Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Memorial Day in Memphis, 1875

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 27, 2017


From the Memphis Daily Appeal, May 25, 1875:

Three generations of soldiers were of the long array — the men who fought with Jackson at New Orleans, those who braved the Indians in the Everglades, the later generation who followed Scott and [Jefferson] Davis and [Gideon Johnston] Pillow [a local hero] in Mexico, and the still later who had served with Grant or Lee, with Stonewall Jackson or Sherman, with Forrest or Sheridan, with Joe Johnston or Thomas. . . . These were the links that bound jubilee army to the past, blending with the younger soldiers whose battles were on a grander scale, but whose contests were no fiercer, illustrated for the multitude almost the whole history of the Republic. . . . In these gentlemen [Pillow and Davis] we had united the two later and grandest epochs in our history — the one by which we won an empire, and the other by which we sustained the shock of civil war and survived to enjoy and perpetuate a still more perfect Union. Forrest, the “terrible fighter” and always victorious cavalry raider, marched in the same column with the Federals who had fought him, and shared a seat on the same platform with our best representatives of the Union armies. . . .
Mr. Davis, our foremost statesman, did not speak, but he was upon the platform, and by his presence gave indorsement [sic.] to the re-cementing of the bonds of brotherhood. Tribute was paid to the dead, a loving tribute in words and flower, but the Union was over it all — was uppermost in all minds — and the day was thus made sacred to the highest purpose, and the dead were made to serve the noblest use in a text and day on which to preach peace and love, and date the final close of the war and all its bitter dissensions and contentions. Looking back through the night into the day, and recalling the men who were principal actors in the play, the tone and temper of the audience and the drift of what was said and sung can reach but the conclusion impressed upon us when yet the parade was in the thought of its projectors, that it was to be as healing upon the waters, it was to be a proper supplement of our steady march toward complete restoration, the finale of all our efforts to be reconciled to to our brothers of the both, and to do our part toward the consummation of that perfect peace for which all men have longed since that day at Appomattox, when Lee sheathed his sword and bade his troops “good-bye.” It was a great popular upheaval. It was the bursting of a great pent-up feeling of joy and happiness upon the condition of the country, the overflowing of gratitude for the blessings we enjoy of civil and religious liberty, and the determination to to give unmistakable assurances of loyalty and fealty to the Union. . . .
The Union was apparent in and over all. The battle-flags of both armies were placed side-by-side or in peaceful embrace, by request, too, of General Forrest, and the same hands draped the graves of the boys in blue and gray alike. The memory we revive of the day is this, and this its lesson. May it endure forever to animate us on each recurring anniversary, strengthening present resolution and and confirming us in our determination to labor hereafter in and for the Union, to make it more glorious and free, the first among the nations of the earth.

[This post originally appeared on Memorial Day weekend, 2012.]



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