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Wut's wurds to them whose faith an' truth
On war's red techstone rang true metal,
Who ventered life an' love an, youth
For the gret prize o' death in battle?

To him who, deadly hurt, agen
Flashed on afore the charge's thunder,
Tippin' with fire the bolt of men
Thet rived the rebel line asunder?


Charles Russell Lowell was born in Boston, January 2, 1835.
He was the eldest son of Charles Russell and Anna Cabot (Jackson)
Lowell, and the nephew of James Russell Lowell. He bore the name,
distinguished in many branches, of a family which was of the best
New England stock. Educated in the Boston public schools, he
entered Harvard College in 1850. Although one of the youngest
members of his class, he went rapidly to the front, and graduated
not only the first scholar of his year, but the foremost man of
his class. He was, however, much more than a fine scholar, for
even then he showed unusual intellectual qualities. He read
widely and loved letters. He was a student of philosophy and
religion, a thinker, and, best of all, a man of ideals--"the
glory of youth," as he called them in his valedictory oration.
But he was something still better and finer than a mere idealist;
he was a man of action, eager to put his ideals into practice and
bring them to the test of daily life. With his mind full of plans
for raising the condition of workingmen while he made his own
career, he entered the iron mills of the Ames Company, at
Chicopee. Here he remained as a workingman for six months, and
then received an important post in the Trenton Iron Works of New
Jersey. There his health broke down. Consumption threatened him,
and all his bright hopes and ambitions were overcast and checked.
He was obliged to leave his business and go to Europe, where he
traveled for two years, fighting the dread disease that was upon
him. In 1858 he returned, and took a position on a Western
railroad. Although the work was new to him, he manifested the
same capacity that he had always shown, and more especially his
power over other men and his ability in organization. In two
years his health was reestablished, and in 1860 he took charge of
the Mount Savage Iron Works, at Cumberland, Maryland. He was
there when news came of the attack made by the mob upon the 6th
Massachusetts Regiment, in Baltimore. Two days later he had made
his way to Washington, one of the first comers from the North,
and at once applied for a commission in the regular army. While
he was waiting, he employed himself in looking after the
Massachusetts troops, and also, it is understood, as a scout for
the Government, dangerous work which suited his bold and
adventurous nature.

In May he received his commission as captain in the United States
cavalry. Employed at first in recruiting and then in drill, he
gave himself up to the study of tactics and the science of war.
The career above all others to which he was suited had come to
him. The field, at last, lay open before him, where all his great
qualities of mind and hearthis high courage, his power of
leadership and of organization, and his intellectual powers could
find full play. He moved rapidly forward, just as he had already
done in college and in business. His regiment, in 1862, was under
Stoneman in the Peninsula, and was engaged in many actions, where
Lowell's cool bravery made him constantly conspicuous. At the
close of the campaign he was brevetted major, for distinguished
services at Williamsburg and Slatersville.

In July, Lowell was detailed for duty as an aid to General
McClellan. At Malvern Hill and South Mountain his gallantry and
efficiency were strongly shown, but it was at Antietam that he
distinguished himself most. Sent with orders to General
Sedgwick's division, he found it retreating in confusion, under a
hot fire. He did not stop to think of orders, but rode rapidly
from point to point of the line, rallying company after company
by the mere force and power of his word and look, checking the
rout, while the storm of bullets swept all round him. His horse
was shot under him, a ball passed through his coat, another broke
his sword-hilt, but he came off unscathed, and his service was
recognized by his being sent to Washington with the captured
flags of the enemy.

The following winter he was ordered to Boston, to recruit a
regiment of cavalry, of which he was appointed colonel. While the
recruiting was going on, a serious mutiny broke out, but the man
who, like Cromwell's soldiers, "rejoiced greatly" in the day of
battle was entirely capable of meeting this different trial. He
shot the ringleader dead, and by the force of his own strong will
quelled the outbreak completely and at once.

In May, he went to Virginia with his regiment, where he was
engaged in resisting and following Mosby, and the following
summer he was opposed to General Early in the neighborhood of
Washington. On July 14, when on a reconnoissance his advance
guard was surprised, and he met them retreating in wild
confusion, with the enemy at their heels. Riding into the midst
of the fugitives, Lowell shouted, "Dismount!" The sharp word of
command, the presence of the man himself, and the magic of
discipline prevailed. The men sprang down, drew up in line,
received the enemy, with a heavy fire, and as the assailants
wavered, Lowell advanced at once, and saved the day.

In July, he was put in command of the "Provisional Brigade," and
joined the army of the Shenandoah, of which in August General
Sheridan took command. He was so struck with Lowell's work during
the next month that in September he put him in command of the
"Reserved Brigade," a very fine body of cavalry and artillery. In
the fierce and continuous fighting that ensued Lowell was
everywhere conspicuous, and in thirteen weeks he had as many
horses shot under him. But he now had scope to show more than the
dashing gallantry which distinguished him always and everywhere.
His genuine military ability, which surely would have led him to
the front rank of soldiers had his life been spared, his
knowledge, vigilance, and nerve all now became apparent. One
brilliant action succeeded another, but the end was drawing near.
It came at last on the famous day of Cedar Creek, when Sheridan
rode down from Winchester and saved the battle. Lowell had
advanced early in the morning on the right, and his attack
prevented the disaster on that wing which fell upon the surprised
army. He then moved to cover the retreat, and around to the
extreme left, where he held his position near Middletown against
repeated assaults. Early in the day his last horse was shot under
him, and a little later, in a charge at one o'clock, he was
struck in the right breast by a spent ball, which embedded itself
in the muscles of the chest. Voice and strength left him. "It is
only my poor lung," he announced, as they urged him to go to the
rear; "you would not have me leave the field without having shed
blood." As a matter of fact, the "poor" lung had collapsed, and
there was an internal hemorrhage. He lay thus, under a rude
shelter, for an hour and a half, and then came the order to
advance along the whole line, the victorious advance of Sheridan
and the rallied army. Lowell was helped to his saddle. "I feel
well now," he whispered, and, giving his orders through one of
his staff, had his brigade ready first. Leading the great charge,
he dashed forward, and, just when the fight was hottest, a sudden
cry went up: "The colonel is hit!" He fell from the saddle,
struck in the neck by a ball which severed the spine, and was
borne by his officers to a house in the village, where, clear in
mind and calm in spirit, he died a few hours afterward.

"I do not think there was a quality," said General Sheridan,
"which I could have added to Lowell. He was the perfection of a
man and a soldier." On October 19, the very day on which he fell,
his commission was signed to be a brigadier-general.

This was a noble life and a noble death, worthy of much thought
and admiration from all men. Yet this is not all. It is well for
us to see how such a man looked upon what he was doing, and what
it meant to him. Lowell was one of the silent heroes so much
commended by Carlyle. He never wrote of himself or his own
exploits. As some one well said, he had "the impersonality of
genius." But in a few remarkable passages in his private letters,
we can see how the meaning of life and of that great time
unrolled itself before his inner eyes. In June, 1861, he wrote:

I cannot say I take any great pleasure in the contemplation of
the future. I fancy you feel much as I do about the
profitableness of a soldier's life, and would not think of trying
it, were it not for a muddled and twisted idea that somehow or
other this fight was going to be one in which decent men ought to
engage for the sake of humanity,--I use the word in its ordinary
sense. It seems to me that within a year the slavery question
will again take a prominent place, and that many cases will arise
in which we may get fearfully in the wrong if we put our cause
wholly in the hands of fighting men and foreign legions.

In June, 1863, he wrote:

I wonder whether my theories about self-culture, etc., would ever
have been modified so much, whether I should ever have seen what
a necessary failure they lead to, had it not been for this war.
Now I feel every day, more and more, that a man has no right to
himself at all; that, indeed, he can do nothing useful unless he
recognizes this clearly. Here again, on July 3, is a sentence
which it is well to take to heart, and for all men to remember
when their ears are deafened with the cry that war, no matter
what the cause, is the worst thing possible, because it
interferes with comfort, trade, and money-making: "Wars are bad,"
Lowell writes, "but there are many things far worse. Anything
immediately comfortable in our affairs I don't see; but
comfortable times are not the ones t hat make a nation great."
On July 24, he says:

Many nations fail, that one may become great; ours will fail,
unless we gird up our loins and do humble and honest days' work,
without trying to do the thing by the job, or to get a great
nation made by a patent process. It is not safe to say that we
shall not have victories till we are ready for them. We shall
have victories, and whether or no we are ready for them depends
upon ourselves; if we are not ready, we shall fail,--voila tout.
If you ask, what if we do fail? I have nothing to say; I
shouldn't cry over a nation or two, more or less, gone under.

Finally, on September 10, a little more than a month before his
death, he wrote to a disabled officer:

I hope that you are going to live like a plain republican,
mindful of the beauty and of the duty of simplicity. Nothing
fancy now, sir, if you please; it's disreputable to spend money
when the government is so hard up, and when there are so many
poor officers. I hope that you have outgrown all foolish
ambitions, and are now content to become a "useful citizen."
Don't grow rich; if you once begin, you will find it much more
difficult to be a useful citizen. Don't seek office, but don't
"disremember" that the "useful citizen" always holds his time,
his trouble, his money, and his life ready at the hint of his
country. The useful citizen is a mighty, unpretending hero; but
we are not going to have any country very long, unless such
heroism is developed. There, what a stale sermon I'm preaching.
But, being a soldier, it does seem to me that I should like
nothing so well as being a useful citizen. Well, trying to be
one, I mean. I shall stay in the service, of course, till the war
is over, or till I'm disabled; but then I look forward to a
pleasanter career.

I believe I have lost all my ambitions. I don't think I would
turn my hand to be a distinguished chemist or a famous
mathematician. All I now care about is to be a useful citizen,
with money enough to buy bread and firewood, and to teach my
children to ride on horseback, and look strangers in the face,
especially Southern strangers.

There are profound and lofty lessons of patriotism and conduct in
these passages, and a very noble philosophy of life and duty both
as a man and as a citizen of a great republic. They throw a flood
of light on the great underlying forces which enabled the
American people to save themselves in that time of storm and
stress. They are the utterances of a very young man, not thirty
years old when he died in battle, but much beyond thirty in head
and heart, tried and taught as he had been in a great war. What
precisely such young men thought they were fighting for is put
strikingly by Lowell's younger brother James, who was killed at
Glendale, July 4, 1862. In 1861, James Lowell wrote to his
classmates, who had given him a sword:

Those who died for the cause, not of the Constitution and the
laws,--a superficial cause, the rebels have now the same,--but of
civilization and law, and the self-restrained freedom which is
their result. As the Greeks at Marathon and Salamis, Charles
Martel and the Franks at Tours, and the Germans at the Danube,
saved Europe from Asiatic barbarism, so we, at places to be
famous in future times, shall have saved America from a similar
tide of barbarism; and we may hope to be purified and
strengthened ourselves by the struggle.

This is a remarkable passage and a deep thought. Coming from a
young fellow of twenty-four, it is amazing. But the fiery trial
of the times taught fiercely and fast, and James Lowell, just out
of college, could see in the red light around him that not merely
the freedom of a race and the saving of a nation were at stake,
but that behind all this was the forward movement of
civilization, brought once again to the arbitrament of the sword.
Slavery was barbarous and barbarizing. It had dragged down the
civilization of the South to a level from which it would take
generations to rise up again. Was this barbarous force now to
prevail in the United States in the nineteenth century? Was it to
destroy a great nation, and fetter human progress in the New
World? That was the great question back of, beyond and above all.
Should this force of barbarism sweep conquering over the land,
wrecking an empire in its onward march, or should it be flung
back as Miltiades flung back Asia at Marathon, and Charles Martel
stayed the coming of Islam at Tours? The brilliant career, the
shining courage, best seen always where the dead were lying
thickest, the heroic death of Charles Lowell, are good for us all
to know and to remember. Yet this imperfect story of his life has
not been placed here for these things alone. Many thousand
others, officers and soldiers alike, in the great Civil War gave
their lives as freely as he, and brought to the service of their
country the best that was in them. He was a fine example of many
who, like him, offered up all they had for their country. But
Lowell was also something more than this. He was a high type of a
class, and a proof of certain very important things, and this is
a point worthy of much consideration.

The name of John Hampden stands out in the history of the
English-speaking people, admired and unquestioned. He was neither
a great statesman, nor a great soldier; he was not a brilliant
orator, nor a famous writer. He fell bravely in an unimportant
skirmish at Chalgrove Field, fighting for freedom and what he
believed to be right. Yet he fills a great place in the past,
both for what he did and what he was, and the reason for this is
of high importance. John Hampden was a gentleman, with all the
advantages that the accidents of birth could give. He was rich,
educated, well born, of high traditions. English civilization of
that day could produce nothing better. The memorable fact is
that, when the time came for the test, he did not fail. He was a
type of what was best among the English people, and when the call
sounded, he was ready. He was brave, honest, high-minded, and he
gave all, even his life, to his country. In the hour of need, the
representative of what was best and most fortunate in England was
put to the touch, and proved to be current gold. All men knew
what that meant, and Hampden's memory is one of the glories of
the English-speaking people.

Charles Lowell has the same meaning for us when rightly
understood. He had all that birth, breeding, education, and
tradition could give. The resources of our American life and
civilization could produce nothing better. How would he and such
men as he stand the great ordeal when it came? If wealth,
education, and breeding were to result in a class who could only
carp and criticize, accumulate money, give way to
self-indulgence, and cherish low foreign ideals, then would it
have appeared that there was a radical unsoundness in our
society, refinement would have been proved to be weakness, and
the highest education would have been shown to be a curse, rather
than a blessing. But Charles Lowell, and hundreds of others like
him, in greater or less degree, all over the land, met the great
test and emerged triumphant. The Harvard men may be taken as
fairly representing the colleges and universities of America.
Harvard had, in 1860, 4157 living graduates, and 823 students,
presumably over eighteen years old. Probably 3000 of her students
and graduates were of military age, and not physically
disqualified for military service. Of this number, 1230 entered
the Union army or navy. One hundred and fifty-six died in
service, and 67 were killed in action. Many did not go who might
have gone, unquestionably, but the record is a noble one. Nearly
one man of every two Harvard men came forward to serve his
country when war was at our gates, and this proportion holds
true, no doubt, of the other universities of the North. It is
well for the country, well for learning, well for our
civilization, that such a record was made at such a time. Charles
Lowell, and those like him, showed, once for all, that the men to
whom fortune had been kindest were capable of the noblest
patriotism, and shrank from no sacrifices. They taught the lesson
which can never be heard too often--that the man to whom the
accidents of birth and fortune have given most is the man who
owes most to his country. If patriotism should exist anywhere, it
should be strongest with such men as these, and their service
should be ever ready. How nobly Charles Lowell in this spirit
answered the great question, his life and death, alike
victorious, show to all men.



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