Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/265

This page needs to be proofread.


Unveiling a Statue of Dr. Hunter McGuire. 257

Thomas Carlyle has said: "It will ever be so. We all love great men; love, venerate and bow down submissive before great men; nay, can we honestly bow down to anything else? Ah, does not every true man feel that he is himself made higher by doing rever- ence to what is really above himĀ ? No nobler or more blessed feel- ing dwells in man's heart; and to me it is very cheering to consider that no skeptical logic or general triviality, insincerity and aridity of any time and its influences can destroy this noble, inborn loyalty and worship that is in man."

And is it not true that these three hundred students followed that young and earnest teacher because they recognized in him a born leader of men, and attested by their implicit confidence his genius for command? This was on his part no stroke of policy, no low prefer- ment of his own selfish interests, no vulgar greed for popularity. He exacted no conditions from his followers, and imposed on them no terms of future allegiance; but, having conducted them to Rich- mond, and seen them established in suitable schools, he withdrew in self-effacement to earn his living in another field.

The alarm of war recalled him from his new-found home in New Orleans to his birthplace in Virginia. At the first call to arms he stood not on any claim which his conspicuous conduct might afford, but took his place in the ranks of the first volunteer company that marched out from Winchester, ready to perform the duties of the humblest station. Very soon, however, the obvious need for his professional skill called him to the medical staff of the army, and here the discerning eye of Jackson fell upon him, and singled him for the high place of Medical Director of his army. To Dr. Mc- Guire's sense of just proportion this distinction appeared to be un- fair to others of his profession, who, older and more experienced than himself, had from like motives entered the service. He pointed this out to General Jackson, and asked to be relieved, but his only solace was the stern reply: "Sir, I appointed you." And from that day on, till the "Dolorous Stroke" at Chancellorsville, there was no official report of battle by General Jackson that did not con- tain express acknowledgment of the efficient service of Surgeon McGuire.

Throughout their long and interesting association the relation be- tween these two men was not that alone of commander and chief surgeon, but in camp, in bivouac and in battle, Dr. McGuire was always the trusted friend and close companion of his reticent chief. With what delightful satisfaction do we recall those charming reci-