Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/117

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Personal Experiences of Maivern Hill. 113

ment is erected, aided in achieving a lustre of arms such as is not recorded in all the annals of the past.

The one thing in my personal history touching the war which I recall with most delight and hold in my supremest pride and satis- faction before all else, is the ardor with which I took up arms. This ardor was not the mere ebullient force of a passionate excitement, but the inspiration of unquestioning conviction that our duty to our- selves, to posterity, to our State, imperiously demanded that we should at all hazards and whatever might be the outcome, take up arms in defence of our rights as a'free, independent and liberty-loving people and to repel any invasion of our soil by hostile forces. You recall the glow of this ardor you felt it it burned in every true heart of the South. May those who come after us ever bear it in honorable memory, for it was a most sacred feeling, akin to what we feel for our religion and our God in our most devout moments.

It was a bitter alternative that was presented to Virginia, either to submit unresistingly and unconditionally to the determined and persistent encroachments on her equality under the Constitution, or to withdraw herself from the Union of the States which she had been chiefly instrumental in forming and which for that reason, she, more than all the other States, loved pre-eminently. She did all she could to avert this alternative. She sent her most illustrious citizens to Washington to implore for adjustment, for peace and for the perpetuity of the Union. Their petition was most haughtily dis- regarded. Notwithstanding this, she, through her people in solemn convention assembled, repressing all resentment, still stood majest- ically calm, though deeply moved, with her hand on the bond of the Union, refusing to untie it. And thus she stood until she was summoned to take up arms against her kindred people of the South and to receive on her soil an advancing hostile force. Put to this alternative, she resumed her delegated rights and sovereignty. In that solemn act, I was passionately with her with my whole soul and mind. And standing here to-night after the lapse of upwards of a quarter of a century, summing up all she suffered and lost in war in the waste of property, in the desolation of homes and in the blood of her sons, and also fully realizing the blessings of the restored Union, I still declare from the deepest depth of my convictions, that she was right. Yes, I rejoice that my whole being responded in approval and applause of that act of my State. I rejoice in recall- ing with what willingness I was ready to give my life in its support,