페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a

morning of the 19th, he was escorted by the New York City Guards, the Troy Citizens' Corps, and a committee of one hundred, to the steamboat Hendrick Hudson, which the Trojans had chartered to conduct the general to their city and his home. On his way up the river the general was frequently cheered, as he passed, by the citizens on the shore, and especially at Poughkeepsie, Albany, and West Troy. On his arrival at Troy, he was greeted enthusiastically by the whole people, who had assembled to receive him. So great and dense was the assemblage on the docks, and in the streets, that several hours elapsed before he reached his residence, where he was affectionately received by his family and friends.

The city of Troy presented him with a sword, in testimony of her share of the nation's gratitude; and on this occasion “ General Wool, standing alone, erect and dignified, his whitened locks apparently holding dispute with features upon which powers of endurance seemed written,” made the following reply :

Friends, Fellow-Citizens, and Soldiers :

On my return from the war in Mexico, I find myself in your midst, unexpectedly in a new sphere of action. I find myself engaged in the delightful, but difficult task of responding to those spontaneous outpourings of the heart; those cordial and enthusiastic receptions which have greeted me, since my arrival in my native state. I had anticipated a welcome from my friends, but such a welcome as I received on landing in this city, and such as is now indicated in this vast assemblage, I neither anticipated, nor can venture to claim for mere public services. Much of it can only be ascribed to your partiality, to long-standing associations, to the companions of my youth, and the associates of maturer years, whom I recognize be-. fore me, and whose steadiness of friendship and kindness has never failed to cheer and animate me in the darkest hour. Such friendship has been especially dear to me during my more than two years' absence; for, there have been times, when, in the full consciousness of directing all the energies I possessed to the public good and the honor of my country, I found myself in situations where the encouraging voice of friendship was needed to cheer me under the heavy responsibilities which I was struggling to discharge. In the execution of those duties, I was sure to incur the displeasure of the discontented, and of those who could not appreciate the necessity of discipline. It would not have been difficult to flatter the love of indulgence and of ease, and to present the column I had organized and brought into the field of battle, in the garb, without the discipline of soldiers. But those who were at first most loud in their complaints, for my refusing to listen to that syren voice of popularity which would have extricated me at once from a labyrinth of unpleasant service, were the first in their acknowledgments, when convinced by the trial of a battle, of the mercy I had shown them in the very rigor I exacted to prepare them for the contest.

To you, the chief magistrate of this beautiful and enterprising city, my home and residence; and to you, the representative of the voice of its citizens, I make my grateful acknowledgments for the complimentary manner in which you have been pleased to present this splendid sword, as the common gift of the city and of its citizens individually. I receive it with a depth of gratitude which cannot be expressed by words. It is the testimonial of my own neighbors, my countrymen at home. It is the symbol of their appreciation of my character as a citizen and a soldier. Could ambition seek a higher reward? Could pride enjoy a nobler triumph? I can truly say, that I am more than compensated by this magnificent presentation and reception: this warm, glowing and heartfelt greeting, for all the toil, hardships, and dangers to which I have been exposed since I entered upon the duties that called me to Mexico.

The sword which I have received, I shall hold as the dearest gift of my life. If our country should again need my services in the field, and this arm should

[ocr errors][merged small]

a

not become, by age, too feeble to raise itself in vindication of the natural rights, your confidence, as implied in this gift, shall be sustained to the fullest extent of my ability.

It is not necessary for me to follow the tenor of your addresses, by recapitulating the course of my action in the two wars to which you have alluded. History has recorded the events of the first: the future historian will embody the materials of the last.

In reference, however, to the battle of Buena Vista, to which you have so flatteringly alluded, my services prior to, and during that engagement, are sufficiently noticed in the official language of the commanding general, which you have quoted ; and I agree with that distinguished officer, that " a soldier's share" is all that need be claimed in the glories of that memorable conflict.

Citizen Soldiers: It gives me pleasure to witness, this day, the beautiful order, equipment and appointment which you have displayed. We are an armed republic, but our arms are in our own hands. We stand ready to defend the public liberty, because it is our own. The world is awakened to the fact that a citizensoldiery constitutes their own government, the strongest on earth. No large standing armies are here necessary. A small regular force, and a sufficient number of educated and experienced officers, may always be an expedient resource to give example and instruction.

I thank you, with a soldier's heart, for your attendance on this occasion; and, on your return to your respective homes, bear with you, and to your families, my best wishes for your prosperity and happiness.

And now, my friends, townsmen, and fellow-citizens, permit me to conclude my part in this interesting drama, by renewing to you all the sincerest espressions of my deep and heartfelt gratitude.

On the 10th of April, 1848, the following resolutions were unanimously voted by both branches of the Legislature of New-York :

Resolved, That the thanks of this Legislature are due, and are hereby tendered to our distinguished fellow-citizen, Brig. Gen. John E. Wool, for his valor, skill, and judicious conduct, conspicuously displayed in organizing and preparing for the service of his country, with unprecedented rapidity, more than 12,000 volunteers, in the summer of 1846; in disciplining the column under his command, during a rapid march through the enemy's country; disarming the enemy by his humane and vigilant observations of their rights; in the courage and good conduct displayed in the battle of Buena Vista, his uniform gallantry and activity on the field, and the ability and success with which he has since discharged his arduous and responsible duties.

Resolved, That the governor be, and he is hereby requested, to procure a sword, with suitable emblems and devices, and present it to Brigadier-General Wool, in the name of the people of this, his native state, as a testimony of their high approbation of his services.

Resolved, That the governor be, and is hereby requested to cause the foregoing resolutions to be communicated to Brigadier-General Wool, in such terms as he may deem best calculated to give effect to the purposes thereof.

The governor discharged the duty assigned him, by employing the most skilful artists in the city of New-York to manufacture a sword. Much taste and judgment were displayed in the selection of the emblems and devices, which were appropriate, and referred in a striking manner to the military exploits of the New-York general.

To recapitulate all the honors and congratulations bestowed upon Gen. Wool, would, however, fill volumes, and would not come within our scope. The military progress of the general may thus be resumed :

April 13, 1812-Captain, 13th regiment United States Infantry.
October 13, 1812–Major, 29th regiment, for gallant conduct at Queenstown.
September 11, 1814–Lt. Colonel, for gallant conduct at Plattsburgh.
April, 1816-Colonel of Cavalry and Inspector General.

April 26, 1826—Brevet Brigadier General.
June 25, 1841---Brigadier General in the line.

February 23, 1847 --Brevet Major-General, for gallant and distinguished conduct at Buena Vista.

In assuming the duties of Major-General, according to his new rank, Wool applied himself with unrelaxed energies to their discharge, without in any degree neglecting those social duties and interests which society claims at his hands. "In September, 1850, on the completion of the monument to Silas Wright, at Weybridge, Vt., Gen. Wool delivered the address, which was enthusiastically received. In the following October he received an invitation from the Onondaga Agricultural Society, to attend the Fair at Syracuse. He was here addressed by the Mayor of the city, surrounded by many who remembered Wool as the wounded Captain, soliciting, upon his first field, permission once again to storm the heights of Queenstown, and retrieve the honor of his country's flag-men who had followed him through the immortal resistance at Beekmantown, and through all his arduous career, to the crowning fight at Buena Vista. The response of the general was enthusiastically cheered. On the 15th February, 1849, the corner stone of the Troy Hospital was laid, on which occasion Gen. Wool made the address. On the anniversary of this day in 1850, the Hon. D. L. Seymour made an oration, of which the conclusion was addressed to General Wool, in the following strain :

“I tender the congratulations of this occasion to him whose bounty has sustained and whose hands laid the corner-stone of this edifice. Your fame, sir, had already become the common inheritance of your countrymen. That military reputation which has for upwards of thirty years been steadily rising, requires, especially since the victory of Buena Vista, no more laurels. It has become a part of the imperishable records of our country's history, and will live whilst our nation and its name shall live. But even the splendor of a long and brilliant military career, enhanced should it be by still brighter honors (as you richly deserve) at the hands of your grateful country, will not outshine this one noble charity with which your name is identified. And, amid the thunder of popular applause, the “still small voice” of the obscure and suffering sons of sorrow, who shall here find relief, will be heard in grateful remembrance of their benefactor.”

In August, 1851, on the occasion of the visit of General Wool to Buffalo, to review the o5th regiment, the common council determined to pay a tribute of respect to the “ Hero of Queenstown, Beekmantown, Plattsburgh, and Buena Vista.” After the review, the general, escorted to the hotel, was addressed by the Mayor, and replied in an admirable speech, which should be written in the hearts of all Americans. We append an extract:

“But these great improvements and advancements in civilization, are not limited to Western New-York. They are to be found everywhere throughout the length and breadth of the land. To what may all these blessings be attributed? To a kind Providence, our form of government and free institutions, which leave the people free and unfettered by power. It is in this country, and this country alone, that man is a free agent. Here there is no power to restrain him except he be guilty of crime. All his faculties, mental and physical, are at his disposal. He walks abroad in his own majesty, and there are none to make him afraid. He neither feels nor fears power, or those appointed to administer the affairs of government. He may travel from Maine to California and Oregon, and no one would have a right ts ask him, “Why do you so ?" To all which may we not attribute the advancement of the people of the United States in improvement and civilization beyond all others? And yet, with all these unparalleled privileges

7

and a prosperity unknown to any other people, we find those among us who are not satisfied. Strange as it may appear, we have a few discontented spirits who would dissolve this glorious Union established by the sacrifice of so much blood and treasure, and with it our prosperity, and forever blast the hopes of the oppressed and liberal of the world. They are, however, so few in number, that I do not apprehend any serious results from any efforts on their part to accomplish their objects. The signs of the times, nevertheless, are sufficient to admonish us that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. As we are a nation composed of states or sovereignties, with diversified interests, it ought not to surprise us if they should occasionally clash. In such a case, what should be our duty ? Conciliation and harmony, and a strict adherence to the constitution, and faithfully carrying out all its provisions, at the same time doing all in our power to prevent discontent and heart-burnings, which, if encouraged, will do more than all else to endanger the Union and destroy our hopes and prosperity.”

In all his replies to the numerous invitations with which societies, phi. lanthropic, educational, religious and political, besiege him, the same earnest strain of devoted patriotism, ardent love of country, and enthusiastic zeal in the cause of human liberties and progress, are manifest. The writings of General Wool, if collected in a volume, would form a book of extraordinary interest and value in respect to the history of the country. They contain not the mere dry detail of official reports, but are fraught with profound views and reasonings in relation to subjects of national interest; and they disclose the workings of an intellect of a high order, operating upon habits of most extraordinary industry. The general character of this able officer approaches nearer to that of thc immortal Jackson than that of any public man lately before the people. There is the same quick perception of the truth in all questions which present themselves, and the same undeviating precision of purpose in reaching it. Although in the sphere of duties in which he has been employed there has been little room for the display of other qualities than those of a military character, yet the indications are numerous in all his movements, of civil qualities which surpassed even those military ones that have conferred upon Wool the high distinction of being the only American officer who has made no mistake. That the general has not hitherto been better known to the people, is because the natural modesty of his character, satisfied with the full discharge of his duty, obtrudes not its talents upon the public. He is content that another should have the merit, if only that the country is well served. That country will not, however, discharge its duty, if its rewards fall not on the truly deserving,

THE LAST OF THE SACRED ARMY.

The memory of the warriors of our freedom ! let us guard it with a holy care. Let the mighty pulse which throbs responsive in a nation's heart at utterance of that nation's names of glory, never lie languid when their deeds are told or their example cited. To him of the calm gray eye, selected by the leader of the ranks of Heaven as the instrument for a people's redemption ;-to him, the bright and brave, who fell in the attack at Breed's;-to him, the nimble-footed soldier of the swamps of Santee ;to the young stranger from the luxuries of his native France ;-to all who fought in that long weary fight for disenthralment from arbitrary rule;—may our star fade, and our good angel smile upon us no more, if we fail to chamber them in our hearts, or forget the memory of their dear-worn honor!

For the fame of these is not as the fame of common heroes. The mere gaining of battles, the chasing away of an opposing force, wielding the great energies of bodies of military, rising proudly amid the smoke and din of the fight, and marching the haughty march of a conqueror; all this, spirit-stirring as it may be to the world, would fail to command the applause of the just and discriminating. But such is not the base whereon American warriors found their title to renown. Our storied names are those of the soldiers of liberty; hardy souls, incased in hardy bodies, untainted with the effeminacy of voluptuous cities, patient, enduring much for principle's sake, and wending on through blood, disease, destitution, and prospects of gloom, to attain the great treasure.

Years have passed ; the sword-clash and the thundering of the guns have died; and all personal knowledge of those events,—of the fierce incentives to hate, and the wounds, and scorn, and the curses from the injured, and the wailings from the prisons, lives now but in the memory of a few score gray-haired men, whose number is, season after season, made thinner and thinner by death. Haply, long, long will be the period ere our beloved country shall witness the presence of such or similar scenes again. Haply, too, the time is arriving when war, with all its train of sanguinary horrors, will be a discarded custom among the nations of the earth. A newer and better philosophy, teaching how evil it is to hew down and slay ranks of fellow-men, because of some disagreement between their respective rulers, is melting away old prejudices upon this subject, as warmth in spring melts the frigid ground.

The lover of his race, did he not, looking abroad in the world, see millions whose swelling hearts are all crushed into the dust beneath the iron heel of oppression ? did he not behold how kingeraft and priestcraft stalk abroad over fair portions of the globe, and forge the chain, and rivet the yoke ? and did he not feel that it were better to live in one flaming atmosphere of carnage than slavishly thus? would offer up nightly prayers that this new philosophy might prevail to the utmost, and the reign of peace never more be disturbed among mankind ?

On one of the anniversaries of our national independence, I was staying at the house of an old farmer, about a mile from a thriving country town, whose inhabitants were keeping up the spirit of the occasion with great fervor. The old man himself was a thumping patriot. Early in the morning, my slumbers had been broken by the sharp crack of his ancient mus

« 이전계속 »