Daughter of the Revolution: The Major Nonfiction Works of Pauline E. Hopkins

By Pauline E. Hopkins; Ira Dworkin | Go to book overview

VIII.
Sergeant William H. Carney

While The Colored American Magazine for June is in press, the whole of this great nation, as one man, will perform the solemn duties of Memorial Day.

It is a pleasant task—that of commemorating and revering once each year, the memory of those men who have laid upon the altar of Liberty the most precious of earthly possessions—life. Greater love than this hath no man. It is fitting then, that from among our famous men, we select for this issue the story of the life of Sergeant Carney, still living in New Bedford, Mass.

The Civil War is counted one of the greatest epochs of the nineteenth century, and the history of the Union army the most romantic in the military history of the world. The fame of Grecian valor stirs the blood, and in fancy one realizes, as if by participation, the youth going forth to his first experience of battle; the mother giving him his shield; her perfect forgetfulness of motherlove or mother-fear expressed in her parting words: “With your shield, or on it.”

We turn to Rome, at whose shrine the military hero bows the knee in homage and in awe; her romantic history, intrepid valor and mighty prowess fills the world with admiration; her influence broods and casts it shadow over the scholar and soldier today as freshly as it did centuries ago. She stands unrivalled in her grim glory, and there she will stand for ages to come.

Adown the aisles of Time the fame of Charles the Great has marched triumphantly from the middle ages. A man of vast ideas, brilliant statesmanship and knightly courage, he has left an indelible impression on the pages of history. In the eighteenth century Napoleon passed meteor-like across the horizon in his wonderful career. Up they go! Pelion on Ossa piled!74 Brilliancy on top of brilliancy; great leaders with great minds; far-reaching and grasping ambition, one on the other. The desire for self-aggrandizement which pervades the careers of these Titans of supremacy, is too apparent for us to feel more than a cold admiration forced upon us by greatness. But when we at last reach the great war of the Rebellion, we have sympathy and admiration combined: sympathy for its motive which in its holiness was almost Godlike; admiration for courage never surpassed.

The soldiers of the Army of the Republic! What historian, however brilliant, can ever do them justice! This is a fitting time to look backward and think of their incomparable deeds of valor: Fort Wagner, Fort Fisher, Fort

74. In Greek mythology, when Otus and Ephialtes wanted to overthrow the gods, the twin giants attempted
to pile Mount Pelion on Mount Ossa, but were killed by Apollo and condemned.

-70-

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