Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
The Battle Set in Array
By Henry Ward Beecher (18131887)
[Born in Litchfield, Conn., 1813. Died in Brooklyn, N. Y., 1887. Preached after the Bombardment of Fort Sumter.Patriotic Addresses. Edited by John R. Howard. 1887.]
THERE are many reasons which make a good and thorough battle necessary. The Southern men are infatuated. They will not have peace. They are in arms. They have fired upon the American flag! That glorious banner has been borne through every climate, all over the globe, and for fifty years not a land or people has been found to scorn it or dishonor it. At home, among the degenerate people of our own land, among Southern citizens, for the first time, has this glorious national flag been abased, and trampled to the ground! It is for our sons reverently to lift it, and to bear it full high again, to victory and national supremacy! Our arms, in this peculiar exigency, can lay the foundation of future union, in mutual respect. The South firmly believes that cowardice is the universal attribute of Northern men! Until they are most thoroughly convinced to the contrary, they will never cease arrogancy and aggression. But if now it please God to crown our arms with victory, we shall have gone far toward impressing Southern men with salutary respect. Good soldiers, brave men, hard fighting, will do more toward quiet than all the compromises and empty, wagging tongues in the world. Our reluctance to break peace, our unwillingness to shed blood, our patience, have all been misinterpreted. The more we have been generous and forbearing, the more thoroughly were they sure that it was because we dared not fight!
With the North is the strength, the population, the courage. There is not elsewhere on this continent that breadth of couragethe courage of a man in distinction from the courage of a brute beastwhich there is in the free States of the North. It was General Scott who said that the New Englanders were the hardest to get into a fight, and the most terrible to meet in a conflict, of any men on the globe.
We have no braggart courage; we have no courage that rushes into an affray for the love of fighting. We have that courage which comes from calm intelligence. We have that courage which comes from broad moral sentiment. We have no anger, but we have indignation. We have no irritable passion, but we have fixed will. We regard war and contest as terrible evils; but when, detesting them as we do, we are roused to enter into them, our courage will be of the measure of our detestation. You may be sure that the cause which can stir up the feelings of the North sufficiently to bring them into such a conflict will develop in them a courage that will be terrific to the men who have to meet it. I could wish no worse punishment to those that decry the courage of the North than that they shall have to meet her when she is once brought out and fairly in the field .
Let no man, then, in this time of peril, fail to associate himself with that cause which is to be so entirely glorious. Let not your children, as they carry you to your burial, be ashamed to write upon your tombstone the truth of your history. Let every man that lives and owns himself an American take the side of true American principles;liberty for one, and liberty for all; liberty now, and liberty forever; liberty as the foundation of government, and liberty as the basis of union; liberty as against revolution, liberty against anarchy, and liberty against slavery; liberty here, and liberty everywhere, the world through!
When the trumpet of God has sounded, and that grand procession is forming; as Italy has risen, and is wheeling into the ranks; as Hungary, though mute, is beginning to beat time, and make ready for the march; as Poland, having long slept, has dreamt of liberty again, and is waking; as the thirty million serfs are hearing the roll of the drum, and are going forward toward citizenship,let it not be your miserable fate, nor mine, to live in a nation that shall be seen reeling and staggering and wallowing in the orgies of despotism! We, too, have a right to march in this grand procession of liberty. By the memory of the fathers; by the sufferings of the Puritan ancestry; by the teaching of our national history; by our faith and hope of religion; by every line of the Declaration of Independence, and every article of our Constitution; by what we are and what our progenitors were,we have a right to walk foremost in this procession of nations toward the bright future.