Manual The Civil War at a Glance (Illustrated)

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He was elected United States senator in , when only forty years of age, over two of the greatest statesmen Georgia ever had, Alexander H. Stephens and Benjamin H. He served, first and last, about thirteen years in the Senate of the United States. His services in the national Congress were brilliant and statesmanlike, and placed the entire South under great obligations for his display of tact, fortitude, wisdom, and patience under great provocation at possibly the most delicate and threatening period in the history of the ex-Confederate States.

His courage and eloquence, used always conservatively, with the aid of such men as Lamar of Mississippi, Hill of Georgia, Gibson of Louisiana, and others, brought his own State and Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, and the Page xvi entire Southland under the control of their own people.

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He was chosen by the Democrats in Congress to draft an address to the people of the South, urging patience, endurance, and an appeal to a returning sense of justice as the cure for all wrongs. He was elected governor of Georgia twice, and the record shows that his messages were as able as any emanating from the long line of distinguished men who preceded or followed him.

Able critics declared his first Inaugural "worthy of Thomas Jefferson. Of his last election as United States senator, a contemporary historian has written:. It was a marvellous political victory. Unopposed until he antagonized the sub-treasury plan of the Farmers' Alliance, which had four fifths of the Legislature in its favor, he was elected after the most exciting contest of the times.

In the wild enthusiasm succeeding his victory, he was borne by the multitude through the Capitol to the street, placed on a caisson, and drawn about the city amid shouts and rejoicing, while the whole State was ablaze with bonfires. His speech in the Senate in , at the time of the Chicago riots, pledging the aid of the South in maintaining law and order, rang from one end of the country to the other. The one object nearest his heart was to wipe out as far as possible all bitterness between the people of the North and the South. His great lecture, "The Last Days of the Confederacy," was received with enthusiasm everywhere, and he really became Page xvii the great evangel of peace and good feeling; nor was his a new idea with him.

At Appomattox, after the surrender of Lee's army, he gathered his weeping heroes around him, and his patriotism in that dark hour was prophetic and grand. He told his comrades "to bear their trial bravely, to go home in peace, obey the laws, rebuild the country, and work for the weal and harmony of the Republic.

John Brown Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War

No one could move the masses as he did, North and South, by appeals to patriotism, coupled with pride of section and country. The affectionate regard in which he was held was nowhere brought out so markedly as in the great fraternal gatherings of ex-Confederate Soldiers. Here he appeared greatest and most beloved. He was their only Commander from the organization of the United Confederate Veterans until his death. His magical leadership and personality and wise and conservative administration gave it shape and success. His hold on and influence over his comrades, when he appeared among them or rose to speak, was wonderful to behold.

Even a motion of his hand brought silence, and the great gatherings hung on every word he spoke, and his advice decided everything. At the Reunion at Nashville, Tennessee, he attempted to lay down his commission as Commander. No one who witnessed that scene Page xviii will ever forget it. The great assemblage some six thousand persons rose spontaneously, and with wild acclamation, that would admit of no parleying or delay, commissioned him for life as leader and Commander.

I doubt if any other man ever had a greater and more effective demonstration of love and confidence. A similar scene occurred at Louisville.

Here he raised his voice, amid great excitement, in favor of conservative bearing toward the Veterans of the North, who, when they had their meeting in Fredericksburg, Virginia, had sent friendly greetings to the Veterans of the South. In his private life he was pure and spotless, and an example to every American citizen.

His devotion to his wife and family was beautiful in the extreme. In early life he had married Miss Fanny Haralson, daughter of Hon. Hugh Anderson Haralson, who represented Georgia in Congress for many years, and her devotion to him equalled the great love he bore her. She was ever near him through-out the war, and, but for her tender and wifely nursing when supposed to be fatally wounded at Sharpsburg, he could never have recovered. Her war experience would make a beautiful romance to go down with that of her departed husband. He never failed to try and make her the partner of his triumphs and popularity.

At many of the reunions the old veterans accorded her as great an ovation as they gave their Commander.

The high commands

No event since the great demonstration in New Orleans when Jefferson Davis died has brought out more strikingly the love of the Southern people for any one man than was shown when General Page xix Gordon was laid away in the beautiful cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia January 14, Upwards of seventy-five thousand people viewed and took part in the ceremonies. Governors and distinguished citizens from almost every Southern State were present; and it was especially touching to witness the exhibition of love and affection of surviving Confederate soldiers, who attended in great numbers to show their esteem for the beloved dead.

The people of the North also expressed sympathy, and the universal grief was reflected in telegrams from the President of the United States, the Secretary of War, the General of the army, in resolutions of State Legislatures in session, and in memorial meetings in many localities. He was a devout and humble Christian gentleman.

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  4. I know of no man more beloved at the South, and he was probably the most popular Southern man among the people of the North. Less than three weeks before, he had come to his winter home on Biscayne Bay, in Florida, where the sunlight and balmy air, always a delight to him, had seemed to revive him and stir his enthusiasm to a degree unusual even in one of his energetic and joyous temperament.

    Those great qualities which set him high among men illumined with peculiar lustre these last weeks, making them an epitome of his whole life. Unconquerable energy, undying enthusiasm--above all, unselfish love--these were the traits which had borne him through the battles of war and the battles of peace, and through years of peerless civic service; these the traits which uplifted the work of his stalwart years and bore his spirit indomitable through years of physical frailty, and which at the very last shone through the mists of his dying hours with the glowing beauty of a setting sun.

    Only the day before his illness, he was tramping over the fields and through the orchards with his grandson, planning with the delight of a boy. Page xxii "My son, this shall be a paradise for your grandmother and all of us some day. Before noon on Wednesday he was unconscious, and it seemed he would sink out of sight without a sign; but in forty-eight hours he rallied. On Saturday morning he looked out on the sunlit bay and at the great palms waving against a blue sky, and said in low and broken tones: "It seems a poor use of God's beautiful gifts to us to be ill on a day like this!

    At five minutes past ten o'clock on Saturday night, January 9, he passed into another life, as peacefully as a little child falls asleep. Within an hour the message had sped over the wires to the whole country; and the crowds around the bulletin boards in many Southern cities turned silently, and with tear-dimmed eyes scattered to their homes. Before midnight newsboys were crying the sad news up and down the residence streets; and on Sunday morning the heart of the whole South seemed to go out in one great throb of pain and sympathy. On Sunday evening, at the request of the people of Miami, Florida, the body was borne, with military escort, to the Presbyterian church in that little city on the bay, to lie there in state until the funeral train should leave for Atlanta.

    A detachment of Florida troops accompanied the remains to Atlanta, and at the State line this guard of honor was augmented by members of the staff of Georgia's governor. At every station beautiful flowers were brought to the funeral car, and, when time allowed, old Confederate veterans, with tears streaming down their rugged cheeks, filed by to look for the last time on the face of their beloved leader.

    Gordon comes home to-day. He has come home as, in the course of nature, he needs must come at last, covered with the sable trappings of grief, heralded by the slow monody of muffled drums, followed by the measured march of a people dissolved in the unspeakable bitterness of tears. In the cold gray dawn of the January morning a great throng overflowed the station, and filled the streets outside, as the train rolled into Atlanta, bearing the body of General Gordon.

    The official escort awaiting the train was composed of the new commander-in-chief of the Confederate Veterans Association, and other ex-Confederate officers, members and commanders of four camps of Confederate Veterans, the Confederate Veterans on the Atlanta police force, mounted police, and State militia. Besides these, thousands stood with heads bared, and bowed in reverence, as the casket was removed and borne to the hearse by the grizzled heroes who had followed this leader in war, and learned of him the lessons of peace.

    As the pall-bearers moved toward the hearse, an old veteran approached the casket, hurriedly, removed his overcoat, handed it to a by-stander , and jerking off his worn and faded jacket, of Confederate gray, asked, in tremulous tones, "May I lay it on his coffin just one minute? The procession moved to the State Capitol, and there in the rotunda, on a catafalque covered with flowers, the casket was placed.

    Around the great circular room, at intervals, drooped the flag of his beloved Confederacy, for which he had given the first blood of his young manhood, and the flag of a reunited country, to which he had given the richest offerings of his mature years. Palm branches from Florida, floral tributes from all over the South and Page xxv from the North, garlanded four tall pillars, and hung in fragrant masses on the casket, on the walls, and on stands about the corridor.

    And thus "the first citizen of the South lay in state in Georgia's Capitol. On Thursday morning, at ten o'clock, memorial exercises were held in the Georgia Hall of Representatives. While addresses were being made by men of distinction who had served with him in war and in peace, men, women, and children still passed, in unbroken line, by the casket in the rotunda. Immediately following these exercises, religious services were held in the Presbyterian church adjoining the Capitol.

    A way was opened through the throng, which packed the Capitol corridors and massed in the square and streets outside; and the casket was borne across by his old comrades. At Mrs.


    Gordon's request the veterans were given first place in the church after the family. He was master of many because master of himself. From the rich treasury of such a nature the ministers of Christ drew their lessons over the bier of this "prince of Christian chivalry.

    During the hours of the funeral, public and private schools and places of business were closed.