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The Reunions of Company "I"

As Reported in the Vermont Tribune newspaper

Ludlow, 26 Sept., 1890: Annual Reunion of the Old Veterans: Last Friday was a red letter day for the veterans of Company "I" Second Vermont Volunteers. Thirty-six survivors met in Ludlow, grasped each other by the hand, exchanged friendly greetings, talked over old reminiscences, bivouacked and orated to their stomachs;' and hearts' content. That they had a good time no one doubts who saw them. That they were justified in having a good time no one questions who knows the experiences through which they passed during the whole of that fratricidal struggle when brothers south to settle their disputes by the arbitrament of war. In May 1861 this company was recruited in Ludlow by Volney S. Fullam who was, at the organization of the company, made its first Captain. Eighty three men, coming for the most part from Ludlow, Mount Holly, Andover, and Plymouth, with a generous sprinkling from Weston and Londonderry, formed the original company. Sherman W. Parkhurst was made 1st lieutenant and I. N. Wadleigh 2d lieutenant, Erastus G. Ballou, Phillips E. Chase, Daniel S. White, Ethan A. Priest and A. D. Beckwith, as sergeants. Sergeants Ballou, Chase and White, who had all served in the regular army were efficient drillmasters and the company soon came to be known as one of the best disciplined companies of the regiment, a reputation it ever afterward fully maintained. Now, after twenty-nine years, a little remnant of this original band gathered in the old village where first they drilled and from which they went to the front, to live over again the day of their hardships and comradeship. They began to gather early in the day, and before noon the earnest little groups here and there began to testify to the real joy felt in reunion. Dinner was served in G. A. R. hall by the ladies of Ludlow and at 2 o'clock a business session of the company was held, Ethan A Priest of Mechanicsville, the president, in the chair. The first in order was roll call and the following answered "Here." Ethan A. Priest, Darius D. Priest, Charles W. Priest, of Mechanicsville; Albert D. Beckwith, Augustus H. Pratt, Bellows Falls; Henry H. Riggs, Chester; Henry A. Comstock, Andover; Armin E. Moore, Cavendish; P. G. Wells, North Wallingford; Henry B. Brush, Northampton, Mass; Albert A. May, Salem, Mass; Peter S. Chase, Brattleboro; Eleazer A. Hall, Alba Royce, Plymouth; Elwin Headle, Putney; Moses P. Hesselton, Duane O. Ross, Proctorsville; Henry M. Parker, Tyson; Samuel A. Shattuck, West Westminster; John Smalley, Cuttingsville; Lorenzo A. Dodge, Sunapee, NH; Wallace D. King, Brandon; Henry M. Peck, Hartford; Fred A. Fish, Michael Gilligan, Byron H. Butterfield, John Barrett, Wm. Barrett, Henry Barrett, Hiram P. Bixby, Henry G. Hemenway, Charles Ray, Abel Ray, Hiland Snell, Hiram L. Warner, Isaac N. Wadleigh, Ludlow. Peter S. Chase was chosen president for the year ensuing. Mr. Chase said: "I did always hold in respect every member of Co. "I" of the 2d Vermont, but I feel that you have erred from your best judgment;" and he therefore offered to withdraw in favor of Fred A. Fish, otherwise known as "Uncle Ben" of Ludlow, whom he credited with saving his life in the Wilderness. The comrades not feeling that they had erred the election stood. F. A. Fish was made vice-president, and Albert D. Beckwith of Bellows Falls was re-elected secretary and treasurer. It was voted after some discussion, to hold the next meeting in Ludlow and F. A. Fish, H. L. Warner and I. N. Wadleigh were made an executive committee. The historical committee consisting of A. A. May, Peter B. Chase and Lorenzo A. Dodge, made no report and were continued another year. On motion of A. A. May the thanks of Co. "I" were extended to the executive committee, to the Ladies of Ludlow, and to all others, for the royal entertainment of the company during the reunion. The meeting then stood adjourned until the campfire in the evening, in the meanwhile taking tea in the hall, parading the street under escort of Hathorn drum corps, and in social intercourse.

At about eight o'clock, a good sized audience gathered at Hammond Hall, called by the strains of Altimont Cornet Band. Prayer was offered by Rev. J. Mervin Hull of Kingston, Mass., who in words well chosen thanked Almighty God for mercies shown, and petitioned for future support and help. Very few public prayers are as appropriate and fitting as was this one. After music by the band, E. A. Priest the retiring president spoke briefly, wittingly and well. Among other things he said: "If there is anything that cheers old scarred veterans of Co. "I" it is that the people of their native town have not forgotten their old boys, for which I thank them and thank my God. Twenty-nine years ago, when this company marched to the train, in my boyish pride I thought we had a hundred as stalwart, robust men as could have been raised in Vermont, and when I say Vermont, I may as well say in the United States, and yea more -- in the world. But when I look upon this company of gray-haired, decrepit and infirm men, I think I must have been mistaken. Boys, I've nothing against yea, but if I was to raise a company today, there's hardly a man among yea that I would pick out for military duty. Boys, you have grown old, or else you have degraded." At the close of his remarks the president for the ensuing year -- Peter B. Chase, took the chair. He made a few desultory Remarks2,dwelling chiefly upon Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga, and giving a satisfactory reason why the hair had stopped growing on a comrade's head, and then introduced Comrade Lorenzo Dodge as toast-master for the evening. The Hathorn drums corps then rendered a selection with characteristic vim, eliciting much applause, and then Toastmaster Dodge introduced Major Eldredge of the 11th Vermont, asking for an explanation of the shell toasting which has come down in history as one of the exploits of that regiment.

The Major denied knowledge of the exploit by saying that during his early connection with the army, he was in the Third Vermont, but that Col. Hathorn could tell the facts. After a brief resume of the events of the war in which his regiment and that to which Co. "I" belonged came together, he took his seat and Col. Hathorn explained the shell toasting episode by saying that it was exploded in order that Co. "H", the company to which Major Eldredge belonged, might have an opportunity to hear one. The experiment was successful. "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground," by Comrade Tarbell of Ludlow, followed, after which came a ringing speech from Rev. J. M. Hull, who in those stirring times was a newsboy in Ludlow, selling the Rutland Herald. He was only old enough to shout and to have a copperhead, but these he did with all his might. Comrade John Lombard of the sixth Maine also spoke briefly and well. E. C. Crane mixed up the great rebellion and the recent democratic victory in Ludlow, and so confounded the taking of Richmond and the election of Warner that friends had real fears that the mania which is so apparent in I. N. Wadleigh had also taken hold of him. Lunacy is far more common than is generally supposed.

A. A. May of Salem spoke to the point. Among other things, he presented a list of the battles in which Company "I" participated. They are as follows: Bull Run -- 21 July, 1861; Lee's Mills -- 16 April, 1862; Williamsburg -- 5 May, 1862; Golding's Farm -- 26 June, 1862; Savage's Station -- 29 June, 1862; White Oak Swamp -- 30 June, 1862; Crampton's Gap -- 14 Sept., 1862; Antietam -- 17 Sept., 1862; Fredericksburg -- 5 June, 1863; Marye's Heights -- 31 May, 1863; Salem Heights -- 4 May, 1863; Fredericksburg -- 5 June, 1863; Gettysburg -- 3 July, 1863; Funkstown -- 10 July, 1863; Rappahannock Station -- 7 Nov., 1863; Wilderness -- 5 May to 10 May, 1864; Spotsylvania -- 10 May to 18 May, 1864; Cold Harbor -- 1 June to 12 June, 1864; Petersburg -- 18 June, 1864; Charles Town -- 21 Aug., 1864; Opequon -- 13 Sept., 1864; Winchester -- 19 Sept., 1864; Fisher's Hill -- 21 Sept., 1864; Mount Jackson -- 24 Sept., 1864; Cedar Creek -- 19 Oct., 1864; Petersburg -- 25 March, 1865; Petersburg -- 2 April, 1865; Sailor's Creek -- 6 April, 1865.

Wallace T. King of Brandon, who hadn't been in Ludlow since '61, and who has long been counted as dead, read an original poem. "Marching through Georgia" was sung by Comrade Tarbell. B. B. Fullam, in being called upon, said he "didn't belong to the ragged Second but to the drunken Sixth, and it was not fitting for him to take the time. he wanted to hear from members of Co. "I". Charles Ray, Comrade Beckwith of Bellows Falls, spoke briefly. Henry H. Riggs said his spunk wouldn't let him speak. Darius D. Priest of Mechanicsville made a ringing address. The hour was late, but the new president gave a new Irish version of David and Goliath which under some circumstances might have been interesting, but owing to the lateness of the hour was wearisome in the extreme. By vote, thanks were extended to the citizens of Ludlow, to the Drum Corps, the Altimont Cornet Band, and all others. "America" was sung and the company broke ranks to fall in again next year.

Ludlow, 28 Aug., 1891: Co. "I", Second Vt. Volunteers, are again on deck and made Wednesday a gala day, in their mutual exchanges of good fellowship. Thirty-six surviving members reported for duty and spent the forenoon in a social way dining together at the Ludlow House. They attacked the food with all the vigor shown in the "great unpleasantness" when they moved upon the enemy, and as usual, conquered. At two p.m. they met in Hammond Hall; the President, Peter B. Chase of Brattleboro, at the Chair. The roll call revealed the following members present: Officers -- Capt. D. S. White, Flandreau, Dakota; Lieutenants: E. A. Priest, Mechanicsville, Vt., A. D. Beckwith, Bellows Falls, I. N. Wadleigh, Ludlow, A. A. May, Salem, Mass., and H. L. Wadleigh, Ludlow; Sergeants: F. A. Fish, Ludlow; H. C. Rogers, Hillsboro, NH; Corporals: A. H. Pratt, Bellows Falls, H. H. Riggs, Chester, E. W. Prior, Sherburne, Vt., L. A. Dodge, Sunapee, NH; Wagoner, O. E. Moore, Cavendish; Privates: Henry Barrett, Shrewsbury, Willard B. Baxton, South Londonderry; Peter S. Chase, Brattleboro, John Crosby, Rutland, Eleazer A. Hall, Alba Royce, Plymouth, Moses P. Hesselton, Alonzo A. Whitney, Cavendish; W. R. F. Johnson, Hinsdale, NH, Amos E. Nichols, Reading, Darwin D. Priest, Charles W. Priest, Mechanicsville; Samuel A. Shattuck, Westminster West, George B. Shaw, Landgrove, Henry A. Stevens, Weston, Asahel S. Whitcomb, Sommerville, Mass., John Barrett, William Barrett, Hiram P. Bixby, Henry G. Hemenway, Charles H. Ray, Abel Ray, Duane O. Ross, Ludlow. After the roll call the following officers were elected for the year ensuing: President, D. D. Priest, Mechanicsville, Vice President, I. N. Wadleigh, Ludlow, Secretary and Treasurer, Albert D. Beckwith. A report of the historical committee was called for. Peter S. Chase had no report to make. He had prepared a brief history on his own account which has been published. Copies were to be had and it was in no sense to be considered a substitute for the more complete history of the company. Lorenzo Dodge had no report to make; Lieut. May had prepared a history of the company to the later part of '64. It was voted to hear the first year's history and it was read, being listened to with marked interest. It was voted to lay the report on the table, and the meeting adjourned until 7:00. At that hour the company gathered and the report was taken from the table. Protracted discussions followed, resulting in a vote to accept Mr. May's report and that he be directed to complete the history. It was also voted that the company extend thanks to Comrade Chase for his work in the publication of his history. At ten minutes past eight the business meeting was closed and the men assembled on the state. Retiring President Chase addressed the audience, thanking them for their attendance, and then, turning to his comrades, expressed his gratitude for the honor conferred upon him last year, and said he had tried faithfully to do his duty and serve them well, but regretted exceedingly that, as he had learned when it was too late, he had erred in judgment (referring to the matter of the Company history) In submitting his office to his successor -- Capt. Darius Priest, he spoke feelingly of their experiences together, congratulated the company on their happy and wise choice, and closed by expressing the hope that the gracious Ruler of all things might bring the Company together in the land where peace reigns supreme. The new president thanked the men for their consideration of him, and promised his best service. Addressing the audience he remarked that the campfire was held more for the benefit of the company than for them, but assured them of a cordial welcome, and said they would do everything possible for mutual amusement. Comrade E. A. Priest, who was first called, was greeted with applause, and said he knew not why he was called, and was ashamed of himself and the company for calling on him. Comrade Priest had no sympathy with the 'union of the blue and gray,' Treason a quarter-century ago is treason now. Congress asked for funds to build a monument to the Confederate soldiery. He could not endorse such action unless a monument of the grays could be built one hundred feet below terra firma, and another of the blues reared high above it to signify the treading down of treason in this broad land of liberty [Hearty applause]. Resolutions were passed on the decease of Comrades Henry M. Parker and Henry B. Brush. Comrade L. A. Dodge then read a "Poem to Company I" which was very well received. Comrade Henry Ray said: "It made my legs weak to appear before an audience. I was much encouraged when I enlisted by the information from an old soldier that it would take his weight in lead to kill him; but he though a very small piece was sufficient, if it struck right." Comrade Abel Ray was so young when he enlisted that it was thought he wouldn't be accepted; but he was. He related some laughable pranks connected with his camp fire. Lieut. May was called upon and was received with applause. Among other things he said, "of all ties that bind me in life, the ties of comradeship in Company "I" are the strongest, noblest and best." His remarks were serious and affecting. Closing with a poetical selection "We Drank from the Same Canteen." Comrade Wm. Barrett responded in a few words concerning the Battle in the Wilderness, beginning, "The Battle of the Wilderness was the sorriest day Vermont ever had. [I did not finish this because I neglected to photocopy the top of the page in this newspaper article.

8 Jan., 1892: "The Free Press in a belated notice of a pamphlet, purporting to be a history of Co. "I", Second Vt. Vols, written by Peter S. Chases of Brattleboro and noticed in these columns several months ago says, "This was the at Ludlow company of the old Second Vermont Regiment. Its survivors have formed an association of their own and secured a chronicler in the person of Comrade Peter S. Chase. In this last statement the Free Press is incorrect. The company had nothing to do in securing Mr. Chase as historian. He was one of a committee of three to prepare a history of the company and submit copy to the organization. Before any report was made by the committee, of which body Capt. A. A. May of Lynn, Mass., formerly of Ludlow, was chairman, Mr. Chase published on his own hook the above mentioned pamphlet, in which Peter S. Chase seems to be the central figure, inaccuracies and all, and sprang it upon the meeting of the company last fall, evidently with fond hope that it might be chosen as the authorized history of the company. In this he was disappointed as the company listed to the report of Captain May and voted that he continue the work. The action of Comrade Chase, under the circumstances, was decidedly in poor taste, was wholly unauthorized and if it is to have any notice at all, the facts should be known. Mr. Chase's literary itch leads him to scratch in season and out of season."

Ludlow, 19 Feb., 1892: The Maryville Missouri Republican announces the death of John C. Richardson on February 1st. Mr. Richardson was an old time resident of Londonderry, Vt., and was a member of Ludlow's Co. "I"that did such efficient service in the Rebellion. He was an engineer and was killed in the railroad in a collision."

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