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The Reunions of Company "I"

As Reported in the Vermont Tribune newspaper

Ludlow, 3 Sept., 1886 "First Veteran's Reunion" -- The inclement weather did not have a very depressing effect upon the reunion of the veterans of Co. "I", 2nd Reg't Vt. Vols. Tuesday. This was the first company formed in Ludlow for service in the War of the Rebellion. Considering the very short notice at which the gathering was called, the attendance was very good indeed. Some 29 or 30 members of the company with invited friends that swelled the number to 42, took dinner at the Ludlow House, instead of lunching on hard tack in the park, as at first suggested; the citizens having subscribed the necessary funds for providing the 'boys' with the best the town afforded in the way of eatables. After dinner all present registered in the order of the old-time rank, while the drum corps -- Messrs. George Johnson, J. A. Giddings, Mr. Valentine and S. S. Mayo, discoursed martial music without. These were the members present of Co. "I": V. S. Fullam, P. E. Chase, E. A. Priest, A. D. Beckwith, A. A. May, F. A. Fish, A. H. Pratt, H. H. Riggs, E. W. Prior, H. A. Comstock, A. E. Moore, P. G. Wells, John Barrett, Wm. J. Barrett, H. P. Bixby, H. A. Colby, John Crosby, E. A. Hall, H. G. Hemenway, M. P. Hesselton, T. J. Jaquith, H. M. Parker, C. W. Priest, D. O. Ross, C. H. Ray, Abel Ray, Hyland Snell, Harry Toole, H. L. Warner. Then the 'boys' fell in and with Capt. May in command, made a tour of Main Street, the veterans of various other commands present acting as escort or guard of honor. Assembling in Hammond Hall, Capt. May called the full roll of the company, from a record kept by himself through the war. This showed that 198 men had from first to last been entered on the roll of the company's membership; that the original company consisted of 101 men, the balance being recruits to full vacancies by death, discharge, or otherwise. The roll being called and nearly every man being either present or accounted for, the subject of a permanent organization was broached and being favorably received, a committee of three -- Messrs. A. May, A. D. Beckwith and P. E. Chase -- was appointed to suggest suitable officers. After conference the following list was presented and accepted by a viva voice vote: President: A. May; V. P.: C. W. Priest; Sec: A. D. Beckwith, Treas: H. L. Warner; Historian: V. S. Fullam. Mr. May thanked his comrades for the honor thus conferred upon him; referred feelingly to the comrades who had failed to respond to the roll call. When he went out [as] the baby of the company, it was freely predicted that he would not live through the hardships of a season; but the boys took such good care of him that he came back captain of the company. He hoped every living comrade of the company would be present at the meeting next year. He then called upon the historian and original captain of the original company. Mr. Fullam had no idea of making a speech when he came to the hall; did not intend to do so now; but would give the boys the benefit of some statistics concerning the company he had compiled. When he called for volunteers at a patriotic meeting in the town hall in 1861, -- 46 men responded. It was two months before a permanent organization was effected and then it was as a militia company under the laws of the state -- they knew of no other way. He was shortly after appointed a recruiting officer and then Co. "I" was reformed into a full fledged U. S. military company. Soon the order came for three years men and the company was again reorganized, the number being 83 men. In the fall of 1861, the organization was filled to the maximum quota of 101 men; and went into the service. During service, the roll was recruited, by reason of vacancies to 198; 17, however, were re-enlistments. Only 12 of the company were killed in action; 11 died of wounds, and 12 of disease; several however, died after their discharge, from wounds or diseases incurred in service. Mr. Fullam considered it not a little remarkable that so many survived; believed it due to the fact that the company was made up of the flower of the town and vicinity, physically. He believed The Vermont Brigade the best ever sent into the service, and the 2d regiment the finest in the brigade. At this point, P. E. Chase suggested that the officers chosen draft a constitution and by-laws for the government of the association; which was adopted. C. W. Priest moved that the matter of the next meeting be left with a committee of tree, and the chairman appointed E. A. Priest, Harry Tole, and Henry Hemenway. President May then presented the organization a roster of his own compiling, embracing a record of every man who had belonged to the company, with a brief sketch of each, -- general personal description, when and where enlisted, and fate of each so far as know, -- which was received with thanks and voted to the custody of the historian. Capt. P. E. Chase, being called up on responded briefly. He was with the company but six months when he was detailed to another company. Was glad to be present with former comrades; recalled the kindness of the people of Ludlow at the time of their departure for the front; their treatment today was equally generous. He remarked upon the fact that so many of the company were alive today -- nearly or quite 50. At a recent Co. "A" reunion in Bennington, only 14 answered to the roll call. Hoped all would be spared to meet again next year; if not, trusted all would finally meet on the other shore. C. W. Priest was called upon. Disclaimed having anything to say, except that he was the last man in the company and the first out. Suggested that they call upon one very troubled that way -- D. O. Ross. But for once, D. O. wasn't loaded. Secretary Beckwith -- the man of whom it used to be said if he were all torn to pieces he would pull himself together and resume fighting -- begged to be excused from making a speech. Ditto Treasurer Mr. Warner. E. A. Priest responded to the call of the president by calling attention to the fact that while the fact of the survival of so many privates of Co. "I" had been accounted for, it had been overlooked that the first three commissioned officers and the first five sergeants of the company yet lived -- a much more remarkable fact. This was because the company had chosen officers who looked out for themselves. Capt. H. B. Atherton responded to a call by disclaiming to be a Ludlow boy, though was fast becoming one. Congratulated the veterans that so many of their number were present. Believed that no soldiers went to the front with a better understanding of the issues of the war, and sturdy determination to do their duty, than The Vermont Brigade, and none did their duty more bravely. Capt. E. A. Howe, though not a member of Co. "I", recounted some of his recollections of the company. He didn't go out with the company for two reasons: first, because they would not have him. His first acquaintance of Co. "I" was when it was joined by eight 'boys' from his town -- Londonderry; his next, when he met them as a member of the 11th Vt. at the Battle of the Wilderness. He remembered how unmercifully the fresh troops were guyed about their paper collars and shoe-polish. He believed the 2nd Regiment was the most conspicuous for valor in the Vt. Brigade. Vermont sent more men to the war than any other state, in proportion to population, and lost more men -- in round number, 34,000 -- or one tenth of the total number sent. He believed he voiced the sentiment of the people of Ludlow in inviting them to come again next year. After voting to hold a campfire in the hall in the evening, the gathering adjourned to that time when a very enjoyable time was had in rehearsing old times, cracking old army jokes, telling stories, etc., etc. The company voted thanks to the people of the town for entertainment -- to Mr. Hammond and the G. A. R. for use of halls; also to Capt. may through whose exertions mainly, the gathering was brought about, and to any and all who contributed to the success and enjoyment of the day.

Ludlow, 19 Aug., 1887: "Next Friday, the veterans of Co. "I", 2nd Reg't Vt. Vols will hold their second reunion here. Dinner will be served at the G. A. R. hall under the direction of the W. R. C. where all contributions will be thankful received.

Ludlow, 24 Aug., 1888: "It has been advisable to change the time and place of the reunion of Co. "I", 2nd Reg't from Mechanicsville and the 30th, to Ludlow and the 29th instant. [Charles A.] Moore will take photographic views of the leading features of Reunion day in Ludlow. Veterans should leave orders for them at his studio [Main St. across the Upper Iron Bridge] before leaving town."The factory wood-shed presented a lively scene on Monday morning when 40 G.A.R. men met by appointment, cleared the shed of wood and rubbish, and erected tables therein. it is purposed to feed the visiting comrades there.

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