglers that the general had returned, and, as the news spread
the retreating men in every direction rallied, and turned their
faces toward the battle-field they had left.

In his memoirs, Sheridan says, in speaking of his ride through
the retreating troops: "I said nothing, except to remark, as I
rode among them 'If I had been with you this morning, this
disaster would not have happened. We must face the other way. We
will go back and recover our camp.'" Thus he galloped on over the
twenty miles, with the men rallying behind him, and following him
in ever increasing numbers. As he went by, the panic of retreat
was replaced by the ardor of battle. Sheridan had not
overestimate the power of enthusiasm or his own ability to rouse
it to fighting pitch. He pressed steadily on to the front, until
at last he came up to Getty's division of the 6th Corps, which,
with the cavalry, were the only troops who held their line and
were resisting the enemy. Getty's division was about a mile north
of Middletown on some slightly rising ground, and were
skirmishing with the enemy's pickets. Jumping a rail fence,
Sheridan rode to the crest of the hill, and, as he took off his
hat, the men rose up from behind the barricades with cheers of

It is impossible to follow in detail Sheridan's actions from that
moment, but he first brought up the 19th Corps and the two
divisions of Wright to the front. He then communicated with
Colonel Lowell, who was fighting near Middletown with his men
dismounted, and asked him if he could hold on where he was, to
which Lowell replied in the affirmative. All this and many
similar quickly-given orders consumed a great deal of time, but
still the men were getting into line, and at last, seeing that
the enemy were about to renew the attack, Sheridan rode along the
line so that the men could all see him. He was received with the
wildest enthusiasm as he rode by, and the spirit of the army was
restored. The rebel attack was made shortly after noon, and was
repulsed by General Emory.

This done, Sheridan again set to work to getting his line
completely restored, while General Merritt charged and drove off
an exposed battery of the Confederates. By halfpast three
Sheridan was ready to attack. The fugitives of the morning, whom
he had rallied as he rode from Winchester, were again in their
places, and the different divisions were all disposed in their
proper positions. With the order to advance, the whole line
pressed forward. The Confederates at first resisted stubbornly,
and then began to retreat. On they went past Cedar Creek, and
there, where the pike made a sharp turn to the west toward
Fisher's Hill, Merritt and Custer fell on the flank of the
retreating columns, and the rebel army fell back, routed and
broken, up the Valley. The day had begun in route and defeat; it
ended in a great victory for the Union army.

How near we had been to a terrible disaster can be realized by
recalling what had happened before the general galloped down from

In Sheridan's absence, Early, soon after dawn, had made an
unexpected attack on our army at Cedar Creek. Surprised by the
assault, the national troops had given way in all directions, and
a panic had set in. Getty's division with Lowell's cavalry held
on at Middletown, but, with this exception, the rout was
complete. When Sheridan rode out of Winchester, he met an already
beaten army. His first thought was the natural one to make a
stand at Winchester and rally his troops about him there. His
second thought was the inspiration of the great commander. He
believed his men would rally as soon as they saw him. He believed
that enthusiasm was one of the great weapons of war, and that
this was the moment of all others when it might be used with
decisive advantage. With this thought in his mind he abandoned
the idea of forming his men at Winchester, and rode bareheaded
through the fugitives, swinging his hat, straight for the front,
and calling on his men as he passed to follow him. As the
soldiers saw him, they turned and rushed after him. He had not
calculated in vain upon the power of personal enthusiasm, but, at
the same time, he did not rely upon any wild rush to save the
day. The moment he reached the field of battle, he set to work
with the coolness of a great soldier to make all the
dispositions, first, to repel the enemy, and then to deliver an
attack which could not be resisted. One division after another
was rapidly brought into line and placed in position, the thin
ranks filling fast with the soldiers who had recovered from their
panic, and followed Sheridan and the black horse all the way down
from Winchester. He had been already two hours on the field when,
at noon, he rode along the line, again formed for battle. Most of
the officers and men then thought he had just come, while in
reality it was his own rapid work which had put them in the line
along which he was riding.

Once on the field of battle, the rush and hurry of the desperate
ride from Winchester came to an end. First the line was reformed,
then the enemy's assault was repulsed, and it was made impossible
for them to again take the offensive. But Sheridan, undazzled by
his brilliant success up to this point, did not mar his work by
overhaste. Two hours more passed before he was ready, and then,
when all was prepared, with his ranks established and his army
ranged in position, he moved his whole line forward, and won one
of the most brilliant battles of the war, having, by his personal
power over his troops, and his genius in action, snatched a
victory from a day which began in surprise, disaster, and defeat.


God give us peace! Not such as lulls to sleep,
But sword on thigh, and brow with purpose knit!
And let our Ship of State to harbor sweep,
Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit,
And her leashed thunders gathering for their leap!


The great Civil War was remarkable in many ways, but in no way
more remarkable than for the extraordinary mixture of inventive
mechanical genius and of resolute daring shown by the combatants.
After the first year, when the contestants had settled down to
real fighting, and the preliminary mob work was over, the battles
were marked by their extraordinary obstinacy and heavy loss. In
no European conflict since the close of the Napoleonic wars has
the fighting been anything like as obstinate and as bloody as was
the fighting in our own Civil War. In addition to this fierce and
dogged courage, this splendid fighting capacity, the contest also
brought out the skilled inventive power of engineer and
mechanician in a way that few other contests have ever done.

This was especially true of the navy. The fighting under and
against Farragut and his fellow-admirals revolutionized naval
warfare. The Civil War marks the break between the old style and
the new. Terrible encounters took place when the terrible new
engines of war were brought into action for the first time; and
one of these encounters has given an example which, for heroic
daring combined with cool intelligence, is unsurpassed in all

The Confederates showed the same skill and energy in building
their great ironclad rams as the men of the Union did in building
the monitors which were so often pitted against them. Both sides,
but especially the Confederates, also used stationary torpedoes,
and, on a number of occasions, torpedo-boats likewise. These
torpedoboats were sometimes built to go under the water. One
such, after repeated failures, was employed by the Confederates,
with equal gallantry and success, in sinking a Union sloop of war
off Charleston harbor, the torpedoboat itself going down to the
bottom with its victim, all on board being drowned. The other
type of torpedo-boat was simply a swift, ordinary steam-launch,
operated above water.

It was this last type of boat which Lieutenant W. B. Cushing
brought down to Albemarle Sound to use against the great
Confederate ram Albemarle. The ram had been built for the purpose
of destroying the Union blockading forces. Steaming down river,
she had twice attacked the Federal gunboats, and in each case had
sunk or disabled one or more of them, with little injury to
herself. She had retired up the river again to lie at her wharf
and refit. The gunboats had suffered so severely as to make it a
certainty that when she came out again, thoroughly fitted to
renew the attack, the wooden vessels would be destroyed; and
while she was in existence, the Union vessels could not reduce
the forts and coast towns. Just at this time Cushing came down
from the North with his swift little torpedo-boat, an open
launch, with a spar-rigged out in front, the torpedo being placed
at the end. The crew of the launch consisted of fifteen men,
Cushing being in command. He not only guided his craft, but
himself handled the torpedo by means of two small ropes, one of
which put it in place, while the other exploded it. The action of
the torpedo was complicated, and it could not have been operated
in a time of tremendous excitement save by a man of the utmost
nerve and self-command; but Cushing had both. He possessed
precisely that combination of reckless courage, presence of mind,
and high mental capacity necessary to the man who leads a forlorn
hope under peculiarly difficult circumstances.

On the night of October 27, 1864, Cushing slipped away from the
blockading fleet, and steamed up river toward the wharf, a dozen
miles distant, where the great ram lay. The Confederates were
watchful to guard against surprise, for they feared lest their
foes should try to destroy the ram before she got a chance to
come down and attack them again in the Sound. She lay under the
guns of a fort, with a regiment of troops ready at a moment's
notice to turn out and defend her. Her own guns were kept always
clear for action, and she was protected by a great boom of logs
thrown out roundabout; of which last defense the Northerners knew

Cushing went up-stream with the utmost caution, and by good luck
passed, unnoticed, a Confederate lookout below the ram.

About midnight he made his assault. Steaming quietly on through
the black water, and feeling his way cautiously toward where he
knew the town to be, he finally made out the loom of the
Albemarle through the night, and at once drove at her. He was
almost upon her before he was discovered; then the crew and the
soldiers on the wharf opened fire, and, at the same moment, he
was brought-to by the boom, the existence of which he had not
known. The rifle balls were singing round him as he stood erect,
guiding his launch, and he heard the bustle of the men aboard the
ram, and the noise of the great guns as they were got ready.
Backing off, he again went all steam ahead, and actually surged
over the slippery logs of the boom. Meanwhile, on the Albemarle
the sailors were running to quarters, and the soldiers were
swarming down to aid in her defense; and the droning bullets came
always thicker through the dark night. Cushing still stood
upright in his little craft, guiding and controlling her by voice
and signal, while in his hands he kept the ropes which led to the
torpedo. As the boat slid forward over the boom, he brought the
torpedo full against the somber side of the huge ram, and
instantly exploded it, almost at the same time that the pivot-gun
of the ram, loaded with grape, was fired point-blank at him not
ten yards off.

At once the ram settled, the launch sinking at the same moment,
while Cushing and his men swam for their lives. Most of them sank
or were captured, but Cushing reached mid-stream. Hearing
something splashing in the darkness, he swam toward it, and found
that it was one of his crew. He went to his rescue, and they kept
together for some time, but the sailor's strength gave out, and
he finally sank. In the pitch darkness Cushing could form no idea
where he was; and when, chilled through, and too exhausted to
rise to his feet, he finally reached shore, shortly before dawn,
he found that he had swum back and landed but a few hundred feet
below the sunken ram. All that day he remained within easy
musket-shot of where his foes were swarming about the fort and
the great drowned ironclad. He hardly dared move, and until the
afternoon he lay without food, and without protection from the
heat or venomous insects. Then he managed to slip unobserved into
the dense swamp, and began to make his way to the fleet. Toward
evening he came out on a small stream, near a camp of Confederate
soldiers. They had moored to the bank a skiff, and, with equal
stealth and daring, he managed to steal this and to paddle
down-stream. Hour after hour he paddled on through the fading
light, and then through the darkness. At last, utterly worn out,
he found the squadron, and was picked up. At once the ships
weighed; and they speedily captured every coast town and fort,
for their dreaded enemy was no longer in the way. The fame of
Cushing's deed went all over the North, and his name will stand
forever among the brightest on the honor-roll of the American


Ha, old ship, do they thrill,
The brave two hundred scars
You got in the river wars?
That were leeched with clamorous skill
(Surgery savage and hard),
At the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

* * * *

How the guns, as with cheer and shout,
Our tackle-men hurled them out,
Brought up in the waterways . . .
As we fired, at the flash
'T was lightning and black eclipse
With a bellowing sound and crash.

* * * *

The Dahlgrens are dumb,
Dumb are the mortars;
Never more shall the drum
Beat to colors and quarters--
The great guns are silent.
--Henry Howard Brownell


During the Civil War our navy produced, as it has always produced
in every war, scores of capable officers, of brilliant
single-ship commanders, of men whose daring courage made them fit
leaders in any hazardous enterprise. In this respect the Union
seamen in the Civil War merely lived up to the traditions of
their service. In a service with such glorious memories it was a
difficult thing to establish a new record in feats of personal
courage or warlike address. Biddle, in the Revolutionary War,
fighting his little frigate against a ship of the line until she
blew up with all on board, after inflicting severe loss on her
huge adversary; Decatur, heading the rush of the boarders in the
night attack when they swept the wild Moorish pirates from the
decks of their anchored prize; Lawrence, dying with the words on
his lips, "Don't give up the ship"; and Perry, triumphantly
steering his bloody sloop-of-war to victory with the same words
blazoned on his banner--men like these, and like their fellows,
who won glory in desperate conflicts with the regular warships
and heavy privateers of England and France, or with the corsairs
of the Barbary States, left behind a reputation which was hardly
to be dimmed, though it might be emulated, by later feats of mere

But vital though daring is, indispensable though desperate
personal prowess and readiness to take chances are to the make-up
of a fighting navy, other qualities are needed in addition to fit
a man for a place among the great seacaptains of all time. It was
the good fortune of the navy in the Civil War to produce one
admiral of renown, one peer of all the mighty men who have ever
waged war on the ocean. Farragut was not only the greatest
admiral since Nelson, but, with the sole exception of Nelson, he
was as great an admiral as ever sailed the broad or the narrow

David Glasgow Farragut was born in Tennessee. He was appointed to
the navy while living in Louisiana, but when the war came he
remained loyal to the Union flag. This puts him in the category
of those men who deserved best of their country in the Civil War;
the men who were Southern by birth, but who stood loyally by the
Union; the men like General Thomas of Virginia, and like
Farragut's own flag-captain at the battle of Mobile Bay, Drayton
of South Carolina. It was an easy thing in the North to support
the Union, and it was a double disgrace to be, like Vallandigham
and the Copperheads, against it; and in the South there were a
great multitude of men, as honorable as they were brave, who,
from the best of motives, went with their States when they
seceded, or even advocated secession. But the highest and
loftiest patriots, those who deserved best of the whole country,
we re the men from the South who possessed such heroic courage,
and such lofty fealty to the high ideal of the Union, that they
stood by the flag when their fellows deserted it, and
unswervingly followed a career devoted to the cause of the whole
nation and of the whole people. Among all those who fought in
this, the greatest struggle for righteousness which the present
century has seen, these men stand preeminent; and among them
Farragut stands first. It was his good fortune that by his life
he offered an example, not only of patriotism, but of supreme
skill and daring in his profession. He belongs to that class of
commanders who possess in the highest degree the qualities of
courage and daring, of readiness to assume responsibility, and of
willingness to run great risks; the qualities without which no
commander, however cautious and able, can ever become really
great. He possessed also the unwearied capacity for taking
thought in advance, which enabled him to prepare for victory
before the day of battle came; and he added to this. an
inexhaustible fertility of resource and presence of mind under no
matter what strain.

His whole career should be taught every American schoolboy, for
when that schoolboy becomes a voter he should have learned the
lesson that the United States, while it ought not to become an
overgrown military power, should always have a first-class navy,
formidable from the number of its ships, and formidable still
more from the excellence of the individual ships and the high
character of the officers and men. Farragut saw the war of 1812,
in which, though our few frigates and sloops fought some glorious
actions, our coasts were blockaded and insulted, and the Capitol
at Washington burned, because our statesmen and our people had
been too short-sighted to build a big fighting navy; and Farragut
was able to perform his great feats on the Gulf coast because,
when the Civil War broke out, we had a navy which, though too
small in point of numbers, was composed of ships as good as any

Another lesson to be learned by a study of his career is that no
man in a profession so highly technical as that of the navy can
win a great success unless he has been brought up in and
specially trained for that profession, and has devoted his life
to the work. This fact was made plainly evident in the desperate
hurly-burly of the night battle with the Confederate flotilla
below New Orleans--the incidents of this hurly-burly being,
perhaps, best described by the officer who, in his report of his
own share in it, remarked that "all sorts of things happened." Of
the Confederate rams there were two, commanded by trained
officers formerly in the United States navy, Lieutenants Kennon
and Warley. Both of these men handled their little vessels with
remarkable courage, skill, and success, fighting them to the
last, and inflicting serious and heavy damage upon the Union
fleet. The other vessels of the flotilla were commanded by men
who had not been in the regular navy, who were merely Mississippi
River captains, and the like. These men were, doubtless,
naturally as brave as any of the regular officers; but, with one
or two exceptions, they failed ignobly. in the time of trial, and
showed a fairly startling contrast with the regular naval
officers beside or against whom they fought. This is a fact which
may well be pondered by the ignorant or unpatriotic people who
believe that the United States does not need a navy, or that it
can improvise one, and improvise officers to handle it, whenever
the moment of need arises.

When a boy, Farragut had sailed as a midshipman on the Essex in
her famous cruise to the South Pacific, and lived through the
murderous fight in which, after losing three fifths of her crew,
she was captured by two British vessels. Step by step he rose in
his profession, but never had an opportunity of distinguishing
himself until, when he was sixty years old, the Civil War broke
out. He was then made flag officer of the Gulf squadron; and the
first success which the Union forces met with in the southwest
was scored by him, when one night he burst the iron chains which
the Confederates had stretched across the Mississippi, and,
stemming the swollen flood with his splendidly-handled
steam-frigates, swept past the forts, sank the rams and gunboats
that sought to bar his path, and captured the city of New
Orleans. After further exciting service on the Mississippi,
service in which he turned a new chapter in the history of naval
warfare by showing the possibilities of heavy seagoing vessels
when used on great rivers, he again went back to the Gulf, and,
in the last year of the war, was allotted the task of attempting
the capture of Mobile, the only important port still left open to
the Confederates.

In August, 1864, Farragut was lying with his fleet off Mobile
Bay. For months he had been eating out his heart while undergoing
the wearing strain of the blockade; sympathizing, too, with every
detail of the doubtful struggle on land. "I get right sick, every
now and then, at the bad news," he once wrote home; and then
again, "The victory of the Kearsarge over the Alabama raised me
up; I would sooner have fought that fight than any ever fought on
the ocean." As for himself, all he wished was a chance to fight,
for he had the fighting temperament, and he knew that, in the
long run, an enemy can only be beaten by being out-fought, as
well as out-manoeuvered. He possessed a splendid self-confidence,
and scornfully threw aside any idea that he would be defeated,
while he utterly refused to be daunted by the rumors of the
formidable nature of the defenses against which he was to act. "I
mean to be whipped or to whip my enemy, and not to be scared to
death," he remarked in speaking of these rumors.

The Confederates who held Mobile used all their skill in
preparing for defense, and all their courage in making that
defense good. The mouth of the bay was protected by two fine
forts, heavily armed, Morgan and Gaines. The winding channels
were filled with torpedoes, and, in addition, there was a
flotilla consisting of three gunboats, and, above all, a big
ironclad ram, the Tennessee, one of the most formidable vessels
then afloat. She was not fast, but she carried six high-power
rifled guns, and her armor was very powerful, while, being of
light draft, she could take a position where Farragut's deep-sea
ships could not get at her. Farragut made his attack with four
monitors,--two of them, the Tecumseh and Manhattan, of large
size, carrying 15inch guns, and the other two, the Winnebago and
Chickasaw, smaller and lighter, with 11-inch guns,--and the
wooden vessels, fourteen in number. Seven of these were big
sloops-of-war, of the general type of Farragut's own flagship,
the Hartford. She was a screw steamer, but was a full-rigged ship
likewise, with twenty-two 9-inch shell guns, arranged in
broadside, and carrying a crew of three hundred men. The other
seven were light gunboats. When Farragut prepared for the
assault, he arranged to make the attack with his wooden ships in
double column. The seven most powerful were formed on the right,
in line ahead, to engage Fort Morgan, the heaviest of the two
forts, which had to be passed close inshore to the right. The
light vessels were lashed each to the left of one of the heavier
ones. By this arrangement each pair of ships was given a double
chance to escape, if rendered helpless by a shot in the boiler or
other vital part of the machinery. The heaviest ships led in the
fighting column, the first place being taken by the Brooklyn and
her gunboat consort, while the second position was held by
Farragut himself in the Hartford, with the little Metacomet
lashed alongside. He waited to deliver the attack until the tide
and the wind should be favorable, and made all his preparations
with the utmost care and thoughtfulness. Preeminently a man who
could inspire affection in others, both the officers and men of
the fleet regarded him with fervent loyalty and absolute trust.

The attack was made early on the morning of August 5. Soon after
midnight the weather became hot and calm, and at three the
Admiral learned that a light breeze had sprung up from the
quarter he wished, and he at once announced, "Then we will go in
this morning." At daybreak he was at breakfast when the word was
brought that the ships were all lashed in couples. Turning
quietly to his captain, he said, "Well, Drayton, we might as well
get under way;" and at half-past six the monitors stood down to
their stations, while the column of wooden ships was formed, all
with the United States flag hoisted, not only at the peak, but
also at every masthead. The four monitors, trusting in their iron
sides, steamed in between the wooden ships and the fort. Every
man in every craft was thrilling with the fierce excitement of
battle; but in the minds of most there lurked a vague feeling of
unrest over one danger. For their foes who fought in sight, for
the forts, the gunboats, and, the great ironclad ram, they cared
nothing; but all, save the very boldest, were at times awed, and
rendered uneasy by the fear of the hidden and the unknown. Danger
which is great and real, but which is shrouded in mystery, is
always very awful; and the ocean veterans dreaded the
torpedoes--the mines of death--which lay, they knew not where,
thickly scattered through the channels along which they were to
thread their way.

The tall ships were in fighting trim, with spars housed, and
canvas furled. The decks were strewn with sawdust; every man was
in his place; the guns were ready, and except for the song of the
sounding-lead there was silence in the ships as they moved
forward through the glorious morning. It was seven o'clock when
the battle began, as the Tecumseh, the leading monitor, fired two
shots at the fort. In a few minutes Fort Morgan was ablaze with
the flash of her guns, and the leading wooden vessels were
sending back broadside after broadside. Farragut stood in the
port main-rigging, and as the smoke increased he gradually
climbed higher, until he was close by the maintop, where the
pilot was stationed for the sake of clearer vision. The captain,
fearing lest by one of the accidents of battle the great admiral
should lose his footing, sent aloft a man with a lasher, and had
a turn or two taken around his body in the shrouds, so that he.
might not fall if wounded; for the shots were flying thick.

At first the ships used only their bow guns, and the Confederate
ram, with her great steel rifles, and her three consorts, taking
station where they could rake the advancing fleet, caused much
loss. In twenty minutes after the opening of the fight the ships
of the van were fairly abreast of the fort, their guns leaping
and thundering; and under the weight of their terrific fire that
of the fort visibly slackened. All was now uproar and slaughter,
the smoke drifting off in clouds. The decks were reddened and
ghastly with blood, and the wreck of flying splinters drove
across them at each discharge. The monitor Tecumseh alone was
silent. After firing the first two shots, her commander, Captain
Craven, had loaded his two big guns with steel shot, and, thus
prepared, reserved himself for the Confederate ironclad, which he
had set his heart upon taking or destroying single-handed. The
two columns of monitors and the wooden ships lashed in pairs were
now approaching the narrowest part of the channel, where the
torpedoes lay thickest; and the guns of the vessels fairly
overbore and quelled the fire from the fort. All was well,
provided only the two columns could push straight on without
hesitation; but just at this moment a terrible calamity befell
the leader of the monitors. The Tecumseh, standing straight for
the Tennessee, was within two hundred yards of her foe, when a
torpedo suddenly exploded beneath her. The monitor was about five
hundred yards from the Hartford, and from the maintop Farragut,
looking at her, saw her reel violently from side to side, lurch
heavily over, and go down headforemost, her screw revolving
wildly in the air as she disappeared. Captain Craven, one of the
gentlest and bravest of men, was in the pilot-house with the
pilot at the time. As she sank, both rushed to the narrow door,
but there was time for only one to get out. Craven was ahead, but
drew to one side, saying, "After you, pilot." As the pilot leaped
through, the water rushed in, and Craven and all his crew, save
two men, settled to the bottom in their iron coffin.

None of the monitors were awed or daunted by the fate of their
consort, but drew steadily onward. In the bigger monitors the
captains, like the crews, had remained within the iron walls; but
on the two light crafts the commanders had found themselves so
harassed by their cramped quarters, that they both stayed outside
on the deck. As these two steamed steadily ahead, the men on the
flagship saw Captain Stevens, of the Winnebago, pacing calmly,
from turret to turret, on his unwieldy iron craft, under the full
fire of the fort. The captain of the Chickasaw, Perkins, was the
youngest commander in the fleet, and as he passed the Hartford,
he stood on top of the turret, waving his hat and dancing about
in wildest excitement and delight.

But, for a moment, the nerve of the commander of the Brooklyn
failed him. The awful fate of the Tecumseh and the sight of a
number of objects in the channel ahead, which seemed to be
torpedoes, caused him to hesitate. He stopped his ship, and then
backed water, making sternway to the Hartford, so as to stop her
also. It was the crisis of the fight and the crisis of Farragut's
career. The column was halted in a narrow channel, right under
the fire of the forts. A few moments' delay and confusion, and
the golden chance would have been past, and the only question
remaining would have been as to the magnitude of the disaster.
Ahead lay terrible danger, but ahead lay also triumph. It might
be that the first ship to go through would be sacrificed to the
torpedoes; it might be that others would be sacrificed; but go
through the fleet must. Farragut signaled to the Brooklyn to go
ahead, but she still hesitated. Immediately, the admiral himself
resolved to take the lead. Backing hard he got clear of the
Brooklyn, twisted his ship's prow short round, and then, going
ahead fast, he dashed close under the Brooklyn's stern, straight
at the line of buoys in the channel. As he thus went by the
Brooklyn, a warning cry came from her that there were torpedoes
ahead. "Damn the torpedoes!" shouted the admiral; "go ahead, full
speed; and the Hartford and her consort steamed forward. As they
passed between the buoys, the cases of the torpedoes were heard
knocking against the bottom of the ship; but for some reason they
failed to explode, and the Hartford went safely through the gates
of Mobile Bay, passing the forts. Farragut's last and hardest
battle was virtually won. After a delay which allowed the
flagship to lead nearly a mile, the Brooklyn got her head round,
and came in, closely followed by all the other ships. The
Tennessee strove to interfere with the wooden craft as they went
in, but they passed, exchanging shots, and one of them striving
to ram her, but inflicting only a glancing blow. The ship on the
fighting side of the rear couple had been completely disabled by
a shot through her boiler.

As Farragut got into the bay he gave orders to slip the gunboats,
which were lashed to each of the Union ships of war, against the
Confederate gunboats, one of which he had already disabled by his
fire, so that she was run ashore and burnt. Jouett, the captain
of the Metacomet, had been eagerly waiting this order, and had
his men already standing at the hawsers, hatchet in hand. When
the signal for the gunboats to chase was hoisted, the order to
Jouett was given by word of mouth, and as his hearty "Aye, aye,
sir," came in answer, the hatchets fell, the hawsers parted, and
the Metacomet leaped forward in pursuit. A thick rainsquall came
up, and rendered it impossible for the rear gunboats to know
whither the Confederate flotilla had fled. When it cleared away,
the watchers on the fleet saw that one of the two which were
uninjured had slipped off to Fort Morgan, while the other, the
Selma, was under the guns of the Metacomet, and was promptly
carried by the latter.

Meanwhile the ships anchored in the bay, about four miles from
Fort Morgan, and the crews were piped to breakfast; but almost as
soon as it was begun, the lookouts reported that the great
Confederate ironclad was steaming down, to do battle,
single-handed, with the Union fleet. She was commanded by
Buchanan, a very gallant and able officer, who had been on the
Merrimac, and who trusted implicitly in his invulnerable sides,
his heavy rifle guns, and his formidable iron beak. As the ram
came on, with splendid courage, the ships got under way, while
Farragut sent word to the monitors to attack the Tennessee at
once. The fleet surgeon, Palmer, delivered these orders. In his
diary he writes:

"I came to the Chickasaw; happy as my friend Perkins habitually
is, I thought he would turn a somerset with joy, when I told him,
'The admiral wants you to go at once and fight the Tennessee.'"

At the same time, the admiral directed the wooden vessels to
charge the ram, bow on, at full speed, as well as to attack her
with their guns. The monitors were very slow, and the wooden
vessels began the attack. The first to reach the hostile ironclad
was the Monongahela, which struck her square amidships; and five
minutes later the Lackawanna, going at full speed, delivered
another heavy blow. Both the Union vessels fired such guns as
would bear as they swung round, but the shots glanced harmlessly
from the armor, and the blows of the ship produced no serious
injury to the ram, although their own stems were crushed in
several feet above and below the water line. The Hartford then
struck the Tennessee, which met her bows on. The two antagonists
scraped by, their port sides touching. As they rasped past, the
Hartford's guns were discharged against the ram, their muzzles
only half a dozen feet distant from her iron-clad sides; but the
shot made no impression. While the three ships were circling to
repeat the charge, the Lackawanna ran square into the flagship,
cutting the vessel down to within two feet of the water. For a
moment the ship's company thought the vessel sinking, and almost
as one man they cried: "Save the admiral! get the admiral on
board the Lackawanna." But Farragut, leaping actively into the
chains, saw that the ship was in no present danger, and ordered
her again to be headed for the Tennessee. Meanwhile, the monitors
had come up, and the battle raged between them and the great ram,
Like the rest of the Union fleet, they carried smooth-bores, and
their shot could not break through her iron plates; but by
sustained and continuous hammering, her frame could be jarred and
her timbers displaced. Two of the monitors had been more or less
disabled already, but the third, the Chickasaw, was in fine trim,
and Perkins got her into position under the stern of the
Tennessee, just after the latter was struck by the Hartford; and
there he stuck to the end, never over fifty yards distant, and
keeping up a steady rapping of 11-inch shot upon the iron walls,
which they could not penetrate, but which they racked and
shattered. The Chickasaw fired fifty-two times at her antagonist,
shooting away the exposed rudder-chains and the smokestack, while
the commander of the ram, Buchanan, was wounded by an iron
splinter which broke his leg. Under the hammering, the Tennessee
became helpless. She could not be steered, and was unable to
bring a gun to bear, while many of the shutters of the ports were
jammed. For twenty minutes she had not fired a shot. The wooden
vessels were again bearing down to ram her; and she hoisted the
white flag.

Thus ended the battle of Mobile Bay, Farragut's crowning victory.
Less than three hours elapsed from the time that Fort Morgan
fired its first gun to the moment when the Tennessee hauled down
her flag. Three hundred and thirty-five men had been killed or
wounded in the fleet, and one vessel, the Tecumseh, had gone
down; but the Confederate flotilla was destroyed, the bay had
been entered, and the forts around it were helpless to do
anything further. One by one they surrendered, and the port of
Mobile was thus sealed against blockade runners, so that the last
source of communication between the Confederacy and the outside
world was destroyed. Farragut had added to the annals of the
Union the page which tells of the greatest sea-fight in our


O captain. My captain. Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! Heart! Heart!
Leave you not the little spot,
Where on the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O captain. My captain. Rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
O captain. Dear father.
This arm I push beneath you;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor win:
But the ship, the ship is anchor'd safe, its voyage closed and
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won:
Exult O shores, and ring, O bells.
But I with silent tread,
Walk the spot the captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
--Walt Whitman.


As Washington stands to the Revolution and the establishment of
the government, so Lincoln stands as the hero of the mightier
struggle by which our Union was saved. He was born in 1809, ten
years after Washington, his work done had been laid to rest at
Mount Vernon. No great man ever came from beginnings which seemed
to promise so little. Lincoln's family, for more than one
generation, had been sinking, instead of rising, in the social
scale. His father was one of those men who were found on the
frontier in the early days of the western movement, always
changing from one place to another, and dropping a little lower
at each remove. Abraham Lincoln was born into a family who were
not only poor, but shiftless, and his early days were days of
ignorance, and poverty, and hard work. Out of such inauspicious
surroundings, he slowly and painfully lifted himself. He gave
himself an education, he took part in an Indian war, he worked in
the fields, he kept a country store, he read and studied, and, at
last, he became a lawyer. Then he entered into the rough politics
of the newly-settled State. He grew to be a leader in his county,
and went to the legislature. The road was very rough, the
struggle was very hard and very bitter, but the movement was
always upward.

At last he was elected to Congress, and served one term in
Washington as a Whig with credit, but without distinction. Then
he went back to his law and his politics in Illinois. He had, at
last, made his position. All that was now needed was an
opportunity, and that came to him in the great anti-slavery

Lincoln was not an early Abolitionist. His training had been that
of a regular party man, and as a member of a great political
organization, but he was a lover of freedom and justice. Slavery,
in its essence, was hateful to him, and when the conflict between
slavery and freedom was fairly joined, his path was clear before
him. He took up the antislavery cause in his own State and made
himself its champion against Douglas, the great leader of the
Northern Democrats. He stumped Illinois in opposition to Douglas,
as a candidate for the Senate, debating the question which
divided the country in every part of the State. He was beaten at
the election, but, by the power and brilliancy of his speeches,
his own reputation was made. Fighting the anti-slavery battle
within constitutional lines, concentrating his whole force
against the single point of the extension of slavery to the
Territories, he had made it clear that a new leader had arisen in
the cause of freedom. From Illinois his reputation spread to the
East, and soon after his great debate he delivered a speech in
New York which attracted wide attention. At the Republican
convention of 1856, his name was one of those proposed for

When 1860 came, he was a candidate for the first place on the
national ticket. The leading candidate was William H. Seward, of
New York, the most conspicuous man of the country on the
Republican side, but the convention, after a sharp struggle,
selected Lincoln, and then the great political battle came at the
polls. The Republicans were victorious, and, as soon as the
result of the voting was known, the South set to work to dissolve
the Union. In February Lincoln made his way to Washington, at the
end coming secretly from Harrisburg to escape a threatened
attempt at assassination, and on March 4, 1861 assumed the

No public man, no great popular leader, ever faced a more
terrible situation. The Union was breaking, the Southern States
were seceding, treason was rampant in Washington, and the
Government was bankrupt. The country knew that Lincoln was a man
of great capacity in debate, devoted to the cause of antislavery
and to the maintenance of the Union. But what his ability was to
deal with the awful conditions by which he was surrounded, no one
knew. To follow him through the four years of civil war which
ensued is, of course, impossible here. Suffice it to say that no
greater, no more difficult, task has ever been faced by any man
in modern times, and no one ever met a fierce trial and conflict
more successfully.

Lincoln put to the front the question of the Union, and let the
question of slavery drop, at first, into the background. He used
every exertion to hold the border States by moderate measures,
and, in this way, prevented the spread of the rebellion. For this
moderation, the antislavery extremists in the North assailed him,
but nothing shows more his far-sighted wisdom and strength of
purpose than his action at this time. By his policy at the
beginning of his administration, he held the border States, and
united the people of the North in defense of the Union.

As the war went on, he went on, too. He had never faltered in his
feelings about slavery. He knew, better than any one, that the
successful dissolution of the Union by the slave power meant, not
only the destruction of an empire, but the victory of the forces
of barbarism. But he also saw, what very few others at the moment
could see, that, if he was to win, he must carry his people with
him, step by step. So when he had rallied them to the defense of
the Union, and checked the spread of secession in the border
States, in the autumn of 1862 he announced that he would issue a
proclamation freeing the slaves. The extremists had doubted him
in the beginning, the con servative and the timid doubted him
now, but when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, on
January 1, 1863, it was found that the people were with him in
that, as they had been with him when he staked everything upon
the maintenance of the Union. The war went on to victory, and in
1864 the people showed at the polls that they were with the
President, and reelected him by overwhelming majorities.
Victories in the field went hand in hand with success at the
ballot-box, and, in the spring of 1865, all was over. On April 9,
1865, Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and five days later, on
April 14, a miserable assassin crept into the box at the theater
where the President was listening to a play, and shot him. The
blow to the country was terrible beyond words, for then men saw,
in one bright flash, how great a man had fallen.

Lincoln died a martyr to the cause to which he had given his
life, and both life and death were heroic. The qualities which
enabled him to do his great work are very clear now to all men.
His courage and his wisdom, his keen perception and his almost
prophetic foresight, enabled him to deal with all the problems of
that distracted time as they arose around him. But he had some
qualities, apart from those of the intellect, which were of equal
importance to his people and to the work he had to do. His
character, at once strong and gentle, gave confidence to every
one, and dignity to his cause. He had an infinite patience, and a
humor that enabled him to turn aside many difficulties which
could have been met in no other way. But most important of all
was the fact that he personified a great sentiment, which
ennobled and uplifted his people, and made them capable of the
patriotism which fought the war and saved the Union. He carried
his people with him, because he knew instinctively, how they felt
and what they wanted. He embodied, in his own person, all their
highest ideals, and he never erred in his judgment.

He is not only a great and commanding figure among the great
statesmen and leaders of history, but he personifies, also, all
the sadness and the pathos of the war, as well as its triumphs
and its glories. No words that any one can use about Lincoln can,
however, do him such justice as his own, and I will close this
volume with two of Lincoln's speeches, which show what the war
and all the great deeds of that time meant to him, and through
which shines, the great soul of the man himself. On November 19,
1863, he spoke as follows at the dedication of the National
cemetery on the battle-field of Gettysburg:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to
the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long
endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have
come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place
for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate--we cannot
consecrate--we cannot hallow--this ground. The brave men, living
and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our
poor power to add or detract. The world will little note or long
remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did
here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to
the unfinished work which they who have fought here, have thus
far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated
to the great task remaining before us--that from the honored dead
we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the
last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that
these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under
God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of
the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from
the earth.

On March 4, 1865, when he was inaugurated the second time, he
made the following address:

Fellow-Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of
presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended
address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat
in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed proper. Now, at the
expiration of four years, during which public declarations have
been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the
great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the
energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.
The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is
as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust,
reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope
for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all
thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All
dreaded it--all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address
was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving
the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking
to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union, and
divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but
one of them would make war rather than let it perish. And the war

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not
distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the
southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and
powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the
cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this
interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the
Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do
more than to restrict the Territorial enlargement of it. Neither
party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it
has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself
should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result
less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and
pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask a just God's
assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's
faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers
of both could not be answeredthat of neither has been answered

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of
offenses, for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to
that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that
American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the
providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued
through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he
gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due
to those by whom the offenses come, shall we discern therein any
departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a
living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope-fervently do
we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by
the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil
shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three
thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of
the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in
the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to
care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow,
and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, a
lasting, peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest