17th Grand army of the republic. National encampment.

Address of the commander-in-chief and report of the surgeon general online

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1883
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OF THE



COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF



AND



RRF'OFi'r



OF THE



Surgeon General






Seventeenth Annual Encampment,



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OMAHA:

Hepublicax Book and Job Printing House.

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SETZEntEEnlh Annual EnEampmEni,



□ ENVER, CDLDRADD



July 25m 1883.



OMAHA, NEB. :

REPUBLICAN BOOK AND JOB PRINTING HOUSE.



Five thousand copies of Commander-in-Chief s address and Surgeon
'Jeneral's report, each ordered printed in advance of the Proceedings of
Seventeenth Annual Encampment. Ordered by Cammander-in-Chief R.
B. Beath, that a copy shall be sent to each Post of the Grand Array.

Ordered that these addresses shall be read to the members of each

*08t.



AE)I!)KRS©



Another march is ended and we have pitched our tents in the shadow
of the snow-capped mountains in this beautiful city on the plain and
again clasp hands, renew the old ties, sing the old songs, and march with
steady footsteps in grand review.

It is true that many who touched elbow last year have passed beyond
the silent river, yet, as in the days of war, when our ranks were thinned
by disease or torn by shot and shell and the vacant places were filled by
the reserve or the recruits called again and again, so now we meet with
solid front, thickened lines »aiid? firm purpose, having drawn from the
ranks of the old grand army thousands to fill the places of those mustered

out. ^ ', .

We meet in a State that was liot one of the stars on the flag we fought
for from '61 to '65, in a city that was then only a station, on the long line
of march towards the setting sun. But the star is now gleaming on the
flag, and the city by its wondrous growth, its open-hearted hospitality,
and its queenly beauty has become of world-wide renown, and the citi-
zens of the whgle State warmly welcome the Grand Army and greet
them not only as the guests of the princely city, but the Centennial State
joins gladly in the joyful acclaim.

The land where our weary feet have halted in the march to the final
roll call was almost a wilderness when the war .began and when it ceased.
Its mineral wealth was yet untouched. Its plains were untilled. Its
quarries were unopened. Its fountains of eternal youth unfrequented'
save by the wild savage. Its mountain peaks unexplored. Its sparkling,
foaming mountain streams, rushing down through grand canons to the
wide plains, were as in the days when the adventurous white man had
not turned his wandering footsteps hither.

ToTday magic cities have arisen. Untold mineral wealth has been
taken from the rock-ribbed mountains, long lines of steel cross the foaming
torrent, pierce the grand cliffs, climb dizzy heights, and carry the world's
commerce from the East and the West, and it is a happy thought that this
progress, this onward movement of the car of fortune, this red flame
of the torch of liberty, the glory of civilization, the triumph of educa-
tion, the wonders of the exposition, would not have been possible had it
not been for the victories of the Grand Army of the Republic. We who
have come from the East to the wild, free West, greet our comrades from
the Atlantic shores and take them to our hearts and homes in Eratemity,
Charity and Loyalty, and thank God that we are all united in one com-
mon country and under one star-decked flag.

When I assumed the duties of my office I determined that I would
show that I appreciated the high honor by devoting all my time and all
the energy and ability in me towards building up our order.





With the cordial approval of the Council of Administration to whose
generous action and constant support I am greatly indebted, I at once
commenced visiting the several departments. I am happy to state that I
have visited all, both permanent and provisional, that were in existence
June 23rd, 1882, except Florida. In the public and private meetings I
have attended I have met face to face more than half of the membership
of the order. I have been cordially xeceived everywhere, and am earnest
in the belief that the meetings held have greatly benefitted the order. 1
am fully convinced that for several years to come it will be necessary for
the commander-in-chief to visit all the departments. Ever since the
commencement of this work by Comrade Wagner, and its continuation
by Comrade Merrill, it has been and will hereafter be expected and de-
manded of any comrade assuming the duties of the office. I have not
been able to respond to one-third of the urgent calls made upon me. My
successor will have a larger field than I have covered, and will have to at
once go into tlie work. I am satisfied that the meetings held in connec-
tion with the receptions of the commander-in-chief, should be public.
He is in no sense an inspecting or mustering officer, and is in the field
simply as a missionary to arouse enthusiasm, explain the objects of the
order, incite emulation and enlist the sympathy of all in the good work.
We have one million men who wore the blue to recruit into our order,
and tliis work must be speedily done or the opportunity will be forever
lost. With the safeguards attached to the entrance of a recruit into oiu-
ranks, if properly enforced, there is no danger of getting improper ma-
terial. Great care should be exercised by ttie investigating committees,
and all recruiting officers should be cautious in their zealous efforts to
swell our ranks.

I have visited the following permanent departments : Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New
York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Potomac, Vir-
ginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri. Kentucky, Nebraska, Dakota, Kansas, Col-
orado, California, Oregon.

I have visited the provisional departments of Utah and Washington,
and also, in the course of my journey. New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming,
Nevada, Idaho, and Montana, in all, thirty-seven States and Territories,
leaving only twelve, including Alaska, unvisited.

I have visited the departments named below, more than once : Con-
necticut, Potomac, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana,
Colorado, Missouri; have attended nine department encampments and
two semi-annual encampments, and the organization of one permanent
department; have delivered at reunions, camp fires, banquets, receptions,
annual and semi-annual encampments, 143 addresses ; have visited 156
posts ; have traveled 40,403 miles ; have been absent from home over 265
days. When at home I daily devoted many hours to the duties of the
office. I have written over one thousand letters and can truly say that
cheerfully and gladly I have given one year of my life to the work.

Kansas has come nobly to the front again this year, and is again the



banner Department. The gain up to March 31st is 4241 per cent., 6,798
members and 127 posts. Miesouri comes next with a gain of 354 per
cent., 57 posts and 2,105 members. This in a former slave State and one
desolated by the ravages of war, is surprising and is due to the energy,
zeal and devotion of a large number of enterprising workers : Iowa, 229 per
cent., 3,038 members and 78 posts ; Michigan, 180 per cent., 67 posts and
3,460 members; Wisconsin, 1851 per cent., 46 posts, 1,681 members; In-
diana, 130 per cent., 4,171 members and 106 posts ; Colorado, 273 per cent.,
1.198 members, with New Mexico and Dakota separated from them;
Illinois, 91 per cent., 3,357 members and 69 posts ; Vermont, 90i per cent.,
847 members and 18 posts ; Ohio, 791 per cent., 6,849 members and 94 posts ;
New York, 54 per cent., 7,260 members and 88 posts; Pennsylvania, 23i
per cent., 4,934 members and 80 posts; Nebraska, 65i per cent., 1,750
members and 52 posts ; Minnesota, 82i per cent, gain ; Maine, 461 per
cent., 1,434 members and 12 posts; Massachusetts, 17i percent., 1,871
members and 9 posts. These gains are up to and including March 31st,
1883. All Departments show a gain, and in the supplemental report
showing the increase during June quarter you will note the grandest in-
crease in the history of the Order, Illinois alone gaining in June quarter
103 Posts and 3,703 members. This work must not cease, it must and
will go on with unabated vigor and increasing enthusiasm until all
who wore the blue who are worthy to become members are enrolled. Up
to and including March 31st we gained 971 posts and 55,766 members.
Per cent of gain, 60i.

I have taken from the reports on file and not yet tabulated, a state-
ment which is almost correct, of the gain during the June quarter. If I
have figured it correctly the gain is 572 posts and 33,705 members, with
New Jersey to hear from; making a total gain of 1,566 posts and 89,705
members during this administration.

During the year we have organized the following permanent Depart-
ments : West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon Dakota, Arkansas and
Washington and IVew Mexico. This leaves as provisional Departments
Tennessee, the Gulf and Florida. The prospects are very good in Ten-
nessee : they have now a sufficient number to organize. The Gulf De-
partment have posts at New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Galveston, and
Sherman, Texas. The post at Honolulu is in fine condition and bids
fair to include every veteran on the Island. Buford post, Montana, will
at an early date be reinforced by a large post at Butte City. Comrades
We have truly '^occupied the land."

UTAH.

In company with the Surgeon General I visited the Provisional De-
partment of Utah, on April 21st and 22nd. We were cordially received
by as gallant a band of comrades as ever wore our badge. The Posts at
Ot^den and Salt Lake are lively and enthusiastic. I have added Idaho
and Montana to the department which gives them sufficient Posts to form
a permanent department. The organization in Utah have had many







difficulties to contend with. They are upholding the banner of the grand
army in what is practically a foreign and hostile community. They are in
the front of an enemy, treacherous and defiant, and who are trampling
daily under foot th^i laws of the land with perfect impunity. The Grand
Army in Utah are the natural protectors of the glory and honor of the
flag. They here in the presence of a crime as hideous as treason and as
damnable as slavery, grandly illustrate the shining glories of our Order.
They witness this treasonable organization extending into Idaho, Nevada,
Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado, and grasping with greedy
hands the balance of power in the very center of the Continent. They
are entitled to our sympathy and solid support. It is right we shDuld
send greeting to them for the evil tliey are massed in solid lines against,
is one that will cause the next great struggle for republican government
unless it is speedily checked. The question there is not in any sense poli-
tical; all true men drop party lines there and are simply Anti-Mormon.
There Jews are Gentiles by name and all stand in solid column though
vastly outnumbered by the wicked host. This question is a moral one and
we have a right to add our testimony in favor of honor and purity. The
slums of Europe with matted hair, blood-shot eyes, unholy thoughts and
beastly, idiotic ignorance and fanaticism impelling them, are bemg
massed behind the solid walls of the gigantic mountains; the flag is hated,
the laws which we willingly obey and the" authority of the nation we
saved are spumed and spit upon. The schocl taxes paid by our comrades
and those in league with them are used in sustaining Mormon schools,
and in every way the spirit of disloyalty and hate is exhibited. We crushed
slavery and purified the flag, we made one country and one flag a living
reality, and it is our duty to say to the polygamous wretches who have
erected a structure as unholy and damning as slavery, that the men who
wore the blue demand that these wicked, unholy efforts to establish on our
soil the superstition, crime and hideou&ness of the dark ages must cease
before we are mustered out.

Let us demand through a strong committee that a band of earnest,
true men who know and have faced the evil and sin day and night, shall
be^designatfd to ccdily the laws heretofore jafsedlhrou^hthedictates of
the leaders of this unholy Church. That it shall be written and declared
that no Mormon shall vote or hold any office whatever. That all holding
Government offices shall be removed, that this commission shall ask Con-
gress to approve the codification of the laws, and that all officers of every
grade shall be appointed by the Governor and coufiimed by the Council-,
and that the emigration of recruits to build up this damning crime shall
be stopped at once and forever.

GBAND ABMY HOMES.

1 am delighted at the progress made in the work of establishing sol-
diers' homes under the auspices of the Grand Army. Many of the De-
partments are doing wonderful work in this direction and all of them
should at oni^e take active steps towards providing a home for the poor



members of our Order. I had the pleasure of visiting the home estab-
lished by the Department of Massachusetts at Chelsea. My eyes grow
dim wh^n I think of that visit. That alone would have paid me for all
my labors in behalf of the Grand Army.

It is the grandest monument of the splendid Department which s<'
nobly represents the principles of our Order. It is a home presided ovei
by a veteran and a veteran's "^ife. The war-worn veterans' only fear ib
that they cannot be grateful enough for it.

The national homes are or will be inadequate soon. We want our
comrades near us so that we cau visit and cheer them and learn them
that they are precious to the comrades of the Grand Army, and besides-
they can be used for memorial halls in which to preserve our records. 1
also passed by the site of the Home to be provided by the Department of
California. It will soon be ready and is located in a beautiful valle.^
close by the mountain. Almost perpetual summer reigns there and ii
will be a delightful spot for the weary veterans to pass away the remnani
of their lives.

I have heard many complaints in regard to the treatment of the in-
mates of the Soldiers' Home at Dayton, Ohio, and would recommend
that a committee be appointed to investigate the statements made.

MIJJKOBIAL HAJjLS.

The question of what will become of the records and history of the
Grand Army after the final muster-out, has taken strong hold upon m>
heart.

I believe our record in peace will eclipse our glories in the war.

If the records of all the Departments and National Encampments
are gathered up and forever preserved it will add greatly to the materia]
for the future historian to write the true history of the war. I believe
that when the necessity ceases for the use of the national homes that
they can be donated for this purpose, and in the Departments where the>
do not exist permanent fire-proof memorial halls should be erected where
the records of the Grand Army can be filed and preserved.

We have now all tne records and history of service of two million six
hundred thousand men, their tattered battle flags, carried proudly iii
all the conflicts of the war. We can have garnered our baimers, bla-
zoned with fraternity, charity and loyalty, and thus show by the preser-
vation of the story of the Grand Army in peace what will be the proudest
monument of the Union soldier, and one that will perpetuate the mem-
ory of our Order longer than any organization of the past.

THE WOBK OF WOMEN.

The organization of Women's Belief Corps, Ladies' Loyal League
and auxiliary societies have kept even pace with the rapid growth of the
Grand Army. In every Department the noble women have banded te>-
gether in one form or another to assist us in caring for our sick and det<-
titute comrades and those dependent on them. Many of the members



helped, suffered and sacrificed dui-ing the war, and many have grown up
since and here find an enlarged field tor the development of their charita-
ble hearts. They have accomplished great and lasting good. I am a firm
believer in the work of women. I am glad that these societies do not
confine their membership to tlie wives and daughters of soldiers, but ad-
mit all who are worthy to engage in the work.

The love of woman for the soldier was the crowning glory of the war
for the Union. Since the war their afi:ection for and appreciation of the
men who wore the blue has not wavered or been extinguished by time.

Their watches by «day and vigils by night during the dark days of the
war, their work in the hospital, on the battle field, in the Sanitary and
Christian Commission field of duty form the brightest page in the history
of the war.

I have called the representatives of all these societies together to es-
tablish a national organization and to encourage the spread, growth and
scope of their work. I am satisfied that no Post is thoroughly equipped
and armed in behalf of our noble Order unless they have working hand
in hand with them a band of the noble women of the land.

I desire to express my grateful thanks for active aid and earnest work
in behalf of these societies to Mrs. Kate B. Sherwood, Toledo, Ohio ; Mrs.
E. T. Charles, Washington, D. C; Mrs. A. M. Sawyer, Portland, Maine ;
Mrs. Hogg, Camden, I*^ew .Jersey; Mrs. E. Florence Barker, Maiden,
Mass.; Mrs. E. K. Stimson, Denver, Col.; Mrs. C. T. Clark, Columbus,
Ohio ; Mrs. C. L. Young, Toledo, Ohio, and a host of others who have
been pioneers in the effort to bring to the assistance of the Grand Army
the helpful hand of woman.

MEMORIAL DAY

Was observed beautifully and grandly everywhere in the land. More en-
thusiasm and interest was manifested than ever before. Its interesting
featxire was the almost universal participation of the children.

The most interesting and significant ceremonies were at Honolulu,
:*andwich Islands, and New Orleans. At these points the floral tributes
were Hie most beautiful and artistic imaginable.

The churches of all denominations generally held Memorial Services
on May 27 th.

The public schools, colleges and academies were closed and business
was suspended. In some large cities the superintendents of schools di-
rected the children to gather flowers. I am glad that the children know
that this day will soon be their's, and that all the proud host that wore
the blue will soon be mustered out and the work will fall into their will-
ing hands.

I believe that Memorial Day will always be perpetuated and that
each returning year, while time shall endure, those who come after us
will gladly join in the observance of this solemn and sacred duty.



PENSIONS.

The subject of pensions and the work of the pension committee will
be stated at length in the report of the Surgeon General.

The efforts of Comrades Merrill and Ames secured the passage of the
$40 bill in an amended form. They are entitled to the thanks of the
Encampment for their earnest and efficient work.

I am in favor of abolishing the rank system in the Pension Laws. I
believe that all survivors of the war, whether officer or enlisted man,
should receive the same amovmt for the same disability or wound.

Congress has been liberal in the amount appropriated and the laws
passed for our benefit. Great clamor has been raised in regard to frauds
in the pension system. The charges made are very iinjust. Only twen-
ty-six per cent, of the number enlisted have applied. The fraudulent
claims allowed amount to only one-tenth of one per cent. Many
thousands who are entitled have failed to secure the allowance of their
claims because they have been unable to procure the evidence. The
changes in twenty years have caused witnesses to disappear, memory to
become imperfect, so that there are to-day thousands who should be on
the roll where there is one fraudulent name.

The money disbursed to pensioners is an actual blessing to the coun-
try. It goes into the channels of trade. It makes money easy, and in
my judgment the amount scattered throughout the country by the action
of the arrears of pensions bill was an actual benefit and prevented a
financial crash. The men who lost limbs or were torn with bullet and
shell or suffer from disease, can never be repaid, and the cowardly skulkers
who are making the assault upon the pension roll merit the condemna-
tion of all true citizens. I am in favor of pensioning every deserving
soldier and striking from the roll every fraudulent name, and appeal to
the Grand Army to aid all who should be on the rolls and to report
through the proper channels all those on the roll whom they know are
not entitled to be there. The question in regard to pensioning prisoners
of war should be carefully investigated by the pension committees, and
of the many bills pending some just measure should be selected and en-
dorsed at the next session of Congress.

SONS OF VETERANS.

The two branches of Sons of Veterans have made progress. In ac-
cordance with the resolution of the last National Encampment, I have
encouraged these societies. I have not encouraged the officers and mem
bers of either branch in their warfare with each other. I have endeavor-
ed to restore harmony, and have earnestly desired that they should act
like the sons of veterans. I believe that the difficulty between these
organizations has been fomented and fanned largely by members of the
Grand Army of the Republic. Many of our noblest members have given
time and money and worked hard to establish one or the other branch of
this organization. They should harmonize at once. If their proper offi-
cers do not appear here and coalesce, this Encampment should recognize
one branch or the other.



10

*

The reckless way that one portion of this organization have scattered
commissions throughout the country causes me to fear that the ranks of
those who served as enlisted men will be horribly decimated. Generals
and Lieutenant-Generals by Brevet have been created by the score.

The Sons of Veterans must take up our work where we lay it down.
It will be their duty to perpetuate Memorial Day and keep our memory
alive. I appeal to them to bring to all their counsels a spirit of charity,
and do trust and hope that they will consolidate and imite under one
head, and they will then most certainly have the aid, help and sympathy
of the entire Grand Army.

BETIBEMENT OF ENLISTED MEN IN BEGULAE ABMY.

I have had referred to me by Comrade Coady, of Omaha, and Mr.
Schindler, of Fort Leavenworth, papers in reference to the retirement of
enlisted men after certain term of service in the ranks of the regular arm\ .

I believe their claim just. I learn that the law asked is endorsed by
many leading officers in the regular army. That such a system is in
vogue in England, and I refer the papers to the committee on the address,
with the hope that they will investigate the matter and gratify our com-
rades, many of whom have served nearly forty years, by endorsing the bill
proposed.

POLITICS IN THE QBAND ABMY.

Ko case of the violation of the Rules and Regulations of our order in
reference to politics has come before me during my term of office. The
case brought before the Encampment at Baltimore has been settled har-
moniously by the action of the Department of Indiana.

The early builders of our organization wisely fores^aw the insidious
influence of partisanship. The grand comrades who .have preceded me
in command, each referred in strong, vigorous terms to the fact that the
order, if it would be lasting, must be non-partisan .

No principle is more firmly established. We have in our ranks men
of all parties and creeds. Honorable service in the war for the Union is
the only test, and we care not for the political faith of any member of
our noble order. Faithful service in the war for the Union gives an old
soldier the right to believe, act and vote as he deems best.

We stand in line to-day as we did when we marched to the front,
burning with loyalty, breaking asunder the tits of party and meeting on
one common platform— waving aloft a torn and discolored honorable dis-
charge, and exemplifying fraternity, charity and loyalty.

I have heard the doctrine advocated that the sentence in our instal-
lation service, "That we should standby the soldier though the whole
world assail him," means that we should do so if our comrade is a candi-
date for a political office.

The Grand Army fetters the conscience of no member. It gives the
largest liberty to all. It stands aloof from the strife and clash of parties.


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Online Library17th Grand army of the republic. National encampmentAddress of the commander-in-chief and report of the surgeon general → online text (page 1 of 4)