Grand army of the republic. Dept. of Massachusetts.

Journals of the encampment proceedings of the Department of Massachusetts G.A.R. frm 1881 to 1887 inclusive online

. (page 17 of 64)
Online LibraryGrand army of the republic. Dept. of MassachusettsJournals of the encampment proceedings of the Department of Massachusetts G.A.R. frm 1881 to 1887 inclusive → online text (page 17 of 64)
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General will present to you the financial standing of our Depart-
ment up to date.

The amount of cash on hand at the commencement of my
administration was SG83.71, and today, without any indebted-
ness, we have cash on hand amounting to $1,744.31. It will be
remembered that among the first of my duties was the securing of
rooms for headquarters, being compelled to remove from where
we were then located. The expenses of moving and fitting up
headquarters, procuring a testimonial for the retiring Assistant
Adjutant-General, James F. Meech, and the purchase of a desk
for headquarters are among the items of expenditure during the
year, and will be classed as extraordinary, from the fact that
they will not recur for years to come. The value of the supplies
on hand at the present time is $382.18, which, added to the cash
on hand, furniture and property of the headquarters, amounts to

It has been our aim during the year to conduct the affairs
of the Department as economically as possible, consistent with
good management, and when we reflect that, four years ago, the
Department was deeply in debt, the showing at the present time
is a source of gratification to us all, and one upon which the
Department is to be congratulated.


From the report of the Department Inspector, and from my
own personal observation, I find a marked improvement nearly


everywhere iu the manner of doing the work in the Post room, —
a closer attention is paid to the Ritual, and as a consequence there
is more uniformity in the work throughout the Department.
There is, however, still room for improvement, and I have urged
upon all Posts that I have visited to follow carefully the Ritual.
I am happy to be able to say that in a large number of Posts the
officers have committed the Ritual to memory, which is a great
improvement upon each officer reading his part, and I would
earnestly suggest that each officer memorize the part assigned to
him, and I feel satisfied that he will not regret it.

Believing that the system inaugurated by Commander Patch
last year of spring inspection or visitation, was a good one, I
adopted it and have found it of great benefit to a large number of
Posts. The spring visitation is more for instruction than criticism,
and the number of marked improvements repoi'ted at the fall
inspection over the spring visitation, speaks volumes iu favor of
the system. Besides the improvement in the work of the Posts,
these visitations bring the Department Headquarters and the Posts
into closer communion, and is the means of making many a Post
feel that it is not entirely neglected bj^ headquarters, but that
there is some interest taken in its success and welfare.

For these reasons I do earnestly recommend that the spring
visitations be continued.

The complete and thorough inspection of all the Posts in the
Department during the year is a matter of much gratification to
me, and I cannot too highly compliment the Inspector and Assist-
ants for the prompt and faithful manner in which they have per-
formed their duty.

A large number of Posts now include in the muster-in fee
the price of the Regulation Badge. I would recommend its
adoption by every Post in tlie Department, if for no other reason
than that of making the badge presentation, which is such an
impressive feature of our ritualistic work. E^very comrade should
possess a badge, and I know of no time or place where its import-
ance can be made so apparent as at the Post room upon the
night of initiation, when it is presented in the presence of the

While speaking of badges, it is with pleasure that I mention
the receipt of a communication from the Commander-in-Chief, in
which he announces that hereafter National Headquarters will
furnish a full set of rank-badges for Posts for three dollars.
This is a very gratifying reduction from the exorbitant prices we
have been paying, and as the Department can furnish the set for
four dollars, this is a reduction of about one-half to the Post for
the set of nine badges. The Sergeant-Major and Quartermaster-
Sergeant badges are not included, as no available design has been
adopted by the National Encampment.



The reports which are to follow will show that the expen-
ditures for charity from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 1883, were 836,941.(51 .
This laro;e amouut has been expended during the year in extend-
ing aid and comfort to the destitute comrades, or the families of
deceased comrades. We can never measure the weight of woe
which has been thus lifted, the many sad hearts cheered, the
broken spirits encouraged, through the instrumentality of the
Grand Army of the Republic. This, comrades, is a magnificent
showing, and one of which we must necessarily feel proud.

There is at present $105,851.47 in the Relief Funds of our
Posts, which shows that the comrades have been earnestly at
work in behalf of the charitable work of our oi'ganization. It is
well to keep our Relief Funds in good condition, for the years are
coming when the demands upon us will be much greater than they
now are, and we will be less able to seek and obtain the funds
necessary for the carrjnng on of our noble work.

OUR soldiers' HOME

has now been in operation one year and a half, and is today, in
my estimation, the proudest monument of the work of our Depart-
ment. It is a home in reality, and I believe ever will be, so long
as it is presided over by our esteemed comrade, the Superinten-
dent, Gen. James A. Cunningham, and his beloved and estimable
wife, the Matron, than whom no better woman ever presided over
an institution in this or any other country.

I will not dwell upon the necessities and beauties of the Home.
You nearly all know my feelings in relation to it from the time it
was first suggested. It is very gratifying to us all to witness its
success, and our only regrets are that he, Gen. Horace Binney
Sargent, who did more than any other one person for its establish-
ment and success, is not present with us at this Convention, to
rejoice and be glad over the results of an enterprise upon which
he had set his whole heart.

There will be presented to you a printed annual report of the
management of the Home during the first year, which will give
you interesting information. Besides this, the President of the
Board of Trustees, Comrade J. G. B. Adams, will give you a
statement of its condition up to Jan. 1, 1884.

The Board of Trustees voted at its last meeting to hold a
grand Fair in the spring of 1885, upon the Grand Army plan,
under the auspices and with the co-operation of the Grand Army
of the Republic. It is expected to make this Fair a great success,
and to realize a handsome sum, so that our accommodations may
be increased and our Home placed upon a substantial linancial
footing ; and upon you, comrades, and those whom you represent,
depends the success of that undertaking.



While the time set for the holding of the contemplated Fair
is somewhat distant, we cannot begin on the work too soon. I
would, therefore, strongly recommend that some definite action
be taken by this Encampment in relation to tlie matter. I believe
it would be well for the Commanders and delegates here assembled
to bring the matter before their respective Posts at their very next
meetings, and adopt some plan of action by which they can help
in the undertaking. I have no hesitation in saying, that with
concerted action throughout the Department, the handsome sum
of one hundred thousand dollars can be raised. But it requires
work, yes, hard work; still we are equal to the occasion, if we
only put our shoulders to the wheel, and I hope that every com-
rade will feel that upon him to a certain extent depends the suc-
cess of the Fair to be held for the benefit of our Soldiers' Home,
in the spring of 1885.


From every section of our good old Commonwealth came
cheering reports as to the renewed interest and devotion to the
services of our Memorial Day. It has become one of the
acknowledged holidays of the year, and its general observance b}'^
the people is a guarantee that the day, with its sacred and hallowed
memories, has a place in the heart of every liberty-loving, loyal
citizen. The reports from the various Posts show that the decora-
tion of our comrades' graves was properly attended to, the ser-
vices incident thereto were of more than usual interest, and the
attendance of comrades at the exercises far in excess of that of
any previous year.

It grieves me when I notice a growing disposition on the part
of unthinking people to make it a day for excursions, dances and
other amusements. God forbid that this day, designed for
thanksgiving and sorrow, should ever be a day of festivity. Com-
rades, we should give our annual Memorial Day an impi'ess and a
significance that will characterize it after we and this generation
have gone. We must frown down, condemn, by sentiment and
voice, the desecration of this day made sacred to the memory of
over five hundred thousand loyal men whose graves we decorate
upon Memorial Day. The comrade who would neglect the duty
of the day for such amusements is wanting in the principles and
spirit of our organization.

Let us each succeeding year gather together upon Memorial
Day, hold services worthy of the occasion, scatter upon the graves
of our martju'ed dead the fragrant flowers, — the gift of the widow,
the mother, the sister, the brother, the friend, — decorate their
graves silently, reverently ; you stand beside a soldier's grave ;
do it as the simple and visible sign of a soldier's affection. Our
Memorial Day services add to the sanctity of a wedded affection


for the laud we love, pledging eternal fidelity to each other and to
the honor of tlie dear old flag we followed in war, and cherish so
highly in peace ; and the nation lives today because our lamented
comrades died to redeem it, and the flag of freedom floats proudly
in the breeze because the blood of our patriotic dead was shed to
uphold it.


With a full delegation from our Department, accompanied by
the New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island delega-
tions, I attended the Encampment at Denver, Colorado. It was
a grand gathering of veterans who had come long distances to be
present at this annual reunion of our organization. Nearly
twenty thousand veterans were in the city of Denver during the
session. The Encampment was the largest ever held, and of the
many I have attended was the most successful in the transaction
of business, clearing up everything that came before it.

Of the business transacted you have received reports through
General Orders, etc., and I will not take up your time with com-
ments upon it. The communication of John A. Andrew Post No.
15 of this city, asking for a petition for the admission of sailors
to the National Soldiers' Homes upon the same condition as sol-
diers, w^as unanimously adopted. This I believe was the only
matter that affected our Department particularly. The election
of officers was in accordance with the Avishes of the delegates of
this Department, as expressed at a meeting previously held, and
I believe the choice made was a good one in every instance.

The next Encampment will be at Minneapolis, Minn., in July,
and I cannot too urgentl}' impress upon you the necessity of select-
ing delegates who will attend. Though I understood that each
delegate elected last year had pledged himself to go to Denver,
but six attended out of the twenty-four delegates and alternates,
the Council of Administration electing six to fill vacancies. This
year we are entitled to fourteen delegates, and I trust that the
committee for that purpose will only present the names of those
who will attend.


Public installations of officers are becoming very prevalent in
this, as well as other Departments of our organization, and I
heartily commend them. The public, and especially our friends,
should be invited to such gatherings of our Posts as we can
properly admit them to. Our installation services might be
made far more impressive and interesting, but as it is many
have expressed surprise and gratification at their impressiveness
and have formed advanced ideas of our organization after being
present at a public installation. In order that we might have a


proper form of public installation, which is not laid down in the
Service Book, I would recommend that a committee be appointed
at this Encampment to revise our present service, so as to make
it suitable for both private and public installations, said com-
mittee to report to the Department Commander at the completion
of its work, the Commander to present the same to the National
Encampment for its adoption or rejection. I recommend this
method because of the delays attendant upon work referred to
committees at the National Encampment.

woman's relief corps.

The past year has been an eventful one for this organization
of noble and patriotic women. Accepting the invitation of
Commander-in-Chief Van Dervoort, a large number of ladies,
from all sections of the country where the Grand Arm}^ exists,
were present at Denver, Col., during the National p]ucampment,
for the purpose of consulting as to the future of the organization.
After considerable discussion as to the best method, a National
organization was formed, and I am proud to say that the work of
the Massachusetts organization was adopted as the best to work
under. This endorsement of the work of the Massachusetts
women was made still stronger by the selection of three of its
officers as the principal officers of the National organization.
While the Woman's National Relief Corps is in such hands, we
have no need to fear for the result.

The State Department has, as in the past years of its exist-
ence, been doing a noble work of charity, and has, in many
instances which came under my own observation, been of great
benefit, and a material helper to some of our Posts. Having
always had infinite faith in woman's work as auxiliary to the
Grand Army of the Republic, I am stronger in the faith today
than ever, and I heartily commend the Massachusetts Depart-
ment, as it now stands, as an organization wliose only aim is to
aid and co-operate with us in the noble work we are day by day
accomplishing, and to in no way assume any of the prerogatives
of our organization ; but to help and care for the destitute com-
rade if need be, and to comfort and provide for the widows and
orphans of our late comrades.

There is another organization of women which deserves our
gratitude, the Ladies' Aid Societ)'. The object of this society is
to assist in any way possible in procuring means to carry on the
Soldier's Home, and to gather for the inmates such matter as
will be entertaining and useful for their amusement and comfort.
This society will give a grand " Kettle Drum," for the benefit of
the Home, at the Institute Building, on the evening of February
14, by which they expect to realize a handsome sum.



I have been asked a great mauy times during the past year
to recognize in some manner the Sons of Veterans organization,
or to say a good word in its behalf. This I would have been
glad to do if harmony had prevailed in their ranks and their
actions in all cases had met with my views. There being so
many distinct organizations, with apparently an unkindl}' feeling
toward each other, I resolved to keep aloof from them altogether,
and have not inquired into the merits of either branch. The
organization which presented its case before the National
Encampment at Denver, presented the following as its object : —

" To keep green the memories of our fathers, and their sac-
rifice for the maintenance of the Union ; to aid the members of
the Grand Armj' of the Republic in caring for their helpless and
disabled veterans ; to extend aid and protection to their widows
and orphans ; to perpetuate the memor}' and history of their
heroic dead, and the proper observance of Memorial day; to aid
and assist worthy and needy members of our Order ; to inculcate
patriotism and love of country, not only among our membership,
but among all the people of our land, and to spread and sustain
the doctrines of equal rights, universal liberty, and justice to

An organization with such noble purposes ought to receive
our approval, but it will require harmony and peace "all along
the line " before I can commend it to my comrades. Our organi-
zation is now powerful and strung, with every prospect of still
further advancement; our Charity Fund is in a healthy condition,
and I feel that for a few years to come we will be able to carry
on our work, therefore I cannot agree Avith the course adopted by
some Camps of the Sons of Veterans in going before the people
in their own behalf and soliciting aid, either by sale or contri-
bution, upon the ostensible grounds occupied by the Grand
Army, and in the very locations where some of our Posts are
mostly benefited. If this course should be pursued in manj^
places it would be a great injur}' to our Posts. While the organ-
ization lives up to the objects herein laid down, " to aid the
members of the Grand Army of the Republic in caring for their
helpless and disabled veterans, to extend aid and protection to
their widows and orphans," it will ever have my hearty sym-
pathy; but when it pushes itself to the front of the organization
of its fathers, and attempts to cover the ground occupied by the
Grand Armj' of the Republic for the past seventeen years, I can
but feel that it is overstepping the object for which it was organ-
ized. The Camps in connection with mau}'^ Posts have been
highly commended to me, and I feel that it would be well for the
present to leave the matter of the Sons of Veterans with the Post



The year has been one of great activity throughout the
Department, while the demands upon the time of the Commander
have been far in excess of that of any previous j^ear. When I
was elected your Commander, I said I would devote half my time
to the work and the welfare of the organization and I find that
I have far exceeded that limit. I have attended one hundred and
forty-one Grand Army gatherings, represented the Department
upon eleven other occasions, and have been present at the organ-
ization of four new Posts, the last of which I organized, making
in all one hundred and fifty-six occasions upon which I have
been able to represent the Department. I represented the
Department out of the State at Denver, Col., Weirs, N.H., and
New York City upon the anniversary of Evacuation Day. I
have visited every section of the State, and have met my com-
rades in some manner from every Post of the Department. I
have given particular attention to the western part of the State,
and have visited different Posts in that section, where I could
most conveniently get the comrades together, eleven times, and
with good results, three Posts having been oiganized within a
short time. I feel that the western part of the State is the
recruiting ground for our organization in the future, there being-
many places where Posts might be, established with everj'^ pros-
pect of success. While these visitations have required continuous
hard work, I am more than happy to be able to say that I made
no engagement during the year that I did not fulfil. While the
task at times was a hard one, my reception and treatment upon
all occasions was such as to make me feel that I was doing a
good work in thus meeting so many of my comrades, and relieved
me of any weariness in the work. In all my labors in behalf of
our organization — and I believe they have resulted in good — I
have been encouraged by the evidences of satisfaction shown by
the comrades upon meeting the Department Commander. I have
been treated kindly, generously and courteously by all with
whom I have come in contact. I have covered a great deal of
territory, and travelled a great many miles to many different
kinds of gatherings in the hope of benefiting a Post, and have
found that in nearly all cases good has resulted.

While I have been doing this work the members of the
Department Staff have not been idle. Senior Vice-Commander
Billings has represented the Department upon nearly every occa-
sion when I was unable to attend, was with me upon several
occasions, and has cheerfully performed any duty assigned to
him. For his faithful and loyal support during the year I feel
truly grateful.

To the Council of Administration of the year 1883 a word of
more than ordinary commendation is due. Of the fifteen mem-


bers, fourteen have been present at every meeting. Of the five
elective members, not one has been absent during the year. I
believe this record surpasses that of any of its predecessors, and
I thank them for the interest manifested at all times.

Entering upon my duties with an Assistant Adjutant-
General comparative!}' new to the business, and one with whom
I had but little acquaintance, I naturally felt anxious about that
otfice ; but that anxiety was soon dispelled, and if there is one
thing more than another that I congratulate myself upon today
it is the fact that I selected Alfred C. Monroe as Assistant
Adjutant-General. When I perused the books of our Depart-
ment during the past week and saw the neat, clean and handsome
manner in which they had been kept, 1 felt that every comrade
of the Department should see the work to appreciate it. His
reports are always among the first to reacla National Head-
quarters and never come back for corrections. His corre-
spondence has always been speedily attended to and his work
always cleared up during hours which should be his own. As a
faithful, prompt and reliable officer I have highly appreciated
him, and the successful management of the affairs of the Depart-
ment during the year are in a great measure due to his efficiency
as Assistant Adjutant-General.

No one can realize the amount of work required in the
Assistant Adjutant-General's office at the present time, and I
would urgently recommend that two hundred dollars be appro-
priated for additional clerical hire during the year, as in the past
two years.

The affairs of the Quartermaster's Department have been
ably looked after by Asst. Q.M.-Gen. Charles O. Fellows, who
has been Quartermaster not only in name but in reality. He has
given time and attention to the duties of the office, and has been
a most valuable member of my official staff.

I cannot speak too highly of the services of the Department
Inspector, Horace A. Sawyer, through whose care and watch-
fulness over the aft'airs of his Department, ever}' Post has been
inspected. He has organized most of the new Posts, and has
devoted a great deal of time to the duties of his office.

To Chief Mustering Offiicer A. M. Lunt, who assumed the
duties of his office upon the retirement of Comrade Gibbs, I am
under obligations for the faithful performance, not onl}' of the
duties of that office, but of those which had already been assigned
to him as an Aide-de-Camp. For the deep interest he has taken
in some of the small Posts which were assigned to him, and
which I am satisfied that he saved from dissolution, he has my
warmest thanks.

To every member of the Staff", whether official or per-
sonal, 1 desire to express my heartfelt gratitude for their heart}'
co-operation in everything that pertained to the welfare of our


organization. I have ever found a ready and a cheerful com-
pliance with any demand made upon my personal Staff, and I
separate from them with the gratification of knowing that I
selected as my Staff, workers in the cause of the Grand Army of
the Eepublic.

Outside of the Department officers, there is one to whom I
feel greatly indebted for the active interest he has taken in the
success of the Department during the year. While many have
been willing to aid in the good work. Past Department Com-
mander George H. Patch has kindly represented me on several
occasions when the Staff" were all otherwise engaged, on one
occasion going to the extreme western part of the State. I
appreciated his services upon every occasion and am glad to
puijlicly acknowledge them at this time.

Online LibraryGrand army of the republic. Dept. of MassachusettsJournals of the encampment proceedings of the Department of Massachusetts G.A.R. frm 1881 to 1887 inclusive → online text (page 17 of 64)