Vermont at Gettysburg
July, 1863 and Fifty Years Later
Lieut. Stephen F. Brown, of the Thirteenth, went into and almost through the battle armed only with a hatchet. On the march to Gettysburg strict orders had been issued that on one should be permitted to leave the ranks for the purpose of getting water while the column was marching, this order being given to prevent straggling. When Lieut. Brown saw the suffering of his men, some of whom had fallen fainting, he disobeyed this order, took the canteens of a number of men and filled them at a well that was guarded, first giving his name to the guard. He was placed under arrest for his disobedience and his sword was taken from him. When Gettysburg was reached he was released from arrest, but his sword being with the wagon train, he armed himself with a hatchet with which he received the surrender of one of Pickett's officers, from whom he took his sabre and pistol. The position of the Thirteenth regiment is now marked by a monument, the figure of which represents Lieut. Brown buckling on the belt and sword captured from this Confederate officer, while the hatchet lies at his feet.
The First Vermont Cavalry gave a good account of itself in the Gettysburg campaign, meeting Stuart's men in several skirmishes before reaching Gettysburg. During the third day of the battle,
while the great artillery duel was in progress, Gen. Kilpatrick ordered Farnsworth to take the First Vermont Cavalry and First West Virginia cavalry and charge the enemy near Round Top. This charge was over stone walls and against batteries heavily supported by infantry and was a hopeless undertaking from the start, but was bravely led by the gallant Farnsworth, notwithstanding that he had expressed his opinion to Kilpatrick that it was no place to take mounted men. The losses were heavy including Farnsworth, who fell at the head of his troops. While it may have prevented the enemy in this part of the field from taking any part in the contest near the center, yet the movement did not give results commensurate with the losses sustained. The gallant Vermont Cavalry, however, kept up their splendid record and shoed that they were not afraid to lead a forlorn hope. Reports show that this little band encountered five regiments of infantry and two batteries in this charge. The rapidity with which they moved save them from annihilation.
The Vermont Sharpshooters gave a good account of themselves at Gettysburg, taking part in the severe fight for the possession of Little Round Top on the second day, while on the third day Co. F was sent to the right near the line of the Second Vermont Brigade and assisted in repelling the attack of Pickett's division and Wilcox's and Perry's brigades.
The old Vermont Brigade, composing a part of the Sixth Corps, lay quietly at Manchester July 1st, unaware that the great battle which all were expecting had already begun. Orders came that night to move to Gettysburg. Howe's division started at once, but was delayed by other troops and had made but five miles by daylight, when it struck the Baltimore and Gettysburg turnpike and moved off on the longest, most rapid and most exciting march in its history. It was thirty-two miles to the battle-ground, but the distance was covered by the Old Brigade soon after five that afternoon -- a most wonderful march. The morning of this day, when the fate of the army and the issue of the war might depend so much upon the presence of the fighting Sixth Corps, its gallant and beloved commander, Gen. Sedgwick, issued his famous order: "Put the Vermonters ahead and keep the column well closed up." As these troops crossed Rock Creek, Hood was making his attempt to capture Little Round top, while Longstreet, having driven back the Third Corps, was endeavoring to break through Meade's left, so the arrival of the Sixth Corps, whose record as fighters was second to none and equaled by few in the entire army, was most timely and welcome.
The First Vermont Brigade went into position near Round Top in one of the most important positions on the field, holding the extreme left of the army and picketing its flank that night. It was held in reserve near the same position during the third day. This brigade was among the leaders in the pursuit of Lee, and at Funkstown gave a splendid exhibition of its dogged fighting proclivities when it held a skirmish line covering a front of two miles against three successive attacks made in line of battle by the enemy. Gen. Lewis A. Grant has said that it is doubtful if in the history of any war any incident can be found where a skirmish line extending over such a distance has repeatedly repelled the assaults of strong lines of battle at so many different points Gen. Sedgwick in his report said: "The remarkable conduct of the brigade on this occasion deserves high praise."
Thus ended in a most fitting manner the splendid work of the Green Mountain Boys in the Gettysburg campaign.
By Capt. Frank Kenfield
For three or four years prior to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the question had been agitated, not only by the G. A. R., but by the different states, especially Pennsylvania, that when this anniversary did arrive, a great celebration be held on this historic field, to commemorate this event and to invite all who took part I the Civil War, on either side, to attend and join in the exercises, thus making it a great Peace Jubilee, such as the world has never known. This was an undertaking of no small magnitude, but as time went on plans were being formulated to carry out this scheme.
When the great and loyal state of Pennsylvania took hold of it, success was assured. She appointed a commission, consisting of nine members of which Gen. Louis Wagner of Philadelphia was Chairman, (who afterwards resigned and General James L. Schoonmaker succeeded him) and Lieut. Col. Lewis E. Beitler, Secretary. She also invited all the states and territories, each to appoint one commissioner to meet with the above and formulate plans to carry out this great undertaking. Governor George H. Prouty appointed Col. Heman W. Allen, of Burlington, as Commissioner from Vermont.
The first meeting of this commission was held at Gettysburg, on October 14th and 15th, 1910, and forty or more were present. They went over this field, exchanged views and discussed different propositions, and suggestions which were left to the Pennsylvania Commission to work out, and thus the foundation to this great celebration was laid.
Pennsylvania was the host and provided all entertainment at Gettysburg, during July 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 1913, for more than 50,000 honorably discharged veterans of the Civil War. By an Act of Congress, August 26, 1912, an appropriation of $150,000 was made, provided Pennsylvania appropriated the same amount for the same purpose, that is -- to create and maintain a great camp around the battlefield, complete in all its provisions of camp and garrison equipment, with all quartermaster, commissary, hospital and other necessary supplies ample for fifty thousand veterans. The camp covered 280 acres -- starting two hundred yards from High Water Mark Monument to the battlefield, lying to the southwest of the town and partly over the scene of the first day's fight.
There were 6,592 tents and the "Great Tent;" each tent occupied by eight veterans, each veteran being supplied with a separate cot, blankets and mess kit., (consisting of tin cup, plate, knife, fork and spoons, these to be kept as a souvenir, if desired). Each tent contained two hand basins, one water bucket, two lanterns and candles for each. Towels, soap and other toilet articles were provided by the veteran himself.
Each soldier received his meals at the Cook Tent, and could eat it on tables provided for this purpose, near the kitchen at the end of each Company Street, or wherever he desired.
The mail was delivered twice each day and came very regularly. The camp was in complete readiness for veterans on Sunday, June 29th, 1913, and supper, the first meal, was served that evening.
This was a wonderful camp, so well equipped and so well managed in every detail as to be unsurpassed. Here for nearly a full week more than fifty thousand veterans of the Civil War participated in one grand reunion and were royally entertained under such marvelously happy circumstances, by that great state, Pennsylvania. Her hospitality was so generous, promoted by such a spirit of patriotism that she fairly won and justly deserves the lasting gratitude of the American people. Here on this tented field, fifty years ago, one of the greatest conflicts of modern ages was waged between two great armies and the survivors of these armies again me on this field in a grand and great reunion which demonstrated to the world that the bitterness and hatred which existed during this great struggle, is forever blotted out and a new gospel of fraternity and national brotherhood unparalleled in the world's history is now in force.
The official program extended over a period of four days but the great camp was open and occupied for practically one week. The public addresses were many and of a high order. The President of the United States, Members of his Cabinet, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Committees of both Houses of Congress, and the Governors of many States were officially present and took part in the exercise.
The address of President Wilson was delivered almost within hearing of the spot where Pickett's charge culminated I that great defeat -- the high water mark of the battle and the turning point of the Civil War; also not far from the spot where Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, delivered that memorable address dedicating a portion of this filed as a final resting place for the Union dead. This speech is considered one of the greatest ever made by man. In one sentence he said, "The world will little note or long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
On the platform with President Wilson, sat the daughter and last surviving child of General Meade, also the daughter of General A. P. Hill, and the son of General Longstreet.
The first day, which was G. A. R. Day, was one of much interest to veterans and was surpassed by no other day in cementing a friendly feeling between the North and South. On this day, the remnants of the two armies held one grand reunion Alfred E. Beers, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, and Bennett H. Young, Commander-in-Chief of the United Confederate Veterans, spoke from the same platform. Each vied wit the other in expressing in strongest terms their loyalty to their country and its flag.
Commander-in-Chief Beers, before delivering his address, called on every one present who loved the Union and its Flag to rise and give three cheers to Governor Tener, and the State of Pennsylvania, who had made the celebration possible. Every person in the audience, the Blue and the Gray, and citizens alike, arose and gave three cheers that were enthusiastic and long continued.
The address of Commander-in-Chief Beers was worthy of the time, place and of that great organization which he represents. In closing he said, "Let, then, those who wore the blue, and those who wore the Gray alike, devote every effort to swell the chorus of Peace and Goodwill, so that its mystic strains shall reach every heart and home in our land, and its force and power be felt to the Glory of God, the elevation of our Nation, and the advancement of mankind."
General Young, who followed, gave an address that was eloquent, full of loyalty and patriotism. He is a southern born orator and fairly mystified that great audience, whose applause was continuous.
Of the General Officers that were present and took part in the Battle of Gettysburg were Generals Daniel E. Sickles, John R. Brooke and Lewis A. Grant, of the Army of the Potomac, and General E. M. Law and General F. R. Robertson of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
Twenty-eight Northern states made appropriations to send their veterans to Gettysburg. In some cases the appropriations were for the benefit of those only who had taken part in the battle, but in most cases all veterans that fought in the Civil War on either side, were included. Seven Southern states made appropriations for this purposes, making a total of thirty-five states, aggregating $1,175,370, of which Pennsylvania gave $450,000. 9,210 veterans paid their own transportation.
General Schoonmaker, who succeeded General Wagner, rendered valiant service and had much to do in solving all questions pertaining to the railway transportation problem, which he did in a very satisfactory manner, but the man of the hour was Col. Lewis E. Beitler, Secretary of the commission. He was the indispensable, as he managed affairs at, and before the celebration. For two years prior to this event he gave his entire time and ability and he deserves lasting credit for his untiring efforts, which made this celebration a grand success. No man could have done better and few as well.
In size this camp never had its equal -- in splendor and attractiveness, only those that saw it can realize its immensity and elegance. The rations were beyond the expectations of all; cook on the ground, it was varied, wholesome and plentiful. The water came from artesian wells, and was pure and abundant. Ice was furnished to make it cool.
The attendance of the Confederate veterans was large but not as large as the management had hoped to see; still under existing circumstances, perhaps it was as large as could have been expected. The main obstacle of their non-attendance was the distance to be traveled and the absence of state appropriation, as only seven southern states appropriated for this purpose, and some of these appropriations were small, which obstacles were difficult to overcome. Had it not been for the deep personal interest taken in the matter by a noble group of influential Confederate veterans, led by General C. Irvin Walker, of Charleston, South Carolina, and Mrs. Alexander B. White, President General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the attendance of the Confederate veterans would have been less than it actually was. On the whole they did well and did much to make this celebration a great Peace Jubilee, which will be an object lesson and do much to cement more firmly the good feeling now existing between the North and South.
It was originally planned that during this celebration a cornerstone of a Peace Monument be laid as a memorial, typifying National Peace and Brotherhood, a united and indissoluble republic. The time appointed to place this cornerstone was high noon, July 4th, but for good and sufficient reason, this was postponed to a future date. Before the celebration closed, plans were discussed by both Union and Confederate veterans present. The feeling prevailed fully as firmly with the Confederates, as with the Union veterans, that it was the duty of this Government to erect such a memorial upon the battlefield of Gettysburg.
Since this celebration a meeting of prominent Union and Confederate Veterans was held at Chattanooga, Tenn., during the National Encampment, and an association formed called "The Gettysburg Peace Memorial Association." Articles of Association were adopted, and the following is a part of the first Article:
The purpose of the Gettysburg Peace Memorial Association, is to obtain from the Congress of the United States, an adequate appropriation, together with the appointment of a commission to erect a Peace Monument on the battlefield of Gettysburg, in commemoration of the great fraternal and patriotic meetings held there -- on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the battle, July 1-4, 1913.
General Hilary A. Herbert, a Confederate soldier, a distinguished congressman and Mr. Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy, was elected President, and General C. Irvin Walker, Secretary, and one Vice-President from each state, and a long list of Committees, to carry on this work. The Vice-President from Vermont is Colonel Heman W. Allen, of Burlington, and General T. S. Peck, of Burlington, was also placed on one of the Committees.
Already a bill has been introduced into Congress for an appropriation of $500,000, with the expectation that it will pass at this session. Interest has already grown to such proportions that there is little risk to run today in saying that is it only a question of a few years until such a monument will be dedicated on this battlefield.
At a meeting of Confederate veterans held at Gettysburg, July 2nd, the following resolution was adopted:
RESOLVED: That we take pride in the fact that to the armies of the Confederacy is due the credit of demonstrating the utter impossibility of the dismemberment of the Union.
When we consider that six hundred thousand men, the very flower of chivalry, as good material as was ever organized into a fighting force, directed by such commanders as our revered Robert E. Lee, and his Lieutenants, and inspired by a sectional devotion, such as has not elsewhere been known in history, failed to separate the States, we see that the demonstration was complete, that the thing could not be done; and our failure must give pause to those who in the future would contemplate such an undertaking."
This resolution is imbued with a spirit of reconciliation and with a conviction that the dissolution of this Union is an impossibility. This feeling seemed to prevail throughout the Confederate camp, and the case was rare in which they did not express themselves in full accord with the final result -- it was better for them that the Union was preserved.
After his appointment as Commissioner, Col. Heman W. Allen, at once began the work. He took a deep interest in this celebration and his great desire was, that Vermont veterans be well represented and well entertained while there. He attended each meeting of the National Commission; laid plans and worked faithfully to secure this end. As other states were making appropriations for the transportation of their veterans, it was though best to ask Vermont to do the same at the next session of the Legislature, which convened in October, 1912.
Soon after the Legislature convened, Past Department Commander Chester M. Ferrin, of Essex Junction, a member of the House of Representatives, introduced a bill, of which the following is a copy:
AN ACT TO APPROPRIATE A CERTAIN SUM FOR THE PROPER CELEBRATION BY THE STATE OF VERMONT OF THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
Section 1. The sum of ten thousand dollars or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated for the purpose of paying transportation of all honorably discharged soldiers of either army I the great civil conflict of 1861-1865, now residents of Vermont, to and from Gettysburg, to attend the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, to be held on the battlefield, July 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 1913.
Sec. 2. The governor shall appoint a commission of three veterans who shall have charge of said celebration and pass upon all bills and approve the same, but the management of all detail, including the notification to veterans, and their transportation shall be performed by the adjutant and inspector general and quartermaster general of the State.
Sec. 3. The auditor of accounts is hereby directed to draw orders for such sums as shall be presented by the adjutant and inspector general and quartermaster general, approved by said commissioners, to defray the expenses of such transportation and the necessary expenses of said commission; but the total expenditure for all purposes shall not exceed the amount of said appropriation.
Sec. 4. This Act shall take effect from its passage.
Approved January 11, 1913.
This bill passed both Houses without a dissenting voice, and became a law. When Dr. Ferrin introduced this bill it was thought that $10,000 would be sufficient to pay the transportation of all veterans that would go from Vermont, as it was expected that the railroads would make a convention rate as low as they formerly had, which was around $15.00 from any point in the state. If they had done as heretofore, this appropriation would have been sufficient to have paid full transportation for all that did go, but instead they made a rate of 1 5-8c per mile; thus the transportation charges varied, according to the location in the state, which ran from $24.50 at Island Pond down to $15.05 at Brattleboro, with an additional charge of $100.00 for a special ferry boat from New York to Jersey City-- $50.00 each way; which in this case left a small balance for each veteran to pay, as the Adjutant General's report will show.
Soon after the bill making this appropriation was passed, Governor Fletcher appointed three Commissioners, as the bill provided, who were as follows: Col. Heman W. Allen, Burlington, Capt. Frank Kenfield, Morrisville, and Col. W. H. H. Slack, Springfield.
The first meeting of this Commission was held I the Adjutant General's office at Montpelier, February 11, 1913, when it organized, Col. H. W. Allen, Chairman, and Capt. Frank Kenfield, Secretary. At this time the transportation problem and other matters pertaining to this celebration were discussed. Finally, all the details of this no small undertaking were left in the hands of Gen. Lee S. Tillotson, to work out as best he could This task he has accomplished with great credit to himself and to the satisfaction of all veterans that attended. This entailed a vast amount of work on his office, but he did this work earnestly, faithfully and efficiently.
Source: Vermont at Gettysburg: July, 1863 and Fifty Years Later. Rutland: Marble City Press, The Tuttle Company. 1914