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that history, must study it in these eloquent discussions. The Thirty-eighth Congress ended, and passed into history, with the following valedictory of Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House:*
"Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, the parting hour has come; and yonder clock, which takes no note of time but from its loss,' will soon announce that the Congress of which we are members has passed into history. Honored by your votes with this responsible position, I have faithfully striven to perform its always complex and often perplexing duties without partisan bias and with the sincerest impartiality. Whether I have realized the true ideal of a just presiding officer, aiding, on the one hand, the advance of the public business, with the responsibility of which the majority is charged, and, on the other hand, allowing no trespass on the parliamentary rights of the minority, must be left for others to decide. But looking back now over the entire Congress, I cannot remember a single word addressed to you which 'dying I would wish to blot.'
"On this day, which by spontaneous consent is being observed wherever our flag floats as a day of national rejoicing, with the roar of cannon greeting the rising sun on the rock-bound coast of Maine, echoed and re-echoed by answering volleys from city to city, and from mountain peak to mountain peak, till from the Golden Gate it dies away far out on the calm Pacific, we mingle our congratulations with those of the freemen we represent over the victories for the Union that have made the winter just closing so warm with joy and hope. With them we rejoice that the national standard, which our revolutionary fathers unfurled over the land, but which rebellion sought to strike down and destroy, waves as undisputed at this glad hour over the cradle of secession at Charleston as over the cradle of liberty at Faneuil Hill, and that the whole firmament is aflame with the brilliant glow of triumphs for that cause so dear to every patriot heart. We have but recently commemorated the birthday of the Father of his Country, and renewed our pledge to each other that the nation he founded should not be sundered by the sword of treason. And the good news that assures the salvation of the Republic is doubly joyous, because it tells us that the prayers of the past four years have not been unanswered, and that the priceless blood of our brave defenders, so freely offered and so profusely spilt, has not been shed in vain. We turn, too, to-day, with a prouder joy than ever before to that banner, brilliant with stars from the heavens and radiant with glories from the earth, which from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, from Lundy's Lane to New Orleans, and from the darker hours of the rebellion in the past, to Savannah, and Fort Sumter, and Charleston, and Columbia, and Fort Fisher, and Wilmington in the present, has ever symbolized our unity and our national life, as we see inscribed on it ineffaceably that now doubly noble inscription, 'Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.'
"But, in this hour of gladness I cannot forget the obligations, paramount and undying, we owe to our heroic defenders on every battle-field upon the land, and every wave-rocked monitor and frigate upon the sea. Inspired by the sublimest spirit of self-sacrifice, they have realized a million-fold the historic fable of Curtius as they have offered to close up, with their own bodies, if need be, the yawning chasm that imperiled the Republic. For you and me, and for their country, they have turned their backs on the delights of home, and severed the tenderest of ties to brave death in a thousand forms; to confront with unblanched cheek the tempest of shot, and shell, and flame; to storm frowning batteries and bristling intrenchments; to bleed, to suffer, and to die. As we look from this Capitol Hill over the nation there are crushed and broken hearts in every hamlet; there are wounded soldiers, mangled with rebel bullets, in every hospital; there are patriot graves in every church yard; there are bleaching bones on every battle-field. It is the lofty and unfaltering heroism of the honored living, and the even more honored dead, that has taken us from every valley of disaster and defeat and
Congressional Globe, Second Session, Thirty-eighth Congress, pp. 1423-4.
VALEDICTORY OF SPEAKER COLFAX.
placed our feet on the sun-crowned heights of victory. The granite shaft may commemorate their deeds. Our American Valhalla may be crowded with the statues of our heroes. But our debt of gratitude to them can never be paid while time shall last and the history of a rescued nation shall endure.
"If my voice, from this Representative Hall, could be heard throughout the land, I would adjure all who love the Republic to preserve this obligation ever fresh in grateful hearts. The dead, who have fallen in these struggles to prevent an alien flag from waving over the ashes of Washington, or over the graves where sleep the great and patriotic rivals of the last generation, the hero of New Orleans and the illustrious Commoner of Kentucky, cannot return to us. On Shiloh's plain and Carolina's sandy shores, before Richmond, and above the clouds at Lookout Mountain, the patriot martyrs of constitutional liberty sleep in their bloody shrouds till the morning of resurrection. But the living are left behind. And if the Sacred Record appropriately commends the poor, who are ever with us, to our benefactions and regards, may I not remind you that the widow and the fatherless, the maimed and the wounded, the diseased and the suffering, whose anguish springs from this great contest, have claims on all of us, heightened immeasurably by the sacred cause for which they have given so much? Thus, and thus alone, by pouring the oil of consolation into the wounds that wicked treason has made, can we prove our devotion to our fatherland and our affectionate gratitude toward its defenders.
"And, rejoicing over the bow of promise we already see arching the storm-cloud of war, giving assurance that no deluge of secession shall again overwhelm or endanger our nation, we can join, with heart and soul, sincerely and trustingly, in the poet's prayer:
'Now, Father, lay thy healing hand
'So shall our nation's song ascend
To thee, our Ruler, Father, Friend;
With Peace on earth, good will to men.''
"We go hence with our official labors ended, to the Senate Chamber and the portico of the Capitol, there, with the statue of the Goddess of Liberty looking down for the first time from her lofty pedestal on such a scene, to witness and participate in the inauguration of the Elect of the American people.
"And now, thanking you most truly for the approbation of my official conduct which you have recorded on your Journals, I declare the House of Representatives of the Thirty-eighth Congress of the United States adjourned sine die."
NOTE. The following incident is so characteristic of Speaker Colfax, and so well illustrates that goodness of heart, and sweetness of disposition, for which he is distinguished, that, although perhaps out of place here, I cannot omit it. The last days of this session were, as such days always are, full of cares and perplexities, everything and everybody hurried, and impatient, yet through all, Colfax retained his amiability. On the last night of the Session, when going into the Speaker's Room, I saw a basket of most beautiful flowers, marked: "Mrs. G., with the kind regards of Mr. Colfax." This lady was the wife of an officer of the House, who was very ill. This kind consideration, that did not forget the wife of a subordinate even in that last hurried night of the Session, shows an unselfish heart somewhat too rare among politicians.
LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURATION-THE END OF THE WAR.
FORT FISHER-PEACE CONFERENCE-WILMINGTON and Goldsboro TAKEN-REBELS RESOLVE TO ARM THE NEGRO-COLUMBUS, S. C., CAPTURED-CHARLESTON FALLS-SECOND INAUGURATION OF LINCOLN HE GOES TO GRANT'S HEADQUARTERS-MILITARY CONFERENCE SHERIDAN AT FIVE FORKS-AN ASSAULT ALONG THE WHOLE LINE-PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND EVACUATED— LEE SURRENDERS TO GRANT-JOHNSTON SURRENDERS TO SHERMAN-ALL REBEL ARMIES SURRENDER-THE PRESIDENT AT RICHMOND-RETURNS TO WASHINGTON-THE GRAND REVIEW OF
THE armies of the Republic were not idle during the winter
of 1864-5. Indeed, some of them had progressed so far South as to make the winter the most favorable period for a campaign. At Christmas, as has been stated, Sherman, with his confident, victorious army, was at Savannah. The remnants of Hood's discomfited and broken columns had been driven towards the Gulf by the well-organized, and triumphant army of Thomas. Grant, with the Grand Army of the Potomac, was tightening his grasp around Petersburg and Richmond, holding Lee with all his force, and ready to take advantage of any diminution of troops in his front.
The military operations of 1865 began with an expedition by a land and naval force combined, to reduce Fort Fisher, situated near the mouth of Cape Fear River, and which commanded the approach to Wilmington, North Carolina. This port had been a principal place of blockade running, and foreign trade, by the rebels during the war. After the
CAPTURE OF FORT FISHER.
fall of Savannah, it became the principal gate through which supplies from abroad could be passed to the Confederates. The almost invulnerable works of the fort, were strongly garrisoned, for the enemy appreciated the importance of holding this position; nevertheless, General Grant determined to reduce it. On the 13th of December a force of about 6,500 men, under General Butler, started from Fortress Monroe, to operate in conjunction with the naval force under Admiral Porter against Fort Fisher.
On the 24th of December, Admiral Porter attacked the fort, without waiting for the arrival of the land forces; but, after a bombardment of five hours duration, the Admiral withdrew his fleet. During the following night, General Butler's forces arrived, and on the 25th about 2,200 of the men were landed. The attack by the naval force was renewed. General Weitzel, who had the immediate command of the force on shore, captured two batteries, and some prisoners; but, after a careful examination of the ground and defences, he reported against the expediency of attempting to carry the place by assault. In the evening General Butler ordered the trooops to reembark, and notified Admiral Porter that he should sail for Hampton Roads. General Grant, the administration, and the public, were greatly disappointed at the result of this expedition. But there was not a hearty coöperation between the land and naval force.
It was not usual for Grant to abandon an object deemed important, until it was accomplished. Learning that the fleet was still off Fort Fisher, he advised Admiral Porter to hold on, and that he would make another attempt to take the place. He selected General A. H. Terry to command the expedition, and about 1,500 men were added to those who made the former attempt. The expedition reached its destination on the evening of the 12th. The troops disembarked on the 13th of January; on the 16th the fort was assaulted, and after several hours' desperate fighting was captured with its garrison and armament. The Union force soon acquired entire control of Cape Fear River. For this gallant exploit, General Terry was made a Major General.
At the request of General Grant, Butler was relieved from command, and Major General Ord assigned to the department of Virginia and North Carolina. *
During the winter of 1865, there were unofficial, and unauthorized movements looking towards peace. Before Mr. Blair's visit to Richmond, an earnest friend of peace-honest, perhaps, but mistaken-approached Mr. Lincoln, and said in substance: "Assuming that Grant is baffled and delayed in his efforts to take Richmond, will it not be better to accept peace on favorable terms than to prolong the war? Have not nearly four years of war demonstrated that, as against a divided North, a united South can make a successful defence? The South is a unit, made so, it is conceded, by despotic power. We of the North cannot afford to secure unity by giving up our constitutional government; we cannot secure unity without despotism." The rebels, said this advocate for peace, "will fill up their exhausted armies by 300,000 negroes; these negroes, under the training and discipline of white officers, and with freedom as their reward, will fight for them. The Union armies will be very greatly reduced next year by the expiration of the term of service of many of the men. How will you fill up the ranks? The people are divided; one-third or more, as the elections show, are positively and unalterably against the war; one-third or more positively and unalterably for carrying it on until the rebellion is thoroughly subjugated; the remainder of the people-when the clouds gather black and threatening again, when another draft comes, and increased taxation, the peace men, and the timid, facile, doubtful men, will go over to the opposition and make it a majority. You can now secure any terms you please, by granting to the rebels recognition. You can fix your own boundary. You can hold all within your lines-the Mississippi River, and all west of it, and Louisiana. You can retain Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Take this-make peace.
* When the intelligence of the capture of Fort Fisher reached Washington, General Butler was being examined by the committee on the conduct of the war, in regard to the failure of his expedition. When the news was announced, "Thank God for that," exclaimed he.