The Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee, For Children, In Easy Words
By Mary L. Williamson


Farewell Address to His Soldiers.

APPOMATTOX C. H., April 10, 1865.

General Orders No. 9.

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but, feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that would compensate for the loss that must have attended a continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the Agreement, Officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an Affectionate Farewell.

R E Lee


Lee to the Rear.


Dawn of a pleasant morning in May
Broke thro’ the Wilderness, cool and gray,
While perched in the tallest tree-tops, the birds
Were carolling Mendelssohn’s “Songs without words.”

Far from the haunts of men remote
The brook brawled on with a liquid note,
And nature, all tranquil and lovely, wore
The smile of spring, as in Eden of yore.

Little by little, as daylight increased,
And deepened the roseate flush in the East—
Little by little did morning reveal
Two long, glittering lines of steel!

Where two hundred thousand bayonets gleam,
Tipped with the light of the earliest beam,
And the faces are sullen and grim to see
In the hostile armies of Grant and Lee.

All of a sudden, ere rose the sun,
Pealed on the silence the opening gun—
A little white puff of smoke there came,
And anon the valley was wreathed in flame.

Down on the left of the rebel lines,
Where a breastwork stands in a copse of pines,
Before the rebels their ranks can form
The Yankees have carried the place by storm.

Stars and Stripes o’er the salient wave,
Where many a hero has found a grave,
And the gallant Confederates strive in vain
The ground they have drenched with their blood to regain.

Yet louder the thunder of battle roared—
Yet a deadlier fire on their columns poured—
Slaughter, infernal, rode with Despair,
Furious twain, through the smoky air.

Not far off in the saddle there sat
A gray-bearded man with black slouch hat;
Not much moved by the fire was he—
Calm and resolute Robert Lee.

Quick and watchful, he kept his eye
On two bold rebel brigades close by—
Reserves that were standing (and dying) at ease
Where the tempest of wrath toppled over the trees.

For still with their loud, bull-dog bay
The Yankee batteries blazed away.
And with every murderous second that sped
A dozen brave fellows, alas! fell dead.

The grand old beard rode to the space
Where Death and his victims stood face to face,
And silently waves his old slouch hat—
A world of meaning there was in that!

“Follow me! Steady! We’ll save the day!
This was what he seemed to say;
And to the light of his glorious eye
The bold brigades thus made reply:

“We’ll go forward, but you must go back.”
And they moved not an inch in the perilous track.
“Go to the rear, and we’ll give them a rout.”
Then the sound of the battle was lost in their shout.

Turning his bridle, Robert Lee
Rode to the rear. Like the waves of the sea
Bursting the dykes in their overflow,
Madly his veterans dashed on the foe;

And backwood in terror, that foe was driven,
Their banners rent and their columns riven
Wherever the tide of battle rolled,
Over the Wilderness, wood, and wold.

Sunset out of a crimson sky
Streamed o’er a field of a ruddier dye,
And the brook ran on with a purple stain
From the blood of ten thousand foemen slain.

Seasons have passed since that day and year,
Again o’er the pebbles the brook runs clear,
And the field in a richer green is drest
Where the dead of the terrible conflict rest.

Hushed is the roll of the rebel drum;
The sabres are sheathed and the cannon are dumb,
And Fate, with pitiless hand, has furled
The flag that once challenged the gaze of the world.

But the fame of the Wilderness fight abides,
And down into the history grandly rides,
Calm and unmoved, as in battle he sat,
The gray-bearded man in the black slouch hat.


The Conquered Banner.

By the Rev. J. A. RYAN, Catholic Priest, of Knoxville, Tenn.
Music by A. E. BLACKMAR.

Furl that banner, for ’tis weary;
Round its staff ’tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it, it is best;
For there’s not a man to wave it,
And there’s not a sword to save it,
And there’s not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it—
Furl it, hide it, let it rest.

Take that banner down—’tis tattered,
Broken is its staff and shattered,
And the valiant hosts are scattered
Over whom it floated high.
Oh! ’tis hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there’s none to hold it.
Hard that those who once enrolled it
Now must furl it with a sigh.

Furl that banner, furl it sadly—
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
Swore it should forever wave,
Swore that foeman’s sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag would float forever
O’er their freedom or their grave.

Furl it! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low;
And the banner, it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.

For, though conquered, they adore it,
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it,
Weep for those who fell before it,
Pardon those who trailed and tore it,
And oh! wildly they deplore it,
Now to furl and fold it so.

Furl that banner! true ’tis gory,
Yet ’tis wreathed around with glory,
And ’twill live in song and story,
Though its folds are in the dust;
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages,
Furl its folds though now we must.

Furl that banner! softly, slowly,
Treat it gently—it is holy—
For it droops above the dead;
Touch it not, unfold it never;
Let it droop there, furled forever,
For its people’s hopes are dead.


Music in Camp.


Two armies covered hill and plain,
Where Rappahannock’s waters
Ran, deeply crimsoned with the stain
Of battle’s recent slaughters.

The summer clouds lay pitched like tents
In meads of heavenly azure;
And each dread gun of the elements
Slept in its hid embrasure.

The breeze so softly blew, it made
No forest leaf to quiver,
And the smoke of the random cannonade
Rolled slowly from the river.

And now, where circling hills looked down,
With cannon grimly planted,
O’er listless camp and silent town,
The golden sunset slanted.

When on the fervid air there came
A strain, now rich, now tender;
The music seemed itself aflame
With day’s departing splendor.

A Federal band, which eve and morn
Played measures brave and nimble,
Had just struck up with flute and horn
And lively clash of cymbal.

Down flocked the soldiers to the banks,
Till margined by its pebbles,
One wooded shore was blue with “Yanks,”
And one was gray with “Rebels.”

Then all was still, and then the band,
With movements light and tricksy,
Made stream and forest, hill and strand,
Reverberate with “Dixie.”

The conscious stream with burnished glow,
Went proudly o’er its pebbles,
But thrilled throughout its deepest flow
With yelling of the rebels.

Again a pause, and then again
The trumpets pealed sonorous,
And Yankee Doodle was the strain
To which the shores gave chorus.

The laughing ripple shoreward flew
To kiss the shining pebbles;
Loud shrieked the swarming boys in blue
Defiance to the Rebels.

And yet once more the bugles sang
Above the stormy riot;
No shout upon the evening rang—
There reigned a holy quiet.

The sad, low stream, its noiseless tread
Poured o’er the glistening pebbles;
And silent now the Yankees stood,
And silent stood the Rebels.

No unresponsive soul had heard
That plaintive note’s appealing,
So deeply Home, Sweet Home, had stirred
The hidden founts of feeling.

Or blue or gray, the soldier sees,
As by the wand of fairy,
The cottage ‘neath the live-oak trees,
The cabin by the prairie.

Or cold or warm, his native skies
Bend in their beauty o’er him;
Seen through the tear-mist in his eyes,
His loved ones stood before him.

As fades the iris after rain
In April’s tearful weather,
The vision vanished as the strain
And daylight died together.

But memory, waked by music’s art,
Expressed in simplest numbers,
Subdued the sternest Yankee’s heart,
Made light the Rebel’s slumbers.

And fair the form of music shines,
That bright, celestial creature,
Who still ‘mid war’s embattled lines
Gave this one touch of nature.
Louisville Journal.


The South.


Yes, give me the land
Where the ruins are spread,
And the living tread light
On the heart of the dead;
Yes, give me the land
That is blest by the dust,
And bright with the deeds
Of the down-trodden just.

Yes, give me the land
Where the battle’s red blast
Has flashed on the future
The form of the past;
Yes, give me the land
That hath legends and lays
That tell of the memories
Of long-vanished days.

Yes, give me the land
That hath story and song
To tell of the strife
Of the right with the wrong;
Yes, give me the land
With a grave in each spot
And names in the graves
That shall not be forgot.

Yes, give me the land
Of the wreck and the tomb;
There’s grandeur in graves—
There’s glory in gloom.
For out of the gloom
Future brightness is born;
As, after the night,
Looms the sunrise of morn.

And the graves of the dead,
With the grass overgrown,
May yet form the footstool
Of Liberty’s throne;
And each simple wreck
In the way-path of might
Shall yet be a rock
In the temple of Right.


Some Leading School Books.



Return to The Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee, For Children, In Easy Words