Honor Answering Honor

A Northern Officer Describes the Final Parade of
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia
Appomattox Courthouse

Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve, standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond...

Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry" —the marching salute. General John B. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual, —honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet, nor roll of drum: not a cheer nor word, nor whisper of vainglorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, a breathholding, as if it were the passing of the dead.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of Arms
(New York, 1915)


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