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Posted July 10, 2002
JOHN NEWMAN EDWARDS
BY REV. GEO. PLATTENBURG, DOVER, MO.
From John N. Edwards: Biography, Memoirs, Reminiscences and Recollections,
edited by Jennie Edwards, 1889
Major John Newman Edwards, CSA, was General Jo. Shelby’s adjutant and chronicler. At war’s end Edwards chose to share Mexican exile with Shelby as well. When they returned to the U.S. in 1867, Edwards rapidly published three large volumes of wartime experiences. Two dealt specifically with Shelby, "Shelby and his Men", 1867 and "Shelby’s Expedition to Mexico", 1872. In 1873, he published a long piece in the St. Louis Dispatch —"A Terrible Quintette"—about the James Boys, two of the Youngers, and Arthur McCoy. Some of this piece was reused for his 1877 book "Noted Guerrillas", a broad handling of the Confederate irregulars in Missouri during the war. Edwards also founded the Kansas City Times and was its editor for many years.
Make no mistake, Major John N. Edwards was a Confederate and proud of it. You will not find more than passing reference to the other side of the coin in his pages. His flamboyantly purple prose is sometimes entertaining and sometimes tiresome, but is always used in defense of Confederate Missouri and its view of the world and "the late unpleasantness".
Historians almost universally pillory Edwards for his exaggerations and blatant defense of all things Confederate, no matter the individual facts of the case. Yet at the same time, they must deal with him. In many instances he is the only source available. While it would be a grave mistake to rely solely on Edwards for your understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Missouri, you cannot be well read on the war in Missouri without having read Edwards, and you cannot understand the way the Missouri Confederates understood themselves without reading Edwards. In addition, many western historians credit Edwards with almost single-handedly starting the myth of the "noble outlaw" in this country with his defense of the Jameses, Youngers, and their cohorts after the war.
|By John Newman Edwards:
Noted Guerrillas and, the extremely rare, A Terrible Quintette for the first time available on a searchable CD-ROM:
FIRST PUBLICATION OF "A TERRIBLE QUINTETTE" ANYWHERE IN 129 YEARS!
FIRST SEARCHABLE PUBLICATION, WITH ALL ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS, OF "NOTED GUERRILLAS"
"Noted Guerrillas, or the Warfare of the Border", John N. Edwards, 1877, 488 Pages, 26 illustrations.
Quantrill (“Quantrell”), Bloody Bill Anderson, George Todd, Arch Clements, Fletch Taylor, Jesse James, Frank James, Cole Younger, John Jarrette, Arthur C. McCoy, John Thrailkill —they’re all here, described by a man who knew them.
“A Terrible Quintette”, John N. Edwards, St. Louis Dispatch, Nov. 22, 1873. 21,000 words.
FIRST PUBLICATION ANYWHERE IN 129 YEARS!
"Edwards had for the first time put together some of the most important ingredients of the James Legend." --William A. Settle, Jr, author of "Jesse James Was His Name", describing "A Terrible Quintette"
The subject of this brief sketch, John Newman Edwards, was born in Warren County, Va., January 4, 1839. Whilst a mere boy he learned type-setting at the town of Front Royal, a place now of great and heroic memories, in the Gazette office, a paper at this writing called the Sentinel. Even at that time he was regarded as a boy of extraordinary powers, having, at the immature age of fourteen years, as testifies a contemporary, written a story that gave him "wide celebrity." While yet a boy, through the influence of his relation, Thomas J. Yerby, of Lexington, now of Marshall, Mo., he was induced to come to the State of Missouri in 1854 or 1855. Arriving in Lexington, he soon thereafter entered upon his avocation of printer in the office of the Expositor, by whom conducted I do not now recall. Here, really, began the education of this singularly gifted boy, whose manhood was to be so rich in strange adventures and romance. Of schools Major Edwards knew but little, his advantages of this kind were limited and poor in character. As a boy, he loved solitude—this peculiarity in manhood made him shy to the verge of girlish timidity. He loved the fields, sweet with "the breath of kine" and the new-mown hay. He lingered in the dim vistas of the woods, and from out their slumberous shadows, dreamily watched the ceaseless swirl of the great river. This love of nature and its communion, made him fond of the hunt and the pastime of gentle Izaak Walton.
His life during these years, in and about Lexington, was of the ordinary uneventful character, belonging to extreme youth and peaceful times. But the storm was brewing. The distant and sullen muttering of a great political upheaval was breaking ominously upon the nation's ears. Great questions lying radically at the very base of the two antagonistic conceptions of the American system of government, were loudly and hotly contested by the sections of the country. The slavery question was not the cause, but the occasion of the threatened rupture. Whatever men may say, or however much they may deplore sectional controversy, there were, as there are, but two great drifts of thought as to the true theory of our institutions, the one, denominated, "State Rights," the other, the steady trend toward centralization. Leaving the truth or falsity of these contested theories out of the question, the fact remains that out of them came one of the mightiest struggles known to the annals of the race. The rupture came. The "golden bowl was broken," the "silver cord was loosened," and there came an era of hate and blood that all good men ought gladly to wish to be forgotten.
HIS CAREER AS A SOLDIER.
It is at this juncture that Major Edwards began his active career. In the year 1862, Gen. Jo. O. Shelby organized a regiment near Waverly, Lafayette County, Mo. Of this regiment Frank Gordon was Lieutenant-Colonel. Colonels Shanks and Beal G. Jeans, with Capt. Ben Elliott in command of a battalion, joined and united with Shelby at this point. This command moved on the day of the Lone Jack fight with a view of forming a junction with Cockrell and Coffee. The forces of Shanks, Jeans, and Elliott, with his own regiment, constituted the original force under Shelby. Of this command, after the expiration of several months, upon the retirement of Captain Arthur, John N. Edwards received the appointment of Brigade-Adjutant, with the rank of Major. This occurred in the month of September, 1863. When finally Shelby was promoted to the command of a division, Edwards shared the fortune of his generous and chivalrous leader and became the Adjutant of the division, I think with the rank of Colonel, though of this I have no positive evidence at hand. In this position he continued until the disbanding of the whole command after Lee's surrender.
Shelby's force, as we have seen, left Waverly to form a junction with Cockrell and Coffee, but on reaching Columbus in Johnson County, he heard of the Lone Jack battle, and was compelled to revise his plans. He began to work his way south, invironed by almost indescribable difficulties, and never at any time were the experiences and dangers of this illustrious body of men greater or graver. Care, prudence and courage of the highest order were manifested in successfully making this junction, with the men that fought at Lone Jack, an accomplished fact. This was done at or near Newtonia, from which point the united force fell back to McKissock's Springs, in Arkansas. Of this force, as Senior Colonel, Shelby took command, Lieut.-Col. Frank Gordon being at the head of the old regiment. From McKissock's they fell back to Cane Hill, a place made memorable years before by one of those tragedies so incident to frontier life of almost indescribable horror. Here they rested, Hindman at that time having his headquarters at Van Buren. To Shelby was given the arduous and dangerous duty of watching and contesting, step by step, the Federal advance from Fayetteville. It was necessarily Shelby's additional duty to cover Hindman's movements at Van Buren, Blount performing alike service for Curtis. During this period the splendid soldierly qualities of this whole command were daily exhibited. The soldier alone knows the hardships, and the demand for an almost superhuman endurance in this form of military service, of such varied fortune of defeat and victory. During the whole period immediately prior to the battle of Prairie Grove, Shelby held the position in front of Hindman's advance, and finally, on a frosty December morning, he opened the hard contested fight of Prairie Grove. The sad December night before the battle is thus described by Major Edwards himself, and as he alone could do it: "The moon this night had been eclipsed, too, and upon many of the soldiers the weird, mysterious appearance of the sky, the pale, ghost-like phantom of a cloud across its crimson disc, had much of superstitious influence. At first, when the glowing camp fires had burned low and comfortable a great flood of radiance was pouring over the mountains and silvering even the hoary white beard of the moss clustering about the blank, bare faces of the precipices. The shadows contracted finally. The moon seemed on fire, and burned itself to ashes. The gigantic buckler of the heavens, studded all over with star-diamonds, had for its boss a gloomy, yellowish, struggling moon. Like a Wounded King, it seemed to bleed royally over the nearest cloud, then wrapt its dark mantle about its face, even as Caesar did, and sink gradually into extinction. There was a hollow grief of the winds among the trees, and the snowy phantasm of the frost crinkled and rustled its gauze robes under foot. The men talked in subdued voices around their camp-fires, and were anxious to draw from the eclipse some happy augury. Relief exhibited itself on every face when the moon at least shone out broad and good, and the dark shadows were again lit up with tremulous rays of light."
And e'er the great sun's white splendors kissed the rime-robed earth, Shelby's voice, clear as a bugle's note, came to gallant Shanks, "Forward, Major!" And since the day that men first learned war, they never rode with more splendid courage into battle; not one of all these men but deserved the golden spurs of chivalrous knighthood. From this field, stained with such precious blood on this chill December day, Shelby again occupied the post of honor and danger, covering Hindman's retreat. Falling back slowly, on reaching Van Buren he found that General Hindman had abandoned his position at Van Buren, and had fallen back to Little Rock. Shelby finally went into camp at Lewisburg, on the Arkansas River, and became virtually an outpost of Hindman's command at Little Rock. Shelby in all this service acted independently, although shortly prior to the Prairie Grove battle Shelby's and Marmaduke's Brigades had been united, forming Marmaduke's Division; the latter becoming Division Commander by virtue of a Brigadier's commission at that time in his possession. At this camp was organized an expedition into Missouri, the leading event of which was the capture of Springfield, January 8, 1863. But being unable to hold the position won, they moved on in an easterly direction to the town of Hartsville, where a disastrous defeat was sustained. From this point a retreat was effected, and the force went finally into camp at Batesville, on the White River in Arkansas. Here, probably in the month of April, subsequent to the events described, was organized what is known as the "Cape Girardeau Expedition," as the attack upon this town was the leading event of the campaign, where the subject of this sketch was wounded and taken prisoner. Sometime prior to that measureless blunder of a most pitiful senility, the disastrous assault upon Helena, Arkansas, Major Edwards was exchanged and had rejoined his command, taking part in the fateful scenes of that dark day when so many gallant and fearless men were slaughtered upon the altar of a boundless stupidity. Shelby was wounded in this battle. His command then moved to Jackson Port, where he remained until the Federal advance under that humane soldier, General Frederick Steele, was made on Little Rock. Shelby was commanded to take position on Bayou Metoe, to watch Steele's advance from points on the White River. Price's whole force was then occupying an intrenched position on the Arkansas River immediately opposite Little Rock. Colonel Frank Gordon's regiment was occupying a position on the extremity of a spur of Big Rock, in full view of the city. In all the scenes before Little Rock Shelby's division was a very large part, and finally covered Price's retreat from the city. At Arkadelphia another expedition into Missouri was organized, at the earnest solicitation of General Shelby, and so the raid of 1863 was inaugurated. He gained permission to select a number of men from each regiment of his division, to the number of 800. After a single day's march they came within the enemy's territory. Marching day and night, engaged in countless skirmishes, they reached and captured Boonville; from thence they came to Marshall, where they were surrounded by not less than 5,000 men under Ewing, Crittenden and Pleasonton. The two formed in front, the latter in the rear. After three or four hours' fighting, Shelby determined to cut his way out, and an order to this effect was borne to Colonel Shanks by Major Edwards. The plan was successfully accomplished despite the mighty odds against them. The inequality of the forces gave especial glory to the deed.
But it is not possible in a brief sketch like this to follow the fortunes of this band of noble soldiers under so dashing and fearless a leader, in a long war. Of the scenes so tragic of this vast conflict each soldier might say with Aeneas as he recounted the miseries and the fall of Troy, to Dido and her Tyrians, until the sinking stars invited to repose "Magna Pars Fui." Of the great contest and its strangely varied fortunes they were a great part. It was at this point in the history of this great internecine struggle that Major Edwards began to receive that military prominence he so richly deserved. As a soldier, he was not only brave and fearless, and wise in council, but gentle, tender, courteous to the humblest soldier beneath him. As he was whole-hearted in the cause he espoused, so dealt he kindly with the men that shared his convictions and the fortunes of a common cause.
I here employ the beautiful tribute of Major J. F. Stonestreet, who shared with him the vicissitudes of a long and bitter struggle. It is better said than I could say it:
A COMRADE'S TRIBUTE.
The achievements of Shelby and his men are matters of history. Of them all Major Edwards was the hero. The individual instances of his bravery in battle, his wisdom in council, his tender solicitude for his men, his self-sacrificing spirit, would fill a volume. Major J. F. Stonestreet, of this city, who was with him until he crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico, tells well the story of his part in the great struggle.
"I cannot speak of John Edwards without emotion," he said. "He was the noblest man of the many noble men who took part in the great struggle in the West. I can not begin to tell of all the instances of his valor in .battle, his kindness in camp, his care for his comrades, his noble self-sacrifice, his great brain and noble heart. No one but those who were with him in those dark hours can appreciate his magnificent spirit. He was only a boy when he joined Gordon's regiment, but he soon became the hero of Shelby's old brigade. It was a grand sight to see him in battle. He was always where the fight was thickest. He was absolutely devoid of fear. The men had the confidence in him that they would have had, had he been a God. Their trust in him was sublime. He had a genius for war. While he was as brave as a lion, his courage was not of the rash, impetuous sort that led him into foolhardy under takings. His wisdom was as great as his bravery. No one appreciates more the character and achievements of General Shelby than I; but when the dark days came, it was John Edwards who, more than anybody else, inspired hope in the hearts of the men, cheered and encouraged them, and spurred them on to renewed exertions.
"This self-sacrifice was noble. I have seen him dismount and give his horse away to a tired trooper. In the hospital once I saw him take off his shirt and tear it up for bandages for the wounded, not knowing when or how he was to get another one. I have seen him take off his coat and give it to a soldier who, he thought, was more in need of it. His spirit was so gentle that it hurt him more to see others suffer than to suffer himself. What heroism he displayed in that awful retreat from Westport! Small-pox broke out among the men. John Edwards feared it as little as he did the bullets of the enemy. He would take a soldier with the small-pox in his arms, carry him to the most comfortable place that could be secured, and nurse him with the care of a woman. He would brave anything to secure a delicacy for a sick soldier. When we were eating horseflesh on that awful march, and the men were starving, naked and ready to give up, it was he who cheered and encouraged them and held them together. His heart was so big that he thought of everybody before himself.
"In battle he was a very Mars; in camp he was as gentle as a woman. The men loved him, and little wonder. He could never do enough for them. Brave men, all of them, they recognized him as the bravest and the brainiest. 'Follow me, boys,' I have heard him cry, 'and I will take you where the bullets are the thickest and the sabers the sharpest,' and then, his sword flashed in his hand, he would be off to where the fight was the hottest. And the men would be after him with a confidence and devotion that insured victory. He was the bravest man in war and the gentlest in peace that I ever saw. He was the soul of honor. He was one man in a million. He was the Chevalier Bayard of Missouri."
Notwithstanding his intrepid bravery, Major Stonestreet says he was badly wounded but once. That was in Marmaduke's raid on Springfield, when he was shot and taken prisoner in the fight near Hartsville. He was afterward exchanged and rejoined his regiment at Jacksonville, Ark. He especially distinguished himself for bravery and strategy in the 4th of July fight at Helena, which was in progress when Vicksburg surrendered. It was said of him that he had more horses shot from under him, and gave more horses away to those whom he thought needed them more than himself, than any man in Shelby's brigade.
So testifies one who knew John Edwards through all the trying scenes of a contest all too bitter, and who loved him well. John Edwards was a born soldier. The genius of war and the genius of poetry alike presided at his birth. The courage of the Knight and the poesy of the Troubadour were alike his. He crowned the brow of war with golden nimbus of the poet. For his deft fingers the brand of the grizzled grenadier and the minstrel's lute were alike fashioned. He brought the chivalry and song of the thirteenth into the Titanic struggles of the nineteenth century.
An officer once bore a report of General Shelby's to General Holmes, who on reading it exclaimed with an impious expletive: "Why, Shelby is a poet as well as a fighter!" "No," replied the officer, "but his Adjutant is a born poet." It was this remarkable combination of elements in Major Edwards that made him as brave and fearless as he was tender and gentle. It also accounts for the strong, religious sentiment of his nature mentioned in a brief speech at his grave. Belief in the supernatural elements of religion and poesy go hand in hand. Goethe stated a very large and a very fundamental truth when he wrote, "Der Aberglaube ist die Poesie des Lebens"—the "overfaith, the supernatural, is the ground of life's highest political forms.
IN MEXICO—MARRIAGE, ETC.
After the close of the war Major Edwards followed the fortunes of his old leader with others of his fellow' soldiers into Mexico, where he spent two years, a deeply interested spectator of the affairs of Maximilian's Empire. With this amiable, but unfortunate Prince, and with his wife the "Poor Carlotta," he became a favorite, and through him was negotiated and obtained the grant which enabled Shelby, and perhaps fifty others, to establish the Cordova Colony of Carlotta. He and Governor Allen, of Louisiana, a man of beautiful spirit and richly stored mind, established a newspaper, The Mexican Times, devoted to the restoration of an era of peace, prosperity, and good government for this sadly distracted people. Whilst here, the material of one of his books, "An Unwritten Leaf of the War," was produced and gathered, which appears in this present volume. What a strangely romantic period these two years must have been to the dreamy, poetic soldier of the North. The rich, tropical foliage, the skies luminously blue, the warm airs, the voluptuous climate, the romantic people inheriting the glorious traditions of Old Spain, the memories of the Cid, songs of Calderon and Lope de Vega, chanted in the sweet the Castilian tongue must have been things of ceaseless charm to the imaginative temperament so strongly marked in Major Edwards. It was a period of romantic adventure, and from time to time he has related to me singular episodes that occurred during his association with Governor Allen, but brevity denies indulgence to the reminiscent mood.
In the year 1867, having returned from Mexico, Major Edwards went on the Republican as a reporter, then under the editorial control of Col. William Hyde, a noble gentleman and an able writer, whose contributions to that great paper have rarely been equaled in western journalism. In the year 1868, in connection with the brilliant and versatile Cola John C. Moore, now of the Pueblo Dispatch, he inaugurated the Kansas City Times, with the financial support of R. B. Drury & Co. It was at this time that he was married. This marriage took place on March 28, 1871, to Mary Virginia Plattenburg, of Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri. A woman scarce less brilliant than himself, of high impulses, poetic sentiment and of an uncommon literary faculty, she was a fit companion for this molder of "fiery and delectable shapes." They were married at the residence of Gen. John O. Shelby, near Aullville, in Lafayette County. This marriage took place away from the home of the bride because of an interposed objection on the part of the parents, grounded solely upon the near family relationship of the parties. The fruit of this marriage is two boys and one girl. The boys are John aged seventeen and James fourteen years, the girl Laura eight.
THE DUEL WITH COLONEL FOSTER.
Major Edwards remained on the Times until 1873, two years after it passed into its present management, and greatly aided in building it up into its present commanding position as director of western thought and enterprise. In this same year, he went upon the St. Louis Dispatch, owned and controlled by Mr. Stilson Hutchins, whom he followed into the St. Louis Times. It was while at work on the Times that his duel with Col. Emory S. Foster took place. The difficulty grew out of certain questions incident to the great civil struggle whose memories were yet fresh in the minds of all, and its passions still unallayed. These matters were discussed with great acerbity of temper and sharpness of expression. The acrimony engendered by a long, bitter contest, was still more or less dominant in the minds of men in all sections. It can serve no good purpose here to dwell on the questions themselves or their mode of treatment; they belong to the dead past, and there let them remain. I know that the acrimony so rife at the time of this occurrence with Major Edwards, in common with the better class of men in both sections, was a thing to be deplored and forgotten. The friends and admirers of Major Edwards are of all parties. There are no more tender or appreciative tributes to his memory than those written by the men in blue. Mrs. Edwards informs me that she has received as many expressions of sympathy and admiration from Federal as from Confederate soldiers. The perpetuation of the rancor of the war is left to the camp-follower and coward. I shall here enter on no defense of Major Edwards' ideas on the duello. With his education, and sensitive perception of the worth of personal honor, it is easily accounted for. Omitting the offensive paragraphs we give this statement from a morning paper the day after the rencounter:
BELOIT, Wis., Sept. 4, 1875.
A duel was fought at five o'clock this afternoon, six miles north of Rockford, in Winnebago County, Illinois, between Maj. John N. Edwards, of the St. Louis Times and Dispatch, and Col. E. S. Foster, of the St. Louis Journal. The origin of the affair grew out of the recent invitation to Jefferson Davis to address the Winnebago Fair. The St. Louis Times of August the 25th contained an article written by Major Edwards, commenting upon the treatment of Mr. Davis, and reflecting upon the intolerant spirit manifested. To this the Journal replied that the writer of the Times article had lied, and knew he lied, when he wrote it.
Major Edwards took exception to this and demanded a retraction of the offensive language. Colonel Foster, the editor of the Journal, disavowed any personal allusion to Major Edwards, but declined to retract the language. A lengthy correspondence ensued, Col. H. B. Branch acting as the friend of Major Edwards, and Col. W. D. W. Barnard as the friend of Colonel Foster, the result of which is embodied in the last letters of the principals, which show the difference between them:
St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 30, 1875.
"Col. EMORY S. FOSTER:
"Sir: In reply to your letter of this date I have to state that your reply to the reasonable request I made of you, to-wit, to withdraw and to disavow all language in your editorial of the 25th inst., personally offensive to myself, is evasive and not responsive to my request. In my letter to you I referred solely to what was directly personal to myself, without inquiring whether my editorial, or yours in answer to it, exceeded the usages of the press in discussing a subject generally or referring to bodies of persons. I can not admit your right to introduce these questions into this controversy which refer solely to your allusion to the writer of the Times editorial.
"The disclaimer in the first four paragraphs of your letter would be satisfactory had you followed it up by a withdrawal of the offensive terms of your editorial, so far as they referred to me personally. But as you decline to do so I must, therefore, construe your letter of this date, and its spirit, as a refusal on your part to do me an act of common justice, and so regarding it, I deem it my duty to ask of you that satisfaction which one gentleman has a right to ask of another.
"My friend, Col. H. B. Branch, who will deliver this, is authorized to arrange with any friend you may select, the details of further arrangements connected with the subject. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. N. EDWARDS."
St. Louis, Aug. 31, 1875.
"Col. JOHN N. EDWARDS:
"Sir: Yours of the 30th inst. was handed to my friend, W. D. W. Barnard, Esq., at 11 o'clock this A. M., by your friend, Col. H. B. Branch, and is now before me. In reply, I have to state that I emphatically disclaimed in my note of yesterday any intention of referring to you, or in any way offering to you, a personal offense in the matter in which you have raised the issue.
"My friend Mr. Barnard will have charge of my honor in the premises. I am, very respectfully. your obedient servant, EMORY S. FOSTER."
It being found impossible, as appears from the above correspondence, to accomplish a reconciliation between the parties by a withdrawal of the offensive language, the matter passed into the hands of the seconds, Col. H. B. Branch, on the part of Major Edwards, and W. D. W. Barnard on the part of Colonel Foster.
They were to meet on the 4th day of September, 1875, between the hours of 6 and 7 A. M., or as soon thereafter as the parties could reach the grounds, in the county of Winnebago, State of Illinois. The weapons, Colt's navy revolvers calibre 38, the distance twenty paces. Each party entitled to one shot, unless both demanded a second. The firing was to be at the words, thus: "Are you ready; one, two, three"—the firing to occur after the word "two" and not after the word "three." The seconds were to be similarly armed, and any violation of the rules agreed upon entitled the second of the one to shoot down the offending second of the other.
Upon arriving at Rockford both parties drove to the Holland House and partook of dinner.
About 3 o'clock the seconds completed their arrangements. It was decided to drive five miles north on the Beloit road, and have the meeting in some secluded spot. Both principals agreed, and Col. Edwards' party started off in a hack at half-past three, the understanding being for them to await the other party for half an hour after arriving as far out as designated. If the challenged party did not arrive on time it was to be regarded as an evidence of cowardice.
The Foster party caught up with the other party just as they were halting at an estimated distance from the city of five miles.
The spot where the halt was called was a shaded valley, with a winding stream called Turtle Creek, running through it. The seconds held another consultation, and, the site suiting them, they went in search of a place sufficiently far from the Beloit road to be safe from intrusion. After an absence of five minutes they were successful in their search, and on their return the whole party left the carriages. The hackmen, who were wondering what was in the wind, but had not the enterprise to gratify their curiosity, were told to wait in the neighborhood for a few minutes, which instructions they filled to the very letter. The names of the parties who went on the field were: Col. John N. Edwards, the challenging principal; Col. H. B. Branch, second; Dr. Montgomery, surgeon; Dr. Munford, of the Kansas City Times, friend; Major Foster, principal; W. D. W. Barnard, second; Dr. P.S. O'Reilly, surgeon, and the representative of the Tribune, friend.
The spot selected was a couple of hundred yards to the west of the road, a beautifully shaded valley in which horses and cattle were grazing. The seconds took up position near a tree and commenced to examine the weapons. The principals were a few yards apart, Foster reclining on a bank, coolly smoking a cigar, Edwards resting with his back against a tree and conversing with Dr. Munford, with whom he served in the Confederate army. The surgeons took their cases of instruments to the hill-side, where they sat watching the preparations for the encounter. Some time was occupied in the examination and loading of the pistols, and while the necessary part of the work was in progress, the principals each divested himself of his watch and other articles which might turn off a bullet. The next procedure was to measure the ground, a matter which was gone through with business-like dispatch and coolness. Twenty paces was the distance. The positions were north and south, and were marked by a short stake driven into the ground. Branches of trees were cleared out of the way to prevent injury from falls, and other details attended to which might render things comfortable for the parties immediately interested. The next important step was to toss up for position and the call. Branch, Edward's second, won the choice of position, and Barnard the call. This fact was communicated to the principals, who expressed themselves satisfied with the result. The principals and seconds then walked up the ground. Edwards asked Foster's opinion as to position, but the latter said he had no choice. They both received their weapons from the seconds and Edwards chose the south end of the ground. Before the final arrangements were completed, the friends were requested to relieve themselves of their pistols, a precaution against a general skirmish should either party feel aggrieved. Dr. Munford was the only one who had a pistol on his person, and he at once placed it in his valise. The conditions of the fight were then read. Edwards requested Barnard to articulate the words, "Are you ready? one, two, three," in a distinct manner, so as to prevent unpleasant haste. Both men at this point displayed marvelous nerve, Foster smoking his cigar in an unconcerned way. Positions were then taken up, the seconds shaking hands with their principals, and receiving instructions in case they should fall. At length all was ready. The seconds had pistols in their hands ready to revenge any infringements of the code. There was an ominous pause. At exactly 5 o'clock the men faced each other and took mental aim; then came the words, "Are you ready?" in clear, distinct tones: "one, two." Before the word three the duelists fired almost simultaneously. The surgeons anxiously looked each to his man, expecting him to fall, but neither was wounded. "A little high!" exclaimed Foster, as soon as he had fired. Edwards demanded another fire, in an excited tone. His second asked if he would adhere to that resolution. "Yes," he replied, "it is just as I told you before we came on the field. I will go on if it takes a thousand fires; "and with this remark he sat down on the grass. Foster declined another fire. He was the challenged party, and felt no bitterness against his antagonist. Therefore he was not anxious for blood. His honor had been sustained as the challenged party. Shots had been exchanged, and that was all that was necessary. Barnard went to talk with Edwards, who was heard to say: " I have admitted as much as I can do—have received no satisfaction to take with me." After the interchange of a few words, Edwards concluded to make the thing up. He approached Foster and shook hands. There was mutual congratulation all round, and it was interesting to see the brotherly love displayed by the men, who two minutes before, had faced each other with death in their eyes. The genial Bourbon was produced, and the agreeable termination to the affair toasted. A short time was spent on the grass in mutual explanation, and everything was forgotten and forgiven. The parties then returned to their hacks, one shaping toward Beloit and the other to Rockford, which place they left in the evening, but for what point the reporter failed to ascertain.
Apprehending a possible fatal result, Major Edwards wrote the following note to his friend, Dr. Morrison Munford, who was present. It was written at the Tremont House, Chicago, and bears no date, and written in pencil on a leaf torn from a note-book which he carried in his pocket. The note needs no comment—it carries its own:
Dear Morry: A little farewell I want to speak to you. I have but three thoughts: my wife, my two children. When you can help my wife in her pride—help her. It aint much—only it is so much to me. Your friend,
J. N. EDWARDS.
This note is a revelation of the character of the relations between these two men, and shows how implicitly he relied upon the loyalty and steadfastness of Dr. Munford's friendship—the one man of all others upon whom he called in his supposed extremity. John Edwards knew the man he calls "Dear Morry" as perhaps no other man did, and he trusted him. And now, the "little farewell" has been spoken, and the memory of a brave soul is left to men.
JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR.
After his withdrawal from the St. Louis Times he started to Santa Fe, to engage in sheep-raising, but visiting Dover to make his farewells, he was dissuaded from the undertaking, and remained at the home of his wife's father, Judge J. S. Plattenburg, and wrote the "Noted Guerrillas," a wonderful record of the border warfare. Subsequently he went to Sedalia, taking editorial charge of the Democrat. Retiring from this paper he started the Dispatch, which had a brief, but singularly brilliant career. He was then called to the editorial management of the St. Joseph Gazette, by the late Col. J. N. Burnes, the owner of the paper. Again, in 1887, he was recalled to the editorial chair of the Kansas City Times, which place he held at the time of his death. One needs but to read the numerous press tributes to know how exceedingly brilliant his editorial career has been. His style, bright and full of poetic forms, was forceful, vigorous and convincing; as flashing and as keen as the scimitar of Saladdin. Many of the passages in this book bear critical comparison with the most beautiful passages of classic English. The exuberance of expression and prodigality of beautiful words in the compositions of Major Edwards have occasionally led men to overlook or underestimate the more solid aspects of his mind. His historical and general knowledge was very great; his familiarity with the best specimens of Classic English in both prose and poetry was something wonderful in both accuracy and comprehensiveness. The opportunities of a student's life were never within his reach, and yet he knew vastly more of books than most men who had been patient toilers over their pages through continuous years. To the ordinary mind it was wholly inexplicable, how or when he obtained such stores of rich and varied knowledge. His work was a remarkable blending of fact and fancy, of cogent reasoning and vivid poetic expression. A rare combination of powers. There are many gradgrinds, but few poets to clothe the hard facts of life in the aureole of imperishable beauty. The words necessary to describe fitly the dauntless courage, the greatness of soul, the tenderness surpassing that of woman, characterizing the life of John Edwards, would, to those who little knew him, seem fulsome and extravagant. But not so to his friends who knew him. Some of the virtues of Major Edwards were so intense in their expression as to seem almost weaknesses. He never talked of himself. There was not a single shred of the braggart in his nature. He was reticent of his own deeds to the verge of eccentricity. He seemed to be wholly unambitious, free, even from a suspicion of egotism. A strongly marked instance of this is shown in the fact in three books of which he is the real hero, not once is illusion made to himself. I fully agree with his devoted friend, Dr. Munford, that such a repression of self, under such circumstances, is simply without a parallel. I have known but one other man well, in Missouri, who even nearly equaled the modesty, the unselfish self-forgetfulness of John Edwards. That man was the prince of orators, whose soldiery skill wrote his name beside that of Xenophon, viz. Gen. A. W. Doniphan. For all meretricious methods, for every form of pretense, for merely dramatic effect, John Edwards entertained the harshest scorn. Sham and cant that sniveled, stirred his gentle nature into holiest and hottest wrath, and he wove around its victim the network of scathing lampoon that burned like the shirt of Nessus. Trickery, deceit and cowardice alone made him pitiless. That he was unselfish is clearly manifested in this fact, that his great influence, and surely no single man in all the State had so large a personal following whose devotion was a passion, was never employed to advance his own financial interest or to win place for himself. His influence was always for his friends. The witnesses are everywhere, in every walk of life. Men in high places; and low alike, bear testimony to his unselfish work for every comer. He showed me once a letter from a poor Irishman, asking his assistance to procure a position on the police force of St. Louis, and it was granted as readily as to a seeker of the highest place and power. Of his carelessness of self-advancement and his unceasing thought of other people, this circumstance is recalled. He, the writer, and an old soldier, grim and gray, in stature a very son of Anak, stood together. These two men had ridden into battle as joyously as the groom seeks his bride. And now in the days of peace, the grizzled soldier asks: "John, wouldn't you make a good governor?" Promptly the answer came: "No, but I know who would." The swart grenadier asks: "Who?" It is not needful to give the party named, beyond this: that he represented his district in Congress, and wore for years stainlessly the judicial ermine of his State. I reconsider, and give the name of Elijah Norton, the able jurist, the distinguished publicist and reproachless gentleman.
Major Edwards was ill as early as the Wednesday prior to his death, but his demise at last was sudden and unexpected by his friends. The immediate cause of his death was inanition of the cardiac nerves. In the morning early he read part of a late paper. No one witnessed his death, but Thomas, a colored servant, and his little daughter Laura, aged eight years. His sons were at St. Mary's College, Kansas, and Mrs. Edwards, worn out from loss of rest, had retired to another room. He seemed to have some premonition that the end was near, as three different times he asked Thomas to call Mrs. Edwards. The boy not realizing the Major's condition, said, "no let Mrs. Edwards rest." The child was playing with a bubble-pipe, and about ten minutes before death he blew a bubble, and said "Laura, always remember that papa bought you that pipe" evidently from this he knew the end had come. The little girl stood by the bedside wiping the chill death dew from her father's brow, as his soul took its mysterious flight to that "bourne whence no traveler returns." Mrs. Edwards and Major Bittinger entered the room together, just as life's bound was reached. Soon it was noised abroad, and produced a profound sensation in all parts of the city. Says one:
The news soon spread throughout the city, and there was universal expression of profound sorrow. Major Edwards had been a frequent visitor to the capital, attending all the sessions of the Legislature for the past eighteen years, and all Democratic conventions held during that time. He was known to a majority of the members of the General Assembly, to the State officials and to the people generally. As soon as his death was announced, groups of men could be seen on the principal streets, discussing the sad event, and at the capitol half of the members of the Senate and House at once left their seats and gathered in the lobby and adjoining rooms. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed the deepest sorrow for his sudden and untimely death, and the highest sympathy for his bereaved family. During the recess at noon nothing else was talked about among the crowds at the various hotels but the death of the brilliant journalist.
RESOLUTIONS OF RESPECT.
At the afternoon session of the Senate, Senator McGrath, of St. Louis, offered the following resolution:
WHEREAS, The Senate of Missouri, with profound regret, have learned of the death of one of Missouri's greatest and most distinguished citizens, Major John N. Edwards; therefore, be it
Resolved, That in respect to his memory the Senate now adjourn.
After a few appropriate remarks by Senator Moran, of St. Joseph, the resolution was unanimously adopted and the Senate adjourned. In the House, Hon. Lysander A. Thompson, of Macon, offered a similar resolution, which was unanimously adopted and the House adjourned. This evening a great number of the members of the Senate and House visited the McCarty House to take a last look at the features of the dead journalist.
In addition to the action of the Senate and House of Representatives as a mark of respect to the memory of the dead journalist, the local newspaper men and newspaper correspondents met at the Tribune office this afternoon, and a committee consisting of Walter M. Monroe, of the Tipton Times, W. A. Edwards, of the St. Joseph Gazette, and C. B. Oldham, of the Jefferson City Tribune, were appointed to draft suitable memorial resolutions to the memory of the deceased journalist. The committee reported the following:
Maj. John N. Edwards was born in Virginia about fifty-one years ago. His parents moved to Lexington, Mo., when he was of tender age. He received a common school education and afterward learned the printing trade in an office at Lexington. At the commencement of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederate army and belonged to Gen. Jo. O. Shelby's command. He was promoted time and again for skill and personal bravery, and won his military titles in the most honorable manner possible. He was engaged in more than fifty battles and skirmishes, and was severely wounded on more than one occasion. As the war drew to a close he followed Shelby and Price to Texas, and about the time peace was declared a small fragment of Shelby's command, known as the "Iron Brigade," sank the flag—the blood-stained flag which they had carried through the war—in the Rio Grande River, crossed the line into Mexico, and for thirteen months served in the French army. Later, Major Edwards returned to Missouri and published several books, one relating to the border warfare in Missouri, Texas and Arkansas, another entitled "Shelby and his Men." He soon after engaged in newspaper editorial work, first in St. Louis, next in Sedalia, then in St. Joseph and Kansas City, respectively. He was for a time editor of the Dispatch and Times in St. Louis, edited the Sedalia Democrat and Dispatch, later the St. Joseph Gazette, and at the time of his death was editor of the Kansas City Times. No writer in the West was better known than Major Edwards. He followed no man. Every idea he advanced was original, and every thought he expressed in. print was copied far and wide. He had no superior in the newspaper field and but few peers. He was honest and fearless, and never published a line in public prints which he did not believe to be the truth, and for which he would not answer personally at all times. We, representatives of the western press, recognize in his death an irreparable loss. He was brave and generous in war, and fearless and honest in civil life, and liberal to a fault—an affectionate husband and a kind father. We believe that his death has left a vacancy in Missouri journalism that can never be filled. His death is a calamity to the press of the State. As an original writer and conscientious literary man, he never had a superior. He was brave and magnanimous in health, and fearless and resigned when the final summons came. Resolutions can not express our opinion of his ability and fearlessness. He lived the life of a patriotic American, and died the death of a brave, conscientious newspaper man.
Augustine Gallagher, Kansas City Journal, president.
W. A. Edwards, St. Joseph Gazette, secretary.
C. B. Oldham, Tribune, chairman committee.
Walt M. Monroe, Tipton Times.
Walter Sander, Westliche Post.
John Meagher, St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
A. C. Lemmon, Post-Dispatch.
W. M. Smith, St. Louis Republic.
W. N. Graham, Sedalia Gazette.
J. H. Edwards, Tribune.
W. A. Curry, Kansas City Times.
W. J. Cambliss, Higginsville Advance.
John W. Jacks, Montgomery Standard.
A. A. Lesueur, Lexington Intelligencer.
Walter Williams, Boonville Advertiser.
Immediately on the announcement of Major Edwards' death, Col. A. C. Dawes telegraphed General Manager Clark of the Missouri Pacific, and received a reply that he would place his special car at his disposal to convey the remains of the dead journalist and his family to Dover, Lafayette County, where it had been decided he should be buried. The pall-bearers are: ex-Governor Charles P. Johnson, Dr. Morrison Munford, Maj. J. L. Bittinger, Darwin W. Marmaduke, J. F. Merryman and Col. Thomas P. Hoy.
Captain Lesueur, Secretary of State, gives the following account of the journey from Jefferson City to Dover:
THE FUNERAL JOURNEY.
The death of Maj. John N. Edwards, from heart disease, took place at the McCarty House, in Jefferson City, at 9:40 A. M., Saturday, May 4th. It is not too much to say that it created a profound sensation throughout the city. No man in Missouri was so well known as he to its
public men. In Jefferson City he was known by everybody, and his friends were numbered by the limit of his acquaintance. Republicans as well as Democrats were his warm admirers, and the humblest negro that knew him loved him.
It is safe to say that no funeral that has occurred at Dover for many years has created a more profound impression upon the public mind than did that of Major Edwards. There he learned to know his beloved commander, Gen. Joseph O. Shelby, and many of the brave and daring soldier boys whose firmness in battle and endurance on the march gained for the old brigade that renown which he afterward immortalized in most poetic prose. There, too, he wooed and won his bride, a fair, gray-eyed Southern lassie, as full of impulse and romance as himself, a woman of ideals and poesy perhaps, but a brave and true-hearted woman who stood by him always, in weal and in woe, in joy and affliction, and was ever his ministering angel, his comfort and his solace. O, yes, Dover had many ties upon the heart of Major Edwards, and to the good people of the vicinity, a steady, God-fearing people, but a people of leisure, who read and preserve a touch of the romance of the days of Coeur de Lion, of Bruce and of McGregor, John Edwards was the embodiment of all that was chivalric and poetic. They ever followed from journal to journal his gifted pen, and he was nearer and dearer to them than he was to many with whom he came in daily contact out in the busy, active world. And they were there to put all that was mortal of him away in its last resting place with their own loving hands. Their wives and daughters were there, too, to add their tears to those of the stricken wife and children. As the numerous. assemblage encircled the grave, grief and sorrow written upon every face, the scene was one to immortalize the painter who could have seized it and put it on canvas. There was the evidence of an unusual depth of feeling and regret even for such an occasion.
From the moment of his death until his remains were taken from the train, there was a constant stream of sad and sorrowing friends passing in and out of the corridor, all intent upon hearing the particulars of his dying hours, upon looking just once more at his familiar features, upon expressing grief at his loss and of sympathy with his bereaved wife and children. At 12:30 on Sunday the funeral procession formed at the hotel to go to the depot, where the train was waiting. First, came a long line of gentlemen on foot, led by Governor Francis, and composed of senators, members of the house of representatives, and many others. By the side of the hearse were the pall-bearers—Dr. Morrison Munford, Col. D. W. Marmaduke, Hon. J. Frank Merriman, Maj. John L. Bittinger, Col. T. P. Hoy and Capt. A. A. Lesueur; after them came the family and other friends in carriages. At Tipton a special train furnished by the courtesy of S. H. Clark, Esq., at the request of Col. A. C. Dawes, awaited the funeral party, which was composed of Mrs. Edwards, Miss Ella McCarty, her near friend, all of the pallbearers (except Col. Marmaduke), Rev. Peter Trone, and Messrs. George and Walter Plattenburg. At Boonville they were joined by Hon. Thomas Cranmer, and at Marshall by Elder George Plattenburg and Mr. Yerbey. The train reached the Dover depot at about 6:30 p. m., where it was met by a number of the citizens of the place, and by the following named gentlemen, who acted as actual pall-bearers: John Allen Harwood, E. S. Van Anglen, Dr. E. R. Meng, R. T. Koontz, James F. Winn and George B. Gordon. The casket was deposited at the Plattenburg mansion, Mrs. Edwards' girlhood home, until 10 o'clock the next morning, when the burial took place in the village cemetery. The whole country-side had turned out.
The train arrived as above, at Dover, 6:40 p. m. Sunday, May 5th. The following day, May 6th, he was borne to his last resting place. The burial is thus described by the Kansas City Times, the paper he started, and at whose helm he gallantly and dauntlessly stood through many a storm:
THE LAST SLEEP.
[Special to the Kansas City Times.]
HIGGINSVILLE, Mo., May 6th.—In the old cemetery, just at the outskirts of the little town of Dover, ten miles from here, the body of John N. Edwards was buried this morning. It is a quiet, secluded spot, where the rumble of wagon wheels in the road near by are the only sounds, save the singing of birds, heard from one year's end to the other—just the place where one with Major Edwards' love of nature and the beautiful would desire to lie in his last long sleep. And it was his wish, frequently expressed, that he should be buried there. It is within easy view from the old Plattenburg homestead, where his wife spent her girlhood and he wooed and won her, and from which his body was carried to its last resting place this morning. From the windows the tombstones which mark the graves of the former residents of Dover are plainly visible. The whole scene is a pretty rural one, the scattering houses of Dover giving it just enough of an urban aspect to soften its outlines without destroying its primitive beauty. It was no wonder that one with the poetic temperament and chivalrous ideals of Major Edwards should choose the old Dover cemetery as his burial place, even if his early days had not endeared it to him.
The special train—which was kindly furnished by the Missouri Pacific—bearing the body, the wife and little daughter of Major Edwards, the pall-bearers and friends, arrived at Dover from Jefferson City, Sunday night at 6:40. The pall-bearers were Maj. John L. Bittinger of St. Joseph; Dr. Morrison Munford, Hon. J. F. Merryman, Rev. Peter Trone of Clinton; Col. T. P. Hoy and Secretary of State A. A. Lesueur. Miss Ella McCarty of Jefferson City; Messrs. George and Walter Plattenburg of Kansas City; brothers of Mrs. Edwards, and Mr. Thomas Cranmer, sheriff of Cooper County, were among the party that came from Jefferson City.
The body was at once taken from the station to the residence of Mrs. L. C. Plattenburg, Mrs. Edward's mother.
THE LAST SAD LOOK.
At 8:30 this morning the casket was opened, and the citizens of Dover and the people from the country for miles around, filed in to take a last look at the face which was loved throughout the length and breadth of Lafayette County, where he passed his early life, and from which he went to make a name that was honored and loved wherever it was known. Moist eyes of strong men gave evidence of the sincere affection with which the dead soldier and journalist had been regarded. Many of the men who passed had seen him go out to battle in the pride of his youthful strength, and they said that after many years the face was not changed as much as might have been expected. The features were life-like and the expression peaceful. "He looks as if he were sleeping," many remarked.
The greater part of the five or six hundred people who viewed the corpse came from Lexington, Higginsville, Corder and the neighboring towns. There had been a misunderstanding as to the time the funeral would take place, and many persons from Higginsville, Corder and other
places had driven over Sunday. This and the comparative inaccessibility of Dover kept many persons away who had desired to be present. Nevertheless the little town could not have accommodated many more strangers.
There were no services at the house. At 10 o'clock the casket was closed. In addition to the pall-bearers who had accompanied the body from Jefferson City, Mr. John Allen Harwood, E. S. Van Anglen, E. R. Meng, R. I. Koontz, James F. Winn, and George B. Gordon of Dover, had been selected. They carried the casket to the hearse, which had been sent from Lexington. Besides Mrs. Edwards and her two sons and daughter, the members of the family who were present were J. Q. Plattenburg, H. W. Plattenburg, H. Y. Plattenburg, George Plattenburg, and W. L. Plattenburg, brothers of Mrs. Edwards; Mrs. L. C. Plattenburg, her mother and Miss
Eula Plattenburg, her sister. Mrs. Thomas Yerby, with whom Major Edwards lived when he was a boy, and learned to set type, also followed the body to the grave. Mr. Wiley O. Cog, of Kansas City, was in one of the carriages. The procession was a long one, but the distance from the house to the cemetery was short.
THE PREACHER'S TRIBUTE.
The services at the grave were simple, as Major Edwards had wished them to be. They were conducted by Rev. George Plattenburg, a cousin of Mrs. Edwards. He spoke feelingly and every word was listened to intently. His address was substantially as follows:
Twenty-eight years ago, when General Shelby was the captain of a single company, composed largely of the flower of the youth of this immediate vicinity, Major Edwards came to my home in Little Rock, Arkansas, accompanied by Yandell Blackwell, a soldier and gentleman from spur to plume. From that day to this my intercourse with Mayor Edwards has been of a most intimate character. I have never met a more rarely gifted or nobler man. His knowledge of men and books was simply wonderful. When and how he gained this great and varied knowledge was to me, a close student of books for more than forty years, still more wonderful, engaged as he was continuously in great active interests, and involved in the stress of vast political contests. A great journal of yesterday morning spoke of him as only a poet. If by this was meant that he was only a maker of rhythmic phrases, or the framer of melodious sentences, the statement was scarcely just. His was the wonderful and acute insight of the true poetic faculty into the great problems of human life and action and destiny—the faculty that intuitively penetrates the reason of things. In this sense he was a poet. These things he clothed in the poet's glowing words, in striking and ofttimes surprisingly beautiful forms of speech. In his best moods he threw off passages of rare charm, not surpassed, if equaled, anywhere in the vast field of American journalism.
It was not the splendor of his intellect, the marvelous grace of his diction, or the unequaled mastery of scintillant and forceful words, that bound John Edwards to his friends, but his greatness of heart, his sweet, gentle and unselfish nature. In a long intercourse with men of all ranks and conditions, professions and trades, I have met no man so free from all ignoble and selfish impulses. His wide influence was never used for his own gain or personal advancement, but always for that of others. Those debtor to John Edwards in this regard may be counted by hundreds. A journalist, and now a State official said to me years ago, "he asks for himself, never; for others, always." A great, loyal, loving and unselfish heart was his. God rarely makes a man like him. Fitly might the Recording Angel write of him, Abou Ben Adhem's prayer, "write me as one that loves his fellow men."
Whatever the infirmities of gentle and gifted John Edwards, there was in him a strong religious sentiment. I do not mean religious as defined by books, or as formulated in creeds, but in the acceptance and reverent holding of those great truths that lie behind all formulated systems and of which organized religions are the product. That Infinite Being, forming the primary religious concept of primitive peoples, the Jehovah of the Hebrew records, the "Heaven-Father" of the Vedic hymns, which Max Muller says formed humanity's first poem and first articulate prayer, and as exalted by the great Master in that universal prayer: "Our Father who art in Heaven," he
recognized and looked up to with the trust of a child. In addition to this as a necessary sequence, he accepted unfalteringly the doctrine of the soul's immortality as the sole basis of a hope that can gladden and sweeten the labor of stricken men. Once as I sat by his bedside at the McCarty House, late in the night, turning suddenly to me after a lull in our talk, he asked: "Do you ever go down to the great river that flows near your home, and sitting beneath the midnight stars listen to the solemn swish of the onsweeping mysterious stream, and think of the vast things that lie beyond the river and beyond the stars?" From this we drifted into a discussion of the largest problems with which the soul has to do; the questions of action and destiny. Then, more than ever before or after, John Edwards revealed to me the secrets of his immost life. He felt as the Laureate sings:
My own dim-life should teach me this,
That life shall live forever more,
Else earth is darkness at the core,
And dust and ashes all that is.
This round of green, this orb of flame,
Fantastic beauty, such as lurks
In some wild poet as he works
Without a conscience or an aim.
To-day, from every part of the great Southwest, the scarred veterans of the "lost cause," will turn with tearful eyes to this village graveyard, where we reverently and lovingly lay their old companion in arms, so brilliant in intellect, so noble in heart, so gentle and generous, so pure and chivalrous in every impulse. May the smile of God rest upon this village grave as a perpetual benediction.
In the quiet, quaint little village of Dover, whose people removed, "Far from the maddening crowd's ignoble strife," pursue the even tenor of their way, on a gentle declivity leaning to the kiss of southern suns, a sheltered, sequestered spot, fit place of rest after life's "fitful fever," lies the village graveyard. Here:
"The sacred calm that reigns around,
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
In still small accents whispering from the ground
A grateful earnest of eternal peace."
In this retired spot reverent hands laid all that remained of gifted John Edwards. The voice, that oft within the "battle's red rim," shouted, "Steady, Men," is hushed. The eye that flashed with steely glitter, as it saw the setting and onset of squadrons, but so gently limpid in repose, is closed forever. The blare of bugles, the cannon's roar, the rush of armed fleet and the voice of love are now alike unheard. The fearless soldier, the brilliant journalist, the loyal friend, the dreamer of sweet dreams, by his own request lies quietly among the village dead, apart from the stress of enterprise and the coldness of greed. Above the narrow, dreamless abode of the great heart now pulseless, the leaves shimmer in soft light, the fragrance of flowers lingers above the turf lovingly, and the sweet May stars distill their dews to keep the grasses green. In his own words, written of "Prince" John B. Magruder's lone Texas grave, we may say, "If roses are the tear drops of angels as the beautiful Arab belief puts forth in poetry, then is this lowly mound a hallowed spot, and needs not the sculptured stone, the fretted column and the obelisk." Few men have been so admired, or so mourned. At his grave, old, scarred soldiers, unused to tears wept like girls. Friends, kindred, his children grieved, but a larger grief was hers, whom he wooed and won with knightly devotion in the summer days long ago. She, sitting within the mysterious shadow of the "Spheral Change, by men called death," can only sing with Dante Rossetti, in mournful questioning:
"O nearest, furthest! Can there be
At length some hard-earned, heart-won home,
Where exile changed for sanctuary.
Our lot may fill indeed its sum,
And you may wait and I may come."
©2002 G. E. Rule
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