Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[graphic][ocr errors]

"STEADY, MISSISSIPPIANS I” As Davis was leading into the battle of Buena Vista his Mississipp! Volunteers, they met the Indiana regiment in full retreat, and the men were subjected to that most demoralizing posdtion of having retreating troops rushing through their lines. Mr. Davis ordered them to open lines and allow the retreating men to pass, and above the confusion and roar of the battle bis frm voice rang out, “Mississippians, stand

Arm."

In the desperate conflicts of the Crimea, at the battle of Inkermann, in one of those desperate charges, there was a British officer who ventured to receive the charge of the enemy without the precaution of having his men formed in a hollow square. They were drawn up in two lines, meeting at a point like an open fan, and received the charge of the Russians at the muzzle of their guns, and repelled it. Sir Colin Campbell, for this feat of arms, among others, was selected as the man to retrieve the fallen fortunes of England in India. He did, however, but imitate what Jefferson Davis had previously done. in Mexico, who, in that trying hour, when, with one last desperate effort to break the line of the American army, the cavalry of Mexico was concentrated in one charge against the American line; then, I say, Jefferson Davis commanded his men to form in two lines, extended as I have shown, and receive that charge of the Mexican horse, with a plunging fire from the right and left from tne Mississippi Rifles, which repelled, and repelled for the last time, the charge of the hosts of Mex

ico."

I have recently heard United States Senator A. H. Colquitt, of Georgia, give a very vivid description of what he witnessed of the conduct of Colonel Davis and his gallant Mississippians at Buena Vista. He says that as Davis advanced, his men were subjected to that most demoralizing experience of having another regiment, in full retreat, rush through them; but that Colonel Davis, who had been very severely wounded, but refused to leave the field, called out repeatedly, in his clear voice, which rang out above the din of the conflict : “Steady, MississippiansSteady, Mississippians! Let those people who are running to the rear pass through, but hold your ground.” And when the retreating men had passed through the ranks of his regiment, Colonel Davis gave the short, crisp order: “Forward, Mississippians! Forward to victoryl” and his noble

fellows sprang forward to meet the onset and turn the tide of battle.

I regret that I am not able to give this in the exact language of General Colquitt, the hero of two wars, whose statements are accurate and whose opinions about military movements are SO valuable. He does not hesitate to declare that Colonel Davis and his regiment saved the day at Buena Vista, and says that this was the general opinion of the army, and that General Taylor himself said to him (Senator Colquitt), “Napoleon never had a Marshal who behaved more superbly than did Colonel Davis to-day.”

“The battle of Buena Vista virtually closed the war, so far as the field of General Taylor's operations was concerned. Early in the ensuing summer, the term of enlistment of Colonel Davis's regiment having expired, he returned with it to Mississippi. He was met on the way, at New Orleans, by a very friendly and complimentary letter from President Polk, accom. panying a commission as brigadier-general. The offer was no doubt exceedingly tempting to one of his military instincts, tastes and habits, but he had already-more than a year before-ayowed his belief that the President had no power, under the constitution, to make such an appointment for volunteer troops, and on that ground respectfully declined it.

“A public reception was given to Colonel Davis and his reg. iment at New Orleans, and Sargent S. Prentiss his former adversary on the hustings, who had then become a citizen and member of the bar of that city, was selected to make an address of welcome. Still more enthusiastic demonstrations awaited them at Natchez and Vicksburg."

IX.

IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE.

liant ore.

Returning from Mexico "covered with glory," and refusing, as we have seen, a commission as brigadier-general because he did not think the President had the constitutional right to make the appointment, Colonel Davis received on all hands the highest honors, and when soon after he was appointed by the Governor of Mississippi to fill a seat in the United States Senate, made vacant by the death of Senator Speight, the hearty verdict of the people approved of the appointinent, and the next ensuing legislature unanimously elected him to fill out the term of Mr. Speight, which expired on the 3d of March, 1851. His senatorial career, thus auspiciously begun, and continuing, with the intervals we shall mention, until his resignation on the secession of his State in 1861, was indeed a bril

In those days men were sent to the Senate because of their ability and their purity of character, and not because of great wealth or capacity as political tricksters and successful partisans. And among all of the intellectual giants that graced the Senate during the period of his service, it is but simple justice to say that in ripe scholarship, wide and accurate information on all subjects coming before the body, native ability, readiness as a debater, true oratory, and stainless character, Jefferson Davis stood in the very front rank, and did as much to influence legislation and leave his mark on the Senate and the country as any other man who served in his day.

There might be quoted at great length expressions of opinion as to Mr. Davis in the Senate, but we have space for only several notable ones.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »