THE DEAD in this warthere they lie, strewing the fields and woods and valleys and battle-fields of the southVirginia, the PeninsulaMalvern hill and Fair Oaksthe banks of the Chickahominythe terraces of FredericksburghAntietam bridgethe grisly ravines of Manassasthe bloody promenade of the Wildernessthe varieties of the strayed dead, (the estimate of the War department is 25,000 national soldiers killd in battle and never buried at all, 5,000 drownd15,000 inhumed by strangers, or on the march in haste, in hitherto unfound localities2,000 graves coverd by sand and mud by Mississippi freshets, 3,000 carried away by caving-in of banks, &c.,)Gettysburgh, the West, SouthwestVicksburghChattanoogathe trenches of Petersburghthe numberless battles, camps, hospitals everywherethe crop reapd by the mighty reapers, typhoid, dysentery, inflammationsand blackest and loathesomest of all, the dead and living burial-pits, the prison-pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle-Isle, &c., (not Dantes pictured hell and all its woes, its degradations, filthy torments, excelld those prisons)the dead, the dead, the deadour deador South or North, ours all, (all, all, all, finally dear to me)or East or WestAtlantic coast or Mississippi valleysomewhere they crawld to die, alone, in bushes, low gullies, or on the sides of hills(there, in secluded spots, their skeletons, bleachd bones, tufts of hair, buttons, fragments of clothing, are occasionally found yet)our young men once so handsome and so joyous, taken from usthe son from the mother, the husband from the wife, the dear friend from the dear friendthe clusters of camp graves, in Georgia, the Carolinas, and in Tennesseethe single graves left in the woods or by the road-side, (hundreds, thousands, obliterated)the corpses floated down the rivers, and caught and lodged, (dozens, scores, floated down the upper Potomac, after the cavalry engagements, the pursuit of Lee, following Gettysburgh)some lie at the bottom of the seathe general million, and the special cemeteries in almost all the Statesthe infinite dead(the land entire saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes exhalation in Natures chemistry distilld, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw)not only Northern dead leavening Southern soilthousands, aye tens of thousands, of Southerners, crumble to-day in Northern earth.
And everywhere among these countless graveseverywhere in the many soldier Cemeteries of the Nation, (there are now, I believe, over seventy of them)as at the time in the vast trenches, the depositories of slain, Northern and Southern, after the great battlesnot only where the scathing trail passed those years, but radiating since in all the peaceful quarters of the landwe see, and ages yet may see, on monuments and gravestones, singly or in masses, to thousands or tens of thousands, the significant word Unknown.
(In some of the cemeteries nearly all the dead are unknown. At Salisbury, N. C., for instance, the known are only 85, while the unknown are 12,027, and 11,700 of these are buried in trenches. A national monument has been put up here, by order of Congress, to mark the spotbut what visible, material monument can ever fittingly commemorate that spot?)