Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/173

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Location of the Battle Abbey Decided.

their commands from North, South, East and West; many of them fell for this Lost Cause on Virginia battlefields, many dear ones now living, were nursed to health and returned home, they can testify whether Virginia bore her part heroically; they cay testify how she loved and suffered for this cause. The soldiers from Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and all other States, who were gathered in Virginia—they can speak and tell how Virginia knew in this cause no locality, but only as Confederate soldiers, fighting in defense of a common cause, they were met and cared for. In Virginia they were fed and nursed; they can testify how her fields were green and forests full and how, after the war was over, she stood among the States naked, barren and scarred, deprived of her means, despoiled by the invader, for she was the great battlefield for the States, the camping-ground for both armies. Not one battle gave Virginia a claim to this abbey, but hundreds. It is these claims which makes for Virginia the greater plea. Let some of those veterans tell the story.

The proprietors of the land adjacent to these battlefields will give the land for this Battle Abbey. They who own the ground where the seven days' fight was fought, when the whole Confederate army in battle array, before the paid soldiers of a Federal invader, met, and where the fatal heroism fought to death the youth and flower of our hearts and homes. That vista of retrospective suffering appeals to those living and dead. That period when Virginia was mantled in the dark garb of sorrow, when every other house was a hospital, when Virginia matrons and maids vied with their faithful sisters from all sections, to alleviate the suffering of these dying sons, her own and those who came to Virginia to do their duty. Virginia was the home and birthplace of Robert E. Lee—another great and just appeal. Confederate veterans! do not let the want of a golden bid from Virginia wrest from her the right claim, to have this abbey built upon her soil, and as near to Richmond as reasonable space for those Confederate God's-acres can be procured. There will be a great mistake if any State than Virginia is selected. Truth and justice are the underlying strength of continued successes. Stifle them, and