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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2,537, leaving a net gain of 754. This certainly is very gratify-
ing to me, as it must be to every comrade. An examination of
the table of gains shows that of the total gain 1,455 were com-
rades who have never before belonged to the Order. This large
percentage of new recruits suggests the question that is often
asked, how many comrades still living within our jurisdiction are
eligible to membership, who have not j'et joined our ranks. 1


have not been able to discover any way in which I could obtain
this information with any degree of accuracy, but the steady gain
of new members would indicate that there are yet many comrades
still outside our ranks, who, if they could be induced to join,
would make valuable members ; let us then, comrades, use all
honorable means to induce them to join our Order, that they may
stand with us in our great and important work of to-day, as the}-^
stood with us in the terrible days of a quarter of a century ago.
The time for forming new Posts to any great extent in the Depart-
ment of Massachusetts has passed ; however, I am glad to be able
to report that during the year, charters have been issued for three
new Posts, No. 187 at Dalton, No. 188 at Beverly Farms, and
No. 189 at Marshfield, and they are all in a prosperous and flour-
ishing condition. Two more applications for charters for new
Posts have also been received, one to be located at Pittsfield and
one at New Bedford. Hearings were given to the applicants in
their respective towns, at which representatives from the Posts
from whose membership the new Posts in a great measure were
to be organized, appeared in opposition. After carefully consid-
ering the evidence, I could not find that any good and sufficient
reason had been given why these Posts should be chartered, and
I respectfully declined so to do. While it would have been a
great pleasure to me personally to have granted the request of the
applicants, yet the principle involved was one of vital importance
to the Order, it being no less, as appeared by the evidence, than
the submission of the minority to the will of the majority. It
appeared in evidence in both cases, that had certain comrades
been elected to fill the various otfices, no application for a new
charter would have been made. To establish the precedent of
granting a charter to a minority of the members of a Post, on
the ground that the result of an election was not satisfactory, or
that the business of the Post was not conducted to suit them,
especially when they had absented themselves from the Post
meetings, would, in my judgment, be detrimental to the best
interests of the Order. It would in a short time result in an
increase of the number of Posts without materially increasing the
membership ; it would add to the work of the Assistant Adjutant-
General, and would result finally in the destruction of many Posts
and a general weakening of the whole Department. I would
respectfully suggest that where mistakes have been made in the
management of Posts, the better way to correct them is for the
comrades to attend the meetings and lake an interest in the general
work. Then minorities, if they are right, will soon be in the
majority, and n proper exercise of the spirit of Fraternity and
Charity in the Post room will obviate all trouble. In m.y opinion,
that is a better and safer policy to pursue, than to seek to divide
the Post.



The National Encampment convened in the city of St. Louis,
in accordance with General Orders, September 28 and continued
until the oOth. The central location of St. Louis brought together
a very large number of the members of the Order from all parts
of the country, and only for the inclemency of the weather, the
parade would have been the largest and most imposing of any
previously held, it being estimated that thirty thousand comrades
would have appeared in line. Owing to the severe storm on the
day of the parade, the Department Commander, deeming it unwise
to unnecessarily expose the comrades, respectfully declined to par-
ticipate, consequently the Department of Massachusetts did not
appear in the parade. The Armed Battalion of Post No. 16 of
Springfield performed escort duty to the Commander-in-Chief in a
soldierly manner, that reflected credit upon themselves and upon
the Department from which they came.

There were present from this Department besides the Depart-
ment Commander and the Assistant Adjutant-General, a full
list of delegates, also Past Commander-in-Chief Merrill and
Past Department Commanders Adams, Creasey, Evans and

Probably there has never convened within the history of our
Order a National Encampment in which there was more interest,
or one upon whose action depended in so great a measure the
future welfare of the Grand Army of the Republic. Much had
transpired during the year that had caused a widespread and gen-
eral feeling of regret and disappointment. In the excitement of
the hour members of the Order had publicly condemned the Chief
Executive of the nation for his action in regard to certain pension
legislation, and although the Order was in no wise responsible for
the impolitic and unwise utterances of some of its members, yet
some of the large and influential papers of the land sought to
make it appear tliat the Grand Army of the Republic was drifting
into politics. The situation was certainly somewhat critical, a
step in the wrong direction would involve us in trouble ; public
sentiment, which is so unanimously in our favor, and upon which
we so much depend, would have become divided, and the conse-
<iuences have been disastrous. I am happy to be able to state
that right grandly and nobly were the issues met ; some of the
best men in our ranks, throwing aside their political associations
and preferences for the time, stood loyally by the Order, and in
language most patriotic placed the Grand Army of the Republic
before tlie country as the great Fraternal, Charitable and Loyal
institution that it really is, and as every fair-minded editor even
must believe, perfectly non-political, non-partisan and non-sec-


The aniendmeut to the Rules and Regulations for the unseat-
ing of the Past Department Commanders in the National Encamp-
ment was defeated, and I am inclined to think that it was properly
disposed of, and yet I recogjiized that the proper settlement of
this question is one of vast importance, as it involves more or less
the democratic principle upon which our institution must be gov-
erned. I suppose that it will be conceded on all sides that the
safety of our Order rests among other things, upon the preserva-
tion of this democratic principle, or in other words, in the principle
that the will of the majority must and shall prevail ; anything,
therefore, that tends to thwart or overrule the will of the majority
is undemocratic, and consequently unsafe. If the Department
Encampment after thorough investigation instructs its delegates,
as they certainly have a right to do, then it is the duty of the
delegates to vote in accordance with the expressed wish of the
Encampment; otherwise, they are not representing the majority.
The question then arises, are the Past Department Commanders
representatives? I answer, most certainly yes; they were made
by the suffrages of their comrades eligible to seats in the National
Encampment. While they were active Commanders they would not
think of disregarding the instructions of the Department Encamp-
ment, and the simple fact of having become a Past Commander cer-
tainly does not confer more power or more liberty. I said that I
thought the question was wisely disposed of by the National
Encampment, and I repeat it again. As I recognize the importance
of the democratic principle, so also do I recognize the benelit to the
Order of the Past Department Commanders, familiar as they are
by long experience with the workings of our institution. How-
ever much some of them may have differed with some of us upon
important questions, the fact remains nevertheless that they have
earned and well earned, as you all know, the honor that belongs
to the office. Let us not debar them from seats in the National
Encampment, but rather let us seek to have the Rules and Regula-
tions amended, if necessary, so that all the representatives, if they
vote at all, shall vote in accordance with the expressed wish of the
Department Encampments. If this recommendation be adopted,
I think the trouble will be overcome, and while we shall have pre-
served the true democratic principle of government, we shall also
have saved to the Order the value of the experience of the Past
Department Commanders.

I respectfully recommend, as my predecessors have done,
that the sum of three hundred dollars be appropriated for the
traveling and hotel expenses of the Department Commander when
on official duty, and when not otherwise provided for, and also
of any other Department Officer when acting in his stead.

1 also recommend as has been done heretofore, that the
expenses of the Department Commander and Assistant Adjutant-


General to the National Encampment be paid by the Department,
and that the sum of two hundred dollars be appropriated for extra
clerk hire in the office of the Assistant Adjutant-General.


The reports show that in ever}' city, town and hamlet in the
Commonwealth, wherever a Post of the Grand Army exists, the
day was fittingly observed, that the graves of our comrades gone
before were properly decorated, and tokens of remembrance offered
to the memory of the unreturned. To the members of the Grand
Army the day grows more sacred as time goes on. May the
memories of a grand past, which cluster about it, tend to unite us
more closely, and inspire us to noble, unselfish deeds, that we may
become better comrades and better men. Memorial Day : long
may the beautiful custom be observed, that once a year at least a
grateful nation may pause in its onward march and pay homage
to the memory of its citizens, whose patriotism and courage made
it possible that in this fair land there is today but one country,
one flag, one destiny.

THE woman's relief CORPS.

To the officers and members of the Woman's Relief Corps, I
desire to extend my personal thanks for the many courtesies received
at their hands during my term of office. I desire also to commend
the loyal women of this Order for the good work they have under-
taken. When I contemplate that in a few years the Posts of the
Grand Army will, in consequence of their depleted ranks, be
obliged to surrender their charters ; when the fostering care of the
Relief Committees of today shall cease, then it is that I can see
that this institution, in addition to the great work that it is doing
today, will be of incalculable benefit. They will be the great
reserve upon which the tliin picket-line of the Grand Army of a
few years hence will be obliged to fall back, and right nobly,
I believe, they will care for the old veterans of the future with a
devotion and tenderness equalled only by the loyal women of a
(juarter of a century ago. Then in your name, comrades, I bid
them All Hail and God-speed.


As we gather in our Encampment today, comrades, there is
one pleasant and familiar face that is missing, and a sense of
the great loss we have sustained pervades all our hearts. Since
last we met Past Department Commander George H, Patch has
been summoned to join that innumerable throng that has passed
beyond the confines of earth. Engaged in a profession that gave
him opportunity, and possessed of those qualities of mind and
heart that prompted him to noble things, he was always ready.


with voice and pen, to advocate the interests of our noble asso-
ciation. His great heart caused him to sympathize with his friends
when misfortune and trouble had overtaken them, and likewise
to rejoice with them in their prosperity. My personal friend as
well as my comrade, he was an ever-welcome visitor at my home,
where we shall always hold him in pleasant I'emembrance. In
our Department Encampments, at our camp-fires and in our
councils, we shall miss his eloquent voice and his great helpful-
ness. While he lived we loved him as a brother, and now that
he has gone we will hold him in grateful remembrance for his
devotion to the cause of the Grand Army of the Republic. Let
us seek to emulate his virtues, that our banner may be kept where
he helped to place it, in the forefront of the great charitable insti-
tutions of the world. Brave, kind-hearted, genial friend and
comrade, for a short time we will bid him farewell ; one by one
the " boys" will go out to meet him, until finally, as we believe,
we shall all join in the reassembling of the Grand Army on the
other side.

And still another face that was always welcome at our
Encampments has gone out from among us to join the fast-gather-
ing ranks on the other side. Past Department Commander A. B.
Underwood died at his home in Boston, Jan. 14, 1888. In
obedience to the wish of his comrades he was called to fill the
office of Department Commander for the year 1873, and discharged
its duties with ability, honor and credit. A brave man and a
true friend, honest and faithful to every trust, he has lived long-
in that he has lived well. He has travelled on to the end of his
journey whither we are all tending, and has left behind him a
record worthy of our emulation.

Two hundred and sixty-five of our comrades who were with
us a year ago now answer to the roll call on the other side. Thus
the roll of honor, like the shadows of the departing day, is ever
lengthening, and as in the eventide we watch the sun as it sinks
to rest, so also one by one we see our comrades go to their rest,
and as they go and we linger about them in memory and recall
the noble qualities of those who were once strong, great-hearted
men, let us feel thankful that w^e knew them, that they were with
us in this great work of ours, and while we resolve to cherish their
memory, we will close up the ranks, and in the spirit of Frater-
nity, Charity and Loyalty take care of those whom the dead have
left for our protection.


As the result of the circular issued last July in the interest
of the Patch Memorial Fund, the sum of $3,195.98 was collected
and has been turned over to Mrs. Patch. The result of this
appeal, as was expected, was generous and hearty and character


istic of the comrades of this Department when appealed to in
behalf of a worthy cause. Our memorial, conu-ades, does not
consist of granite, marble or bronze, but it is a tribute to the
memory of our friend and comrade which, we believe, he would
have preferred ; it has become a part of the history of our Order,
and its influence for good will live long after the Grand Army of
the Republic has passed away. For your contributions to this
fund, comrades, I desire to extend my thanks, and to assure
you that with a grateful and thankful heart your offerings were

THE soldiers' HOME.

The excellent reports of the Trustees and officers of the
Soldiers' Home is conclusive proof that the comrade who conceived
the idea, and who devoted so much of his time and means to its
establishment made no mistake, for since its doors were opened
there have been sheltered within its hospitable walls, six hundred
and eighty-five old veterans, without friends to care for them, and
no place in the world that they could call home ; who, were it not
for this haven of rest, w^ould be obliged to seek shelter in the alms-
houses of the Commonwealth. Of these men many are old and
infirm, and all of them unable, by reason of physical disability, to
support themselves. The necessities of this Home have been fully
demonstrated in the past, and as the veterans of that grand old
Army of the Union become enfeebled by age and broken in health,
its capacity will be taxed to the utmost to provide and care for
them in the future. Let us hope, then, that from the large num-
ber of kindly disposed and charitable people of our grand old
Commonwealth, who are making bequests to worthy institutions,
some may be found who consider this a sufficiently worthy object
upon which to bestow a part of their bounty. The management
of the Home is creditable alike to the Trustees and officers, and it
stands today a model institution of its kind, and a monument to
the glory and credit of the Grand Army of this Department and to
the sagacity, foresight and great-heartedness of Past Department
Commander Horace Binney Sargent.


This nuich talked of and more or less abused question still
agitates the Grand Army of the Republie. to some extent, and in
all probability will continue to until some law is enacted granting
a pension to all soldiers and sailors for service, who served in the
army and navy during the War of the Rebellion. Nor do I see
any particular harm in the discussion of this question more than
any other, providing that it is carried on in the right spirit, and
in a manner becoming comrades and gentlemen. My investiga-



tions letul uie to think that there is not so veiy much difference
between us after all upon this question, certainly not so much as
one would think, judging from the tone of some of the papers
published in the supposed interest of the service pension cause.
We are all of the opinion that pensions should be granted to those
who were in anywise disabled while in the service of their country.
We believe also in the justness of the provisions of what is known
as the Dependent Pension Bill, which provides for all veteran
soldiers and sailors who have become disabled since the war b}'
reason of mental or physical disability, and to the widows and
orphans of those who have died ; and a majority of us think that
a broader measure still should be adopted, embracing every honor-
ably discharged soldier and sailor who served in the army or navy
from 1S61 to 1865. I can see no particular difference in the
principle involved in these last two measures. If the Dependent
Pension Bill becomes a law, as it certainly ought to, it will not
grant pensions because of disabilities incurred while in the service
only, but because of the fact that service has been rendered. If
I am correct, then it would seem that we differ more in the appli-
cation than in the principle of pension laws, some of us believing
that only those who are unable to support themselves should be
pensioned, while others think that the time has arrived when all
should come under the operations of the law. For reasons which
seem to me valid, I am free to say that I believe in the principle
of paying pensions for service, — in fact it is nothing new, the
government has paid pensions for service to the soldiers engaged
in all its wars heretofore.

The principle then having been established, the only question
to be determined is, at what time shall the government begin the
payment of these pensions to the soldiers of the War of the
Rebellion? It seems to me that it is but just that the severity
and extent of the conflict should be considered in determining
this point. If it was right to begin the payment of pensions for
service to the veterans of the Mexican War thirty-nine years after
the close of that war, then in my opinion the time has arrived
Avhen the payment should begin to the veterans of the War of the
Rebellion, for it is the testimony of no less an authority than
General Grant that there was more severe fighting in one day in the
last war than there was in the whole two years of the INIexican War.

Believing that the pension bill as recommended by the
National Pension Committee will, if it becomes law, be of great
benefit to a large number of comrades and to many widows and
orphans, and probably all that can be obtained at present, I
respectfully recommend the endorsement of that measure.

I also recommend that the principle of Service Pension be
endorsed by this Encampment, and that all honorable means be
used to advance the interests of that measure. Finally, comrades,


I most earnestly recommeud, both for the cause of all pension
legislation and for the best interests of the Grand Army, that we
stop quarrelling among ourselves upon this important question.
If we cannot agree, then let us agree to disagree, for with our
forces divided we cannot expect to accomplish much in any direc-
tion ; but united we can become a strong factor in the moulding
of public opinion, and a power in securing the desired legislation.
Let us set the seal of our disapproval upon the practice that pre-
vails in some quarters of abusing soiue of the best comrades in
our Order, because they do not agree with us upon this question.
It is not argument, and not only hurts the cause they seek to
advance, but is a source of trouble which, if persevered in, will
result in no good to our Order. Let us accord to each other an
honesty of purpose worthy a comrade and a gentleman, and seek
to advance the cause we think right in the spirit of Fraternity and

"the grand army RECORD."

I respectfully call your attention to The Grand Army Eecord,
a paper published in Boston in the interest of our Order, by
Comrade Thomas Keefe. Its columns are open at all times to
communications upon any subject that pertains to the interest of
this Department, and to the Grand Army in general. While 1
may not agree with it upon some questions, yet in these days
when so many papers which are published in the interest of the
Grand Army are indulging in so much personal abuse, it is refresh-
ing to find one editor who keeps his columns free from it. For
this I commend the Record, and hope the conu-ades throughout
the Department will send in their subscriptions and give it their


The duties of the Assistant Adjutant-General have been per-
formed in the same faithful manner that has characterized Com-
rade Monroe's management for so long a time. With one hundred
and eighty-nine Posts to deal with, besides the other business
that pertains to the oflice, requires much time and attention, and
the fact that his reports are received at National Headquarters
among the very first is proof of his efficiency. A faithful officer
and a true friend, long may he continue to fill the office of Assist-
ant Adjutant-General of the Department of Massachusetts.

The important duties devolving upon the Assistant Quarter-
master-General have been faithfully performed during the year by
the Wright comrade, and when everything is right, it is impossible
to be wrong; long nuvy the Assistant Quartermaster-General con-
tinue to be Wright.


The Judge Advocate, Comrade Keefe, has discharged the
duties of his office with credit and ability. Several questions of
importance have been submitted for his consideration, to each of
which he has rendered an opinion which I have no doubt will meet
with your approval as it has with mine. I respectfully call your
attention to the recommendations contained in his report.

The office of Department Inspector has been ably filled dur-
ing the year by Comrade B. Read Wales. To the discharge of
the duties of this office Comrade Wales brought the ability that
comes with experience, and the Department is indebted to him
for many suggestions which enables it to take first rank among
the Departments of the country.

To the members of the Council of Administration and to each
and all of the officers of my official and personal Staff, who
have contributed so much to whatever of success has attended my
administration, I desire to return my personal thanks; and
although today our official connections, which have been so pleas-
ant to me, will be severed, I hope and trust that I may take with
me as I retire, your personal friendship and good-will, which I
prize so highly.

veterans' rights union and employment bureau.

For the details of the business of the Veterans' Rights Union
and Employment Bureau, I respectfully refer you to the report of
the Superintendent, Comrade Hapgood. The last Encampment,
it will be remembered, voted that the sum of $3,000 be appropri-
ated from the funds of the Department for the use of this Bureau.
It is quite unnecessary, I presume, for me to remind you that it

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 56 of 64)