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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/187

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New Market Dai) at V. M. I. 179

Comrades and Friends:

This is a day long to be remembered in the history of this school of soldiers. We have assembled to do homage to that bat- talion of young soldiers who more than a generation ago received their baptism of fire and won immortal glory upon the memorable field at New Market. The first and only time in history, I believe, when in solid phalanx, undaunted and invincible as a battalion, tes- timony was borne to the discipline and training of any military school.

This school had many representatives in the grand armies of the lost cause, who, by their daring and efficiency, shed lustre upon their alma mater, and "slain in battle" is the epitaph that conse- crates no less than 125 names. When the struggle was over, and the warrior's banner took its flight to greet the warrior's soul, and peace again assumed its sway, we, the actors in that battle, sepa- rated to take up the struggle in the battle of life, with varying for- tune of success and failure, some to distinction in the several pro- fessions and callings in life, and some less conspicuous in fulfilling faithfully the duty of daily round and common task. And of that band, one gifted in art, and though a sojourner in a foreign land, no less a Virginian and loyal to his State, animated by love for his alma mater and pride in the achievements of that glorious corps, on that memorable i5th of May, has created in living 'bronze "Virginia Mourning Her Dead," and out of a loving and generous heart do- nated it as memorial of those comrades who fought, and those who died in defense of right. As one of that band I am here to-day, honored beyond my deserving, to tell to you the simple story of the battle of New Market, to speak of the march and bivouac, the hero- ism and selfdenial of my comrades in arms,, and to light anew the flame of patriotism and devotion, as I recall the memories of the time which tried men's souls, and inspired the youth, who, while drinking at the fount of knowledge, within these walls, yet were thrilled by the noble deeds of their countrymen. In whose veins, pulsing the blood of noble sires, they dared to demonstrate that they were worthy sons. On the altars of their hearts brightly burned the fires of patriotism, and their slogan, " it is noble to die for one's country." Such was the spirit that animated the corps in the spring of 1864.