Hon. John A. McClernand to the Soldiers.
The following is an outline of the remarks of Col. McClernand to the soldiers at Camp Yates, on Tuesday last:
CITIZEN SOLDIERS: I behold in you the armed representatives of a brave and loyal people. Your example is all worthy of praise. You have pledged your lives and sacred honors in a noble cause — in the cause of your country. Your patriotism and self sacrifice entitle you to the confidence and affection of your grateful country men.
Unlike the pretorian bands of the old world, who are but the involuntary instruments of despotism, you are voluntary soldiers — VOLUNTEERS, courting danger from a sense of public danger and a love of martial glory. In so just a war — a war waged not aggressively, but in defense of the constitution and laws, you cannot be but victorious. In such a cause your motto should be "death or victory." Shall not this be the accepted motto of Illinoisans? The faithful observance of such a motto would determine the genius of your children and stamp the character of your state with distinctive honor.
Such, soldiers, was the stern motto of ancient republic, whose devoted sons won for her an imperishable renown. Let the glory of the Spartan be an inspiration to emulate his heroism and to rival his achievements. Returning from the stricken field the conquerors of rebellion, the punishers of treason and the vindicators of the outraged authority and dignity of the best government upon the face of the earth, your names will be hailed through all time as the saviours of your country, the champions of law and order, and the benefactors of your race.
Soldiers! Not only are you the trusted representatives of the nation, but you are the immediate representatives of your beloved state in this great contest. Owing to the one the obligations of loyalty, you owe to the other the sacred and filial devotions of children. The honor of your state you should cherish as the apple of your eye — it should be held by you above all price of blood or suffering. What are her characteristic qualities? Fertility, abundance, prosperity and greatness, above all of her sisters of no greater age; yet it is no less true that her military character, in a great measure, remains to be made. Her sons have yet to encounter foemen worthy of her steel — they have not yet entered on their first war path. True, in Mexico, they occupied many a post of honor and danger — that the impetuous Hardin fell a martyr to the flag of his country — true, the gallant Shields drenched the rugged hills of Cerro Gordo with his streaming, gushing blood — true in Mexico, Bissell and Baker fought on to victory against fearful odds. — All this is true, yet it must be admitted that these distinctions are insufficient to complete a great military reputation. As I have already said, much yet remains to be done. Let us swear Illinoisians, that we will do it — let us swear that as Illinois is already in all the great national interests of a state, the superior of all her sisters of no greater age, so, in the future, her sons shall be the most dauntless, daring and victorious of all their brotherhood of the Union. Let us have, her to tower transcendent and pre-eminent over all her sisters as war like Sparta did over her rivals of the Greek confederation.
Soldiers, while you go forth to battle remember that your numbers, without order, discipline and subordination, are but a pledge of weakness — that without these, anarchy will demoralize and destroy you — that without these, defeat and disgrace must overtake you. Remember, also, that with these soldierly qualities, the prize of victory and glory will be placed within your reach. Then led order, discipline and subordination by your watchword. Forget not that military government must necessarily be despotic if it would be efficient and successful.
A word or two more and I have done. It is said of Cromwell that he admonished his men to "pray to the Lord and keep their powder dry." Allow a man as humble as Cromwell was great to admonish you to pray to the Lord and keep your bayonets fixed, for after all the bayonet is the true weapon. It is the true tester and gauger of the relative nerve of opposing hosts Rely, then, when the death struggle comes, upon your iron nerves and your bayonets, and victory will scarcely fail you. Relying upon their bayonets the French Zouaves and Chasseurs, at Magenta and Solfarino, refused their rations of powder and ball, and victory rewarded their courage and resolution. Such an example is worthy of consideration — nay, of admiration. It will be for you to determine under what circumstances you will follow it.
Having said thus much, allow me, Illinoisans, to present to you my friend and colleague in congress, Hon. John A. Logan. He is gifted with eloquence, and will rouse you to feel as the Athenians felt, when under the eloquent appeals Demosthenes, they asked to be immediately let against Phillip.