Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Address Delivered at the Unveiling of the Statue of General J.E.B Stuart - Conclusion

The Stuart Horse Artillery

Attached to the cavalry corps was one of the bravest and most efficient organizations that any army ever possessed. The Stuart Horse Artillery, from a single company commanded by the Gallant Pelham, grew into several battalions under Beckham, Breathed, Hart, McGregor, Chew, and Thompson, whose distinguished services are worthy of the most brilliant pages of our history. Would that time permitted me to render to the officers and men of those splendid horse-batteries the tribute they so well deserve!

The honor of firing the first gun of Fort Sumter is no longer in doubt. The proud distinction of firing the last gun at Appomattox is claimed by many, but the command that fired the most shot and shell, first, last and all the time, is perhaps, without doubt, the ever-glorious and gallant Stuart Horse Artillery.

Welcome, also, my comrades of Mosby's Battalion! In close affiliation with Stuart, nurtured and encouraged by him, valued and praised by him beyond measure, was the Forty-third Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, under the brave, skillful, and distinguished commander, Colonel John S. Mosby. Their heroic deeds form part of the glory achieved by the army, and we link their names with the cavalry corps in loving fellowship and everlasting honor.

And now, my Comrades, our task is done. This day, so long expected, has come at last to bless our vision and rejoice our hearts. Again Stuart rides with his great Commander who himself wrote the epitaph of his Chief of Cavalry. In official orders announcing his death to the army, May 20, 1864, General Lee said: Among the gallant soldiers who have fallen in this war General Stuart was second to none in valor, in zeal, and in unflinching devotion to his country. His achievements form a conspicuous part of the history of this army, with which his name and services will be forever associated. To military capacity of a high order and to the nobler virtues of the soldier he added the brighter graces of a pure life, guided and sustained by the Christian's faith and hope. The mysterious hand of an all-wise God has removed him from the scene of his usefulness and fame.

And he added these words, carved upon this monument and graven in our hearts: His grateful countrymen will mourn his loss and cherish his memory. To his comrades in arms he has left the proud recollection of his deeds and the inspiring influence of his example.

Once more Stuart rides with Lee, and again, I see him, as on the plains of Brandy, the phantom horsemen pass him in review -- their survivors, on the eve of life's last battle, exclaiming now as then, "Te morituri salutamus!"

Some of Stuart's pupils in the art of war have grown wiser, they think, than their master, and some have made bold to write themselves down as critics after the event. General Lee once wrote that even a poor general as he himself could see what might have been done after the battle was over. It has been truly said that the general who never made a mistake never fought a battle.

But now, waving all controversy and comparison, Stuart stands upon the record inscribed upon this monument. The testimony of two witnesses is true: the witnesses are Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

To the city of Richmond as its faithful guardian we commit this monument, in whose care and keeping it will henceforth stand, in token of a people's gratitude and in perpetual memory of his heroic name.

"I've called his name, a statue stern and vast,
It rests enthroned upon the mighty past,
Fit plinth for him whose image in the mind
Looms up as that of one by God designed.
Fit plinth, in sooth! the mighty past for him,
Whose simple name is Glory's synonym.
E'en Fancy's self in her enchanted sleep
Can dream no future which may cease to keep
His name in guard, like sentinel, and cry
From Time's great bastions: "It shall never die!"