MEMBERS OF THE GALLANT OLD GUARD OF THE CONFEDERACY
[The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 1893]
Passing, one by one, into the silent land, the heroic leaders who struggled desperately to save "the lost cause" have been dropping out of mortal ken during the past quarter of a century, until now a very small group is left. Very interesting are the figures which make up the little band, men of hoary hair and faltering step they are now, but their names recall memories of the days when they were active and alert, braving shot and shell on the field and cheerfully bearing privation and hardship in the camp or on the march. In those times, in the cities of the East and the farm houses and homes of the West, their names were execrated, and on the hotly contested border land their approach was dreaded with sinking heart. The new generation which has grown. up to manhood since that time has learned to look at them in a more kindly light. Their valor and their devotion are come into recognition; their disappointment and their failure plead for them, and we remember that they, too, are Americans whose prowess does honor to our race.
Busily occupied with business affairs in New Orleans, the last surviving general of the Confederacy, Gen. Pierce Gustave T. Beauregard, still exhibits the untiring, indomitable energy which characterized him during the four years of war. In spite of his seventy four years, he retains the old pugnacity of his youth and middle age. He does not wield the old weapons but the man who has the hardihood to cross the old general's path and oppose his plans speedily learns that he has an antagonist who can adapt himself to any mode of warfare, and has lost none of his strategic skill.
The general has a certain right to speak authoritatively, so far as experience can give the right, he having had the honor and the responsibility of opening the ball, by directing the attack on Fort Sumter, and of commanding, in conjunction with Gen. J. E. Johnston, at the battle of Bull Run. The general explains with graphic force how, if that battle had been fought as he planned it, and if he had been permitted, even after the battle had taken place, to add his later plans, he could have "crushed Patterson, liberated Maryland and captured Washington." He surrendered with Gen. J. E. Johnston to Gen. Sherman, in April, 1865.
Associated with Gen. Beauregard of late years is that other prominent soldier of the South, Gen. Jubal A. Early. The two men are congenial associates, having many characteristics in common. The same dash and impetuosity, the same impatience of contradiction or control, distinguish Early as they do Beauregard, and the same effects are seen in both their lives in numerous and bitter enemies. Gen. Early, who is seventy six years old, has been a soldier since boyhood, though more than once he has abandoned a martial career for law or business. He had a West Point training, and first smelled powder in the Florida War of 1837.
He quitted the army at the close of the war and commenced the practice of law; subsequently he sat in the Virginia Legislature for two years. The outbreak of the Mexican War lured him from the pursuits of peace. He served as a major of volunteers, and acted as Governor of Monterey the last two months of its occupation. He returned to the practice of law when the army was disbanded, and served for ten years as attorney of the commonwealth. He was appointed colonel on the outbreak of the Rebellion, and took part in the battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.
In 1864 he was sent to the Valley of the Shenandoah. There, after a few minor successes, he fought the disastrous battle of Cedar Creek. Six months later, in October, 1864, a still more severe disaster befell him at Waynesboro, where Gen. Custer almost annihilated his command. Lee, who still retained his faith in Early's capacity, was unable to resist the popular feeling in the army against the defeated general, and felt himself obliged to remove him from his command. In his letter relieving him from duty, Lee with the delicacy of the true gentleman, softened the blow by assuring Early of his own regard, but reminded him that the country and the army would naturally judge by results, and consequently there could be no doubt that his influence would increase the already serious difficulties accumulating in Southwest Virginia. Early at once quitted the army and spent some time in Europe.
A conspicuous figure among the survivors of the great struggle is Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, who a few years ago was elected Governor of Kentucky. He was one of the pall-bearers at the funeral of Gen. Grant, whom he always admired and honored. He was the general to whom Grant sent the dispatch which stirred so much enthusiasm in the North early in Grant's career, and which history has immortalized. The North thought it had the right ring, and that the man who wrote it was the man for the hour. The words, which soon became famous, were: " I propose to move immediately upon your works." This was at Fort Donelson. Buckner's two superiors, Officers Floyd and Pillow, had made their escape, when they found the position no longer tenable; but he declared that he would stay with his men and share their fate. He remained, and after the capitulation was sent as a prisoner of war to Boston, Mass., where he was kept until exchanged, six months later. On his return to the field he commanded under Bragg in Tennessee. He fought at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, and surrendered with Edmund Kirby Smith at Baton Rouge, in May, 1865. Buckner was another of the West Point graduates, and had also, like so many of his comrades and foes, done gallant service in the Mexican War. He is now sixty nine years old.
Now sitting in the United States Senate for his native State of Georgia, is another brave officer of the southern army, Gen. John Brown Gordon, who has just passed his sixtieth birthday. He bears on his body evidence of his valor in the shape of eight wounds received in battle. He entered the Confederate Army as a captain of infantry, but before the close of the war had risen to the rank of lieutenant general. He was one of the officers who surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.
Last, but not least remembered, of the old chivalric guard of the Confederacy come those sturdy heroes, Stephen D. Lee and Ambrose P. Stewart. Gen. Lee now holds a position of responsibility in a university at Starkville, Miss., while Gen. Stewart, who is living quietly at Oxford, Miss., was recently appointed Confederate commissioner on the committee for the construction of a national cemetery on the site of the old battlefield of Chickamauga, where so many of the sons of the confederacy fell fighting for the stars and bars.
The animosities of the war have long since been buried, and by none more completely than by the men who fought most bravely and sacrificed most in the struggle. The North unites with the South in recognizing the heroism of the men who fought so gallantly for their convictions. In the closing years of their lives the chieftains of the old Confederacy enjoy the love and honor that is accorded to true soldiers, and when they finally pass away from the scenes of their struggles they will not be among those who are soon forgotten.
REF: The following article is from the Confederate Veteran, Vol. 1, No. 2, Nashville, Tenn., February, 1893.