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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/255

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Recollections of Army Life with General Lee. 247

that the brave who fell in defense of their cause should thus be mal- treated, but it is claimed that the exigencies of the times palliated it to some extent, even if it did not justify it altogether. Even the Confederate dead, clad in his wretched raiment, fared but little bet- ter if friends were not near to prevent it. It is easily seen by whom these ghastly trophies were sought and obtained. Such ghouls be- long to all armies, and are the dread of the wounded. The char- acter of the Southern soldier, those to the manner born, in every detail of the war, was above reproach. They never robbed the living nor stripped the dead. They endured personal suffering and misery in preference to the use of such vile means of obtaining com- fort. Brave, gallant and chivalrous; generous at all times, either in victory or defeat, the instinct of their breeding showed forth in most conspicuous forms.

History records that in all countries and communities, and nowhere oftener shown up than in armies, is an element a disturbing one who bring upon their associates odium and reproach by overt acts, which condemn all as a whole. For these we can offer no excuse. As they were for us and with us, we must be content to abide the sequence of circumstances beyond our control. We shared their glory, for many of them were brave as the bravest, as far as that goes, and can but disclaim personal participation only.

In conclusion, such was the way the Southern soldier lived and fared; how with rifles and bayonets bright as sunbeams he fought the world knows how, and when the starry-cross battle flag was furled in defeat by starvation and privation, he returned to a ruined home and sought to build anew his fortunes, and again suffered the hardships incidental thereto with the same enduring patience and fortitude he displayed as a soldier, and to-day his proudest boast is: "I was a Confederate soldier and fought with Lee, Johnston and Bragg. I have nothing to be ashamed of while in the ranks, and now, under the flag under which I was born, I allow none to surpass me in loyalty and allegiance to a reunited country. Our bonnie blue flag is furled in defeat a defeat that reflects honor. I cherish its glories and traditions, and have no animosity to its rival, the Stars and Stripes. Its memories are the proudest heritage I shall bequeath my children. ' '

Port Gibson, Miss.