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Reminiscences of the G. A. R.
Emma Ramsey Morris.
In a great blaze of patriotic soldiers been shown more reverence glory the 43rd National Encamp- and love, more appreciation, or ment of the Grand Army of the more honor for their past sacrifices. Republic, was heralded to the thou- Their short sojourn here with us sands of citizens who were waiting has been a great object lesson to old to do honor to the heroes of a past and young, and has impressed upgeneration. And with a final flour- on all minds, more than years of ish of brilliant receptions, camp- teaching out of books could do, the fires, and concerts, the Encampment value to the country of the Grand took its rank in the annals of past Army of the Republic. history as one of the most successful of its kind.
The visiting hosts have gone away with warmer feelings and deeper regard than they ever expected to have for us. There is no doubt but that Utah has been greatly benefited by the Encampment.
Thousands of people came here from all over the United States, with the usual prejudice against Utah and the Mormons. They went away with an entirely different conception of us and our creed. Many came out by curiosity and they had that curiosity satisfied in quite an unexpected fashion. It might easily be said that "those who came to scoff, remained to pray." At any rate they remained to admire and appreciate to the fullest extent, the overpowering, large-hearted welcome extended to them by our people.
They learned the real meaning of Western hospitality, and were completely charmed by it. Dozens of people who had attended as many as thirty National Encampments were heard to say that Salt Lake had outdone all the other cities in almost every particular. Never in any city have the old
As long as life lasts, not one of us will ever forget the sight of that great parade of scarred and grizzled veterans; many almost tottering with age and weakness, yet striving to assume the firm step and erect bearing and to march as proudly as in the days of '61-'65, when to the stirring music of the same old fife and drum, they went forth to the call of their country, to lay down their lives, if need be, that the Union might not die, and that the vital principles of eternal liberty might be firmly established. "Greater love hath no man than this."
I had the honor of entertaining the old fife and drum corps of '61. Never shall I forget that day. I think the old veterans who were present will not forget it either for I have received many letters and papers from them since they left, all expressive of their enjoyment and appreciation of the occasion and of the cordial reception generally given them by the people of Salt Lake. Among many papers, I have received from the different veterans, is one from Dr. Herron of Ohio, who says in his excellent article in the "Chronicle,"
"Never in all the years of its existence has the Grand Army had a National Encampment review that surpassed this one in spectacular and pathetic features. The great review was excellently managed. * * * * Salt Lake City has thrown open her arms to the old soldiers, and never has the Grand Army been more enthusiastically received or more generously entertained. All are unanimous in their praise. Nothing that loving thoughtfulness could suggest has been overlooked in the effort to make the visitors comfortable and provide for their entertainment. The decoration of the city has been on a lavish scale. If the people of this State and City have their way, this encampment will be remembered by the veterans as one of their pleasantest and most successful annual gatherings."
I am also in receipt of an excellent newspaper article from the Webster City Tribune of Iowa,
written by Comrade J. N. Iliff, a cousin, by the way, of the Rev. Dr. Iliff, formerly of this City. Among many other complimentary things about Salt Lake, he says,
"It is unanimously conceded that the people of Salt Lake City have set the pace and far outdone any and all formed occasions of this kind.
There never will be any question as to the sincere patriotism of these people for all time. Their minds and hearts have been open and eager to learn, and no one who was here at the encampment will ever entertain an opinion to the contrary, how ever much they may have heard of the people of Salt Lake derogatory to the highest type of manhood and womanhood."
I apologize for mentioning the reception I gave to the National
Association of Civil War Musicians, as I do so only to show how deeply the old veterans appreciated being entertained in a Mormon home. Not only in mine, but in the many other homes opened to them so cordially. After giving me a most generous amount of praise for the very little I was able to do for them, Mr. Iliff gives the following account of the affair,
"The National Drum Corps given a reception and etertainment by Mrs. Emma Ramsey Morris, the daughter of George W. Ramsey, who was fife major of Company I, 130th Illinois Volunteers. * * She sang a number of selections for us which were suitable for the occasion and faultless in rendition, and many of the old boys wept like children as the sentimental and pathetic melodies thrilled their very souls. Many ladies from nearby came in and assisted in making this one of the most enjoyable and profitable functions of the whole week, and one which tended to an uplift toward a better life, manifestly simple, yet soul penetrating. It is visibly noticeable, that as the years go by, and the more remote grow the tragic days of '61 to '65 the more intense becomes the homage and the thankfulness of a nation, which is coming to more fully realize and appreciate the voluntary and priceless service rendered. And in the not far distant future, will we acknowledge the brotherhood of man and more fully comprehend the fatherhood of God, when the burdens of life will not seem drudgery and many of the disappointments of life will not be looked upon as the intrigue of presonal enemies. After a few numbers were rendered by visitors and hostess, a cordial hand-shake and a 'God bless you,' were given and we passed out playing "The Girl I Left Behind Me," followed by a cheer from this Samaritan home, which at a distance we answered with a shriek of fife and a thunderous roll of drum, and we wended our way to quarters, mellowed in spirit but enlarged in heart, bearing away delicate souvenirs of respect and good will.
"From all the thousands of visitors, nothing will be heard but praise of the magnanimous treatment afforded by the
hospitable people of Salt Lake, and I wish to say that the treatment we have cities of the East to shame in the manreceived here would put many of the agement of the G. A. R. festivals and others as well. There is no hypocrisy here and the people do not act as if they know what it is."
Now with such opinions as these about our people being spread broadcast by the press; and by the reports of the many different G. A. R. organizations all over the United States, can Salt Lake fail to receive a great benefit from the Encampment having been held in our midst?
Representatives from all over the land came here to see for themselves just what conditions are. They went away surprised and delighted beyond all power of expression. pression. The generosity of the Church officials in extending the use of the various Church buildings, the great Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, the various ward chapels for meetings and rest rooms, has been much appreciated by all our visitors. The Eastern papers have been full of praise for Prof. McClellan. The Tabernacle Choir under the direction of Professor Stephens also comes in for its full share of appreciation and enthusiastic comment. In fact everything that was done for the comfort and entertainment of the thousands who came among us, was appreciated fully.
Many touching stories of the war and many pathetic incidents came under my observation during the Encampment.
While on a sight seeing trip around the city with the National Drum Corps, I noticed one of the old fifers who got off the car to enter the City and County Building. He accidentally brushed against another old veteran who started to
"With a final assault, starting at 10 a. m., we swept gallantly over fallen timbers and gullied hills until checked by a deadly fire of musketry and artillery. The day saw desperate hand-tohand fighting and many deeds of valor. Field pieces were dragged by the men themselves to points where horses could not live a moment, and ammunition was carried forward in haversacks. At night when the battle ended our army, had lost three thousand men. After desultory fighting for two days longer the air grew so foul from the wounded and corpses that Pemberton granted the general an armistice for two hours and a half to bring away the dead.
Simultaneously the rebels removed the putrefying horses, which greatly affected their health and comfort
During this truce both armies fraternized, perhaps softened by the peaceful sleep of friend and foe side by side on that bloody field. Beardless boys lay among the confederate dead.
Rebel and a Union man, lying stark and cold, were found grasping a rifle which they had both been contending for, when one shot killed them both. spade now took the place of the musket. Slowly our lines contracted as the soldiers dug forward. The ditches were so near that conversations between the pickets were familiar and sometimes witty. This is an authentic example:
Rebel Picket.-'What are you'uns doin' out thar?'
Union Picket.-'Guarding thirty thousand of you prisoners and making you board yourselves?'
Rebel. 'Why don't you come and ake Vicksburg?'
Union. Oh we're in no hurry! Grant hasn't got transportation yet to send you up North ?' Rebel.-'We've got a lot blamed old flags here.'
Union. Make shirts of them; they'll look better than that butternut.'
Rebel. Say, Yank! Will you trade some coffee for corn meal?'
Union.-'Yes, just to oblige you; fling it over here." "
Such stories and anecdotes were told with a great deal of enthusiasm by the old veterans and listened to with great interest by the young student of history who would rather hear about the great War from the lips of the very men who fought in it, than to read of the same stories from a book. How much more impressive are these things, when we hear them from those who were the active participants in the great struggle.
In conversation with Comrade F. J. Vosburg, who enlisted in the 40th Wisconsin, I was told that the regiment was composed almost entirely of college graduates. That each one carried a Bible during all those strenuous years of the War. And that a prayer meeting was held every Wednesday evening if they were not on the march or in battle; and that during the entire four years of his service he never saw a single game of cards played by any of the boys of that regiment, Major George Elmer Tracey of Wareham, Mass., told me of this very interesting episode to which he was an eye witness.
During a fierce engagement the Union forces charged up a steep hill. The color bearer, who by the way, was a negro soldier, was shot down. As he fell wounded at the captain's feet, he raised Old Glory aloft with that wounded arm and held it there until relieved by another standard