Site Logo
Home | Battles | Descendants | Find A Soldier | Monuments | Museum | Towns | Units | Site Map


The Reunions of Company "I"

As Reported in the Vermont Tribune newspaper

Ludlow, 31 Aug., 1888: WINDSOR COUNTY VETERANS REUNION... [report by B. H. Allbee] The annual reunion at Ludlow, Wednesday, brought together much the largest company ever together on a similar occasion in the state. The weather was all that could be desired for such a meeting -- bright, warm (but not too warm) with plenty of cooling breezes; a little too much dust for comfort, perhaps, but as one veteran expressed it, "dust is preferable to mud." Owing to an accident to an engine between Hartford and WRJct, the special train from that side of the county was delayed over two hours, so that the exercises were begin somewhat later than was down on the programme. As the trains rolled in from both directions, they brought crowds of people; crowds more came in one-horse, two-hose and four-horse teams; others still came on foot. It was a gala day for Ludlow and a horde of hungry, thirsty people were turned loose in the midst, to partake of the good cheer so bounteously offered.

Our attention was attracted, first by the commissary department, which had its headquarters under the woolen mill wood-sheds, where tables were laid for 700. The 'hard tack' dealt out consisted of baked beans, brown bread, wheat bread, doughnuts, pie and coffee. The delay of the train from the South disarranged the dinner hour, and the command to fall in for dinner was not given until after one o'clock. For the same reason the general programme was somewhat interfered with and abridged. The line of march was formed at the depot instead of at the park, and the route shortened considerably, being from the depot to Main St., down Main S, up Pleasant St. to Andover St., thence to and down Main St. again to the park, up High St. and down North Depot St. to the commissary headquarters. The original plan included a parade to the foot of Main St., also to the head of the street via Andover and West Elm Streets. More old soldiers than we ever before saw together were in line, with numerous bands and visiting celebrities in carriages. Preparations were made for 1,500 veterans and their families. It is impossible for us to say how many were in the ranks, as it is also to give the order of march. No regular programmes were made out, and the order of march will have to be omitted. The sight of so many veterans in line was one to inspire a spirit of patriotism in any man's breast, if he have a spark of honest, patriotic fire in his bosom. Some were maimed in limb, some in body; an eye was wanting here, a finger there; canes and crutches were needed to enable some to walk; but the look on each one's face was one of pleasure, not unmixed with sadness at missing old comrades who had formerly marched shoulder to shoulder. It was interesting to note the difference in greetings exchanged. Some were like the greeting of school boys; the next, perhaps was a clasp of the hand, eloquent because of silence. The quivering lip, the moistened eye, gave evidence of feelings too deep for words. Ah! this brotherhood of the soldiers is something that we who have never marched the weary miles, stood in forefront of the battle and faced the storm of lead, or laid in the hospitals suffering the pain of wounds or the burning fever, can little understand. It is well for us to help keep these reunions; they are needed in the absence of any question before us to keep alive the patriotism that we as Americans ought to have. Let us do all we can, therefore, to aid the soldiers in maintaining this system of reunions.

At the business meeting the following officers were elected: Executive committee, J. H. Humphreys, E. P. Robinson, Capt. J. B. Aikens. The place of meeting, next year, is Windsor. It was suggested that Windsor be the permanent meeting place, hereafter because of a central position and with the facilities for people in all parts of the county to gather. The literary exercises began at the park at 3 o'clock with prayer by Rev. A. N. Hyde. Col. Veazey remarked "it was an easy duty to preside as president at a gathering which awakened so many memories of a quarter of a century ago. Every soldier of whatever county of whatever state, is welcomed by the people of Ludlow. The people of Ludlow know how to entertain the people, and it is a man's own fault if he has not had what he wanted to eat. There was enough for every man, woman, and child, and enough left for as many more. The reception of the Veterans of Windsor County is always the warmest; it is the banner county of the state. Twenty-five years ago when the Rebel general Picket was going to break the Union lines at Gettysburg, it was the two Vermont regiments who broke Picket's advance -- the 13th and the 16th. I now present to you one of those Colonels who is the orator of the day -- Colonel Albert Clarke of Rutland":

-- "Comrades, I regret to appear before you weakened by illness and lack of preparation. It was my privilege to attend the re-union at Gettysburg on its twenty-fifth anniversary and to note the honors, which were paid to Governor Ormsbee, Col. Veazey and Col. L. A. Grant. No respect was too high for us from both armies." (he then explained the positions of the various corps and divisions, and the locations of the monuments which are not being erected on that battlefield. He also said that a cheap excursion from Vt. would be arranged at the time of the dedication of the state monument at Gettysburg in November. Mr. Clarke quoted from the speech of the Governor of Georgia at the re-union in July, pronouncing it the most eloquent he ever heard. Continuing he said:) "Vermont's part in the great drama is an object of pride. Out of a population of 315,000, she had 37,000 men enrolled. The valuation of her taxable property was $9,706,000, and she contributed $9,087,00 towards the costs of the war. Of the number enrolled, 5,124 were killed and 5,022 discharged for disabilities. This was a larger record than any state except Kansas; but it must be remembered that much of the latter's fighting-stock was from the East. Vermont was second only to Massachusetts in the action of her legislature at special session, in voting state aid to non-commissioned officers, in voting a much larger sum of money than was necessary, and a much larger quota of troops. It proved to the South that the North was in earnest. Vermont never faltered all through the war; her pulpits and her press (with but rare exceptions) were always loyal to the Union. She sent twenty-four organizations to the front, and not one of them every lost a flag in battle." (Next followed a list of the number who volunteered from each town in Windsor County) -- "a total of 4,412 out of a population of 38,000 -- one eighth of the entire population -- one from each alternate house in the country. If you wish to know what it means, select one-eight of the company before you, and let them step out to be shot at. In this way you can realize something of the courage it took to go to the front. There is a wide-spread impression that the volunteer soldiers were the drift of the citizens, whatever the social standing of the officers might have been. But this is a mistake. Never in the world was seen an army of such high mental and moral character as that of the Rebellion. Companies were raised in the leading colleges, as well as from the farm and work shop. There were few organization in the army that did not have many men in the ranks able to command. The success of the German armies in later wars is said to be due to the fact that they carry thinking bayonets. The more a man knows, the better he can fight; and they who go with pale faces into the fight perform prodigies of valor and always keep complete control of themselves." (The speaker here quoted from a paper by Gen. McMahon, first published in a paper edited by Miles O'Rielly. Of the old brigade, he said: 'They swept dairies and stripped orchards wherever they marched. They yelled like Indians when other troops were silent from fatigue. They could out-march the army and were always the pet brigade. There were two things they could do -- march and fight. They would take that long swinging step of theirs and distance every division in the whole army. In every hard-fought battle they were complimented for their gallant conduct. Their valor in a battle was chiefly owing to the fact that every man knew his neighbor was not going to run; and, further, he expected to stay where he was himself. After the battle of Gettysburg, a skirmish-line sent out at the time of an anticipated attack of Lee's army, actually repulsed a full line of battle. This they did three times, or until the enemy, disgusted with such a perverse skirmish-line, gave up and let them alone. One of the men who fought at Lee's Mills was afterward our governor -- S. E. Pingree. At the Wilderness, the brigade lost half its men; but at Spotsylvania a detachment captured some advanced rifle-pits. An officer sent to them and asked if they better not retire. They replied, "no, send us rations and ammunition and we will hold them six weeks.'" That Vermont is grateful for their service has been testified numberless times by the positions in civil life given her soldiers, the voting of her representatives in congress, and in her press. The delegation in congress and the press have always been for full business for all Union veterans. It is to be regretted that a class of young writers have grown up on the metropolitan press who have joined forces with those in power and have directed public sentiment against the granting of service pensions. They forget that the interest on the public debt has exceeded the entire pension-list, and these soldiers have cheerfully helped to pay it. There is one man in New York who is worth more money than is annually paid out in pensions, and your efforts made it possible for him to acquire that wealth -- for the whole country to acquire its wealth. This is not the judgment or feeling of loyal people; and in the name of the young men who gave up their opportunities to fight for their country. I resent this slur on the volunteer soldiers. By their presence in the country we have been able to reduce our standing army to a minimum. When the mob elements run riot, we turn to the old soldiers for security. To the student of history they are history itself, for they are the representatives of 400 fields of blood. They were Titans and the world laid at their feet; but they were patriots, and returned to private life. May God's blessing rest upon you. Long live the old soldiers, and long live the state that is honored by their presence." Colonel Clarke was frequently interrupted by hearty applause, and on his retiring, Colonel Veazey suggested that they show how soldiers cheered, and three mighty cheers were given with a will. Walter Kittridge was next introduced, and sung the song of which he was author -- 'Tenting in the Old Camp Ground' -- the vast audience joining in the chorus, as the words rose from the singer's lips: 'Something down the soldier's cheek, Washed off the stain of powder." If we may be allowed the simile, It was good and well worth hearing. In introducing Lieut. Gov. Fuller, Col. Veazey said: "the absence of Governor Ormsbee is unavoidable, but we have the best man to fill his place -- Lt. Gov. Fuller who maintains largely at his own expense what was pronounced at Washington, the finest battery on the continent." Gov. Fuller said: -- "Veterans of Windsor County, and all of Windsor County, (for I see before me representatives from every town in the county); There are a large number of old soldiers. There are three things than an old soldiers knows: good coffee, good hard tack and how to yell. Never forget to yell (cries of "No" from the crowd); It is the cheer that always rings out in the contest of right and wrong, when the victory is won for the right." (Referring to the battery which he commands, Mr. Fuller explained that its reputation was due to the fact that it had at different times numbered among its members forty-seven, who faced the cannon on Southern fields, and is largely made up of just such men as he saw before him). "This is the largest reunion ever held in Windsor County and I congratulate you on its success. There are now reunions of the North and South such as history never before recorded. God has chosen this land to work out the problem of freedom and liberty. God bless the men who wore the blue and the boys and women who are cheering them on. It is a shame that there are now 20,000 soldiers in alms-houses (poor houses) in this country and the treasury holding a surplus large enough to supply their needs and fill out the remainder of their lives in peace and happiness. But the day will yet dawn when you will be fed upon the fat of the land."

Colonel Veazey: "That grand old war Governor Holbrook of Brattleboro, is nearly always present at reunions, although nearly one hundred years old; but today we have in his place, his son -- Colonel Holbrook of the 7th Vt. I propose three cheers in his and his father's honor." (And they were given with a will.). Colonel Holbrook said: -- "I suppose arrangements had been made so I need not speak, for Col. Veazey said he should not call on me." He related an amusing anecdote and spoke of the first display of gallantry of Windsor county soldiers in charging on a young ladies' boarding-school in Brattleboro. Colonel Veazey: "We have guests from all over the country. The woods are just full of them," and introduced Judge Hines of Indiana [who had a summer home in Ludlow]. Judge Hines, who was also Colonel of an Indiana regiment during the war said: "I have seen the time when I rather face the cannon's mouth than you. It is not quite so dangerous, but troublesome." He congratulated the veterans on their large attendance and added: "I notice the names of several battles on the banners which I did not suppose Vermont troops took part in; but I now find I had Vermont troops alongside of men when I did not think it. I accept your welcome on behalf of the veterans of Indiana. I notice that the top rails of the [park] fence are filled. I remember the time when I gave the command to burn only the top rails of the fences; and you all know how much of the fence was left."

Capt. Henry Bridge Atherton was next introduced and said, "It gives me great pleasure to meet my comrades of the 4th Vt. I have though that today of all days, I am at home. But an incident occurred which reminded me that I was growing old. These reunions served to keep alive the thoughts of comradeship, and our sympathy is awakened for all who have fallen from the ranks." (He spoke further and eloquently upon soldier themes and hoped the reunions would be kept up until all had been called to the long reunion beyond the grave). The public exercises here closed, the business meeting was held and adjournment was had to the lunch tables and to the trains. The number in town was estimated to be from 6,000 to 8,000 with probably 800 or so in line of march. It took the procession ten minutes to pass a given point. The procession was made up of veterans, sons of fallen veterans, and the various bands. All passed in good order, and all seemed to enjoy themselves to the utmost.

The Baptist young ladies had a refreshment booth alongside the church and added several dollars to their treasury thereby. The commissary department was presided over by the Women's Relief Corp and in a very efficient manner. There was enough and to spare of everything, although 1,800 people were fed. The crowd was so constantly on the move that anything like a fair estimate of those served is impossible. The delay of trains and the consequent haste in forming line, etc., prevented taking a list of the various posts and numbers therein; at least a list was not secured. Flags of all sizes were displayed, from about every building, and comrade Hathron was particularly profuse in decorations at his place of business. The Woodstock band's drum major was a rara avis to the average rustics, but he did his work up brown and was probably the most conspicuous figure in the whole parade. The various minor reunions, of which were three or four, commenced afterward. Photographer Moore got some fine views of the occasion. A better day could not have been made to order.

Mechanicsville, 13 Sept., 1889: "The fourth annual reunion of Co. "I", 2nd, Vt. Vols., which was held in Mechanicsville, Sept. 6th, was very fully attended. The number of 37 of the comrades of he company, being present. The forenoon was very pleasantly spent by hand shaking, cordial greeting one with the other, the renewal of old-time acquaintance. The merry laughter of groups of the boys gathered together showed plainly how well they enjoyed it, and before they were aware of it, the roll call sounded for them to partake of a sumptuous dinner prepared for them by mine host, E. R. Chase and lady, which very fully did ample justice to the wants of the occasion. At 2 o'clock, the comrades present and many of the citizens assembled in Odd Fellows' hall for a business meeting. Col. V. S. Fullam of Rutland, president of the association, called the meeting to order and the following officers were elected for the ensuing year. President, Ethan A. Priest of Mt. Holly; Vice president, Fred A. Fish of Ludlow, executive committee, Charles H. Ray, Henry G. Hemenway, and Hiram P. Bixby of Ludlow; secretary and treasurer, Albert D. Beckwith of Bellows Falls. Voted to meet in Ludlow for the next annual meeting. Albert A. May, the historian elected at the last annual meeting, then read a very useful and painstaking paper of the company's doings and whereabouts, interspersing the same with many reminiscences, stories and anecdotes of comrades of the company, in its marches and counter marchers through the entire year of 1862. This brought from the meeting frequent and hearty applause. Peter S. Chase then read a very able and eloquent paper on the history of the company, which was listened to with close attention by all present. At the camp-fire in the evening, Albert A. May gave a continued history of the company through the year 1863, after which remarks were listed to by Col. V. S. Fullam, Lieut. E. A. Priest, and Comrades Chase, May, Beckwith, Rev. S. B. Currier, and many others of the comrades present, with many humorous sallies of wit from Comrade Lorenzo A. Dodge, now the genial editor and proprietor of the lively paper, Lake Sunapee Echo, published at Sunapee, NH. Many were the sallies of wit and humor that the comrades indulged in one with the other, that caused no little merriment for those present; among them one of Peter S. Chase, which so pathetically described the various kinds of wounds that comrades received in the service; and noticing Comrade John Crosby present with an empty sleeve, he asked him how he managed to hug his wife now. John's ready answer was that his wife hugged him now. Then Peter turned to Col. Fullam, who, by the way, is a confirmed bachelor, and asked him how he did in such cases; but the colonel's ready wit answered him in such a humorous way that it left no scars on him, and all present enjoyed the reports. At half past ten the camp broke up and all present went to their homes well pleased with the result of this meeting and looking forward with pleasure in anticipation of another reunion in about a year from this time in the neighboring town of Ludlow. Resolutions were passed to memorialize the dead. "Comrade Henry Tole enlisted in Ludlow 7 May, 1861 and was mustered into the service 20 June, 1861, and served with credit to the company and honor to himself until the expiration of his term of service, 29 June, 1864. He was wounded at Bull Run, 21 July, 1861. While he never received any high-sounding title, he was no less a soldier and patriot, and we mourn his loss today as one who was ever ready and willing to help and assist a needy comrade. He died in Mt. Holly, Vt., 29 July, 1889." Another resolution passed: "Whereas God in his infinite goodness and mercy did see fit on the 20th of May, 1889 at Thomaston, Conn., to removed suddenly by death, our beloved comrade, Philip E. Chase, who was born 231 Oct., 1832, we desire by this time to commemorate his memory. Comrade Chase enlisted in Ludlow, Vt. 7 May, 1861, and was mustered into the service 20 June, 1861. he was at once appointed second sergeant. On 24 Jan., 1862, he received a commission as 2nd lieutenant of Co. "A"; and, later, one at Capt. of Co. "G". He was wounded twice, at the battle of the Wilderness, and was finally discharged 29 June, 1864. We at this time desire to extend our sympathy to his bereaved family, and unite with them in mourning the loss of our beloved Comrade. Albert A. May, Peter S. Chase, Lorenzo Arthur Dodge, Committee."

A Poem Read by Comrade Charles Ray of Ludlow at the Reunion of Co. "I", Vt. Vols. at Mechanicsville, 5 Sept., 1889: The Old Canteen. Send it up to the garret? Well, no; what's the harm. If it hangs, like a horse-shoe, to serve as a charm? Had its day, to be sure, matches ill with things here; Shall I sack the old friend, just because it is queer? Thing of beauty 'tis not; but a joy, none the less, As my hot lips remember its old-time caress, And I think on the solace once gurgling between; My lips from that old battered tin canteen. It has hung by my side in the long weary tramp; Been my friend in the bivouac, barrack and camp; in the triumph,. capture, advance, and retreat, More than light to my path, more than guide to my feet. Sweeter nectar, ne'er flowed, however sparkling and cold, From chalice of silver or goblet of gold, For a king or an emperor, princess or queen, Than to me from the mouth of that old canteen. It has cheered the desponding on many a night, Till their laughing eyes gleamed in the camp-fire light. Whether guns stood in silence, or boomed at short range, It was always on duty; though 'twould not be strange, If in somnolent periods, just after 'taps,' Some Colonel or captain, disturbed at his naps, May have felt a suspicion that 'spirits' unseen, Had somehow bedeviled that old canteen. But I think on the time when in lulls of the strife, It has called the far look in dim eyes back to life; Helped to staunch the quick blood just beginning to pour; Softened broad, gaping wounds, that were stiffened and sore; Moistened thin, livid lips, so despairing of breath; They could only speak thanks in the quiver of death. If an angel of mercy e'er hovered between; This world and the next, 'twas the old canteen. Then banish it not as a profitless thing! Were it hung in a palace it well might swing; To tell in its mute, allegorical way, How the citizen volunteer won the day, -- How he bravely, unflinchingly, grandly won; And how, when the death-dealing work was done, 'Twas as easy his passion from war to wean, As his mouth from the lips of that old canteen. By and by, when all hate from the rag with the bars, Is forgotten in love for the 'stripes and the stars,' When Columbia rules everything, solid and sole, From her own ship canal to the ice at the pole; When we Grand Army men have obeyed the last call, And the mayflowers and violets bloom for us all' -- Then away in some garret the cobweb may screen, My battered, old, cloth-covered, tin canteen."

Return to Introduction