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To you this is no new stage. Its remotest confines were once familiar. You looked upon it, front and rear. You stood before its footlights. You knew its comedy—its tragedy. You had honorable and distinguished cast in the great drama that gave it fame in every land beneath the sun and place in the country’s every annal—a drama real as human life in tensest mood—in which every character was a hero, every actor a patriot, and every word a deed—a drama, the memory of which is enduring, fadeless, and the scenes of which take form and color even now and rise before you vivid as a living picture. How clear the outline is: Time: The Nation’s natal day, forty-five years ago. Place: This historic field; yon majestic river; that heroic city there—a beleaguered fortress, girdled with these hills. Scene: The river’s broad expanse; Admiral Porter’s fleet—grim engines of war, with giant guns and floating batteries, facing deep-mouthed and frowning cannon on terraced heights; the intrepid Army of the Tennessee, with camp and equipage, occupying a line of investment twelve miles in length, with sap and mine, battery and rifle pit, marking a progress that would not be stayed, fronting a system of detached works, redans, lunets, and redoubts on every height or commanding point, with raised field works connected with rifle pits, numerous gullies and ravines, nature’s defenses, impassable to troops; all in all more impregnable than Sevastopol; with here and there ensanguined areas where brave men met death in wild, mad charge against redoubt and bastion; or fell, in the delirium of frenzied struggle, on parapets, where torn and ragged battle flags borne by valorous arms, leaped and fluttered for a moment amid cannon’s smoke and muskets’ glare, only to fall from nerveless hands, lost in the chagrin and grief of repulse, crushing and disastrous.

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