from Chapter XI:
Disbandment," from The Passing of the Armies
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
resume the narrative, on the first day of July, while
encamped before Washington, we received an order, which,
though expected, moved us most deeply. The first
paragraph was this:
"HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF
"June 28, 1865.
virtue of special orders, No. 339, current series,
from the Adjutant General's office, this army, as an
organization, ceases to exist."
wonder that a strange thrill went through our hearts.
Ceases to exist! Are you sure of that? We had lately seen
the bodily form of our army, or what remained of it, pass
in majesty before the eyes of men; while part of it was
left planted on the slopes of the Antietam, on the
heights of Gettysburg, in the Wilderness, on the
far-spread fields and lonely roadsides of all
Virginia,waiting the Resurrection.
The splendor of devotion, glowing like a bright spirit
over those dark waters and misty plains, assures us of
something that cannot die! The sacrifice of the mothers
who sent such sons was of the immortal. All this must
have been felt by those who gave the order. The War
Department and the President may cease to give the army
orders, may disperse its visible elements, but cannot
extinguish them. They will come together again under
higher bidding, and will know their place and name. This
army will live, and live on, so long as soul shall answer
soul, so long as that flag watches with its stars over
fields of mighty memory, so long as in its red lines a
regenerated people reads the charter of its birthright,
and in its field of white God's covenant with man.
Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last
Campaign of the Armies, (Pennsylvania: Stan Clark
Military Books, 1994), pp. 390-392.
Image of red Maltese Cross above, symbol of the Fifth
Corps, by DLO.
Index to Chamberlain's Pages
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