FIRST G.A.R. REUNION
A Succesful Encampment of the old
Veterans of Eastern Oregon.
UNION HONORED BY THEIR PRESENCE
The Joys and Pains of War Times Recalled,
Welcomed by Mayor Wright. List of
Veterans, Programme, etc.
The reunion of the G.A.R. associations, though of frequent occurrence in the east is a rare occurence in this section; and the meeting held in this city last week was in a measure an experiment, yet it was a complete success and it has been decided to have a meeting each year, hereafter.
Preston Post No. 18, of this city, deserve great credit for starting this beautiful custom in Eastern Oregon.
Wednesday morning was taken up by the comrades who arrived from the
various posts of Eastern Oregon; but in the afternoon the programme began
with music by the Union Cornet band. Judge I.N. Sanders acted as master
of ceremonies, who after the strains of martial music had died away, introduced
Hon. W.T. Wright, mayor of the city of Union, who delivered the following
address of welcome:
ADDRESS OF MAYOR WRIGHT
Members of the G.A.R.-Ladies and Gentlemen:-
Four hundred years ago a little fleet of frail vessels was tossing restlessly on the broad bosom of the Atlantic, headed toward the setting sun-their gallant commander heart sore and harrassed by the mutterings and discontent of his companions, but still confident and determined upon the pursuit of his great voyage of discovery. When land at last greeted the eyes of the voyager-and his yeart swelled with joy at his success-I very much doubt if even a faint realization of the magnitude nad importance of his discovery dawned upon the mind of the great navigator. Imaginative as he was, imaginative as were the people of those times, I doubt if in the sweep of their wildest imaginings they compassed the thought that a great nation would find lodgment upon these newly discovered shores, and would there light up a mighty beacon of Liberty where blazing light four hundred years thence should flash around the world. They little dreamed that on the fourth centennial of that memorable landing, sixty-five millions of free people would celebrate the event with pomp and glory and enlightenment, which is only possible to the people of this day and nation. Their prophetic gaze did not penetrate the clouds of futurity and behold the brightest vision of all-the stars and stripes-glory enthroned. Indeed three hundred and fifty years of progress was necessary to lighten up the mind of one of our own great statesmen, to the point of realizing the immense possibilities of the future, when standing upon the mountaintop with bared head, and gazing with awe into the trackless west he whispered, "I hear the tread of the coming millions."
We, whose lives have extended beyond the ordinary brief space allotted to a generation, known much of the history and wonderful progress of this mighty nation. We know somewhat of the grave question spread before the people-and the other nations of the earth, if this was really a nation; a question which would not down; and glancing backward over the pages of our country's history we find that but little over a hundred years ago our forefathers through hardship and toil, smoke and blood, created the nation, which our brethren of only a short generation ago through hardship and blood, and terrors before undreamed of, preserved. The question was grandly and forever answered. THE UNITED STATES IS A NATION! The grandest the sun ever shone upon. And at the same time they wiped the foul blot off her escutcheon-Slavery. The immense question of men's rights so honorably commenced by our fathers was finally and forever settled, and the nation set upon a new era of progress. Their pace excited first the admiration then the wonder of the other people of the world, and is fast driving consternation through the haunts of despotism everywhere.
In the first great struggle, the birth of the nation, were involved upon the American side less than a hundred thousand armed men. In the great war of the rebellion there were enlisted into the Union armies more than two and a quarter millions, the very flower of the land. Mostly young men eighteen to twenty-four years old, strong and sinewy, their hearts burning with zeal and love of their country, their arms nerved with courage willing to settle by brawn and might and life if need be, the great questions of nation and government, which the vicissitudes of the times had decreed could only be settled by the arbitrament of arms. I do not like to think of that dreadful time, when American met American; I prefer to leave it recorded and silent upon the pages of history. I prefer to think of the hearty hand grasp of brothers when the struggle wqas over, and the heartfelt "thank God it is ended" when the battered and broken columns turned their faces away from the battle fields towards their loved homes north and south.
But what of the two and a third millions of men who went down to that great conflict? Cannon ball- shot and shell-the dreaded Minie and the sabre made sad havoc with the ranks. The hospitals and prison pens have thinned them more and a vast number of that great army, were laid away in unknown graves of the south. The veterans who returned to their homes, bore with them much of glory-but wounds and scars and the seeds of disease which have since germinated and whose fruitage was death. graves are known, and honored-though dotting the land from Atlantic to Pacific.
It was in ancient times the code of war that "to the victors belong the spoils." This is still accepted as good political doctrine, and it has been asserted by some of the present day politicians-extremists it must be confessed-who would, if they had the power, cut off the pitiful, paltry allowance paid by the government-that these old veterans saved the nation for Sham upon such assertions! They saved the nation for themselves and their children-for their opponents and their children-for all the people of the land, and the liberty-loving people of other lands who have sought homes with us-their children and children's children forever. I have no sympathy with the idea that they sold their time to the government; trudged with blistered feet through dust and mud, snow and storm, underwent all the trials and privations of march and camp, braved the shock and flame of battle, forthirteen dollars a month in greenbacks, and should be content to call it square. I doubt if anyone of these carping political critics would be willing to face the fire of a company of muskets for a hundred thousand dollars in gold, and it is exceedingly doubtful if his whole , live, sound carcass would be worth a nickel. I feel that the nation owes them two debts, one payable in cash at the end of every ninety days; the other, nothing can square-it is a debt of gratitude and respect, which can never be paid.
I honor the dead and buried heroes. I honor the surviving heroes-the Grand Army of the Repulbic where principles would have laid them too by the side of their silent comrades had the fates of war so decreed. I honor the organization-which while it promotes the old ties of comradeshi extends the hand of friendship to their old foes, and is willing to cover over all their errors with the broad mantle of charity. I teach my children to honor the heroes of '65, and often sing with them the "war songs" that cheered the camps of a million men-above all I teach them and I urge you all to teach your children the love and duty they owe to the nation, these brave men preserved to us. A generation has now nearly passed over the heads of the surviving warriors, and they come up to their annual gatherings it is with thinned ranks-and but a few more years and we must seek the "Grand Army of theRepublic" in the cemetery. Indeed each memorial day shows how rapidly they are passing to their final reward. The young soldier of twenty years in 1861 is now the mature man of fifty-two, and the finger of time is making lines parallel to the old sabre scars that the skilled surgeon cannot cure, while the man of forty who seized hismusket and joined the ranks-if still surviving-has passed the allotted time of man. The men whose age and learning and experience placed them in command, have nearly all gone, and rapidly, so rapidly time moves along that ere long the grim hand of death will write to the last chapter of the G.A.R., the book will be closed and they will survive only in history.
It was a happy thought that gave rise to the organization, and when it dies with its members, will leave us a memento by way of a National holiday-the most beautiful of all holidays-"Memorial Day," and nso doubt ages hence, the grateful people of free America will strew their graves with beautiful flowers in memory of their noble lives and gallant deeds.
I feel it an honor and pleasure to welcome the members of the organization to the cityof union, and while extending to you the freedom and hospitality of the city-regret that I cannot as did Gov. Pennoyer, a few days since in an address of welcome to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows-extend to you the freedom of the whole state of Oregon.
At the close of the address, Kellogg's Fife and Drum Corps discoursed some of their patriotic war music in their peculiar and stirring style. Rev. J.S. Anderson was then intruduced and delivered a very fine eulogistic address to the old soldiers. The afternoon's exercises were closed with more music by the band.
A "camp fire" was held in the evening, at which there were music by the bands, short speeches by Hon. T.H. Crawford, and E. South, a comic song by J.R. Kellogg, and a general, good, social time.
The exercises Thursday afternoon began with music by the drum corps and a parade through the principal streets of the city. In the parade were a number of persons who appeared to have been on a pillaging expedition, as one carried upon his bayonet three chickens, another a goose and a third a ham. The line of march led to the grunds where upon arrival, the three parties mentioned were summoned before the court martial where they were tried for stealing the booty found in their possession. The mock trial was highly enjoyed by all present and revealed the fact that some of the boys understood the working of the real court martial. This was followed by an address by Rev. B.F. Harper, of this city, and then music by the "glee club" and the drums.
Another camp fire was held in the evening, when a very fine address by Hon. M.L. Olmstead, was presented. Mayor Wright, then read "Phil Sheridan's Ride," which was followed by "Jake Snyder's Ride," a parody, read by M.S. harman in a style that "brought down the house." Mr. Hartman also sang a song entitled "Old Shady." After the exercises large fires were built, around which the peole gathered and while the bands played airs of patriotism, had a general, good time.
Friday there were no regular exercises; it was "break camp" day. In the evening a grand ball was given by the local post at Wright's hall.
Refreshments were served on the grounds during the encampment by the Woman's Relief Corps, of this city, at 25 cents a meal
The following "enterans" were present; the list showing the state and
company in which they served:
H.L. Deacon Co. 1, 87 Vol.
W.H. Pelham Co. H 26 Inf; E. South Co L 4 Cav; R.M. South Co L 4 Cav; g. Tinkham Co B 21 Inf; Corwin Coffinberry Co C 5 Cav; G.W. Allen Co A 27 Inf; J.H. Cowan Co H 1 Cav; J.W. Wilmore Co G 24 Inf; E.W. Crain Co H 34 Inf; Jos Andson Co E 5 & Cav G; C.C. Stanley Co K 25 Inf; J.F. Bryan Co C 29 Inf; Wm Stoop Co B 26 Cav; H.B.W. Brown Co e 33 fifer; A. Minnick Co E 7 Cav.
Wm. Birdsell Co A 1 Inf.
G.W. Dillin Co K 46 Inf; S.T. Ulm Co E 40 Inf; M.F. Hooker Co H 15 Inf; M.S. Hartman Co C 53 Inf; W.M. Barnes Co C 107 Inf; C.H. Lansing Co B 34 Inf.
Azariah Jones Co --Cav; R.J. Johnson Co M4 Cav; J.W. Reeves Co A 23 Inf.
S.A. Bridges Co E 3 Cav; B.B. Sanborn Co C 20 Inf; L.B. Stearns Co A 1 Art; P. Conlon Co F 28 Inf; P. Knapp Co H 25 Inf; Wm Young Co D 20 Inf.
C.C. Bidwell Co C 1 Art; L.C. Bates Co D 1 Inf.
H.F. Powell Co C 87 Inf; I.N. Sanders Co D 66 Inf; J.M. Selders Co E 152 Inf.
R.M. Hough Co D 7 Cav; T. Prothero Co K 142 Inf; J.C. Henry Co B 184 Inf; J. Phillips Co D 2 Cav.
G.F. Kimmery Co K S; D. Kooch Co F 6.
J.W. Bailey Co E 2 Cav.
S.R. Reeves Co B 2 Cav.
A.J. Goodbrod Co B 11 Cav; M.L. Olmstead Co 13, 7, 78 & 102.
J. Zurcher Co 1 30.
S. Haynes Co B 1 Inf; J.W. Strickland Co H 1 Cav.
This encampment was such a success, that it was determined to effect a permanent organizatin and to hold meetings once a year. The next meeting will be held at La Grande.
Eastern Oregon Republican, Thursday
Arletta Galloway sent me a picture of the G.A.R. and W.R.C Reunion in Elgin, Oregon in 1897. If you would like to see it, here is the G.A.R. Picture
Just a word of warning. Because of the number of pictures on the page, I left it huge so you could see most of the individual pictures. Some are very hard to read, others you can see quite well.