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The Reunions of Company "I"

As Reported in the Vermont Tribune newspaper

Ludlow, Thursday, 2 June, 1910: "Decoration Day and your mention of the last reunion of Co. "I" Volunteer Infantry brings to mind a call for the old band to escort them to the depot the morning of June 6, 1861. The women of the village had prepared a hearty breakfast in Armington's hall, but appetites seemed poor in many cases. here were more good-byes and tears shed tan eating done. When the call came to fall in, the company (one hundred and one) formed and Capt. Fulham marched them past his home so that his mother could see his command. I well recollect the gray-haired lady standing in the door bidding them a farewell. The band led them to the station for the 8:00 a.m. train. It was the saddest march we ever tried to play as we were intimates of nearly all the company. The platform at the station was packed with people to see the first movement of solders from Ludlow, and many expected it would be the last. But after our boys had their first smell of battle at Bull Run, things had a different aspect. I well remember a woman's remark at the train moved out: "Oh! Just think what our boys are going out there for -- to kill and be killed.' And that proved true, to our sorrow. The members of Company "I" living in Ludlow now that come to my mind are Capt. V. S. Fulham, Sergt. Albert Beckwith, F. A. Fish, John Barrett, H.G. Hemenway, Moses Hesselton, E. A. Hall. We wish Capt. Fulham would give the Tribune a roster of Co. "I" at that time. Now I wish to ask a question: Has the town of Ludlow done its duty by the men of this company and the many other recruits for other regiments in not erecting a suitable monument to their memory or inscribing on some tablet that the public and future generations can refer to, their heroic deeds to save the Union that all are enjoying at the present day? Ludlow is always at the forefront in private charities and for the good of the public. She has contributed lavishly for your new band. Now its proper and right they give a few concerts at the Opera House and devote the proceeds to a monument. Someone start the ball rolling for contributions from residents and non-residents to erect a suitable monument on the park where old Co. "I" drilled. When the project was started for building the new Academy, funds came in from unexpected quarters, and such a thing may occur in this case. Also when word came from Ludlow people living in Nebraska that people were suffering from food and clothing years ago, Ludlow people responded and sent 1,700 pounds of food and clothing and collected money to pay the freight. Wish you would obtain and publish the list of the soldiers Ludlow furnished from '61 to '65. Am sure Gorge Levey and Henry Cleveland were the first enlisting at Woodstock as three months men. Many people can well remembered the G. A. R. play, 'the Battle of Gettysburg' put on at Hammond Hall. We filled the house three nights until standing room was a premium. Capt. Howe can give you particulars. Let's here from him. The fund received from that play was the starter for the formation of Howard Post G.A.R. The stage manager furnished the star actor. The balance of the cast was of local talent. The manager claimed he had produced it 200 nights and our local talent was the best of all. Am sure the young people of today would more than make our places good. A part as I remember them of the cast were E. J. Whitcomb, Capt. Howe, H. O. Peabody, Dr. J. H. Putnam, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Raymond, Marcus Spaulding, Miss Belle Whitcomb, S. S. Mayo. the G. A. R. boys were Fred Fish, Oscar Gassett, Dan Johnson, W. D. Ball, D. R. Sargent and many others not in mind now. Noting the play just given for village improvement ,why not put that on again, widely advertised and for that purpose and no doubt by this and solicitation you would get aid from many out of respect for their old home town. Ludlow can't afford to fall behind the little town of West Windsor in paying honor to her soldiers. There are bronze tablets in the vestibule of the Mary Blood free library at Brownsville with every soldier's name and rank, were killed or wounded; also all soldiers' graves of the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the War of Rebellion are regularly decorated. Also at Felchville, in the G. A. Davis library, bronze tablets are inscribed with names and ranks of all Reading soldiers of all the wars including the Revolution. Now can Ludlow afford to let these rural towns excel her, a town with all modern improvements, such as her water system, electric lights, boulevards, miles of concrete walks, fine sewage system, splendid opera house, magnificent library, five fine churches, and what were fine schools before centralization; also her unequaled country stores, fine hotels, and best of all the Odd Fellows' Home, a sanatorium of Friendship, Love and Truth? Also the plucky Vermont Tribune and last of all, Ludlow's get-up and-get spirit which she has always put forth except in the matter of showing due respect to the boys in blue who went forth and gave their best days and many their lives for blessing we all enjoy. Thank you. -- -- -- S. S. Mayo

Ludlow, 6 Oct., 1910: -- Notice: Secretary Beckwith has sent out his notices of the 26th Annual Reunion of Company "I" Second Vermont Regiment Association which occurs Friday, October 21st at the Grange Hall. Ludlow, 27 Oct., 1910: Company "I" had its annual reunion when a remnant of the famous old company assembled on Friday, Oct. 21st. The ladies as is their custom, served a bountiful dinner at 12 o'clock and at 2:15 p.m. the business meeting was called to order. After the reading of the minutes of last meeting and the report of the treasurer, President May addressed the meeting. He called attention to the fact that on June 6, 1861, Co. "I" was given a farewell reception and dinner in Armington Hall. After dinner Capt. Volney S. Fullam ordered the company to fall in and escorted by the Ludlow band and citizens generally, they marched to the depot where they took a train for the rendezvous of the Second Vermont Regiment in Burlington. From Burlington the company went to the front and was the first to pas through Baltimore after the attack on the Sixth Massachusetts. Many of the boys who left Ludlow on that day never returned. President May suggested that the next reunion of the company be held here in Ludlow on Wednesday June 6, 1911, just fifty years from the day they left the good ole town. Colonel Fullam and comrades Beckwith, Fish, Ray, and others were quite enthusiastic over the proposition, and Colonel Fullam moved that the next reunion be held in Ludlow on June 6, 1911, and in order to make the occasion more interesting, that they invite all the surviving members of the old 2nd Vermont Regiment to meet with them and extend an invitation to O. O. Howard Post and all old soldiers living in Ludlow; this invitation to be extended on condition that the people of Ludlow are willing to help entertain such a body of men. Two deaths during the year were reported, Alonzo A. Whitney of Cavendish and Augustus H. Pratt of Bellows Falls. The election of officers resulted as follows: President: Albert A. May; Vice President: Peters S. Chase; Secretary: Albert D. Beckwith; Treasurer: Charles H. Ray; Executive committee, all resident members of Ludlow. The following members were present: Col. Volney S. Fulham, Albert D. Beckwith, Fred A. Fish, John Barrett, Charles H. Ray, Henry G. Hemenway, and Eleazer A. Hall of Ludlow; Albert A. May of Meriden, Conn.; Peter S. Chase of Brattleboro, Webster D. Derby of Keene, NH; Henry Colby of Kealyville, NH., and Abel Ray of South Reading. Letters of regret were received from Jasper N. Clark, Scottsville, Michigan; Vernon A. Marsh, Oxford, Kansas; Oramel G. Howe, Lake Plaisted (sic), NY; Warren S. Leslie Osawatomie, Kansas; Willard D. Buxton, Londonderry; Sullivan E. Reed, Merrick, Mass; Lorenzo A. Dodge, Worcester, Mass; Amos E. Nichols, Reading; Wallace D. King, Brandon. There were 22 present and accounted for. A round table talk then took place and two hours were very pleasantly spent in talking over old scenes and incidents of the war. Now it is up to the ladies of the W. R. C. O. O. Howard Post and the citizens of Ludlow to say whether they will entertain Co. "I" and their guests, the surviving members of the old 2nd Vermont, probably 100 men in all, on the occasion of the semi-centennial of their departure from the home town." {*Ludlow, 22 Dec., 1910: "Elwin Headle of West Brattleboro has purchased the George Stevens house which he is to occupy. Mr. Headle lived here some 25 years ago and is a member of Co. "I".]

Ludlow, 8 June, 1911: A Successful Getting Together -- A Dinner and a Camp-Fire -- Forty Members of the Regiment Present: "Tuesday the 6th was a great day for Company "I", Second Vermont Volunteer Infantry, when its members with representatives of other companies in that regiment, met in Ludlow to celebrate a semi-centennial. Fifty years ago that day, Company "I" left Ludlow for the rendezvous at Burlington and 'the boys' of that day, now men of age and gray hair, took this opportunity of looking into each others' faces, grasping hands, and talking over the experiences of those stirring times. Twenty members of Co. "I" were present namely: Albert A. May of Meriden, Conn; C. Y. Ray, John Barrett, F. A. Fish, A. D. Beckwith, V. S. Fulham, H. G. Hemenway, and E. A. Headle of Ludlow; P. S. Chase of Brattleboro, W. B. Derby of Keene, NH; H. D. D. Hemenway of Granville; D. P. Perkins of North Springfield; John Crosby of Rutland; O. G. Howe of Lake Placid, NY; Abel Ray of South Reading; C. W. Priest of Mechanicsville, Amos Nichols of Reading, S. E. Reed of Springfield, Mass; E. A. Hall and Alba Royce of Plymouth Union. [later a newspaper notice added that "the following should have been included as being present: H. C. Rogers of Walpole, NH and Henry Colby of Kelleyville, NH, who were on hand to enjoy the memorable occasion, bringing the company's attendance up to 22."]

Other companies of the Regiment were represented by eighteen members -- namely: Stephen Taylor of Westfield, Mass; Michael Lane of Mt. Holly, S. E. Clark of Mechanicsville, J. W. York of Spafford, NH; Fred B. Holmes of Keene, NH; A. R. Sawyer of Ithaca, NY; O. H. Howard and Albert Mason of Gardner, Mass; U. T. Ross and N. C. Thomas of Proctorsville; J. A. Benedict of Poultney; H. A. Richardson, J. R. Wilson, of Rutland; D. R. Putnam of Lynn, Mass; W. M. Richardson of Chester; F. A. Joslyn of Tyson; G. M. Sawyer and C. G. Could of Ludlow.

The exercises as a whole were quite informal, no special preparations having been made as to details. The Associates of Howard post took the matter in hand at a late hour and authorized their executive committee to get up a dinner for the visiting veterans; and this special day was looked after carefully. The dinner was given about half-past one o'clock at the Goddard Hotel, the proprietor of that hostelry setting out a substantial spread to which ample justice was done by the 47 persons who sat at the tables. The dining room and its approaches were tastefully decorated with hunting flags and army banners, a stack of arms and a suggestive 'camp fire' appearing in the vestibule; the exterior of the hotel was decorated also with large flags. The special menu including a long and appetizing list of good things and reflected credit on The Goddard's commissary department. While the dinner was in progress the Ludlow band located in front of the hotel discoursed appropriate music; and subsequently escorted the visitors to G. A. R. hall. Here there were two welcome addressed and a response. A. F. Sherman [Alva F. Sherman was born in Fairfield, Vt. in 1828, son of Elias & Clarissa Wilmarth Sherman. He was 33 years old when the Civil War broke and a bookseller, druggist and merchant in Ludlow] spoke for the oldest residents of Ludlow when he said: 'I am not here to make a speech, but to extend a welcome to the survivors of as noble and heroic a band of men as ever stood on American soil, or any other soil, on the footstool of the Almighty. The facts of history prove the truth of this statement. To speak to such a body of men is a great honor. Fifty years ago I witnessed the drill of the boys on the common. Fifty years ago today Company "I" was in line in front of the Ludlow House and Sherman's Drug Store (now the bank) to start for the war. During the four years of the greatest war of modern times, I sold the daily papers. This brought me in close contact with the heroes at home who had given their dear ones to the great cause of human liberty and the saving of this glorious Union. The eagerness of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and sweethearts, to hear from the front, especially after great battles, used to touch my heart and sometimes wring my soul with anguish. After that most terrible battle of the Wilderness, in which the 2nd Vermont made good wall I an say of its prowess, and several of our boys there laid down their precious lives, -- after that battle of days, news came slowly. Upon the arrival of the great bundles of papers men crowded the little store, scores could not get in, and the crowd around the door extended out into the street. Not only Ludlow, but all the towns from which you men came, were in deepest mourning. Men met and clasped hands, looked into each others eyes without a spoken word. Even the birds seemed to sing in a minor key and the voice of the rippling waters was laden with woe. The hills and the mountains of Vermont seemed to bow their heads in sympathy with the grief of the whole people. The crowd gathered to hear from the 2nd Vermont. From you, sons of Vermont, from you, American patriots, from those of you who lay dead or wounded on the field of battle, and those on stretchers and in hospital tents. From you whose bodies were a human breastwork to intercept the mini bullets, to shield us at home. All honor to our protectors and defenders! Deep in our hearts is enshrined the memory of their gallant deeds. In behalf of the citizens of Ludlow, I welcome you.' As president of the Associates of the G. A. R. Dr. William Nelson Bryant gave the visitors on their behalf, a hearty welcome to the hospitalities of the town and the hearts and sympathies of the people. Among other things he asked why this enthusiasm and interest in everything pertaining to the Grand Army and the veterans of the war after fifty years have passed since they were making history. 'When the war drums throb no longer; And the battle flags are furled; When the prejudice and animosity begotten of conflict have give way to friendship and sympathy for our erst-while foes? He found the reason in the fact that the original army was not an army of conquest or aggression, but literally a citizen army -- an uprising of the people, inspired not by a lust of conflict but by a supreme desire to preserve the liberties bequeathed them by patriot ancestors. Such an army as this, of the people and for the people, must always remain as it now is, firmly enthroned in the hearts of the whole American people. He also alluded to the fact that Vermonters were called a proud people and gave some of the reasons why we are justly proud of our history. Vermont has always been first and foremost in all laudable lines of activity; particularly in the history of the war. She furnished more men and sustained more casualties in proportion to her population than any other Northern state. Vermont troops were first to throw up the so-called 'sacred soil of Old Virginia' in Union trenches and the first troops to attack a Confederate fortification.

Rev. F. L. Payson was to have given a word of welcome for the town officials, but through some oversight, was not called upon. President May of the Company "I" Association responded feelingly, expressing on behalf of himself and his comrades, a hearty appreciation of the warm welcome accorded them and a strong measure of loyalty for his hometown, Ludlow. He reminisced to some extent, interestingly recalling local incidents of those faraway days. A business session was held and a proposition for organization on the part of members of other companies of the Second Regiment was side-tracked, and it was voted that these should merge with the Company "I" association. These officers were elected: President: A. A. May; Vice President: P. S. Chase; Secretary: A. D. Beckwith; Treasurer: C. H. Ray. It was not originally intended to hold an evening session, but the spirit of good fellowship bubbled over and had to be given another chance after supper. So a genuine campfire was held, continuing until a fairly late hour, at which President May presided effectively, quite a number of the townspeople being present as interested listeners. Speeches were made by V. S. Fulham, the Company's organizer and first captain, by Albert Mason of Gardner, Dr. Bryant, Commander Ball of Howard post, C. H. Howard of Gardner, Rev. F. L. Payson, and President May. Experiences in camp, on battlefield, and in prison pen, furnished texts from interesting remarks, and anecdotes wee drawn upon to add spice. Miss Ethel Cooledge sang two patriotic selections to the great delight of the vets.

It means something for men who went into battle together fifty years ago - some of the mere boys when they answered the call of arms - to meet each other face to face in a semi-centennial reunion as did the surviving members of Company "I", Second Vermont Volunteer Infantry, here in Ludlow this week. It means something to outsiders who drop in to hear 'the boys' reminisce, but the real significance of such an affair can be appreciated only by 'the boys' themselves. A great deal happened in fifty years and it is somewhat remarkable that so many members of this company have been spared to see the semi-centennial date. Time has told upon them to be sure; but not a few of those attending this gathering manifested a physical vigor which promises to hold them in readiness for other reunions for some time to come.

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