Gettysburg encampment in 1883

[source: Philadelphia Inquirer, 30 August 1883, page 7]

Welcome Rain - Dedication Services on the Battle Ground -- Fun and Frolic by the Camp Fire -- Business Meeting.
[C]orrespondence of The Inquirer.

While the delightful weather we have thus far had since the opening of the encampment has been all that the most exacting could desire, allowing the out-door life and open-air amusements of camp to be carried on from early morning to late night, the good shower of rain that has fallen to-day has proved a blessing.

The road between camp and town is thronged from sunrise till far into the night with vehicles of all descriptions, carrying passengers to and fro, and up to to-day was thick with a heavy dust. The ride was through a thick cloud, and, though a short one, no matter how clean one might be when starting from either end, all appearance of neatness was completely obliterated before reaching the destination. Even the green sward around headquarters had, through the tramping of many feet and the rays of an August midday sun lost all its freshness and beauty.

Quite a large number of comrades who could only leave home for a short time and come out to stay over Sunday left for home on Monday and many more went yesterday morning, but the number of arrivals has thus far more than counterbalanced the departures, and yesterday the encampment was at its height. More visitors from variouis parts of the State, as well as from the surrounding country, were in camp than even on Sunday, and it was so all day. A heavily laden train of fourteen cars came in during the morning from Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville and York, while another in two sections arrived from Chambersburg, and each brought additional Posts, as well as hundreds of visiting friends. State Senator Wagner and Representatives Gentner, Swaris, Stewart and White, of the Legislature, were among the arrivals to-day, and, being all comrades of the Grand Army, they received a hearty welcome.


Monday was devoted to the dedication of tablets erected on the battle-field by regimental associations to mark the battle, and each one was accompanied by appropriate exercises. The first to leave camp was the Ninety first Regiment Association, which, with the Weccacoe Band, proceeded in wagons to Little Round Top, where, on the spot occupied by the command on the second day of the fight, the tablet had been erected. This tablet or shaft is six feet high, cut from granite taken from Devil's Den, and is surmounted by a ball of stone about one foot in diameter, taken from another part of the field, making the whole height seven feet. On one side is a Maltese cross, on which is carved the name and number of the regiment and a tablet containing the inscription, "Position July 2, 3, 4, 1863"

The exercises were opened by the band playing "America," followed by prayer by Comrade Rev. John W. Sayers, Department Chaplain. The band then played the "Star Spangled Banner," after which Colonel J. H. Sinex, who commanded the regiment during the battle, was introduced as the orator in the absence of General Pearson, of Pittsburg, who had been selected to act in that position, but failed to arrive. Colonel Sinex having been called on at the last moment, was entirely unprepared for any lengthy remarks. After sketching the work of the regiment up to the time of its arrival at Gettysburg and the part it took in that battle he related the incident of the death of General Weed, who commanded the brigade.

When the regiment had reached the summit of Little Round Top General Weed personally placed it in position to support a battery stationed there, and after giving all necessary instructions turned away with the remark, "Shoot the first rascal that goes to the rear." They were his last works. A shot struck and instantly killed him. Lieutenant Hazlett, commanding the battery, seeing him fall, ran to him, and he, too, fell dead across the body of the general. After speaking a few minutes further Colonel Sinex was overcome with the emotions called up by the recollections connected with the spot and could not go on. The ceremonies were brought to a close by music and benediction.

The Eighty-eighth

The Survivors' Association of the Eighty-eighth Regiment left camp at ten o'clock, headed by the Flute and Drum Corps of Posts 5 and 58, escorted by Post 2's guard, and accompanied by a number of ladies and comrades from camp, marches to Ziegler's Grove, back of the old cemetery. This was the spot selected for the dedication ceremonies, being the position held on July 2, although tablet [sic] had also been erected designating the point occupied on the other two days. When this point was reached, after music and prayer by the Department Chaplain, D. K. Bartsell [?], president of the association, introduced General G. W. Gible, the orator of the occasion, who made a lengthy address.

After referring to the great difference between the scene then presented and that of twenty years ago, he said: "What was the idea which brought members of a common family and country here together in fratricidal strife? The question has been asked and variously answered a thousand times. Divesting it entirely (as a soldier should) of the sophistries of the politician and the philosophy of the metaphysician, from your standpoint and mine, it was the thought and love of national unity as opposed to the disintegrating policy of State sovereignty. Subsidiary and collateral questions assuming the form of grave issues, each one of which could claim the importance of national or even international themes, complicated the main issue and divided the opinions, and, what is more essential, the interests of mankind on the subject.

"But as the greater contains the lesser and determines its quantity and quality, as the majesty of the law of the land was held by you to be above and beyond all local enactments or sentiments. This it was that made you patriots and soldiers. Believing that supreme law to be just, and knowing it beneficent, you entered the field to maintain it, casting aside all other considerations that would have hampered your actions had you halted betwixt two opinions."

After sketching the history of the regiment Gen. Gile [sic] alluded to the object of their present gathering, concluding by saying: "Let us dedicate these tablets to the God of battles, through whose will all nations have been created and maintained, and who has been a buckler and a shield from the dark days that tried men's souls to the darker days when the nation was on trial. Next, to the genius of our country, who rode above the storm-cloud of war, inspiring our heroes and graciously wooing her sons to the field and giving them the victory. Last, to the imperishable memory of the Eighty-eighth, whose presence here to-day tells a grander story than historian can weave or poet sing."

Immediately after returning to camp the association held a business meeting, when the following officers were elected to serve for the ensuing year: President--Sylvester Martin, Vice Presidents--Nathan L. Auble, of Philadelphia, and Michael Bright, of Reading. Secretary--John M. Wallace. Treasurer--Edward A. Maas. The Executive Countil will be appointed by the incoming president. The next reunion will be held at Reading, August 9, 1884.

The Twenty-second.

At four P.M. the Seventy-second Regiment Association, headed by the Weccacoe Band and Post 2 guard, and accompanied by a large number of comrades and ladies, proceeded to the position on the left of Cemetery Hill, where Pickett made his celebrated charge, and there dedicated the monument that had already been placed in position. This tablet, as it is called, is a solid piece of granite taken from the Devil's Den, one side only being polished, the other three sides being rock-faced. On the top is a knapsack, underneath which, on the dressed side, is erected a bronze tablet, giving the loss of the regiment and brigade during the engagement.

The ceremonies opened with music and prayer by Department Chaplain Sayers. Col Charles H. Banes [?] then, on behalf of the Regimental Association, presented the stone to the Gettysburg Battlefield Association, Vice President McCrary receiving it in their name. Gen. Alexander B. Webb then delivered the oration that had been carefully prepared for the occasion, which was very lengthy and replete with historical details. He refuted certain statements made by some military writers recently; reviewed the work done by the regiment and brigade to which he was attached, eulogized Generals Meade and Hancock, and graphically described Pickett's charge, closing his remarks with an eloquent tribute to the men who had so gallantly fallen on the spot.

So many of the comrades had taken part in these dedications or had been wandering over the field examining the many points of interest that they were pretty well tired out. For this reason the dress parade was omitted, greatly to the disappointment of the thousands of persons who had come into camp to witness it, but the usual evening concert was given by the band. And right here let a few words of credit be given to the Weccacoe Band of Philadelphia. Composed entirely of young men, they have by real hard work and careful study raised themselves to the position of one of the best bands in the country, and their decorous, gentlemanly behavior while here raised them high in the esteem of the comrades and of the throngs of visitors that have listened to their delightful music.

In the afternoon, at two o'clock, the Twenty-eighth and One-Hundred-and forty-seventh Regiments and Knap's Battery Association held a business meeting at the court house in the town, when an election of officers was held, resulting in the choice of Thomas Monroe, president; J. Ford Volk, George W. Lees and Thomas J. Hamilton, vice presidents (being one from each organization); John P. Nicholson, secretary, and a number of assistant secretaries from the counties represented in the commands. The deaths of five members of the association was announced as having taken place since the last meeting. The flag under which the Twenty-eighth first marched, and which is known as the "De Korponay flag," was exhibited, and received with three rousing cheers.

After the close of the meeting, the association marched out to Culp's Hill and marked with stakes the position held by the command, it being the intention to erect tablets at those points next year.

In the evening a banquet was partaken of, at which seventy-five persons sat down. Addresses were made by Comrade J. I. Cornet [?], Colonel J. B. Batchelder, Major Joseph Knox and others, and a paper, entitled "Reminiscences of the War," written by J. Addison Moore, was read, in his absence, by W. S. Witham, the last adjutant of the Twenty-eighth Regiment.

On Sunday and Monday evenings Chaplain Sayers delivered to the comrades a lecture on charity, and certainly no one in the Department is better qualified than the comrade to handle that noble virtue who has labored for years, both in his church and in the Order, in the interests of this holy cause.

Fun and Frolic.

Yesterday was given up entirely to fun and frolic in camp, and right heartily did the comrades enter into the spirig of mischief that ruled the day. Grotesquely dressed parties, rigged out in all the colors of the rainbow, surmounted by every conceivable species of head gear, paraded the streets of town and camp, improvised mock courts martial, indulged in stump speeches, and made themselves generally ridiculous, to the great enjoyment of the visitors, the ladies being particularly amused by their antics.

Assistant Adjutant General Stewart gravely announced from the concert platform the following as the programme arranged after three weeks' careful preparation and enormous expense for talent. Comrade Thomas Vanderslice will appear in his world renowned character of Father Watkins. Comrade H. G. Williams in his lightning drill. Comrade William Bartram, having once been a member of a celebrated opera company, will sing the "Sailor Boy's Dream." Comrade E. G. Sellers will tell what he did three months after the war. Comrade Smith D. Cozens will relate his experiences of ten days in a bar room. Comrade Thomas G. Sample will tell what he knows about the faults of the press. Comrade George B. Thatcher will tell what a small married man can do, and Comrade Nick Wilson will relate what a large married man has done. The whole interspersed with selections by the band. The programme was received with shouts of laughter and applause.

On His Own Grave.

Before closing let me relate the astounding fact that several times during the past few days I have stood face to face and talked with a man who lies dead and buried in the National Cemetery, at least the War Departement says he is dead and refuses to have any other record of him. Stephen Kelly, of Company E, Ninety-first Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, is the name of the man who was photographed standing on his own grave, and the picture sent, with other evidence of his identity, to Washington in order that the record of his death as it appears there might be changed, but without success. He is dead officially and dead he must be, although he is a decidedly lively corpse.

I suggested to him that if his widow would apply for a pension on the ground that the authorities killed her husband at Gettysburg it might have the desired effect. This man's knapsack was lost before the battle, and it is presumed that some one who found it put on some of Kelly's clothes, marked with his name and the command to which he belonged, and was killed with them on. In no other way can the strange fact be accounted for, and thus some poor fellow who actually did lie down in death on the bloody field is unrecorded, and some fond wife or mother is mourning for the son or husband whose grave she is not allowed to water with her tears nor mark with a token of love.

Business Meeting.

The heavy rain of this morning caused the business meeting of the encampment to be held in the County Court House instead of on Culp's Hill as was intended. Department Commander E. S. Osborne presided and made an eloquent address. The meeting opened with prayer by Chaplain John W. Sayers. Considerable time was spent in calling the roll and providing substitutes for absentees, after which reports were received from A.A.G. Stewart, AQ M.G. Cozens [?], Inspector Sample, Judge Advocate Walls, Council of Administration and the Soldiers' Orphans' Committee, all of which were highly satisfactory. Beilefonts was selected as the place for holding the next summer encampment, with Gettysburg as second choice.

A vote of thanks to the Legislators for passing and to Gov. Pattison for signing the bill extending the time for closing the soldiers' orphans' schools was passed; also, the bill appropriating $5000 towards a pedestal for the equestrian statue of Gen. John F. Reynolds. The salary of the Assistant-Adjutant General was increased to $1500.

It was also voted to extend to Comrade N. G. Wilsoc [?], of Gettysburg, a proper testimonial of appreciation of his valued services to the Department of Pennsylvania.

Thanks were extended to Post 9, of Gettysburg, Adjutant-General Thomas J. Stewart reported 371 Posts, 30,500 members, $16 647 expended in relief and charity during the quarter ending June. Relief was extended to 474 persons not members. Dress parade was omitted this evening. The camp fire was started at six P.M. The Third Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry had a reunion this afternoon. Rain has been falling all day and the camp looks dreary enough and visitors are few. Should to-morrow be clear a big time will be had, as camp will break up on Friday.

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revised 4 Nov 06
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