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Journal of the National Encampment online

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May 12 and 13, 1869.




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citizens, ever ready to honor those deserving well of their countrymen. But
your coming together as the honored representatives of the great body of our
citizen soldiery of the whole country, to promote the most beneficent and praise-
worthy objects, becomes an occasion of the greatest interest.

Since the close of the war, in which those ties of friendship were formed which
it is one of the objects of this organization to strengthen and perpetuate, you
have been engaged in the pious duty of relieving the sufferings of your afflicted
comrades, and administering to the wants of their destitute families. These
soldiers, who were disabled in the country's service, receive at your hands suste-
nance, and sympathy, and watchful care while they linger with up, and when
their sufferings are ended, it is from you" that they receive a decent burial. The
aged widow, whose sons fell in battle, in her poverty, and friendliness, and deso-
lation, looks to your benevolent Order for assistance. The destitute orphans of
you/ comrades, who gave their lives to the country, are the special objects of
your care. The State owes them a debt not to be cancelled by thrusting them
into poor-houses and prisons. It has been largely through your exertions in
their behalf that in several of the States homes have been established for Hit
orphans of deceased soldiers, where the children of your dead comrades may be
cared for and properly educated, that they may grow up worthy and respectable
citizens. It is proper, it is natural, that soldiers should care for their deceased
comrades, and for the widows and orphans and mothers of those who have lost
their lives fighting valiantly side by side with them. But there are other reasons
than those of benevolence and charity which make the acts of your Older mat-
ters of solicitude to the far-seeing statesman and thoughtful citizen. In a Repub-
lic relying upon her citizen soldiery, it is a matter of the highest importance that
patriotism and heroic deeds should be appreciated and properly acknowledged ;
that the memory of the dead should be honored, and that the families of those
killed in battle should be distinguished from the victims of thriftlessness and vice.
The nation that honors and rewards her defenders, that cherishes the memory of
her heroic dead, and makes the orphans of those who die for the country the
wards of the State, will never call in vain for volunteers to suppress rebellion or
to repel invasion. The man upon whom no helpless one leans for support can
smile in the face of death. For him to be brave is small merit — it costs him lit-
tle ; but for the father of helpless children, whom he could rear in comfort and
luxury, but who, by his loss, would be deprived of their only support, for him
to meet death with composure requires more than Roman fortitude.

As the heartrending history of the orphans of soldiers once in good circum-
stances has come to my knowledge, I have thought that the prospect of leaving
one's little children to such a fate might well make cowards of the bravest. Let
us hope that our efforts in behalf of the orphans may be crowned with success.

In addition to your care for the living, you have gathered the remains of many
of your fallen comrades and placed them in cemeteries, where their last resting
place is protected from sacrilegious intrusion. The General Government is doing
much in the same direction, and at no very distant day it is believed that the
remains of all those soldiers whose burial places are known will be properlj-
cared for.

You have inaugurated the beautiful custom in the spring-time of the year of
performing the sacred rite of decorating with tlowers the graves of your fallen
comrades. This is a custom which we trust will live after the present generation

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of soldkn Bh&ll haswe pamed away. Bot it is with Bwdneas that we remember the
manj thousand Boldiexs who rest in unknown graves, or who lie unbaried, never
having received the rite of sepulture. No stone marks their last resting place,
and no fiiendlj hand will strew flowers over their sacred dast. But their virtues
are remembered and their memories cherished bj their surviving comrades.

'' By &iry hands their knell is rung ;

By &rms unseen their dirge is sung :
There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray,

To bless the turf that wraps their clay :
And freedom shall awhile repur.

To dwell a weeping hermit there.''

Comrades, in behalf of the local Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, I
extend to you a soldier's greeting, and welcome you to our Encampments, and
offer to you the full freedom of the camp.

In behalf of the Corporation of Cincinnati, expressed by an order of her City
ponncil, I welcome you, and tender you the hoqiitalities of the city, and invite
you to visit such of our public institutionB and other objects of interest as you
may deem worthy of your attention.

In behalf of the telegraph companies, who have kindly put their lines at your
diqK)Bal, I tender yon the free use of that means of sending greetings to your
constitQenti and friends.

In behalf of the people of Cincinnati, I welcome yon to our city, and assure
you of the pleasure it will give them to extend to yon th^ hospitality and every
court€sy within their power.

Comrades, one and all, I bid you welcome to Cincinnati.

General N. P. Ghipnuoi, A^otaM General of the Grand Army of
the Republic, on b^alf of the delegates, re^KHided as follows :

Called upon unexpectedly to respond on behalf of the del<^;ates to this warm
welcome, I feel myself quite powerless. You have, sir, inq>ired by the many gen-
erous hearts whom jou represent, spread out before us with so much fidelitj^ a
panoramic view of our past trials and triumphs ; have so truthfully spoken of old
army ties, and have delineated upon the canvas a fature for our organization so
bright^nd so beneficent, that no adequate response in words can express the deep
impression you have ma6e upon us. Wherever we wander about your beautiful
city we meet the most cordial greetasgs, and on erery hand we find every want
anticipated. At this distance from tiie period of our military life such welcome
is grateful indeed. The hospitality of CSai^nnati is time-honored, but it is stiil
more grateful to us to know that the loyalty of your city to the principles for
which we many years struggled together is equally assured and equally honored,
and I beg you to feel that we aoo^t this kindly greeting, not as given alone to us,
but raHier to the thousands of comrades whom we are here to represent. In their
name, then, as wdl as our own, we thank you for this graceful compliment to our

The Commander-in-Chief then formally called the Encampment to
order, and, at his direction, the Assistant Adjutant General, Wm. T.

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Collins, read General Orders No. 20 convening the National Encamp-
ment, after which prayer was oflPered by the Rev. A. H. Quint, Chap-

The following annual opening address was delivered by the Com-

Comrades : Within the past few years history has been enriched with two
events so manly in their inception and so sublime in their results, that they may
well be called the leading facts of the age, alike creditable to our nation and

First. A vast, well-organized army, recruited from a brave and hardy popula-
tion of twelve million souls, making war against our government, well supplied
with all necessary appliances, and enjoying the aid and sympathy of powerful
allies, has been utterly crushed.

Second. The conquerors of this stupendous power have retired to civil life, and
been absorbed in the great mass that embodies our industrial activities, withou4
suffering, without disorder to the commonwealth, and without producing a
plethora of labor.

Our great war, comrades, with its innumerable scenes and incidents, its trials,
toils, sufferings, and triumphs, has been the theme of frequent and elaborate song
and story, but the sublime tranquility that followed the disbandment of our
armies remains, comparatively, a field untrodden.

Let us contemplate the position of affairs in the memorable month of April,

The rebellion was ended. A fugitive traitor President was hiding among the
pines of Georgia. The vast hordes that withstood our blows during four years
of belligerent action were scattered to the winds. Our armies, embodying more
than a million men, inured to conflict that usually excites and stimulates the
worst passions of our natures, having no more foes to combat, who could say
that they would not repeat the history of olden times, and wage war among
themselves or upon their friends ?

Under these circumstances, the order was given — *• Break up these armies."
Such soldiers as have homes must return to them, and such as have none must
seek them among their countrymen.

In classic days both republican and imperial Rome had been shaken to its
centre by disbanded soldiery, while in Greece and Spain the mountain fastnesses
had been filled with desperadoes from such bodies, whose subsistence was wrung
from passing travellers or peaceful haciendas. Even our neighboring Republic
of Mexico had furnished examples of the danger to mankind of forcing bodies of
soldiers from their avocation to the quiet scenes of ordinary life.

But neither Rome, Greece, Spain, nor Mexico was ever tried by such an ordeal
as ours. Their disbanded armies were, in comparison with ours, almost as
nothing. In fact, there is not in human history a case cited, except ours, in which
a million of soldiers were, in a day, removed from belligerent to peaceful life.
Probably there is no government on earth, except our own, that would have dared
to try the experiment. 1 am confident there is no other in which such trial would
be safe.

But we were disbanded. Departments, corps, divisions, brigades, regiments,

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and companies, almost within the hour, disappeared like the morning mist. We
had appeared upon the field at our country's call, as promptly as the clansmen of
Roderick Dhu burst into view upon their Alpine hills, and ris soldiers we passed
away almost as readily, at the waying of a hand.

Was there no ambitious leader dissatisfied with the distribution of warlike
laurels, ready to gather the scattered host, seize the power and archives of the
nation, and make himself a king ? Were there no fastnesses among our mountains
in which brigands might find concealmoit, and carry on a war of depredation on
mankind? Perhaps there were snch rebellious spirits, but the soldiers them-
selves, the mass of the disbanded host, were beyond the power of seduction . They
loved the govonment for which they bled, the flag under which they had
marched to victory, and wimid prefer to die in defence of liberty rather than live
in opulence upon its ruins.

No outbreak, no revolution, no disaster uf any magnitude has followed ihe
segregation of these million warriors. They sought their homes with joyful
hearts and tuneful voices. There were no tears of mourning over the cast-off
trappings and habiliments of strife. The hand grown cunning in the use of
arms applied itself to the ax, the hammer, the loom, and spade. Battle shouts
had given place to exaltations over victory, and these, in turn, were followed by
the songs of jo}', of love, and peace, that sanctify that place of Heaven called

Very much of this sublime result is due, doubtless, to the form of government
under which we live. Much is attributal)le to the educational infioences among
which we were reared, and much, very mnch, to the organization known as the
■ Grand Army of the Republic'

This Order originated in a desire for mutual protection, aid, and ednca(ion.
We never feared that the toils and aniTerings of onr soldiery would be forgotten, or
tail to be appreciated by the mass of our countrymen, but we did fear that high
officials might at times be prompted by their selfishness to disregard or neglect ik?.

Politically, our object is not to mingle in the strifes of parties, but by our
strength and numbers to be able to exact from all a recognition of our right !^
with others.

We desire fiirther by this organization to commemorate the gallantry and ^uf-
feriags of our comrades, give aid to bereaved families, cultivate fraterna4 .^ympHthy
among ourselves, find employment for the idle, and generally, by onr ft<»tR an<i
precepts, to give the world a practical example of nnselfish, manly cr)-operation.

Thus fer onr efEbrts have proved successful. The report of the Adjntant 0<nv
erai will present fully the history and progwss of our Order, and more than >»nM-
tain oar highest hopes of the future. The burden of many crosses has- been lifted
from many hesets. Famishing souls and bodies have l>een fed. Afanly excel lenee
has been dievelaped and cultivated, while public, social, and domestic life amonuf
onr comrades has been purified and blessed through our humane endeavors.

I congratulate you, comrades, that we have now a national adminiiafration
which is not unmindt\il of the soldier. He is filling important plaees of trint
and profit. Se is welcomed at the Presidential Mansion. Along tli^ .^tr^^At i
cmtch or empty sleeve insures respect, and in the pnblio convor-ntion lie reoeiv^.^
attention ami applause.

I congratulate yon, also, that our Order flourishes nnw :w ii \-\^v(-r hM** d«>ne

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'•>^r'',':^. iiud that peaw, tranqnilit\'. and indnstrr are comparatiTelv universal
. I. 'long onr^elvps and thronebont our national domain.

Let n^ fi.>ter and cherish this J>en«»Tnlent Order, so useful in the oast, iu
ienefic^nt in the present, and grivinir siich promise for the fuinre. Let n^ nnite
in vi</oron3 effort? to extend and perpetoate its power.

WhiliMn the flush and -^trensTth of manhood we m:iv not ixillv grrasp and
realize th<» fart that man's tme interest lips in doin^ ^ood : hut when the srolden
Mowl of life is breaking-j when oar faces het:onin carved in storied hiero^Tphics
I'V the 3tylns and pantagraph of age, each act of kindness done, each word of
kindn'^?' spoken, will, hv natural compnantiBpr law, return, like the dove of
Ararat to the soul from which it was sent, and bearin? with it hRmches ot im-
rWiline sfreen from the Post " berond the river."

(.'onirade S. D. Evans, of Post Xo. 159, Department of Ohio, was
designated to act as Officer of the Day tor the National Encampment
•luring its sessions.

Comrade F. A. Starring, AsHBtant lospeetor General^ and Comrade
L. A. Brandeberv, were designated to assist in taking the minutes ut'
the proceedings.

Comrade ET. Davis, of Illinois, moved that a committee on creden-
tials be now appointed ; which was adopted.

The Commander-in-Chief, before anBoaneing the comjnittee, remarked
that, according to usage. Comrade Davis shoold be appointed on the
• ommittee as its chairman, bnt the Department of Illinois being deiin-
<{uent in dues and reports, there might be doubts as to the eligibility of
its delegates to seats in the Encampment. With this explanation, the
following committee was appointed :

Comrades J. Warren Keifer, of Ohio; (1. ir. Miner, of Tennessee;
S. A. Duncan, of the District of Colombia; R. A. Bachia, of Xew
York, and G. T. Carter, of New Hampshire.

The Adjutant GeneraFs report was then read, as follows :


Headquartbhs Grand Army of thb Republic,

WASffiHGTOW City, J/ajv, 1S6J)-
To the Commandtir-in-Chuf of the Grand Armi/ of the Republic:

In makint? ray annnal report to you, and through you to the comrades of our
Ovdpv throughout the United States, there are many subjects of interest conueeted
Nvlth the organization to which I would be glad to direct attention, and many
farts pertatnitig to our history and to the workings of the Grand Army have come
tu my knowledge through official correspondence, which make it due from me to
';tatp to you at some length. In no country, perhaps, was there ever an organiza-
tion of -'iirff rnafrnifnde as this sprung an suddenly into existence, and vpt about

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which so little is known. I find nowhere among our official archives any con-
nected history of the organization, or any reports as to its strength or its workings
prior to your induction into office as Commander-in-Chief. Why this is so, is a
matter not proper for me to review. No one who has given our organization an
examination, or has studied into its objects and purposes, can fail to see that there
is in it the germ, if no more, of a powerful society, capable of great good, or of
great evil. The object of this report, however, is not so much to treat the organ-
ization philosophically, or to speculate as to what it may or ought to be, as to
present facts and observations which may be of some value to those whose duty
it is to frame our regulations and model our ritual.

When you were installed into office, there were twenty-four Departments, with
more or less perfect organizations. During your administration the entire terri-
tory of the United States has been organized into Departments, with the excep-
tion of Alaska, and even in that remote region it is expected Posts will soon be es-

The Grand Army of the Republic was first organized in Illinois early in the
spring of 1866. Who were its originators is matter of tradition rather than of
record, although there can be no doubt that the' late Adjutant General, Colonel
6. F. Stephenson, was one of the prime movers. Being recognized as such, he
organized the first Post at Dakota, Illinois, about this time, and from that has
sprung the present organization. The Order spread rapidly through the State,
so that in July following a meeting was called to organize a Department. There
were some forty posts represented at tbis convention. They proceeded to an
election, and chose General John M. Palmer as their Grand Commander. The
ritual first used had been previously prepared, while each Post adopted its own
regulations. Meanwhile the ritual was printed by comrades of the Order, and,
through the activity of Colonel Stephenson, posts were organized in several States,
and provisional departments established, he assuming, by common consent, the
duties of Provisional Commander-in-Chief.

The Order continued to spread rapidly, so that in October, 1866, it was thought
proper to call a convention to organize a National Encampment. This conven-
tion met in Indianapolis, November 20, 1866, and remained in session three days.
Delegates from Posts organized in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, New
York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, and the District of Colum-
bia, were present at this convention, and here was completed, so far as the oatline
is concerned, our present National Encampment, and the regulations and ritual
adopted. General Stephen A. Hurlbnrt, of Illinois, was chosen Commander-in-
Chief; General James B. McKean, of New York, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief ;
General Nathan Kimball, of Indiana, Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, and Colonel
B. F. Stephenson, Adjutant General, with headquarters at Springfield, Illinois.

After this convention at Indianapolis, Posts seem to have sprung up as if by
magic in all parts of the North.

The records which come into my hands furnish no evidence of there having
been reciprocal relations kept up between the Posts and Departments and National

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Online LibraryGrand Army of the RepublicJournal of the National Encampment → online text (page 1 of 9)