This essay served as the concluding chapter to Page’s biography of Robert E. Lee, published in 1908.
I stood not a great while ago on the most impressive spot, perhaps, in all Europe: beneath the majestic dome of the Invalides where stands the tomb of Napoleon. It was a summer evening, and we descended the steps and stood at the door of the crypt where repose the ashes of him who was doubtless the greatest soldier of all time; who by his genius took France from the throes of a revolution and lifted her while he lived, to the head of the nations. Just then the hour came for closing, and suddenly in the marble rotunda above us began the roll of a drum, which swelled and throbbed until the whole earth seemed reverberating to its martial tone. It was the long roll which had sounded before so many hard-fought fields, and as it throbbed and throbbed in the falling dusk of that summer evening, there seemed to troop before the mental vision the long lines that had fought and fallen on so many a glorious field: the soldiers of Lodi and of Austerlitz, of Friedland and Wagram and Borodino.
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