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

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the three departments affected by the pension claim, namely, the
Adjutant-General's, the Surgeon-General's and the Pension Office.
The delegation interviewed and urged senators to take part in the
discussion then going on in the Senate. They followed the
appropriation bill through the committee until its final passage by
both houses of Congress. By that bill a very large additional
working force to the three departments above named was made.

That the sending of such a delegation to Washington was of
benefit to the unfortunate soldier who has been patiently waiting
for years for what be should in many instances have received
with but little delay, I am clearly convinced of. No public
question interests the disabled soldier and sailor more than that
of pensions ; for in thousands of families throughout our country
its payment by the national government is looked upon as a
sacred legacy, and indeed, in many instances is the only resource
had for comfort and support.

The payment of millions of dollars annually by the national
government and a probable increase in both the number of pen-
sions and the annual appropriations by Congress to meet the
unsettled claims, have caused many to distrust the soldier and
in too many instances to regard the applicant for a pension as
one who is willing to take from the government all that could be
got, even at the sacrifice of honor and principle. The cry of
fraud has been so often repeated that we are almost forced to
believe that it is the rule and not the exception with the claimant.
The Arrearages Act, a m.easure conceived and persistently advo-
cated by the claim agent at Washington and not by the soldier, is
responsible for this unjust belief and criticism. That unworthy
claims have been urged and finally allowed by the department is
not strange, for there can be found among all classes selfish and
unscrupulous men ; but when we remember that the army of the
Union numbered nearly two and one-half millions of men, that
the number killed and wounded aggregated two hundred and
eighty thousand, and the number discharged for disability
amounted to two hundred and eighty-five thousand men, there
cannot be among the two hundred and seventy thousand pensions
of all descriptions now on the rolls, including thirty-five thousand
dollars paid to the survivors of the War of 1812, a very large
percentage of fraudulent claims.

Let the government, through officers in each Congressional
district, come directly in contact with the claimant ; let the
departments at Washington, that have the complete record of the
soldier and sailor from the day he was mustered into the service



SIXTEENTH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 11

of the government to the time of his discharge, and that now
positively refuse to furnish any portion of it to the claimant, be
authorized to provide all desired information ; indeed, let some
such bill as that presented by Senator Blair from New Hampshire,
who is a member of the Pension Committee, become a law, and
the chances for fraud will be greatly diminished.

We can, comrades, through our Grand Army, be of great
service to the Commissioner of Pensions. If the worthy and
deserving soldier need our assistance and evidence, it should be
freely given ; if the unworthy seek it, it should be unhesitatingly
refused.

In response to the circular from Department Headquarters,
dated February 16, asking for a contribution from the Posts to
pay the expenses of the delegation, S251.25 were received. The
expenses amounted to $223.77, leaving a balance in the hands of
the Assistant Adjutant-General of S2-S.08.

FINANCE.

The report of the Assistant Quartermaster-General will
present to you the financial condition of the Department for the
year ending Dec. 31, 1881. This report, as has been the custom
for several years, embraces the receipts for the last quarter of
1880 and the first, second and third quarters of 1881, while that
of the last quarter of the present term, being larger than for
several years, will be included in the report of next year. For
the past few years, owing to the smallness of our numbers and
the necessary expense of maintaining a Department Headquarters,
we have been in debt to an amount varying from $300.00 to
$450.00; this, for a long period, was provided for by borrowing
from some comrade, until it was thought that, so long as an open
account was kept with National Headquarters, the indebtedness
might as well be to them as elsewhere. At the time of the meet-
ing of the National Fucampment at Indianapolis in June last, the
several Posts of the Department were indebted to the Department
for dues and supplies to the amount of $809.35; this increased
the indebtedness of the Department to National Headquarters,
until at the time mentioned it amounted to $1,281.49. While
attending the session of the National Fucampment and after
consulting with many of the delegates who represented the
Department, the indebtedness was settled by the Department
Commander giving a personal note for the amount. The action
of the Encampment instructing the Adjutant-General not to fill
requisitions for supplies unless the same be accompanied by the
money, caused the Department to adopt the same method, which
has been most gratifying in its results ; the Posts without an
exception have paid their indebtedness, until, at the present time,
but $2.G7 are owed the Department from this source. This



12 HISTORY DEPT, OF MASS., G.A.R.

prompt settlement, with the reduction of tlie per capita tax from
six cents to four, and the increase in revenue to the Department
b}' the additional membership, has enabled us to take up the note
of $1,281.49 and to say today we are free from debt, with a bal-
ance of cash and supplies on hand amounting to $"000.00.

MEMBERSHIP.

™"^0n the first day of January, 1881, the Department of Massa-
chusetts consisted of 129 Posts, with an aggregate membership
of 8,880. During the year one Post, 146 of New Bedford, has
surrendered its charter, and notwithstanding this and the losses
by death and suspension, and the constant diminishing in numbers
of that class of men from whom we can alone recruit our num-
bers, there are at the present time 138 Posts in the Department,
with a total membership of 10,252 comrades. This gain of
twelve Posts, nine absolutely new and three reorganizations, I do
not attribute to any increased interest or energy on the part of
the present Department officers over those of previous years, but
rather the simple result of earnest and faithful labor of the indi-
vidual comrade to gather into our ranks all who are entitled to
associate with us as members of our organization. The time has
not yet arrived when we should look for a decrease in our num-
bers ; there are still thousands of soldiers and sailors who would
make good and valuable members among us, and if we will but
continue to labor, — if the Posts composing the Department would
carefully canvass the soldiers in their respective localities who are
not identified with us and properly present to them the influence
and strength they would give to our noble work and Order by
joining our ranks, — we can at the expiration of another year see
still greater improvement in our membership.

In addition to the Posts constituted during the year, there
are on file at Department Headquarters applications for charters
from the towns ot Pittsfield, Med way and Sandwich. These, I
assure you, would not have been bequeathed to my successor had
there been sufficient time to have organized the Posts previous to
the meeting of the Convention.

soldiers' home.

Within the past year, through the untiring energy of its pro-
jectors and the cheerful and hearty co-operation of friends, a
Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors has been purchased, the
building formally dedicated, and, by the bazaar recently held in
its interest, a fund amounting to nearly forty- three thousand
dollars has been established for its maintenance.

This, comrades, is the work of the Grand Army and its
friends, and no more noble or worthy object can claim the atten-



SIXTEENTH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 13

tiou and the benevolence of our organization than this. And
w^en this Home shall be filled with the wounded and disable.!
who can feel that they are not the recipients of charity, bu. are
rnToyhi the comforte of a home fairly earned by their services
to tlfeir country,- when the sound of the revedle is heard and as
the sun rises to adorn the day, the stars and stripes are hoisted;
wheulhe hill-top shall be dotted with the soldier in the army
blue with an empty sleeve, perhaps, not young and vigorous,
but old and infirm; when all who are entitled to admission who
did service in the army or navy during the War « 1- f be^;-
can feel that, should misfortune assail them or friends foisake
?hem, there is still one door open to them, where peace, happiness
and comfort may be enioyed,- when this shal ^-e been accom-
Dlished as it will assuredly be within a very short time, then ^^e
tn say with pride and satisfaction that the Fraternity and
Charity'of our organization, with the earnest labors of n any
devoted hearts and hands, is consecrated to a work that wdl be
remembered in years to come and long after our Order has ceased
tHxisr^^s theLblest achievement of the citizen soldiers of the

^''twrid' respectfully suggest as a n.ethod of assisting in
defraying the annual expenses of the Home, that hereafter on
h fi'st^lay of January in each year, «- various Posts in the
Department either contribute an amount per capita, oi donate
such a sum as their circumstances will permit.

GRAND ARMY GATHERINGS, CAMP-FIRES, ETC.

It has been my pleasure during the past year to )?^^^
in very many social gatherings of our Grand Army ; and if m
:s;:nse to some of "the kind -d urgent iinitationsi..^^^^^^^^^^
have been obliged to decline, I assure you it has iiot^ been because
of the location, distance, or the size ot the Post, toi w th a 1 such
invitations I have considered their acceptance a ^'^^'^^^^^^
and have regretted exceedingly when I could not taNOiably

'''^ The Department has been represented at sixty-four gather-
ings durino he past year, fifty-six of which I have attended in
^efson and while I am of the opinion that the interest and use-
LbieTs'of our organization is g-^^ly promoted by these .at^^^^^^^^
cratherinas, where we live over again tor a short penod the scenes
S the pJsi and renew the friendships of those days .vben we wen
soldiering together, yet I have at times during he yeai that has
tu t closed alked myself the question. What is to become of the
Department Commander? He is human, and unless some prov i-
S i^ ^ie to pacify his family, the benefit tl- Department w^
derive from his continued absence from home will but slightly



14 HISTORY DEFT. OF MASS., G.A.R.

compensate him for the misunderstandings that may occur iu the
household.

I desire to call your attention once again to the subject of
an encampment of all the Posts in the Department. The State,
through its Legislature, has granted our organization the use of
such "camp and garrison equipage as we may desire, and I have
recently petitioned the Legislature asking for the use of the camp-
ing ground at Framingham.

Among the very pleasant and enjoyable visits made by me
during the summer, were my visits to the camp of the Posts of
Middlesex County at Tyng's Island, on the Merrimac river ; that
of the Posts of Plymouth County at Brant Kock, on the South
Shore, near Marshfield, and that of the Posts of Essex County
at Balche's Grove, Grovelaud. Since the formation of County
associations these annual gatherings have become quite popular
with the comrades and are looked forward to with much interest
and pleasure as a means of bringing together old associates and
renewing the friendships of bye-gone days.

The annual encampment of the soldiers of Maine, New
Hampshire and other States have, for the past three years, been
most successful, and the expense to the comrades has been so
greatly reduced as to come within the means of all. The Assist-
ant Adjutant-General has such facts and figures relating to other
encampments as will be of benefit to us in arranging for such a
gathering. I am strongly of the opinion that an encampment
of the Department, where all the soldiers of the State could be
invited to participate, and where they could have the privilege of
meeting their old commanders, would be of great benefit to us as
an organization and do more than could possibly be done in any
other manner to increase our numbers.

JURISDICTION.

While the Rules and Regulations of our Order are silent
upon the question of jurisdiction, there are, I think, good reasons
why it should be observed in this Department. It will be remem-
bered that in my report of last year as Department Inspector, it
was shown that nearly fifty per cent of the Posts in the Depart-
ment numbered less than fifty comrades each. These Posts are
located in the smaller towns of the Commonwealth and are not,
generally speaking, in as flourishing a condition as those in the
cities. It is not encouraging to either the officers or comrades of
a Post, who are perhaps working earnestly to increase their
numbers, to have the soldiers of their town admitted to another
Post. If this is practised to any considerable extent the larger
and more wealthy Posts will increase in strength to the injury of
the smaller ones and the number of the Posts in the Department
will ere long begin to diminish very rapidly.



SIXTEENTH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 15

I would respectfully suggest that the Convention, by resolu-
tion, recommend to the Posts in the Department the practice of
the customar}' rules governing jurisdiction.

The time is very near at hand when I shall surrender to
another the honors and responsibilities you so kindly invested me
with one year ago, and before doing so I desire to express to all
comrades, whether present or absent, my very great appreciation
of their many kindnesses to me personally and my thanks for
their earnest efforts to promote the interests and usefulness of the
Department. To the officers of the Department and my personal
staff, who have been so closely associated with me during the
past year and vvho have expressed, by faithful and continued
labor, their interest and attachment to the good work of our
Order, I am greatly indebted; for through their kindness, hearty
co-operation and prompt response to the demands made upon
them have the labors of my position been made happy and enjoy-
able. To the Assistant Adjutant-General I feel we are all
indebted ; for while it is true that he is compensated for his laboi*s
to the Department, yet there are very many favors requested and
expected of him entirel}^ foreign to the duties of his office, that
not onl}' consume his time but are often a positive inconvenience
and hindrance. For the past year his duties have been unusually
laborious, for not only has he performed the work required of
him in connection with the Department, but, as a labor of love
and with a desire to promote the success of the Soldiers' Home,
in which I believe we are all most heartily in sympathy Avith, he
has labored unceasingly ; and while very manj' are deserving of
praise, his constant toil from the conception of the bazaar to its
close, should not be forgotten.

And now, comrades, I can only express the hope that those
of us who are soon to give place to others and those of us who
have alread}' stepped from the responsibilities of office to the no
less honorable position among our comrades in the ranks, may be
as interested and as zealous in working for our noble cause out
of office as we have been in office. Let us falsify for once the
charge that as officers we were workers, but as comrades we are
drones. Let us all remember that there are none to take our
places in the Grand Arui}^ ; what our Order has accomplished in
the past we ourselves have done ; the good it may do in the future
we must labor for.

Let us in our association together as the representatives of
the loyalty of the citizen soldier of the republic, strive to exert
such an influence as will teach those who in after years are to
constitute the body politic of our nation, a greater love of
country, a clearer and better understanding of the duties and
responsibilities of citizenship, that in the years to come the prog-
ress and advancement made through the trials of civil war may



16 HISTORY DEPT. OF MASS., G.A.R.

1)6 felt and enjoyed by all, aud that our country still marching
onward aud developing to a more perfect state the possibilities of
freedom, universal manhood, equal rights and justice to all men,
may exert such an influence as to make the world better and
mankind happier.



REPORT OF ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL.

Headquarters Deft, op Mass., G.A.R.,
Boston, Dec. 31, 1881.

Department Commander and Comrades : In accordance with
the requirements of our Order, I have the honor to present here-
with my sixth annual report, which will cover the affairs of the
Department for the year ending to date; and in view of the
fact that I have prepared more elaborate tabulated reports than
at any time previous, I will not worry you with any preparatory
remarks, either congratulatory or otherwise, but will at once
present to you the condition of the Department : —

Number of Posts, Dec. 31, 1880 129

" Comrades reported in good standing same date, 8,889

" Posts, Dec. 31, 1881 137

" Comrades reported in good standing same date, 10,252

A clear gain in membership for the year, of ... . 1,363

The above gain, by quarters, is shown by the reports to be
as follows, viz. . —

First quarter 65

Second quarter 696

Third quarter 336

Fourth quarter 266

I present herewith a detailed report of the changes that have
taken place in each Post during the year. This has been compiled
with much care and I am sure that it will repay perusal, and trust
it will be considered of sufficient importance to be made a part of
the proceedings for the year. Realizing that the reading of this
report might be tiresome, and would consume much valuable
time, I will not read it unless called for.



SIXTEENTH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT.



17



CONSOLIDATED REPORT BY THE ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
FOR THE YEAR ENDING DEC. 31, 1881.





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*Not organized, t Organized Feb. 22, 1881. {Organized May 26,1881.



HISTORY DEPT. OF MASS., G.A.R.



CONSOLIDATED REPORT OF ADJUTANT-GENERAL— Co)iiiH«efZ.





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1


2

"i"
1


Dec. 23, 1869
Jan. 11, 1868
Dec. 15, 1S69
Jan. 19, 1869


77






Jan. 19, 1869


7S


5


23








31
16




31

IS


Jan. 30, 1869


79
SO


1


1


Mch. 20, 1869

t


81


1


18
4






3

1


IG




19
10


Dec. 20, 1S71


82

83


2




Mch. 29, 1880
April 29, 1869
April 17, 1872
May 12, 1869
May 26, 1860


84

85




4




1
1


1


5




1

2
4
16
65
21
2
5
1


8fi




1
2

17
42
21




2
3

8
59
19




87






1
5
1
1


June 2, 1869


88
89
90
91


11

14

3

1

3

10

1


2
"3"


1
5
1


2
"2"


June 4, 1869
June 5, 1869
June 8, 1869
June 12, 1869



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 2 of 64)