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Personal Recollections of Chickamauga A Paper Read before the Ohio Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States   By: (1840-1905)

Personal Recollections of Chickamauga A Paper Read before the Ohio Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States by James R. (James Richards) Carnahan

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A PAPER READ BEFORE The Ohio Commandery of the Military Order OF THE Loyal Legion of the United States,

BY COMPANION JAMES R. CARNAHAN, Late Captain 86th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry , January 6, 1886.


Personal Recollections of Chickamauga.


Said an eminent artist, as he stood and gazed on the picture his mind, genius, and hand had wrought a picture so wonderful in its grandeur, and in the vividness with which the subject was portrayed, "I have painted for eternity." His picture was but the portrayal of his thoughts, his vision, as the subject had impressed him, and by his act he gave it life, and it spoke, and will ever speak to mankind. So have each of us painted in and upon our minds, pictures of the exciting scenes through which each passed, and of which he was a part, that transpired in our Country from April, 1861, to the close of the war in 1865. Wonderful, grand, heroic pictures they were that were painted day by day through those years. On the brain, the mind, the memory of each of us were they painted, not with the graceful curves, the evenly drawn lines, and pleasing blending of colors given by the professional artist in the quiet of his studio, but in the alarm that came in the sudden midnight attack of armed hosts, the bursting of the tempest of battle in the early dawn, or it was made in vivid coloring as the sun went down and closed a day of carnage and death. The lines are heavy and deep shaded; the figures stand out as living, moving men and horses; the guns, and cannon, and trappings seem to be real, not painted things. Pictures these are that all time cannot efface, nor is there one of us to day that would, if he could, blot them out of existence.

The busy marts of trade may shut them out for a while, but ever and anon, in the crowded thoroughfare and in the rush and throng of men, a face meets us that brings to the mind, like a sudden flash of light in the darkness, scenes where that face met your gaze in the storm of battle, the eye all ablaze in the excitement of the hour. A voice comes to your ears out of the noise and turmoil of the crowded city. That voice arrests your steps and causes the heart to leap and throb as it has not done for years. There is a veil over the picture, or it has grown dim from the dust and heat and rush of the great metropolis. But there is something in the tones of that voice that sets you to brushing away the dust from the picture; for you know there is a picture somewhere obscured, and at last it stands out with wondrous vividness on the canvas of your memory, and you see, back through more than a score of years that have passed since that picture was painted, him whose voice you have just heard as he cheered on his men to victory, or rallied his brave comrades for another daring effort to stem the tide of battle that was going against us. And with that voice and face in mind, you see, not the comrades, the companions that gather about us to night, with beard and hair grizzled and gray, with steps that are halting and lame, but the boys and associates of our boyhood days, with elastic step, and eyes bright with the vigor of young manhood. If these pictures do not come to you with the sun at meridian, they come to you at "low twelve," as in your dreams you see the columns move out with flying flags and waving banners. You see the dusty roads over which you marched, the streams at which you slacked your thirst; mountain and plain, river and forest, come and go. The scene changes, and you see the lines set in battle array, and follow in your dream from the first shot of the skirmishers on through the various figures of that wondrously faithful battle picture, on and on, until in a shout of victory, or a command for a charge in the heat of the contest, you suddenly waken and realize that you were viewing the pictures you helped to paint on the great canvas of our Nation's history... Continue reading book >>

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