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 37 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 37 of 64)
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Commander Geo Q A Bryant, Theo. K. Parker.
Commander Frank C. Hill, Wm. J. Dunham.
George E. Fuller.

Commander Charles H. Spencer, Darius Hadley.
M. W. Allen.

Commander Wm McDonald.

Commander Joseph Rossiter, C. E. Bushee, C. E. Ceroid
Commander George H Howard, James Dillon.
Commander Milton Moore, Amljrose Bancroft, Chas H.

Harding
Commander Otis B. Wood, R L. Atherton.
Commander E. T. Phinney, Geo. O Bent.
Commander Charles C Burdett.
Commander John W. Tower, Lawrence Bradford.
Commander Edwin E James, Clarence E. Ware.
Not represented.
Commander Geo. W. Corey
Commander Albert G. Webb, Austin E. Pratt.
Commander Henry H. Fairbanks, John Smith.
Commander Rollin C. Ward, F. J. Stockbridge, Wm. E.

Merriam.
Commander Ambrose Fames.

Commander John H Harrison, Byron W. Charles.
Commander Charles C. Haskell, George Pierce.
Commander Ebeu C. Mann, Henry S. Nourse.
Edward Pease.

Commander D. M. Wilcox, Jacob Leroy.
Commander Warren O. Ilawley. Albert B. Charaplin,
Commander B F Brooks.

Commander Edward J. Bartlett, A. P. Chamberlain.
Not represented.

Commander Amasa Gray. Wm. Ryan.
Commander Charles Church.



The next business was the reports of the Department officers,
commencing with the address of the Department Commander
John W, Hersey, as follows : —



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

ADDRESS OF
DEPARTMENT COMMANDER JOHN W. HERSEY.

WORK OF THE YEAR.

Another march is ended, another campaign is closed, and
we, as comrades and coworkers, stack our arms and again bivouac
for a brief season, while we review the past, consider the present,
and counsel together as to the future of our beloved organization.
And it would seem fitting and proper, that at the very outset of
our deliberations in this our annual Encampment, we should
pause, and from our hearts return thanks to the Great Giver of
all good, who has so kindly led and prospered us in the work of
the year, both as an organization and as individuals. When, a
year ago, I received at your generous hands the honor which you
conferred upon me, by electing me to the most honorable position
which it has ever been my privilege to attain to, I fully resolved
that, to the very utmost of mj' abilities and opportunities, no
effort of mine should be lacking to enable our Department to still
maintain the high and honorable position which it then held
amongst the Departments of the nation. And while I have not
been able to accomplish all I hoped and desired, yet I think lean
truthfully say, I have done what I could; and while I recount to
you in detail some of the labors of the year, I do so in no spirit
of boastfuluess, but having received this honorable trust at your
hands, it would seem but proper and right, as I return it, that
with it I should also return to you a general account of my stew-
ardship.

During the year, it has been my privilege to attend eighteen
different camp-fires and thirty-two other Grand Army gatherings
in various parts of the Department. I have assisted in the open-
ing of seven different fairs ; have attended all the meetings of
the Council of Administration, five in number ; have attended
twenty-five regular Post meetings, four regimental and company
reunions, one meeting of the Staff', held for the purpose of laying
out and arranging the work of the year : delivered one Memorial
Day address, and was present and participated in Memorial Day
exercises with the comrades of another Post, and in the course
of the year have made sixty-five Grand Army speeches (such as
they were) ; have given three hearings at Department Head-
quarters, on matters pertaining to the interests of the Department ;
have installed the officers of seven different Posts, five of them
being public; was present and participated in the work of the
National Encampment ; attended the reunion of Massachu-
setts Veterans ; have visited three different places for the pur-
pose of arranging for the organization of new Posts, and as a
result of these labors, am happy to report that in two of these



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 34D

places Posts have been organized and are now doing well ; and
have been present at the dedication of two soldiers' monuments, —
making in all one hundred and eleven different occasions in which
I have, to the very best of my ability, represented the Depart-
ment in such a manner, at least, as to bring no discredit upon
it. I have written upwards of three hundred letters and a large
number of postal cards. In the performance of these duties, I
have travelled upward of 8,000 miles, and have met at various
times and in different places over 17,000 of the comrades of the
Department ; have been absent from home and away from my
business in the interests of the Department nearly eighty days,
and think I can safely say, that taking this, together with the
time that I had given to the interests of the Department when
at home, fully one third of the year has been spent in the service
and interests of the Department.

As I contemplate the past and sum up the labors of the year,
and am about to commit this grand and noble work to other
hands, I find but one lingering regret in my mind, and that is,
that I have not been able to do more to advance the interests of
our beloved Department, and to extend the influences of this grand
and fraternal comradeship, which is so dear to each one of our
hearts.

MEMBERSHIP.

When 1 entered upon the duties of the year, I was well
aware of the fact that the field of Grand Army work and inter-
ests in this Department had been so thoroughly worked and
cultivated by my worthy predecessors in office, that I could not
reasonably hope or expect to accomplish much in the way of
organizing new Posts ; consequently I turned my attention more
particularly to the work of building up and strengthening those
already organized ; and as a result of the labors of the year, I
think I can safely say that our Department was never in a more
flourishing and prosperous condition than at the 'present time, and
I am able to report the following facts relative thereto. At the
commencement of the year, we had 180 Posts; we now have 183,
a gain of three new Posts, notwithstanding the fact that at the
commencement of the year I could not see the least possible
opening for a single new Post in the Department. Jan. 1, 1885,
the Assistant Adjutant-General reported a net membership of
16,637. Jan. 1, 1886, his report shows a net membership of
17,965, making a gain of 1,328 for the year, a result over which
I think we may well congratulate ourselves, considering the fact
that we can no longer expect to increase our membership by the
formation of new Posts, and also the fact that the field from
which we may hope or expect to get an increase of membership is
becoming more and more limited each year as the years go by.



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

and that we are fast approaching that time when the tide must set
in the other direction, and we shall have to report a decrease
instead of an increase

A matter that has given me a good deal of thought and
anxiety during the year has been the matter of suspended mensber-
ship ; and I have to confess that the more I have thought and
considered the question, the further I seemed to be from the
solution of the problem, how we can avoid this terrible drain
upon our membership. I can only suggest as a remedy for this
great evil, thorough and S3'stematic work on the part of Post
ofticers especially Post Quartermasters, in looking closely after
those who are inclined to be delinquent in the payment of their
dues. Another remedy that I would respectfully suggest and
urge upon the attention of comrades, is the importance of allow-
ing no comrade, who is honestly poor, to be thrust out and lose
his membership simply because he is poor. In the beautiful words
of our installation service, I would say, " Seek out and aid the
deserving poor," and let this grand work commence right in the
Post room, " and if a comrade be worthy stand by him, though
all the world else forsake him ; " and commence by having the
Post pay his dues, rather than crowd him out into the cold,
simply because he is poor.

FINANCES.

By the report of the Assistant Quartermaster-General, it will
be seen that the financial affairs of the Department, at the pres-
ent time, are in a most excellent and gratifying condition, reflect-
ing great credit not only upon those who have had the management
of the finances of the Department, but also upon the Posts and
comrades, who, by their promptness and faithfulness to the inter-
ests of the Department, have contributed so much towards the
accomplishment of these desirable results.

By the report of the Assistant Quartermaster-General of last
year, Comrade Barker, it will be seen that, at the commencement
of the present year we had on hand, cash, $2,835. 62 net; and by
referring to the report of the present Assistant Quartermaster-Gen-
eral, Comrade Scott, it will be seen that we now have on hand
$4,394.40 cash ; showing for the year a net gain of $2,008.78,
which, together with the property belonging to the Department,
consisting of ottice furniture, supplies, etc , as per appraisal, the
total assets of the Department to be S5,221.25, and best of all,
no liabilities. Two thousand dollars of the cash on hand has, by
vote of the Council of Administration, been deposited in two
reliable savings banks in the city of Boston ($1,000 in each).
By the advice and under the direction of the Judge Advocate,
Comrade Winn, this money was deposited in the name of the
Department Commander, Assistant Adjutant-General and Assist-



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT 351

ant Quartermaster-General, and their successors in office, in such a
manner that it cannot be drawn therefrom, except upon a written
order, signed by all three of these officials ; and to make it still
more secure, on motion of Judge Advocate Winn, it was unani-
mously voted by the Council of Administration, that even these
officials are not to make any draft upon this money, or the increase
thereof, unless authorized so to do by vote of the Council. This,
in my judgment, is a wise and judicious policy, and J respect-
fully recommend that this Encampment instruct the incomina
Council of Administration to invest $1,500 more of the surplus
funds of the Department in some reliable savings bank in the city
of Boston (not over $1,000 in any one bank), on the same con-
ditions and under the same restrictions as that already invested.
The present prosperous financial condition of our Department
again leads us to the consideration of the question submitted to
the last Encampment by my predecessor, Past Department Com-
mander Billings, viz.. whether or not it is advisable, in the pres-
ent condition of our finances, to further increase the permanent
fund at Department Headquarters.

I think that we ought not to forget, that this money comes
largely from the pockets of our comrades, upon many of whom
the burdens of life rest heavy, and also that many have been com-
pelled to drop out by the way and lose their identity with us,
simply because it was impossible for them to pay their dues, small
as they were ; and I feel that any relief, be it ever so small, that
vve can extend to the weaker Posts and poorer comrades of the
Department will be a move in the right direction. Havin<T very
carefully and thoughtfully considered this matter in all its^bear
mgs, I fail to see any good reason why we should continue to
increase the funds at Department Headquarters as fast as they
have been increasing during the past two or three years, and I
therefore respectfully recommend that this Encampment reduce the
per capita tax of the Department from thirtv-two cents to twenty-
four cents per member, which, together with the other revenues
of the Department, will, in my judgment, produce a sufficient
income to meet all the current expenses of the Department, and
leave a small balance, each year, to be added to the permanent
fund of the Department.

I respectfully renew the recommendation of my predecessor
that the sum of $300 be appropriated by this Encampment to pay
the travelling expenses of the Department Commander when on
otHcial duty ; and also of the Senior and Junior Vice-Commanders
when acting in his stead ; and I also recommend that, when either
of these officers are absent from home on otHcial duty, as al)ove
specified, it becomes necessary for them to seek hotel accommo-
dations, the Department shall pay such bills ; but in no case shall
the total expenditures of the year for such purposes exceed the



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

sum of $300, and that all bills so contracted shall be subject to
the approval of the Council of Administration.

I further respectfully recommend that the expenses of the
Department Commander and Assistant Adjutant-General to the
National Encampment, be paid by the Department ; and also that
the sum of $200 be appropriated for extra clerk hire to assist the
Assistant Adjutant-General in the clerical work of his office.

WORK OF CHARITY.

In no Department of the country is the work of charity, to
my mind the most important of our organization, more perfectly
exemplified than in our own ; a fact that ought to gladden the
heart of every comrade who has in any way contributed towards
the accomplishment of these grand results, for whatever else we
may do, this is, and ought to be, pre-eminently the work of the
Grand Army.

During the year just closed there has been expended by the
various Posts of the Department the magnificent sum of $38,212.5(3
in the work of charity ; and in the expenditure of this large sum,
1,595 members of the Grand Army have been assisted, and 763
that were not members ; and I am sorry to note, in this connec-
tion, an increase in the amount expended in aid of those not mem-
bers of our organization, for I am coming more and more to
believe that it is inexpedient and unjust to our comrades, who are,
and have been all these years, bearing the burdens of our organ-
ization, only to see those sharing equally with them, who, for
some reason or other, have taken no interest nor borne no part in
the work of charity in which we are engaged. I am thoroughly
convinced that we ought to discriminate very closely in the dis-
pensing of our charity, and only in the most extreme cases expend
the money of our relief funds, which rightfully belongs to the
comrades of the Grand Army, in aid of those who stand aloof
from us, and are never seen or known, only as they reach out
their hands to us for aid, when misfortune overtakes them.

In considering this matter of charity, and comparing what
has been done in this direction in our own Department with that
accomplished in the same direction by other Departments, I have
been wonderfully impressed with the grandeur and magnitude of
the work accomplished. Permit me to give you a few facts, by
way of comparison, relative to this matter, as brought to my
attention in consulting the report of the Adjutant-General, as
submitted to the last National Encampment. Illinois, with a
membership of 19,775, expended for charity last year $4,924, or
about two and one-half cents per member. Kansas, the great
soldier State, with a membership of 17,952, expended $6,097, or
a little less than three and one-half cents per member. New
York, with a membership of 31,377, expended $31,614 or a small



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 353

fraction over one dollar per member. Pennsylvania, with a mem-
- bersliipof 34,412, expended $38,031, or about ninety-six cents
per member. Ohio, with a membership of 27,461, expended
$10,360, or nearly thirty-eight cents per member. Mass'ichu-
setts, tvith a viembership of 17,965, expended $38,212, or over
ttvo dollars and twelve cents per member, or considerabbf more than
timce per member than that of any other Department in the conntry '
And bear m mind, comrades, that this does not include the con-
tributions made by Posts and individual comrades in aid of our
Soldiers' Home.

In considering these matters, and trying to sum up in my
mmd the vast amount of good that must have been accomplished
in behalf of our disabled comrades and those dependent upon
them, by reason of this grand work of charity, on the part of the
comrades of this Department, I can but feel like congratulating
myself and my comrades, that we belong not only to "the Grand
Army of the Republic, but, better still, that we are members of
this grand old Department that we love so well.

ROLL OF HONOR.

During the year, 211) of our comrades have been mustered
out, and have joined the rapidly increasing host of comrades who
have answered the final roll-call, and are now being marshalled
under the Supreme Commander.

" They sleep their last sleep
They have foiiii:lit their last battle ;
No sound can awake them to glory again."

Among those of our own comrades that have thus passed on,
perhaps no one was more widely known, loved and honored than
Comrade Thomas Plunkett of Post 10,— the armless color-ser-
geant and hero of Fredericksburg, who died as he lived, brave
and true to the last. It was my privilege, accompanied by several
members of the Staff, to attend his funeral, on March 14 in
Mechanics' Hall, Worcester, and, with a large number of com-
rades from various parts of the Department, to pay our last tribute
of love and respect to a brave and true soldier, a worthy comrade
and an honored citizen.

Outside of our own Department the silent messenger has not
been idle, but has sought out and claimed as his victims some of
the most loved and honored of our comrades, — some whom we
have known and followed in other days, and whom we have
delighted to honor in later years. The summons came and
(Trant, the brave, true, noble-hearted and magnanimous warrior
and statesman, '^ gathered his mantle about him and lay down to
pleasant dreams," — brave and true in death as in life.

23



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

At bis fuueral, which occurred in the city of New York, and
was one of the grandest and most imposing ever witnessed on this
continent, our Department was represented by the Department
Commander, Assistant Adjutant-General, with other members of
the Stat¥ ; also, by Post 1 of New Bedford and Post 2 of this
city, with delegations from other Posts, who faithfully represented
the Department on that occasion, with credit to themselves and
honor to the Department ; and for which they have my sincere
thanks.

And, later on, we were saddened and shocked by the sudden
death of the old and beloved commander of the Army of the Poto-
mac, — "Little Mac." He, our first love, and always our true
and steadfast friend, passed on, loved and honored by those
who knew him best, and by none more than his old comrades of
the Army of the Potomac. These events can but remind us, my
comrades, that time waits for no man, and that we, too, are
growing old, and must soon pass on, to meet and greet the com-
rades that have gone before.

" Then you '11 meet us, old comrades,

When over that river
The Angel of Death

Has carried us all;
Then we'll all join the ranks,

True comrades forever,
And we '11 all answer, ' Here ! '

At the final roll-call."

woman's relief corps.

I have no words at my command, my comrades, to express
to you my appreciation of and thanks for the grand work which
this organization is accomplishing in our Department. Filled
with the same loyal devotion and self-sacrificing zeal that pos-
sessed them, their mothers and sisters, during the dark days of
the Rebellion, they have gone out, all over this Department, as
ministering angels, carrying sunshine and gladness into many a
desolate home, and making glad many a sad and lonely heart.
During the year it has been not only my duty, but also my happy
privilege, to assist them in word and deed as far as I possibly
could, and my only regret is that I have not been able to do more
to aid them. And I most heartily commend them and their noble
work to the favorable consideration of the comrades of the Depart-
ment, and for myself, I can only say that, from my heart of
hearts, I bid them God-speed in thq noble work in which they are
engaged.

MEMORIAL DAY.

What a grand and hallowed inspiration was that which first
suggested and gave to us a Memorial Day, a day in which we



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 355

gather around the graves of our fallen comrades, and as a token
of our remembrance of the grand and heroic sacrifices which they
made for their country and for humanity, strew their graves with
the sweetest and fairest of spring flowers.

The reports that come from all parts of the Department
indicate that the day was more universally and appropriatel}'^
observed, both by our comrades and the people generally, than
ever before. And I have been nnich gratified to note the dispo-
sition, not only on the part of the comrades of the Grand Army,
but also on the part of the people generally, to discountenance
everything that would tend to make this, to us, the most sacred
and hallowed day in all the year, aught else but a Memorial Day ;
and I desire here to express, in behalf of my comrades, my thanks
to the public press in the various parts of the State, for their
words of reproof to those who would seek to make this a day of
revelry and sports. I most heartily commend the custom, quite
generally adopted by the comrades of this Department, of repair-
ing to some place of public worship on the Sabbath preceding
Memorial Day, and there join with the people in memorial services
suitable to the occasion, thus preparing not only ourselves but
also the people for the more proper observance of this hallowed
day, and I sincerely trust that this commendable custom may be
adopted by every Post of this Department.

SONS OF VETERANS.

I am credibly informed b}' those in official position that this
organization has made commendable progress in our Department
during the past year, and I am also glad to know that the dis-
agreements heretofore existing between the different branches of
this organization have ceased to exist to any great extent ; that
today they are marching under one banner, and are seeking
to accomplish the grand objects for which they were first organ-
ized, viz., " To aid the members of the Grand Army in caring
for their helpless and disabled comrades, and to extend aid and
protection to their widows and orphans."

I am aware that many comrades in this Department are
opposed to this organization ; but, comrades, while I am decidedly
opposed to opening the doors of the Grand Army to any but
those who are eligible to membership in accordance with the rules
and regulations of the Grand Army, yet I do think that we ought
not to forget that these are onr hoi/s, many of them just about
the age that you and I were when the call came, and we left all,
and went out to battle for country ; and as they read or hear
from our lips the thrilling experiences of the past, and learn what
their fathers suffered and sacrificed in defence of country, can
we blame them if there comes welling up in their hearts a desire
to do something to aid in the noble work in which their fathers



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

are now engaged, and a wish to perpetuate, not only their
memory, but the memory of their services and sacrifices after
they shall have been laid away?

We cannot disregard the fact, my comrades, that we are
growing old, and that in a few years at the furthest, we must lay
down our work, and to other hands must be committed that which
we now seek to accomplish; and to whom, I ask, shall this work
be intrusted rather than to our sons? So that, so far as they
prove themselves worthy, they should receive our encouragement
and co-operation. To them I would say, by your acts and by
your lives prove yourselves worthy of recognition at the hands of
the Grand Army of the Republic, so that the question shall no
longer be, whether we can afford to recognize you, but rather,
Can we afford to do otherwise ?

OUR soldiers' home.

By the report of the Board of Trustees, which has already
been placed in your hands, it will be seen that this institution is
in a most prosperous and flourishing condition, a fact that must
gladden the heart of every comrade who is at all familiar with
the noble work that is thus being accomplished.

During the year there has been held, in this city, under the
auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic, aided by the
Woman's Relief Corps and other organizations, a grand carnival,
by which means upwards of f 60, 000 was raised to aid in the



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 37 of 64)