From the 11 July 1878 issue of The New York Times.


Gen. W. H. F. Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, delivered the address at the decoration of the Confederate soldiers’ graves in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday. Among other things, he said:

On such occasions as this a solemn pleasure comes hand in hand with a high duty. We feel that while we survive it is our duty to publish to the world the virtues of the men at whose graves we mourn. They did not die in vain. “The blood of the brave sends,” says Scott, “a roaring voice through all time.” Who can contemplate the sacrifice these men made? Who can look upon these silent mounds, whether lonely by the roadside where they fell on the march, or thick like forest trees on the battle-fields they never yielded, or in city cemeteries, crowned with flowers, the emblems of woman’s love and devotion, and not feel, while tears come to the eye, the heart grow stronger for the sight? Who were those men? Catch a sight of their line of battle; listen to that cheer. See the onset with which they fall upon the foe. Let some such memories as these quiver in the heart and say, “Has this blood been shed in vain?” Not in vain, for it has shown that no people, however small in numbers and weak in resources, can be overcome until their rivers redden with the blood of the slain, and there is not left a Corporal’s guard to carry on the fight. They did not die in vain, for truthful history will recount such examples of patriotism, self-sacrifice, and daring as will make its pages that tell of these heroes lessons of public virtue, and their lives the text-books wherein honor may be learned. Even the record of the heroes of the Pagan age is to day the text-book of Christian schools. Such blood is never shed in vain, unless all Grecian valor and Roman prowess shall be held for naught; unless Poland’s example speaks no more; unless the glens of Scotland, full of self-sacrifice, or the green bogs of Ireland, where men died for freedom, have ceased to nerve men to deeds of virtue and of daring, the blood of these men whose graves we decorate has not been shed in vain. By their manly sacrifices civilization has been purified and freedom advanced to a higher love among men. The time will come when those who fought us in the field will say that this blood was shed as much in their defense and in defense of constitutional liberty, as well as for our dear old land, [applause,] and they will join with us in appreciation of the vicarious sacrifices made by the gallant men whose graves to-day we strew with flowers. But the past must not claim all our hear. The path of duty still lies before us. Our country claims our allegiance. Virginia still lives. Our every thought should be given to her honor and prosperity. It is not manly to repine—not manly to let the past crush the present. We must make Virginia the equal of the great Empire State, and strive to turn here the tide of the Western trade, that great river of gold that fertilized wherever it passed.