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At Ease: Historic Speeches in Central Virginia

Historic Speeches in Central Virginia

November 19. It's the day this message is appearing in your inbox with some extra history from Central Virginia. It's also quite a historic anniversary: the day Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. That speech is one of the most famous from Civil War history and in all of U.S. history... But it happened at, you guessed it, Gettysburg! A town in Pennsylvania. So while we're thinking about famous Civil War speeches, we thought it might be fun and enlightening to share some speeches related to Central Virginia's Civil War history.


Your Answers...

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address took the most votes, but some other historic speeches also made the list. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, Jefferson Davis's Inaugural Address, Lee's Farewell at Appomattox, Jackson's (temporary) Farewell to the 1st Virginia Brigade, and Grant's Unconditional Surrender phrasing.


Meagher's Rallying Speeches at Fredericksburg

At Fredericksburg, General Thomas Meagher rode along the line of his Irish Brigade on December 13, 1862, rallying them for the coming battle. Here's part of his speech to the 88th New York Regiment: "Officers and soldiers of the 88th Regiment—In a few moments you will engage the enemy in a most terrible battle, which will probably decide the fate of this glorious, great and grand country—the home of your adoption! Soldiers—This is my wife's regiment, 'her own dear 88th,' she calls it, and I know, and have confidence, that with dear woman's smile upon you, and woman's sake, this day you will strike a deadly blow. . . and bring back to this distracted country its former prestige and glory. . . . This may be my last speech to you, but I will be with you when the battle is the fiercest; and, if I fall, I can say I did my duty, and fell fighting in the most glorious of causes."

General Meagher Statue in Montana (Montanabw, CC BY-SA 4.0 , cropped)


"Presented With This Commission"

On the occasion of Ulysses S. Grant's promotion to lieutenant general in March 1864, President Lincoln and General Grant both made very short speeches which we've featured in our newest video.


Lee's Address to the Army at Spotsylvania

On May 14, 1864, during the Overland Campaign (and on the day that the Battle of Myer's Hill was fought) Confederate General Robert E. Lee issued an address. In the first part, he detailed Confederate successes and then concluded by rallying his army. The heroic valor of this Army, under the blessing of Almighty God has thus far checked the progress of the principal Army of the enemy towards Richmond, and inflicted upon it heavy loss. Your country looks to you in your gallant struggle with confidence and hope. Encouraged by the successes that have been vouchsafed to us, stimulated by the great interests that depend upon the issue, and sustained by prayers of those in whose defence you fight, let every man resolve to put forth his utmost efforts, to endure all and brave all, until by the assistance of a just and merciful God the enemy shall be driven back and peace secured to our country. Some of our bravest officers and men have fallen, but their surviving comrades not less brave will emulate their glorious examples, and Continue to emulate the valor of your brave comrades who have fallen that it depends on you to see that they shall not have died in vain. With the blessing of God, it is in your power to defeat the last great effort of the enemy, secure independence to your native land, and earn for yourselves the lasting love and gratitude of your country men and the admiration of mankind. (The full address and edits can be accessed through The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.)

Robert E. Lee (Library of Congress)


Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.

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