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Certain misspellings from the original document, believed to be accidental, were corrected, while others were transcribed as recorded.
AT WOOSTER, O., AUGUST 1st and 2d, 1883.
The Eighth Annual Reunion of the 16th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers began at Wooster, O., on Wednesday, August 1st.
Early in the morning trains on the P., Ft. W. & C. R. R., from the east and west, and forenoon and afternoon, brought the veteran members of their scarred and decimated ranks from adjoining and distant counties and some from other States. From the surrounding country the boys came in wagons and buggies and on horseback. Large knots of these soldiers were seen on the streets all day, and the G. A. R. Hall was the rendezvous where all gathered. The hall was beautifully decorated with flags, evergreen, flowers and pictures. One picture represents Chickasaw Bluffs, where the 16th regiment severely felt the results of war, and is one of great interest to everybody. The spot where G. U. Harn, Captain of Co. I, was killed, is pointed out; and the story of how nobly Col. DeCourcey let his Brigade, which included the 16th Regiment in the lead, over the Bayou across the 100 yards space between the bayou and the first line of rifle-pits of the rebels, under a heavy enfilading fire; the position of the 16th Regiment was severely shelled and where they lost 340 men and 11 officers. The picture shows General Blair's Brigade in the swamp between two arms of the bayou, and cut off from rendering any assistance to Col. DeCourcey; also the Brigades of Col. DeCourcey, Col. Sheldon and Col. Lindsey; all the Union batteries, rebel field and masked batteries, the different roads leading to the Bluffs, and particularly the road along which were marched the 16th and other regiments as Prisoners. Visitors to the Hall were very much interested in hearing the "boys" relate their experience at this place. The picture is the work of Lieut. W. H. Woodland, of Co. I, 16th O.V.I., painted in oil from a pencil sketch taken just before the fight in December, 1862. All who were there recognize every detail as given and live over again in memory the terrible struggle and slaughter of Chickasaw Bluffs on Dec. 29, 1862. Lieut. Woodland also had two pictures in oil of Cumberland Gap, showing both sides of the mountain.
By 8 o'clock p.m., the Hall was densely packed with the old veterans and their families and friends, to listen and participate in the exercises of the camp-fire sociable. The program was carried out as follows:
1. Song --
Auld Lang Syne, by the Glee Club.
2. Prayer by the Chaplain, J. Matlock.
3. Welcome address by Capt. Lemuel Jeffries.
5. Song --
Rally Round the Flag, by the Glee Club.
6. Toast -- The Ladies' Auxiliary of Given Post G.A.R., by Chaplain G. W. Pepper
7. Replied to by the President, Mrs. H. H. Jeffries.
8. Song --
My Country 'Tis of Thee.
9. Camp stories and army jokes by the comrades.
ADDRESS OF WELCOME.
Men of the 16th Ohio:--I give you a soldier's greeting, and as executive officer of the city, am proud to extend to you a most hearty welcome to Wooster. I do not do this as a mere matter of form, but as an earnest expression of the sentiment common to all the people of the city with whom the name of the 16th is synonym for gallantry. They know you personally, better, perhaps, than they do any other troops sent from Wayne county, for your regiment was organized in their midst; your camp was here, where for weeks the citizens daily took deep interest witnessing your preparations for the battle-field; and when you departed for the front you were accompanied by all the best wishes their love, friendship and loyalty could bestow. Those past days are not forgotten, nor are your services to our country unrecorded in a a cherished memory. Therefore, in the name of the people of Wooster I give you the freedom of the city.
I trust that your reunion will be a pleasant one to each and all; and that it will be I have no doubt, though I know, from experience, that the meeting of comrades on occasions like this, while it is full of joyful emotion, yet the familiar faces before you awaken remembrances melancholy and sad, as in quickened thought, back through the vista of years, the roll of the absent is called--the
absent, but accounted for--the absent hurled to death in the shock of battle--the absent
missing in action, grave unknown--the absent who perished in hospitals--the absent, who died at home in days of peace--all at rest under the old flag. Thus in recollection your regiment, a thousand strong, are
all present or accounted for, and that those present will all have a joyful reunion I believe, from the cordial greetings and bright eyes I have seen among you to day.
To, if possible, augment your pleasures at camp to-morrow, I sought the highest legal advice as to my territorial jurisdiction, and am happy to inform you that, by a suspension of the rules and special ordinance, I am empowered to extend, for one day, the corporation limits a few feet over the city line into Wayne township, and thus bring the
I. E. House within the Union lines. I know what a memorable spot it is to many of you, and how often it has raised your spirits. Consider it annexed to your welcome and the freedom of the city.
SERGT. S. N. COE,
Of Orrville, responded in behalf of the regiment, in happy, well-timed terms, expressing the hearty appreciation and gratitude of the 16th for the cordial welcoming hand extended to them. At the conclusion the veterans greeted him with a perfect storm of applause, giving vent their hearty endorsement of his speech. Owing to the Sergt's failure to supply the Secretary with his manuscript, the speech is omitted, much to our regret, as it was of great interest.
The Glee Club sang
Rally Round the Flag, during which the old regimental colors were brought into the Hall and those that couldn't sing cheered the old flag. Chaplain G. W. Pepper then responded to the toast,
The Ladies Auxiliary of Given Post G. A. R. which was received with rounds of applause. Mrs. Jeffries, President of the society, replied to Chaplain Pepper, which was also well received. When Mrs. Jeffries closed her happy effort the Glee Club sang
My Country 'Tis of Thee and the love feast commenced. Many were the reminiscences and army jokes recounted, recalling the day's of yore, those days so full of hardships and danger, those days when men saw comrade after comrade fall to rise no more, or to carry through life a shattered and maimed body. The hours passed swiftly unnoticed by the assembled veterans until the hour of eleven was near at hand. After singing
Marching Through Georgia Chaplain Pepper pronounced the benediction, and all sought their homes with heartfelt thanks for the privilege of being present, taking with them memories of an exceedingly happy evening.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 2d.
A light shower fell during the night, but by eight o'clock a.m., the clouds dispersed and the sun shone out in all his brightness.
At 8:30 a.m. the comrades being all assembled in the Hall the President called the Association to order. The minutes of the last reunion were read and approved. The Treasurer made his report which was accepted and ordered spread upon the records of the Association:
|Balance on hand from 1881.....................................................................||$37 45|
|Received for Annual Dues, 1882................................................................||96 00|
|Received for Badges...........................................................................||21 92|
|McClure, Sanborn & Co., printing...............................................................||$9 75|
|Cigar License..................................................................................||4 10|
|Freight on Tents and Stores....................................................................||10 72|
|H. G. White, badges............................................................................||21 70|
|Independent Band...............................................................................||25 00|
|Martial Band, transportation and boarding.....................................................||7 05|
|F. H. Liggett & Co.............................................................................||15 60|
|Enos Pierson, postal cards.....................................................................||3 75|
|Enos Pierson, postage and envelopes............................................................||5 35|
|A. Saybolt, tin cups and plates................................................................||3 00|
|Jacob Shelly, wood and straw...................................................................||3 00|
|White & Cunningham, papers.....................................................................||2 00|
|Enos Pierson, wrappers and postage.............................................................||2 78|
Owing to the liberality of some of our citizens, we are able to report a balance as above.
HARRY MCCLARRAN, President.
ENOS PIERSON, Secretary.
On motion a committee of one from each company was appointed to take the names of the members present at this reunion. During the registering of names the following letter from Dr. Brashear was read:
ENOS PIERSON, Secretary,
Dear Sir:--I have the honor to present to the members of this Association a basket of buttonhole boquets, the gift of a worthy friend of my wife, Mrs. Anna Steese Brown, of Akron, who in her stead and her memory, desires to continue the custom inaugurated by her at former reunions of our honored Regiment. I have the honor to be your comrade and most obedient servant, B. B. BRASHEAR, M. D.
The gift was accepted, and on motion a vote of thanks was tendered to Mrs. Anna Steese Brown for her generous gift in remembrance of the time honored custom of Mother Brashear.
Mrs. Imogene B. Oakley and Mrs. Nina B. Reopper, daughters of Dr. Brashear, then proceeded to distribute the boquets, after which a committee was appointed to select a place for holding the next reunion.
On motion of Dr. D. C. Curry, Mrs. Anna Steese Brown was elected an honorary member of the Association.
Capt. A. S. McClure from the committee on reunions, reported that Wooster had been selected as the place for holding the 9th annual reunion of the Association.
On motion the report was accepted.
On motion, a committee was appointed to select a President for three years and Vice President for one year, pending which Chaplain Matlock, after a few remarks offered the following motion: That a committee of five be appointed to devise some way of raising funds to purchase a monument in memory of Mother Brashear. Motion adopted and the following comrades appointed on said committee: Capt. A. S. McClure, D. C. Curry, W. H. Woodland, H. G. White and J. H. Morrison.
Comrade Wolbach from the committee on selection of officers, reported for President, Capt. A. S. McClure; for Vice President, Thomas T. Dill. On motion the report was accepted and the officers were elected by acclamation.
Several letters were then read from absent comrades, among which was the following:
SPENCER, IND., July 17, 1883.
To the officers and members of the Reunion Association, 16th Reg't., O. V. I.
Comrades:--On receiving the notice of your last reunion, I promised myself that I would certainly attend the next, but fate seems to have decreed that I must suffer a disappointment. The disappointment is more bitter from the fact that I have not had the pleasure of attending any of your reunions, being isolated as I am from the society of any of that brave
Spartan Band who were so much the pride of that best of officers, Col. DeCourcey. When we contemplate that long line of brave men with patriotic hearts beating high with hope, as we left Camp Tiffin on that bleak November day and then at the end of that arduous service of three years we see that remnant of the once strong, proud regiment filing into the enclosure of Camp Chase to be mustered out, we are led to ask,
where are the rest? The answer comes from hospitals, grave yards, many bloody fields and from the briny deep.
We hold all that is mortal, but the immortal has gone to its reward.
Comrades, we have done our duty as American citizens; fought, bled, endured and many died to perpetuate to ourselves and posterity the grandest and freest of all governments. A country with the best civil government, the most freedom of religious thought, the most elaborate and perfect system of education, the highest type of civilization, the greatest freedom of the press, the purest literature, the finest valleys, grandest mountains, longest rivers, largest lakes, richest mines, fairest and purest women, but only large enough for one flag.
Let us cherish the memory of those who stood side by side with us, but paid the penalty of their devotion to the
old flag, and sealed it with their life's blood. I shall remember you as you enjoy your reunion on the 1st and 2d of August, and treasure the hope that I shall be able to be with you at your next. Would be glad to have a line from any of the comrades who would so favor me.
Late Fifer, Company B, 16th Ohio Volunteers.
TRUCKEE, CAL., July 23, 1883.
ENOS PIERSON, Secretary 16th Ohio Regimental Association.
DEAR COMRADE:--I am sorry that I cannot be with you at the Reunion, but instead of myself I offer you my best wishes, and hope you will have a good, jolly old time, many pleasant recollections of the past, and bright hopes of the future.
I remain, your comrade, W. W. Boyd.
Lieutenant Company F, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
MARYSVILLE, O., July 1, 1883.
ENOS PIERSON, Secretary.
DEAR SIR:--Your invitation and program is before me. On the 6th of June, Mr. Wood and myself started for Eastern Tennessee. Harvey had always wished to visit Cumberland Gap and show me the different positions that the 16th Regiment occupied while there. He had always remembered that part of his soldier life as being particularly pleasant, and so much enjoyed referring to it. We arrived in Knoxville the morning of the 8th. On the 9th we took a carriage and spent the day driving over the mountains. Mr. Wood appeared very much fatigued, and complained of the excessive heat, but retired in apparently his usual health. I awoke about half-past five o'clock Sabbath morning. Hearing him make a singular noise, supposed it was nightmare. I turned him on his side, and finding I could not arouse him, I dressed quickly and rang the bell for help. The physician pronounced it appoplexy. He died thirty minutes past 8 o'clock A. M. How strange that Harvey should soldier there so long and come home, and then after long years have elapsed, go there to die.
Remember me to the members of your Regiment, and be assured I will ever take a warm interest in the old 16th, and it will be a pleasing, though sad remembrance, to hear from you whenever you meet together. Yours truly, Mrs. H. S. WOOD.
After reading the letters, the meeting at the Hall closed with music by the Young America Band. The veterans then formed in line, right resting on the Square, and at 11 o'clock commenced their march to Camp Tiffin, Young America Band in the lead, with Frank Feeman, Company K, drummer, and Charles Feeman, fifer. Then came three of the old battle flags, borne by Lieut. W. H. Woodland, Adam Hart and A. H. Sweitzer, followed by about a hundred of the old 16th boys. Bringing up the rear was Uncle Billy Nold, in the same wagon he used to take meat to Camp Tiffin. Sitting beside him was Samuel Daugherty, supporting a banner bearing the following inscription:
Arriving at the grounds, preparations were at once commenced for dinner. Soon was the coffee ready, and all around could be seen groups of old acquaintances and friends attacking the enemy most gallantly, but, notwithstanding the fierce onslaught, they were overpowered by a too liberal supply of substantials and the best of the season.
About 1.30 P.M., the assembly was called to order by the President, Captain A. S. McClure, and after music by the band, the following address was delivered by Captain McClure:
FELLOW SOLDIERS:--Twenty-two years ago, the 16th Ohio Regiment pitched tents in Camp Tiffin. Twenty-two years ago we began to acquire the elemental knowledge of a soldiers' duty on this spot. That was in 1861. In 1870 we held our first regimental reunion here. In 1874 we held our second regimental reunion here. Nine years have elapsed since then. We are here again to-day for the third time to celebrate our reunion festivities. On both former occasions I had the honor to extend to the regiment a cordial welcome. I enjoy that honor again to-day, and I discharge the duty it imposes with more solid satisfaction than at any previous occasion, because the flight of years has only strengthened the friendship that binds us together.
It seems to be almost superfluous for me to say to you that you are welcome. Welcome to the old camp ground; welcome to the historic spot where you first tasted the pleasures and faced the labors of a soldiers' life. Here you first acquired precision in step, experience in the school of the soldier, martial bearing and faith in each other. Here you first learned to sleep on the ground, with the earth for a pillow, the sky for a covering--the tents between of course. Here you first learned to cook your own rations--to prepare, with the highest culinary art, the ever-to-be-remembered-and-always-to be-praised dish of pork and beans. Here I believe you first assailed hard-tack and pulverized it between glistening grinders, which no dentist had ever soiled. Here you first learned to obey orders, to surreptitiously transgress the guard line under cover of darkness. Here you first learned a high and serene respect for the rights of private property, and to invade the sanctity of a hen-coop when prompted by a highly educated desire for a variety in diet. Here you first dreamed of glory on the battle-field; of a vanquished rebellion; of a restored Union and a victorious return home after the toils of war. It is a sacred spot. It is holy ground, to us at least. What a multitude of emotions are kindled in one's breast at the reunion of our broken ranks after a lapse of twenty-two years, on the very spot where the Regiment was organized.
I welcome you to the old camp-ground. I have no hesitation in welcoming you in the name of the patriotic citizens of Wayne county, for you were more distinctively, than any other regiment, a Wayne county regiment. From first to last, not less than eight hundred of her patriotic sons marched and fought in its ranks.
I have on the other reunions recapitulated the history of the Regiment; particularized its valor; commended its discipline; recalled its marches and campaigns; recited the gay and sober incidents of the bivouac and camp-fire; and I propose to-day to indulge in such general reflections as the occasion appropriately suggests. And the first topic I desire to call your attention to, is the lapse of time. It is twenty-two years since the regiment encamped here. That is a considerable part of an active life-time. Twenty-two years signalized by mighty achievements and momentous changes. The flight of time has left its foot-prints on the faces of the veterans--it could not do otherwise. We are twenty-two years older than we were in 1861, and there is a world of meaning in that. The step is not as firm, nor the eye as bright, nor the face as smooth as twenty-two years ago. We are men now; most of us were boys then. Still, we are not old. The true soldier never grows old in spirit, vivacity, aspiration, or patriotic ardour. The hair may grow gray, he eye dim, the step may falter, and the body be bent with the load of years-maybe racked and overrun by all the diseases that make war on the human constitution--but the intrepid spirit, the immortal soul of the veteran never quails before the blows of fortune--never skulks before the vicissitudes of life--never puts up with the white flag to the operations of time. However, if we were obliged to march all day in the mud, to bivouac on the wet ground at night, to subsist on the rough fare of a soldier, to confront the hardships of an active campaign, we would probably discover and acknowledge that our bodily vigor has been perceptibly diminished by the exposure of military service and progress of time. I confess for myself that I do not note the accelerated flight of the years with warm satisfaction. Why, the earth seems to spin on its axis like a nickle-plated bicycle; its hub smokes and its spokes are indistinguishable in the rapidity of its revolutions. Still I do not see that we can in any way impede its expedition. What mighty changes have occurred. The galaxy of statesmen which directed the destinies of the Nation in the sad havoc of the civil war--Lincoln, Stanton, Chase, Seward, Wade, Giddings--has been gathered to rest. A new generation has come to the stage since the 16th Ohio was organized in Camp Tiffin. But as this is a distasteful subject and as I do not propose to preach a sermon to-day, I will dismiss it. However, the associations of the time and place force on us the reluctant recognition of the unpalatable fact that a quarter of a century had fled, been mustered out of service, since you buckled on the knapsack in 1861.
I desire now to call your attention to a topic that glows like burnished gold with glory, and that is the splendid changes that have taken place in the history and prospects of the American people since the organization of the Regiment. Then the future was black and stormy. The foundations of the Union rocked under the violence of civil war. A great section of the Union, inhabited by a numerous, high spirited and valorous people, determined to break up the Republic in order that an Empire might be established on its ruins, whose corner-stone should be slavery. Foreign notions made offensive haste to predict national dismemberment as the inevitable issue of the struggle. Slavery and rebellion in half the Union, a disordered currency, a tainted credit, a civil service honeycombed with treason, great armies mustering for the conflict, patriotism appalled, treason rampant, the flag insulted, the laws trampled under foot, the future full of clouds, storms and blood, such was the situation at that time. Now all has changed. Slavery has been wiped out, treason crushed, the exasperations of the war extinguished, its wounds healed, its ravages obliterated, and the two hostile sections no longer alienated by geographical feuds, dwell together in unbroken harmony. The blue and the gray, commingling in reunion festivities, applaud a common flag. We are to-day unquestionably the freest, greatest, strongest, richest and most intelligent nation in all the globe. We have substantially paid off the war debt. We have $1,400,000,000 of circulating medium, every dollar as good as gold. Our coffers are loaded with the precious metals. We have more telegraphs and nearly as many railroads as in all the rest of the world beside. We number over fifty millions of people, free, prosperous, happy--with one flag, one country, and one destiny. These great changes, this unexampled growth, these incomparable opportunities, are to a large extent, the proximate result of the valor of the soldiers who went out to fight for their country in 1861. If there is any one thing I am proud of, it is the fact that I was one of them. I would not exchange it for the proudest civic honor that can crown fortunate or illustrious citizenship.
The honors of peace are often the foot-balls of accident, vain baubles, gilded and perishable playthings, but the glory of a soldier is an imperishable possession, the sole product of his courageous nerves. Patriotism is the highest human virtue. It is better than hoarded wealth; better than the most august civic honors; better than pomp of royalty, for it proclaims the innate greatness of the soul. The boasted wealth of the corporate millionaires is vulgarity compared to the glory of the soldiers who carried the flag over every obstacle of nature and valor, down to the Gulf. Another thing I want to talk about. Gilt-edged philosophers and kid-golved humanitarians generally agree, I believe, in stigmatizing war as an unmixed evil. I do not so regard it. Peace undoubted has many virtues; soft, amiable virtues, such as thrift, frugality, industry commercial probity, mechanical genius, enterprise, and the accumulation of wealth. But these are easy virtues. War, on the other hand, has a group of virtues; cardinal heroic virtues, such as valor, fortitude, patriotism, stern discipline, implicit obedience, chivalric honor,--virtue that fortified the soul, strengthening it, makes it sinews strong and tough and firm and true. No nation was ever great and brave or free without war, and none ever will be so. Uninterrupted peace propagates national dry rot. War, justifiable war, patriotic war, is necessary to prevent national decrepitude. When the Greeks lost their martial virtues they fell. So with the Romans; so with the Persians; so with the Egyptians; so with every Nation. Where there is no valor there is pusillanimity, and where there is pusillanimity there is moral black vomit and the nation dies; dies from the Asiatic cholera of cowardice; dies from the incurable distemper of moral turpitude. I do not care to elaborate these reflections, but I could easily corroborate them by an appeal to history. Nor do I think that the civil war as is generally supposed, had a corrupting influence on the individual soldier. On the contrary, it not only did not corrupt him, but lifted him up, gave him higher aspirations, broader views and fitted him in every respect for the patient duties and tranquil responsibilities of civil life. It is an undoubted historical fact that the soldiers in all our wars, in the Revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the Mexican war, and the Civil war have distinguished themselves in civil life.
Eighteen years have passed away since the Civil war ended, and the presidential office has been continuously filled by soldiers, and is likely to be filled by soldiers until the race runs out. In all the vocations of peace they have paddled their own canoes admirably. Sober, frugal, enterprising, laborious, wide-awake, stout-hearted, clear-headed, the soldiers of the Civil war have made an honorable record in peace. The Columbus reunion afforded a most notable illustration of their civic virtues. There were 15,000 veteran soldiers there. The festivities extended over three days, and yet no soldier disgrace himself or his comrades by intemperance which is supposed to be a vice inseparable from army life. I propose now to allude to a domestic matter, a matter pertaining to our regimental family. When we were mustered into the service we were emphatically a bachelor regiment. Hardly a line or field officer, or a man in the ranks, was married. I do not speak of this in a proud language of eulogy, because it is not a fit subject of eulogy. The fact is, the most of us had not arrived at the matrimonial age or had not acquired sufficient earthly possessions to warrant us in confronting the financial problem involved in that domestic relation. It is true we had a few specimens of rock-ribbed, moss-backed, hide-bound bachelors, but they were mighty few. I will not individualize them for very good reasons, considering the domestic status of the regiment, it made an extraordinary record; for it is the testimony of all experience that an immemorial, flinty-faced cold-blooded bachelor can never become a hero. Irreclaimable bachelorhood is obnoxious to valor. Heroism springs from warm blood and an ardent soul. The Sixteenth Regiment, however, made ample atonement. The sword had scarcely been sheathed and the cannon muzzled before the boys began to bushwhack for wives. They prosecuted their courtship with irresistible energy. Old bachelors fell into line and came to close quarters on double quick time. They seemed to enjoy a hand-to-hand conflict. The Regiment was literally married in the aggregate. A thorough-bred soldier knows how to win a true wife. He knows by instinct. He selects the object of attack with laudable circumspection. He envelops it with skirmishers. He surrounds it with batteries of artillery. He feels for the enemy with affectionate dexterity, and at the proper moment plunges to the assault with all his might and always comes out victorious. It affords me great pleasure to be able to declare that the boys of the Sixteenth Ohio have been singularly successful in their matrimonial deals, plot and operations. Not a bachelor remains that I know of. If there be any let us debar them from the reunion festivities while they remain in that inhospitable unsocial, unpatriotic and unsoldierly condition. Let the decree go forth that no Sixteenth Ohio bachelor shall be permitted to profane the sacred soil of Camp Tiffin with his unholy feet. I know I announce the collective judgment of the Regiment when I affirm that we hold it to be a cardinal duty of a soldier in peace to help furnish the census enumerator with abundant work. From appearances, I think the regiment could run a census bureau itself, and I suggest that at our next reunion we have a count of the second generation.
The hand of time is committing depredations on our ranks. Each reunion discloses fresh spoliations. I note to-day a conspicuous absence. A noble woman the life of noble man, shared our fortunes on many a toilsome march. She won our hearts by the possession and practice of every womanly virtue. Kind, patient, gentle, watchful, she filled the office of a mother to many a sick and worn out soldier. We loved her, loved her as a Regiment for the good she did. But she has gone from among us forever. Mrs. Brashear will never again greet us in earthly reunions. To our stricken comrade her husband, we extend our heartfelt sympathy in his heavy bereavement.
Again I welcome you. We should draw close together. Each reunion should be a golden holiday, an oasis in the desert march of life. We should stand by one another, and as our ranks grow thinner and thinner, our friendship should grow stronger and stronger.
Following Captain McClure was Chaplain Matlock, who, in his usual happy style, related the story of the time he spent with the regiment.
After the conclusion of Rev. Matlock's remarks, all joined in singing that grand old song,
Rally Round the Flag Boys.
Rabbi Fleischman then read a poem,
Mother of the Regiment, as follows:
[The following original poem references Catherine W. Brashear, the wife of the Regimental Surgeon, B. B. Brashear. Mrs. Brashear
traveled with her husband and the Regiment through much of the war, acting as a nurse and
mother to the soldiers. Mrs. Brashear, active in many of the previous reunions, died on May 29, 1883, just two months before this eight reunion.]
The moon has passed from the clouds that massed
A fun'ral pall o'er the battle array,
Its rays are cast where the brave fell fast
Like the garnered grain on the harvest day,
Where sabres flashed and the bullets crashed,
And the ranks were mowed by the burning shell,
Where officers dashed and bay'nets flashed
While the men stood firm in the cauldron of hell;
The mellow light wraps a halo bright
Round the ranks of the dead who calmly sleep,
The stars of the night, grow dim at the sight
And the low'ring clouds are longing to weep.
The flags are furled and the smoke has curled
Away from the cannons that roared so wild,
Where grape was hurled while a trembling world
Saw the dead and the dying multiplied;
The wounded lie 'neath the starry sky,
While the shadows of night are gathering thick,
The winds that sigh waft the mournful cry
Which comes from the lips of the fevered sick.
On the gory field where each flash revealed
The angel of death as he swiftly passed,
Where his trumpet pealed, and his harvest yield
Lay strewn like the leaves of the autumn blast,
On the furrowed field, where thunder pealed
While the hopes of years were nipped in the bud,
When chargers reeled and their riders sealed
Their record of strife with their heart's best blood;
When passions were hushed and hopes were crushed,
And the spirit of man 'neath woe was bent,
As tears she brushed and the moans she hushed,
We found the
Mother of the Regiment.
When our souls were sad and wounds were bad,
And we longed for the faces far away;
When the dead were clad or prayers had,
Or the dying folded their hands to pray;
When the lips so white, moved ever so slight,
And the spirit of life seemed almost spent,
The sick gained might, our spirits grew bright,
Cheered by the
Mother of the Regiment.
The battles are won and sire and son
Returned to the homes their valor had saved;
At setting of sun when work was done
They told of the dangers they oft' had braved;
Their eyes grew bright as they spoke with might
While the people cheered to their heart's content
How bravest by right throughout the flight,
Was their dear
Mother of the Regiment.
And when the band dispersed through the land,
At ev'ry muster was wont to appear;
The one to command both heart and hand
Was the pet of her boys, Mother Brashear.
But the kindly face and queenly gaze
Are vanished and gone from the soldier's tent,
Empty the place where we loved to trace
Deeds of the
Mother of the Regiment.
The flags are furled and our tears are pearled,
On the bier of the one we loved so well;
A grateful world its love has curled
'Round the mem'ry of her who bravely fell,
When birds shall sing and the years shall bring,
Still sweeter fruits on the chariot of time,
When souls shall swing as an eagle wing,
To the loftiest realms of thought sublime,
On grandest height, where our Nation's light
Shall shine like the stars on the vaulted tent
Like a sacred knight with banner bright,
Shall stand the
Mother of the Regiment.
The above poem was read with great feeling, following which was the following tribute to Mother Brashear, by Capt. W. M. Ross, M. D:
In 1861 when the tocsin of war had sounded in our beloved land, threatening a permanent dissolution of the Union and men and boys came forward to battle for the right, then we first met her to whose memory we offer this tribute to-day.
Let the name be spoken in reverence as one among the noblest dead. Deep emotions are stirred in our hearts as we recall the record of our Mother during the late civil struggle. Like a ministering angel she went among us doing good, comforting the sad, ministering to the sick and soothing the dying, pointing to them the way of life immortal, and leading them by her inspiring words close to the borders of the stream we cross which they would soon enter, a land of beauty, where wars alarms are unknown. She was ever ready in noble womanhood and with a martyr spirit, to endure long, weary marches, and suffer all the privations incident to a soldiers life, that she might be ready to minister to the weary, the sick, the wounded and dying; and hundreds to-day bless the name of Mother Brashear. Oh, how we miss her here to-day and how we will continue to miss her at out annual reunions. She will never again as she has at each past reunion with her own deft fingers pin a bouquet to the lapel of each boy's coat; and smilingly look into his face and say
how glad I am to see you. She was summoned to some up higher, to a reunion that shall have on end and our loss is her infinite gain. She has gone to her grave like a shock of corn fully ripe and ready for the harvest,--leaving a name that will never be forgotten, a memory ever to be kept green, and an example worthy of emulation. We bow submissively to this providence of God and trustfully say
Thy will be done.
There was glad hallelujahs in Heaven
When her glorified spirit reached home,
And her boys who had gone on before her,
Rejoiced that their Mother had come.
May we who are left here yet longer
Obey our Commander on high,
So that when marching orders are given,
We'll all meet in the
Sweet By and By.
The boys then joined in singing that grand old hymn
Sweet Bye and By. It was very feelingly and pathetically rendered.
In response to a call for a speech, Comrade J. H. Morrison read a poem by Mrs. Helen Freer in memory of Mother Brashear:
Soldiers met in glad reunion.
Living o'er the time that's fled,
As your tents upon the camp-ground
Of the battle years your spread;
And again the oft-told story
Of the soldier you repeat,
Of the bivouac, march and picket,
Battle, victory or retreat.
As again the hands of comrades
In fraternal clasp you press,
And remember each reunion
Sees your number growing less;
As again you hear the roll-call
And you listened all in vain
For the tones that do not answer,
That will never sound again.
There's a'name that in the silence
Thrills in every soldier's soul,
Like a low, sweet-sounding bugle,
Or a muffled drum's sad roll.
Need I call that form to memory;
Sleeping in a lowly tent?
Need I name the brave and tender
Mother of the Regiment>
Truly she was as your mother
For she joyed in all your joys,
And she wept with all your sorrows,
And she named you all
And when o'er the dying soldier,
With a tender touch she hung,
With an anguish like a mother
All her loving heart was wrung.
Soldiers, you were strong men, able
Country's righteous cause to prove;
She, a woman, weak and tender
Strong in naught but pitying love,
But o'er Cumberland's rough mountains
Never marched a man more brave,
Or upon the field of battle
Found a soldier's nameless grave.
Whether in the rugged fastness,
In her rude, sky-tented camp
With the night-clouds for a blanket,
And the star light for a lamp;
Or upon the weary marches
Constant toil and danger near,
Battling oft with hunger's weakness--
Harassed in the front and rear.
Still like morning sunlight rifting
Through the night-clouds glad and bright,
Was her cheerful face among you,
Beaming through war's clouded night;
Still unflinching and undaunted,
Her brave spirit seemed to be;
Duty's call her midnight sentry,
And her morning reveille.
How her presence chased the shadows,
When the home-sick soldier pined,
Sadly missing home's sweet comforts
And the dear one's left behind.
And if on the march some comrade
Fell, o'er wearied and o'er wrought,
How with her canteen she hastened
Ready with reviving draught.
Ah, that canteen! Lips have pressed it,
Hot with fever's gasping breath;
Lips have pressed it that the long years
Press with icy seal of death.
Hands with eager haste have grasped it,
That in rigid clasp you laid
On the cold and pulseless bosom,
Neath the Southern mountain's shade.
Ah, that canteen! Is it wondrous
That it's sight brings quick the tears,
As you think of her who bore it
Through those toilsome battle years?
Think of comrades who have blessed her
With their last breath, e'er they died,
For the boon of heavenly mercy
That its cooling draught supplied?
When the battle rolling onward
Left its awful track behind
And the smoke cloud of the cannon
Lifted slowly with the wind,
Then the wounded and the dying
Laid mid mingled heaps of slain,
Called for the drink of water
With each struggling breath of pain.
There with tender care she hovered,
O'er her suffering, dying brave,
Staunched the sounds that fast were bleeding
And cooling water gave,
There ere death's relentless master
Sent the valiant spirits forth,
Caught the faintly whispered message
To the loved ones at the North.
Oh! The tender pitying message,
Penned by her in war's dark day,
To the sad-eyed weeping mother
Waiting lonely far away;
Penned to mothers, wives and sisters,
Waiting long and sad in vain
For the boys who marched to southward,
But who ne'er marched back again.
Soldier, years have rolled above you
Since war tried and found you true;
And the rifle gleams no longer
Down the ranks of Gray and Blue,
From the mountain side and valley
Comes no sound of fife or drum,
And the flashing sword is rusted,
And the cannon's voice is dumb
Heavenly peace unrolls her standard
Over water, hill and dell,
And the starry flag is floating
Where our gallant heroes fell;
And in Glendale's quiet shadows
In her glory-guarded tent
Sleeps the grand, the brave, the noble
Mother of the Regiment
But her blessed deeds of mercy
Linger like the sunset's flame
With a final touch of Glory,
Crowning woman's highest fame;
And her words thrill through the memory
Like a sad, sweet echo's call,
When the night among the mountains
Lets her solemn shadows fall.
But, as year by year you gather,
You will miss her smiling face,
Until life's reunion's over
You shall march to endless peace;
Till the Great Commander's order
Comes to fold the time-worn tent,
Then you'll meet in long reunion
Mother of the Regiment.
During these tributes to our grand and noble
mother not a dry eye could be found among that band of heroes whose faces never blanched in the hour or peril and whose hearts knew no fear. Fond and dear will her memory ever remain with those with whom she braved the hardships of the march and the perils of the battle-field.
Sergt. S. N. Coe, Capt. VanDoorn and T. D. Wolbach presented the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, It has pleased God to remove from this life, since our last reunion our devoted and true friend, Mrs. Brashear, who shared with us the privations and dangers of a soldier's life, therefore be it
Resolved, That the comrades of the 16th Regiment, in her death have lost one whose memory shall ever be cherished, and hose familiar face and cheering voice shall be sadly missed at the annual reunions of the regiment.
Resolved, That in her death the society in which she moved, and the country at large, has lost one of its most useful, kind-hearted and patriotic characters.
Resolved, That the surviving members of the 16th Regiment and the many friends of Mother Brashear extend to Dr. B. B. Brashear, his daughters and families their deepest and most hear-felt sympathies in their loss of a devoted wife and mother.
Impromptu speeches were then made by Capt. VanDoorn, S. N. Coe, Rev. G. W. Pepper, D. C. Curry and others.
The exercises closed about 4 o'clock p. m., with music by the band, after which the regiment formed line and marched to G. A. R. Headquarters where they were dismissed.
The following comrades were present at this reunion:
(reunion attendance pages to be developed)
Mrs. Imogene B. Oakley, Allegheny, Pa.
Mrs. Nina B. Roepper, Alliance.
Mrs. J. H. Morrison and daughter, Akron.
Mrs. Harry McClarran, Wooster.
Mrs. Speers McClarran, Wooster.
Mrs. Enos Pierson, Wooster.
Mrs. W. P. Van Doorn, Canaan.
Mrs. D. C. Curry, Wooster.
The following comrades have died since our last reunion:
Park Grimes, burned in his mill in Michigan.
Dr. S. S. Eberhardt, died at Applecreek, Ohio.
Mother Brashear, died at Akron, May 27.
John Hough, died in Wayne township, June ----.
Lieut. Harvey Wood, died at Knoxville, Tennessee, June 10.
Comrades, you are requested to furnish the Secretary with the names of all who have died since we were mustered out, giving date of death and place, so that a complete roll may be kept of our deceased comrades. ENOS PIERSON, Secretary.
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