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 38 of 64)
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commendable work that is thus being accomplished in behalf of
the homeless and helpless wards of the Grand Army.

But comrades, this is our work, and this " our Home^'' and
will ever stand as a monument to the fidelity, loyalty and zeal of
the comrades of this Department, to the great principles of our
organization. I sincerely believe that, as Posts and as indi-
viduals, we should heartily interest ourselves in this work, so that
those who have the burden of this undertaking upon them may
feel that they are not alone in the work of this noble enterprise.

NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT.

The National Encampment, held in the city of Portland,
Me., January 23-25, was conceded by all to be the most success-
ful and enthusiastic ever held in the history of our organization.
In its proceedings our own Department bore an honorable and .
conspicuous part, reflecting great credit, not only upon the nearly
four thousand comrades themselves who participated in the pre-
liminary exercises of the Encampment, but also upon the Depart-
ment, which they so faithfully and honorably represented on that
occasion, and for which they again have my heartiest thanks.



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 357

REUNION OF MASSACHUSETTS VETERANS.

September 3 and 4 there was held at the Point of Pines (so
called) a reunion of Massachusetts veterans, that was, in many
respects, a grand success ; in others, to my mind at least, a sad
failure. Pardon me, comrades, if I speak plainly upon this sub-
ject ; and as I do so, it is with no desire to criticise or reflect
upon any comrade, for I sincerely believe that the committee
under whose auspices this gathering was held did everything in
their power to malvc the occasion an enjoyable one to all who
participated therein; and I fully realize the difficulties under
which they labored and the embarrassments by which they were
surrounded in making the selection of the place which they did
for holding this reunion. I am heartily in favor of holding an
annual reunion of Massachusetts veterans, to which we may go
ourselves, and also take our wives, children and friends ; whe'i-e
we may meet together and renew old acquaintances, revive old
associations, and touch elbows again, as we did in the long ao-o.
In fact, comrades, I believe that we do not do this half as muclfor
often as we ought, for our own good and for the good of the
rising generation, who cannot fail to catch the spirit and inspira-
tion that come from such associations and such gatherings. But
comrades, I am wholly and forever opposed to holdi'ug such
reunions where rum flows as free as, or freer than water; where
our comrades, leaving their homes and their loved ones, are to
be subjected to such temptations as are connected with such
gatherings, held under such circumstances. I believe that as an
organization, and as veterans and comrades, we cannot afford to
repeat this experience ; and I sincerely trust that under whatever
auspices the next reunion may be held, it may be in such a place,
and under such circumstances, that we may be able to put our
foot upon this thing, and thereby demonstrate the fact that good
and true soldiers make good and true citizens.

DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS.

Quite early in the year it came to the knowledge of the
Department officers that the property wherein was located the
pleasant rooms which have been used as Department Head-
quarters for the past three years, would soon be wanted for other
purposes, and it consequently devolved upon us to seek new
quarters. At the third quarterly meeting of the Council of
Administration, Senior Vice-Connnander Tobin, Assistant Adju-
tant-General Monroe, and Comrade McDonough of the Council,
were appointed a committee to procure rooms for Department
Headquarters; and as a result of their faithful labors, pleasant
and suitable rooms were secured, and Department Headquarters
established at No, 1 Pemberton Square, nearly opposite the old



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

headquarters, where for the present, at least, and I sincerely hope
and trust for many years to come, may be found that tireless
worker and devoted friend of the Grand Army, especially of this
Department, the present Assistant Adjutant-General, Comrade
A. C. Monroe, to whom this Department is under very great
obligations for its most excellent standing among the Depart-
ments of the nation, and to whom I am personally under great
obligations for the kindness and courtesy with which he has always
responded to my calls for aid in the discharge of my official
duties as Department Commander, for which I desire here and
now, in the presence of the comrades of this Encampment, to
express to him my sincere thanks and appreciation.

DEPARTMENT OFFICERS.

I think I can safely say that no comrade who has ever held
the honorable and responsible position of Department Commander
was ever surrounded by a more earnest, devoted and self-sacri-
ficing band of co-workers than it has been my good fortune to be.
Words utterly fail to express my appreciation of their services,
and the kind and courteous manner in which they have always
responded to each and every call that has been made upon them ;
for which I desire, in my own behalf and in behalf of the Depart-
ment, in this public manner to express to them my most sincere
thanks.

I have neither time nor space here to speak of them and
their faithful services individually, and do them justice ; I can
only say that if credit is due to any one for the success and
prosperity that has attended us as a Department during the past
year, I desire that it should go where, in my humble judgment,
a very large share of it justly belongs, to these comrades who,
by their earnest and devoted labors, have contributed so much to
bring about these results.

PENSION LEGISLATION.

At the last annual Encampment of this Department, the
eight-dollar measure (so called) was very thoroughly and ably
discussed, and the merits and demerits of this question were very
forcibly presented by different comrades.

As there has been some surprise manifested, and I have
been somewhat criticised in a friendly way because of my vote
upon that question, I trust that my comrades of this Encamp-
ment will bear with me a little, while I endeavor briefly to give
you my views on this very important question.

First, let me say that I always have and do now question
very seriously whether the time has arrived — whether it is politic
or for the best interests of the Grand Army, or the veterans of
the late war — to ask or demand the enactment by Congress of a
universal service pension law, granting to every man who served



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 359

three months or more a pension, whether disabled or not. But
whatever may have been the doubts that have existed in my
mind relative to the wisdom or policy of this measure, they have
all been dispelled and scattered when I come to consider the
other all-important question, viz.. Is the general government at
the present time discharging its obligations and doing all that it
ought to do for the men who risked "everything, even their lives,
that this nation might live? and I answer emphatically, No, a
thousand times vo ! When I realize the fact, my comrades, for
fact it is, which cannot be disputed nor gainsaid, that thousands,
yes, tens of thousands, of my comrades and your comrades^
brave men and true as ever stood in defence of country and flao-'
who for four long and weary years, in summer's heat and winter'^s
cold, stood as a wall of living fire between the terrible onslaughts
of treason and rebellion an<l this nation's very life, who saved it
and made it all that it is to-day, are now suffering in want and
misery, going down to then- graves unthought of and uncared for
by the government which they risked everything to save,— my
blood leaps in my veins and my soul cries out. How long, oh,
how long shall this people, the richest and most prosperous on all
the face of this fair earth, suffer this thing to exist? Does any
one present question for a moment the truth of the statement
which I have just made? If so, my comrade, come with me, and
I will take you, not to the slums of some city, nor to the wilds
of some Western prairie, but to yonder hill, almost within the
sound of my voice, and I will show you in our own Soldiers'
Home over one hundred of these men, who but for this grand and
noble institution would to-day be the inmates of some atmshouse,
and many of them long ere this would have filled a pauper's
grave. Go with me, if you will, to the Secretary of our Board
of Trustees, Past Department Commander Evans, and let him
tell you the number of applications that are now on file, and how
many he is compelled to turn away every week. Why? Because
we have no room for them ; and then remember that not one of
these are entitled to or can receive a cent of pension ; for it is a
rule of the Home to admit only those who cannot obtain a pension
from the government, under the present existing laws. It is
because I realize these facts, my comrades, that I voted in favor
of this measure, and am ready to vote again for this or any other
measure, that will in whole or part brbig relief to these unfor-
tunate comrades, although it may not be, all things considered,
such a measure as I woukl like to see adopted.

Do you ask if I have any suggestions to make as a remedy
for this condition of affairs? I answer, Yes, I have; and I sin-
cerely wish that this Department, whose influence in this and all
other kindred matters is second to none, might step to the front
and lead off in this or some other similar measure, which, I am
quite sure, would meet the approval of a very large majority of



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

the veterans of the late war, and also of the great mass of the
people, and which, I sincerely believe, would have such an influ-
ence upon our legislators that they would speedily come to our
rescue.

First. I would respectfully demand of the government that
all honorably discharged soldiers and sailors of the late war, who
were disabled whilst in the line of duty, should be liberally pro-
vided for, according to their disability.

Second. I would respectfully demand that all honorably
discharged soldiers and sailors of the late war, who have become
disabled since the war, should be provided for, to a certain
extent, according to their disability and the merits of their case.
And then I would go a step farther, and respectfully insist upon a
graded system of pensions for all honorably discharged soldiers
and sailors of the late war after they shall have arrived at a cer-
tain age. For instance, when a comrade shall have arrived at
the age of fifty years, he shall receive four dollars per mouth ; at
fifty-five years of age, he shall receive eight dollars per month ;
at sixty years of age, he shall receive twelve dollars per month;
at sixty-five years of age, he shall receive sixteen dollars per
month; at seventy years of age, he shall receive twenty dollars
per month ; and so on through life. I may not have fixed the
apportionment just right, and have neither the time nor the space
here to work out this system in all its details, but I think, comrades,
you comprehend my ideas relative to this question.

I have no sympathy with, nor do I take a particle of stock
in, the argument so often advanced, that the government cannot
afford to make liberal provision for its defenders and saviors ;
that to do so would bankrupt the nation ; for I sincerely believe
that statistics and facts which are indisputable, relative to the
resources and wealth of this country, will show that no other
nation on the face of the globe is so abundantly able to do this
as is our own.

And if it is necessary to stop the payment of the national
debt in order that these men who have periled and sacrificed so
much might be properly provided for, then I say, let it stop;
for I do not believe that it is the duty of one generation to save
and redeem a nation by the outpouring of its very life-blood,
and then, having done this, attempt to pay all the bills at the
expense and suffering of the men who voluntarily came to the
nation's rescue in her hour of peril. I firmly believe that, having
made liberal provision for the redemption of all its financial obli-
gations as fast as they mature, it is now high time that this govern-
ment should make liberal provision for the men who saved it, and
gave the financial standing which it now has at home and abroad.
Now, whilst I do not attempt to set myself up as an expert
in the matter of pension legislation, yet I firmly believe that such



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 361

a measure as I have indicated, or something similar to it, would
receive the hearty endorsement of this Encampment and of the
comrades of this Department, and would greatly influence other
departments in the same direction ; and such a measure, I also
believe, would receive the approbation of the great mass of the
people.

OTHER LEGISLATION.

During the session of the Legislature of 1884, two important
laws were enacted, both relating especially to the interests of our
organization : One, authorizing any town or city to lease for a
term of years to any Grand Army Post within its limits any pub-
lic building or part thereof belonging to such city or town, to be
used for Grand Army purposes.

Another, authorizing any city or town of this Commonwealth
to appropriate money to aid any Grand Army Post located in such
city or town in caring for needy comrades and their families, and
providing that the money so appropriated may be turned over to
the Post, to be expended under its direction.

These are measures which seem to me to be in the right
direction, and which have already, in several instances that have
come under my observation, resulted in material aid to some of
the Posts of our Department ; and I desire to congratulate you,
my comrades, upon securing the benefits that are likely to come
to us, as an organization, as a result of those laws. Another
measure that was before the last Legislature, and which, in my
humble judgment, ought to have passed without a single dissent-
ing vote, was a bill presented by our excellent Senior Vice-Com-
mander, Comrade Tobin, and known as the " Soldiers' and
Sailors' Exemption Bill," the provisions of which were to exempt
honorably discharged soldiers and sailors from the civil-service
examination, so called.

I have neither time nor space here to enter into a discussion
upon the merits and demerits of this question. Suffice it to say
that I thoroughly believe in it; and if you ask me why, I answer,
emphatically. Because I believe that it is just and right; and I
further believe that it is an act of gross injustice to the men who
were at the front during those years of strife and suffering, peril-
ling tlieir lives and sacrificing their opportunities, giving to their
countr}' the very best years of their lives onl}^ to be told, if they
were so fortunate as to return to their homes and loved ones, that
their opportunities were gone, and they must stand aside to make
room for those who, during all those years and the years that
have intervened since, have been preparing themselves to reap
the benefits that have been secured to them by the valor and
bravery of the men whom they now seek to thrust aside. Believ-
ing in the justice and equity of this measure, as I sincerely do, I



362 HISTOKY DEPT. OF MASS., G.A.R.

trust and hope that the present LegisUiture may see to it, before
they turu their steps homeward, that this measure becomes one of
the laws of the Commonwealth, which has always manifested such
a deep and liberal interest in the welfare of her old soldiers
and sailors.

CONCLUSION.

When, a year ago, the honorable position of Department
Commander was conferred upon me, God and myself only know
with what hesitancy and trembling I assumed its duties and
responsibilities. I realized to some extent the disadvantages
under which I must labor, in the prosecution of the work before
me. I will briefly narrate some of them. Lack of experience in
Grand Army matters ; distance from Department Headquarters;
limited acquaintance with comrades, especially in the eastern part
of the State ; and last, but not least, I realized that it was no
small task for any comrade, be he ever so well qualified, to follow
even afar off in the footsteps of my predecessors in this office,
wdio by their devoted and efficient labors have contributed so
much towards the upbuilding of this Department ; but as I
remarked a few moments since, I firmly resolved that, to the very
utmost of my ability, nothing should be lacking on my part to
make the year one of prosperity, and success ; and as I hastily
review the past this evening, I think I may congratulate both
myself and you, my comrades, that to some extent my hopes
have been realized, and that our beloved Department has cer-
tainly taken no backward step during the year. I cannot express
to you, my comrades, my appreciation of and thanks for the val-
uable and devoted services which you have rendered both to me
and the Department during the year. The kind, fraternal greet-
ings and courtesies that have been extended to me by the com-
rades all over the State have touched my heart and have made
light and pleasant the labors of the year, the remembrance of
which shall linger with me while life shall last, and for which,
from the depth of my heart, they have my thanks over and over
again.

I earnestly bespeak for my successor, whoever he may be,
the same loyal and devoted support and co-operation that you
have always accorded me, to the end that our Department may
continue to prosper and to hold the same high and honorable posi-
tion which it now holds among the Departments of the nation.

Finally, my comrades, let us be true to each other, true to
ourselves, true to our beloved organization and the grand and
noble principles which it represents ; and with an earnest desire in
my heart that God may bless and prosper us as a Department, and
that success and prosperity may attend my comrades as individ-
uals, I now await the further pleasure of this Encampment.



TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT. 363

REPORT OF ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL.

Headquarters Dept. of Mass., G.A.R.
Boston, Jan, 27, 1886.
John W. Hersey, Deimrtmenl Commander.

Comrade : In compliance with the Rules and Regulations of
the Grand Army of the Republic, I herewith submit my annual
report of the business transacted in this office the past year.

Number of Posts, Dec. 31, 1884 180

" Comrades same date 16,637

" Posts, Dec. 31, 1885 * ' 'i82

" Comrades reported same date 17,965

Net gain during the year 1 328

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

First quarter, ending March 31 212

Second quarter, ending June 30 531

Third quarter, ending Sept. 30 263

Fourth quarter, ending Dec. 31 322

1,328
recapitulation.

Number of comrades in good standing, Dec. 31, 1884 16,637
" " gained by muster-in . . , 1,911

" " " transfer ... 319

" " " reinstatement . . 1,791

Total number gained ..... 4 021

Aggregate 20,658

Number of comrades lost by death 219

" " " honorable discharge . 49

" " " transfer .... 323

" " " suspension . . . 2,094

" " " dishonorable discharge 8

Total loss 2,693

Excess of gains over losses 1 328

I herewith present a detailed report of the changes that have
taken place in each Post the past year.



364



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



CONSOLIDATED REPORT OF THE ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
FOR THE YEAR ENDING DEC. 31, 1885.



Name of Post.



Wm. Logan Rodman..

Dahlgren

W. 11. Hartlett

U. S. Grant.

General Lander

P. T. Wynian

Chas. Russell Lowell.

E. W. Pierce

Reno

George H. Ward

Abraham Lincoln

H. M. Warren

Fletcher Webster

C. C. Phillips

John A. Andrew

E. K Wilcox

General Sedgwick

Col. Prescott

Edwin V. Sumner

H. S. Greenleaf

Friedrieh Hecker

Maj. E. F. Fletcher . . .
Joseph Hooker

A. B. R. Sprague

H. n. Legge

Thos. G. Stevenson...

Ch tries Devens

Georite D. Wells

F. P. H. Rogers

William H. Smart

George W . Perry

Washington . . . ."

Burbank

Phil. H. Sheridan

Theodore Winthrop ..

Francis Gould

Frazer A. Stearns

Dexter

Needham

Gen. H. G. Berry

Lyon

B. F. Butler

John A. Kawlius

G. Weslev Nichols

Col. Allen

Richard Borden

Major How

George S. Boutwell. . .

A. W. Bartletl

Union

Ezra Batcheller.

A. B. Randal!

Charles 11. Stevens

Capt. C. S. Hastings..

J. C. Freeman

Charles Beck

P. Stearns Davis

Reynolds

Maj. J. A. Pratt





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TWENTIETH ANNUAL ENCAMPMENT.



365



CONSOLIDATED REi'OKT OF ASST. ADJT.- GENERAL— Continued.



Name of Post.



Franklin

Nathaniel Lyon



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 38 of 64)