The Legacy of the Confederacy
The State accepts this monument with grateful appreciation. It is the tribute of a knightly soldier to the Women of the Confederacy. The statue is epic: Arms and the Man. Its theme is heroism and devotion ; the inheritance of the children of the South. The bronze group represents the grandmother unrolling to the eager youth, grasping the sword of his father, the scroll of the father's deeds. The bronze etchings on the faces of the pedestal suggest the outlines of her story. To the earnest beholder the statue is illumined with unfolding meaning. His vision will determine its revelation. As we look upon it, there rises out of the past a time when the spirit of war moved upon the depths of human thought, and summoned the elemental forces to titanic strife. We feel the throes of the mighty upheaval. The heavens are black with tempests, and ominous with the voices of ancient war and unutterable woe. We see "the marshaling in arms, and battle's magnificently stern array." Lovers say good-bye with tokens of plighted troth; the young mother and the father in uniform, kneel together, weeping over the cradle of their new born babe; there are tears and everlasting farewells; the cavalcades are filing off; the tramp of innumerable armies is heard. In secret the mother—this Woman of the Confederacy—prays and weeps with breaking heart for the boy who marches away to the wild, grand music of the bugles.
We hear the din of martial hosts, and squadrons galloping in the storm. They rush to the onset amid the rattle of musketry and thunders of field artillery. They defy carnage and death; they are torn by bursting shells, they are pierced by bullets and cut with steel; they stagger and fall on the bloody ground; the resolute survivors close in and press on. In the crash of doom the gray line stands, despising hunger and pain and death. Before the numberless battalions they are Vikings in the hour of despair. They feel the pulsations of the unconquerable hearts that beat at home. At home alone, the wives and mothers, these Women of the Confederacy, in patience and suffering, are listening for the coming of those who will never return—will never return, but march on forever in the militant hosts of the heroic of all kindred and nations, that have redeemed and glorified the world.
We dedicate this monument as a symbol of our veneration. We dedicate this monument as a covenant that we too, in blessed remembrance of them, shall strive for fidelity and courage. In unfaltering obedience Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac. For this, "the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of Heaven and said. By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies ; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
The Women of the Confederacy, in supreme consecration, did lay upon the altar of Dixie their first born, the fairest and the bravest of the world. And because they did this thing, we too are the children of the Covenant. The promise to Abraham was not alone for the seed of Abraham. It is the universal decree, divinely beautiful and divinely terrible. It is the law of development for all the children of men. Everlasting faith is a well of strength springing up into everlasting life.
Had the men and the women of the South been recreant, had they shrunk from the sacrifice of war, their children today would be the disinherited heirs of the promise, a dishonored and a degenerate people. In the onward march of the race, these world conflicts must come. That people survives, gathers strength, becomes puissant in human destiny that has the faith and the courage for the supreme issue. The immediate result is not the final judgment. Who won at Thermopylae, the Persians or the Spartans? Who was victorious at the Alamo, Santa Anna or Travis? Who triumphed, Socrates or his judges, Jesus or Pontius Pilate?
The glory of France is the Old Guard at Waterloo. The noblest feelings of the English heart are stirred by the Light Brigade charging to death at Balaklava. Lexington and Guilford Court House are as dear to us as Trenton and Yorktown.
Disaster does not always destroy. The winds may blow; the rains may descend; houses and lands may be swept away; but God has placed His bow in the heavens as a promise that the storm shall cease, and the waters subside: the scorching drought may wither the fields, untimely frost may kill our corn and fruit; yet in the procession of the seasons, the rain and sunshine will again clothe hill and mead in verdure, and harvest fields will wave in golden plenty. Armies may be destroyed, "Far called, our navies melt away"; yet from a land consecrated by the blood of the brave, from a soil enriched by glorious tradition, tried and purified by fire, a nobler, stronger race will spring. But over the waste of moral desolation, there comes no rejuvenating spring. Upon a land blighted by the cowardice of those who should defend it, there is the judgment of decay and death. The heroic past is our priceless inheritance. Our armies were destroyed; our land was smitten by war our homes were ravaged by avenging armies. We were plundered by the hordes of reconstruction. But standing in this land that has suffered, amid the throng of gray-haired veterans, and their kindred and descendants, I declare that the legacy of the war is our richest possession. I utter the sentiments of every maimed soldier; of every soldier who gave the best of his young life to "the storm-cradled nation that fell," of every bereaved widow and mother; and if I could speak for the dead, I would utter the sentiment of the forty thousand sons of the State who fell upon fields of battle, when I declare that they would not revoke that sacrifice.
Some of you can remember when the young soldier was brought home dead, when the maiden was clothed in her first sorrow, and the old gray head was bowed in the last grief. The mothers of the South had sent their sons to the front as the Spartan mother when she delivered the shield to her son with the command: "Return with it, or upon it." They wept in silent desolation, but in their grief there was exaltation, for they knew that their sons had done a soldier's part, that in the tumult of historic days they had fought and fallen beneath the advancing flag; that in strange lands, wounded and neglected, they had suffered without complaint, and bequeathing a message for home, had died, as a conqueror, without a murmur. "While one kissed a ringlet of thin gray hair, And one kissed a lock of brown."
Hail to you, Women of the Confederacy, that bore them and nurtured them, and offered them for sacrifice! In you and in your descendants is vouchsafed the promise to Abraham: Henceforth all generations shall call you blessed.
From the shadow of war we sweep into the grander day. The earth is hallowed because it is the sepulcher of the brave; not men whose victories have been inscribed upon triumphal columns, but men whose memorial is, that in courage and loyalty for conviction, they were steadfast unto death; men who have been stoned and scourged, and quailed not before the mighty. "Their heroic sufferings rise up melodiously together to Heaven out of all lands and out of all times, as a sacred Miserere; their heroic actions as a boundless everlasting Psalm of Triumph." They are the conquerors. The South has forever a part in that chorus of victory.
Locke Craig, The Legacy of the Confederacy (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Print, Company, 1914), 3-8.