- Remarks of private James N. Dunlop,
at A. N. V. Banquet, October 29th, 1879.
Mr. Dunlop was called on to respond to a toast
to the cavalry, and spoke as follows:
"To horse, to horse; the sabres
High sounds our bugle call;
Combined by honor's sacred
Our watchword, laws and liberty!
Forward! to do or die."
Mr. Chairman and Fellow Comrades
The simple melody of our bugles
when, in days of
yore, they called us to "mount,"
or sounded "the advance," is heard anew in the sentiment
just proposed and in our ears again ring their commands
- set to the notes of Scotland's
chief minstrel - breathed from the magic touch of the "Wizard of the North."
And so the events of those times,
that "tried men's souls," the homely detail of the soldier's daily life
- no less than the splendid achievement of "peril's darkest hour) - shall
furnish material for the solemn, stately muse of history and thrilling
theme for story and for song.
The sentiment, sir, is an epitome
of our struggle, and
by a single happy touch delineates
the instinct of the citizen soldierly of the South, as, bound together
by the iron bands of discipline
then the golden cords
that draw the patriot's heart,
they stood to defend their people's liberties, to vindicate a violated
In this "Drew sabre."
"Combined by honor's sacred
Their watchword, laws and
Grave views of the philosophy
of our struggle, or of
its bearing upon the future
of the country, were illy obtruded on this occasion of scared memories
and of chastened mirth. Thus much, at least, the sentiment suggests in
the "watchword" it utters - For "laws and liberty," for constitutional
freedom, our war was the grandest protest a century has witnessed, and
its principles will prove the only sure bulwark for that freedom through
centuries yet to some. Deep down, beyond the fate of passing issued, the
upheaval of local institutions, the tottering of a fair social fabric -
broader in import, undiminished in vitality - repose these principles,
universal, eternal. Before the government was born, they were.
They rocked the cradle of Liberty on this continent, and when they perish
Liberty will have found her grave.
For one, I cannot, in the light
of the sacred past, remit the future to the chilling counsel of a desolate
despair. Nay, rather, from the altar of our memories, I would kindle the
flame of our hopes, and in these "reunions" pour annual libation to the
Truth, that "had its being" incarnate in our cause.
Truth, subjected to mock trial
and condemnation, scourged and spitted on, betrayed by secret foes, denied
by avowed friends, staggering under its Cross, and
sealed to-day in its sepulchre,
bursts to-morrow the
gates of death, rises with the
crown, triumphant reigns throughout the world.
In our momentous struggle, what
part "the cavalry"
bore the tongue of your minstrel
alone might fitly tell; representatives at home and in distant State, among
the living and the dead, proclaim the stuff whereof it was made.
Its chief glory is that it shared the glory of the Army of Northern Virginia.
But discrimination may
be made of peculiar excellence
where comparison would be as odious as impossible. We watched
while others slept, and snuffed the first breath of hostile approach. We
were now in the van - now in the rear. Active movement often
"multiplied our presence." Ubiquity scarce filled the measure
of our duty. Eyes were we
for those that were blind -
ears for those that were deaf - without us. And the hundred
hands of Briareus,
though moved by a giant's arm,
were powerless without the hundred eyes of Argus to see where they should
But sense of sight and hearing
and delicate touch were not all. What has been truly said in
general of the individuality of the Confederate soldier, with special
force applies to the cavalier. The machinery in obedience,
moved even by mediocrity in command. The unavoidable
absence of such previous training for our war, left greater scope
for the unaided resources
of individual genius in commanders
valor in men - the native prowess
and intelligent obedience of a patriotic cavalry was "born, not made."
The soil of this States seemed to be its habitat, and at
the call of war, it -
"Rose from the ground like feathered
And vaulted, with such ease,
into its seat,
As if an angel dropped down
from the clouds
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
And witch the world with noble
When, in the Syrian desert, a
place where no man
meets a friend, Saladin and
a knight of the Red Cross
et and prepared them for deadly
encounter, the Soldan of Egypt and Syria, ere the crusaders' mace could
be hurled at him, with matchless dexterity, turned his
barb and thrice rode around
his ponderous enemy.
But when, in these latter days,
like black clouds in
the firmament of heaven,
and ready to burst on the hushed,
expectant air, great armies, not men, stood facing for the death-grapple,
in sight of this fair city,
then the peerless leader of
"the cavalry," as in winged
steed, like another Saladin, with magnificent sweep, encircled the foe
the track of his coming doom.
The prophet Elijah with his garment
parted the waters
of the Jordan, and passed in
a whirlwind from the sight of Elisha, who received the falling mantle and
repeated upon the waters his Master's miracle. But on
banks of another stream, now
become historic, when
our Great Captain's great Lieutenant
had fought his
last fight, and was making ready
to doff the habiliments of earthly command, a successor for that field
the glory of the cavalry to
furnish - a successor, who,
as we heard in the capitol to-night,
with the very ring
of the fallen hero's metal,
ordered the men, when ammunition had failed, to "hold their ground
me bayonet!" And this did the
spirit of the great Elijah, who was passing from the whirlwind of that
out of his followers' sight,
rest upon Elisha, and Stuart bore the mantle of Stonewall Jackson.!
Among the legends of ancient
the legends of ancient Rome was one that at the battle of the Lake Regillus,
the victory was die to the twin
sons of thundering Jove, who were seen to ride in the fight.
There be twain still with us,
bearers of a name - we
utter with reverence because
of the illustrious dead -
a name that thrilled with electric
power devoted followers, drew the plaudits of the civilized world,
and wrung from foes even the
tribute of admiring
respect - a name that we shall
repeat to the latest posterity as borne by one, the model of all
that was godlike in man - I name the name of Lee - there be
these twain, not brothers indeed,
according to the
flesh, but sons of brethren,
our orator of the capitol
and our absent President, who
rode in the fight like Castor and Pollox: To your sentiment, Mr. Chairman,
"the cavalry" responds with these! These -
"Be the great twin brethren,
That fought so well for Rome!"
*From Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume
Richmond, Va. January, 1880, No.1., pages
15 - 17
- Remarks of Private James N. Dunlop.
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