16th Vermont Infantry
1878 and 1888
THE SIXTEENTH REGIMENT Vermont Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion, held its first reunion at Chester, Vermont, July 3d, 1878, but the official record of the proceedings was unfortunately destroyed by fire. The number present was about four hundred. It was probably the largest regimental reunion ever held in the State. The best record that has been found was that published in the Rutland Daily Herald, of July 4, 1878, and was as follows: --REGIMENTAL REUNION
The Sixteenth Regiment of Vermont Volunteers celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, in which it bore a conspicuous part under its gallant commander, Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, by a reunion at Chester, yesterday. This regiment was recruited in Windham and Windsor counties, and Chester being a convenient center and the home of its honored Major Rounds, was a fitting place for this celebration. The day opened without a cloud, and early in the morning the teams from the towns around Chester began to arrive, and the pleasant street was filled with an interesting company of all ages and professions in life, who had either been in the regiment or had had relatives or friends in it. They all had something of that enthusiasm appropriate to such occasions, which is expressed in Koener's hymn, "I too was there." It is difficult to estimate the number of such a crowd, but it would be a reasonable estimate to say there were not less than five thousand present. There were about four hundred members of the regiment present, more than three hundred of whom formed in the line. Ample provision for the comfort of the assembly had been made by Quartermaster Hugh Henry, assisted by the ladies. The procession formed at 11 A.M.
The regiment was formed in line as follows: Co. E, Lieutenant Whittemore, 32 men. Co. H, Lieutenant W. C. Williams, 12 men, Co. C, Captain A. G. Foster, 50 men, Co. D, Lieutenant W. W. Bemis, 38 men, Co. I, Lieutenant Kittredge Haskins, 16 men, Co. K, Sergeant David F. Safford, 26 men. The report of the other companies was not received. The procession was as follows:--Co. B, R. B. Armes, 30 men.
Post Sherman G.A.R.,
Yosemite Engine Company,
Sixteenth Vermont Regiment in Companies,
The Field and Staff officers were Colonel W. G. Veazey, Major Wm. Rounds, Quartermaster Hugh Henry, Adjutant H. O. Peabody. Colonel Veazey wore the old coat which he wore at Gettysburg. The procession marched by the depot through North Chester. The houses on the route were decorated with flags, and near Hon. Luther Adams' house in North Chester was an arch of evergreens with "Gettysburg" inscribed thereon. Here the ladies presented Colonel Veazey with a bouquet, and strewed flowers in the veterans' path. A halt was made at the upper end of North street, where a salute was fired by a section of Fuller's battery. On the way back, Capt. Clark struck up John Brown, which was sung with the old fervor. When the procession returned, dinner was served in soldier style. Pork and beans, coffee and hard tack were in abundance, with bread, pies, cake, etc. After dinner the assembly was called to order by Major Rounds, who welcomed the old soldiers to this reunion, and in a very hearty manner introduced Col. Veazey, who delivered an address which was listened to with great interest by all present. His splendid voice was heard by the vast crowd. The old soldiers, who idolize their Colonel, all led in frequent applause during the delivery of the address, which awakened deep memories of what, to many of the regiment, was the most important event of their lives.
The programme of the exercise was as follows:--
Music, Grafton Band. Address, Col. W. G. Veazey Song--Medley, Clark and White. TOASTS. 1.--"The Day we Celebrate,"
2.--"The President of the United States."
Music--"Hail to the Chief,"
3.--"State of Vermont."
Song-"Hurrah for Vermont,"
Clark and White.
4.--"The Old Sixteenth,"
Gen. George J. Stannard. 5.--"Our Flag,"
Clark and White.
6.--"The Rank and File,"
7.--"The Grand Army of the Republic,"
Song--"The Old Elm Tree,"
Clark and White.
8.--"Washington and Lincoln,"
10.-"The Chaplains" Rev. A. B. Flanders. 11.-"The Lawyers," J. L. Martin. 12.-"The Ladies,"
Song-"Johnnie Has Gone for a Soldier,"
Col. George W. Hooker.
Clark and White.
13.-"The Press," S. B. Pettingill.
Col. Veazey's address occupied about an hour in delivery. It was eloquent and patriotic, and a valuable contribution to the war history of the State. We shall publish it in full in our next issue. At the conclusion Maj. Rounds proposed three cheers for Col. Veazey, which were given with something of the old ring. Col. Veazey was accompanied by his wife, and daughter, Miss Annie Gettysburg, and son Albin, who shared with the colonel in the honors of the occasion. after a song by Clarke and White, the well-known minstrels, who were members of the regiment and knew how to keep the blues away, Maj. Rounds made an eloquent speech, full of pathos, which was received with great applause.
Thus closed a very pleasant reunion, which will be remembered by the regiment as an important event in their lives. It will quicken, as Col. Veazey said in closing his address, the patriotic feeling in the soldiers and their children. The Sixteenth regiment had an uncommonly strong hold upon the people of that part of the State in which it was recruited. It was, in many ways, highly favored. It had the most popular Colonel in the State. It was sent to the front in the very hight of the popular interest in the war, and after winning its first and only battle, the great battle of the war, it returned with its ranks thinned but not reduced so that its original integrity was broken. The reunion of yesterday may and doubtless will be repeated at some future time; but never will the old comrades meet without a quickening of the blood an an elevation of feeling above the tedium and the bondage of the commonplace avocations of peace in which the great portion of the regiment is now engaged. Among the interesting letters read on this occasion were the following:--From Governor Fairbanks.
My Dear Sir: -- I have delayed in replying to your very kind invitation, in the hope that I might be able to be present at the reunion of the 16th regiment of Vermont volunteers, to be held at Chester on the 3d proximo, but my engagements will not permit, and I am obliged to forego that pleasure.
The occasion which brings you together will be freighted with precious memories of the war, and warmest congratulations upon the triumph of the Union army, securing to us and to all future generations the priceless jewel of constitutional liberty and national unity in this land of ours.
In closing allow me to say that the great heart of this commonwealth always beats warmly for the gallant volunteer soldiers. Thanking you for the invitation and wishing you a pleasant and enjoyable reunion,
I am, yours very truly,
Col. W. G. Veazey.From Senator Edmunds
United States Senate Chamber,
Washington, May 18, 1878.
My Dear Colonel-- I have yours of the 27th ult., and thank you sincerely for your kind invitation to attend the reunion of the old 16th, at Chester on the 3d of July. I greatly regret that in all probability I shall not be able to attend. As soon as Congress adjourns I have arranged to go to a salmon river in Canada to camp out for a few weeks, in order to try and get rested and strong again.
It is not a pleasant thing to see as the time runs by since the suppression of the rebellion, how gradually and steadily the aristocratic ideas upon which it was founded are making themselves practically felt again, together with dangerous steps in various ways toward making the people who fought and paid to crush the rebellion, pay the losses that are suffered by those who raised it, and this by the solid votes of the late rebellious States and a small fraction from other parts of the country. I say this without any thought of party considerations as it may be understood in Vermont; for the citizens of our State, of whatever party, have a common interest in these questions, and must bear in common the misfortunes which I fear we are tending. With my best wishes to all your comrades and yourself, I am,
Very Truly yours,
GEO. F. EDMUNDS.
Col. W. G. Veazey, Rutland, Vt.From Hon. Charles H. Joyce.
Col. G. W. Veazey:-- Dear sir: Your kind letter inviting me to meet with the survivors of the sixteenth regiment at Chester, on the 3d of July, came duly to hand. Please accept thanks for your kind remembrance, and be assured that I shall be most happy to meet you and your men on that occasion if we are lucky enough to get home by that time. Congratulating you and your old comrades on the prospect of a glorious time at the reunion, and hoping that all may live to enjoy many a returning one, I remain, very truly yours,
CHARLES H. JOYCE.From Col. Nichols, Fourteenth Vermont.
Col. W. G. Veazey:--Dear Sir: I have waited till the last moment before answering your invitation to join in the reunion of the sixteenth regiment at Chester, July 3d,-- hoping to be present, but business engagements render it impossible. I presume it is more a disappointment to me than it can be to others. I wish you all a most pleasant time. In the crisis of the great battle, it was the good fortune of the sixteenth regiment and its commander, to act a very important part. None can know how important, or appreciate it so fully as those who saw you in the jaws of death.
On behalf of my companions in the army, I do them and myself the honor to salute you and your regiment.
Very truly your friend,From Hon. D. E. Nicholson.
W. T. NICHOLS.
Col. Veazey: -- Sir: A prior engagement compels me to forego the acceptance of your valued invitation to respond by my presence, and something more, at the celebration at Chester of the fifteenth anniversary, where your gallant command earned such distinction in defence of the nation's Capitol by their heroic struggle at the gates of Gettysburg. "Raw recruits" (old veterans!) How were my unutterable prayers for your safety and success answered and rewarded by a generous God, who covered your heads in that awful day of battle, and may his goodness never be forgotten or your gallantry undervalued while history of tradition shall preserve a memory thereof to the latest posterity. With gratitude and congratulation,
Verily, D. E. NICHOLSON.
Letters of acknowledgement were also received from Senator Morrill and Hon. D. C. Denison.
COL. WHEELOCK G. VEAZEY'S ADDRESS.
Source: Sixteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers. Reunions and Rosters 1878 and 1888. Montpelier, Vt.: Argus and Patriot Book and Job Printing House, 1889.
Contributed by: Mike Ellis, Rochester, MI, great-grandson of Private George A. Ellis, Dummerston, Co. I, 16th Vermont Volunteer Infantry.