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What made the Year 1865
HE year 1865 was made memorable in the annals of history, as being the one
in which the so-called confederate leaders laid down the arms they had taken from this nation to wage war against it. From the hour that gray headed seer fired the first
gun in Fort Sumpter in April, '61, our country was one continual scene of strife and bloody battles. At the north fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters wept burning tears when they were called to part with loved ones, to go they knew not where. Perhaps to the wilds of Kentucky, Tennessee, or the burning sands of the south, to fall upon the battle-field, languish in some prison, or fall a prey to disease! The thought of all this caused mothers to weep as no one else can weep. Upon the battlefield was suffering so intense, no mortal tongue can ever depict the agonies. Men have sought out many inventions, but that is something mortal man can never do. They can not picture out a battle-field in anyway so those who did not participate can have even a faint idea of its horrifying looks. We will stop for one moment, and consider a field where men are lying dead in heaps like sheaves upon a harvest field.
a harvest field. Upon one field ten thousand dead, twenty thousand wounded, many of them in contortions, groaning and struggling in the agonies of death; every foot of ground covered with some missile of death and crimsoned with the blood of the wounded. They were suffering untold agonies, dying, that our nation might not become a by-word among the nations of the earth, as a star that had shone with exceeding brightness and then disappeared, leaving a spot blacker than Egyptian darkness, such were the scenes upon the battle-field; while in homes far away the anxious mother was hourly watching the latest casualities to learn the whereabouts of her loved ones, and with throbbing heart and tearful eyes, and sorrow such as none can tell, she read the long lists of dead, wounded, prisoners and missing, to catch a familiar name, only to add to her already appalling grief. The year 1865 saw great changes. The last battles were fought and a long and bloody rebellion crushed. The armies of the West joined the armies of the East, and in the shadow of the nation's Capitol marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and saluted the Chief Magistrate of the Republic as the representative of the civil power of the nation. It was said by some at home that the army could never be disbanded without general destruction everywhere. That the soldiers had become so accustomed to pillaging, they would plunder and murder regardless of law. But we all know this proved false, the men who had by their courage, suffering and sacrifices, saved the country, at the first moment their services were not needed, saluted the old flag, which they had followed so long, and to which they had given new glory. Dropped musket and saber, cartridge-box and knapsack and hurried home to father, mother, wife, brother and sister. They were returning home in squads on different trains to all parts of the country; officers were giving touching farewells to their commands, rendering tributes of praise to the brave defenders of our nation, for all the noble deeds they had done and the untold sacrifices they had made. They expressed the deepest sorrow for the bereaved friends of the lamented dead, who had fallen on the battle-field, in prisons, hospitals, in camp, or on the march, by disease far from home, and the consolation and assistance of near and dear friends. The work which they enlisted to perform had been well done. Those returning home were the ones whom foul disease had spared and the deadly bullets of had missed. They went to their homes with the proud assurance of having participated in many hard fought battles. They went to their homes as American citizens, knowing what it had cost to maintain our national integrity. They asked nothing for themselves, neither bounty, office or immunity. They asked only that they might go back to their homes, and commence anew the battle of life, and endeavor to make good the losses incurred by their absence. So they returned, but not to find things as they left them. They went home to find the farm wasted and frequently encumbered by reason of expenses, that out-ran the soldier's small income. Business had taken to itself wings; a new hand at the bench, at the forge, in the shop, behind the counter, in the ofice, and