Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

CAPTAIN WILLIAM C. BUNTS greeted the Society with welcome in behalf of the city of Cleveland, in the following words:

COMRADES :

The pleasing duty of welcoming you to our beautiful city has devolved on me, as one of the Local Executive Committee. In doing so I am almost overcome with mingled emotions of joy and sorrow-of joy, that I am permitted to greet so many of those brave patriots whose anxious countenances have been so often reflected from the camp-fires that were wont to illumine the front of the Union armies—men who have witnessed those trying hours of the nation, and passed through the fiery ordeal of terrible war to save it-men who from quiet and peaceful citizens, became, as if by magic, panoplied, disciplined, and perfect soldiers, and who, when the cause making them soldiers had passed away, returned to their honorable pursuits of private life; of sorrow, in the remembrance that in the necessity for maintaining free in- . stitutions and an unbroken Union, so many of our brave brothers in arms fell and died by our sides; in the remembrance of those who have heretofore assembled with us on occasions like this of to-day, and who since our last meeting have been called to unite with comrades gone before ; and in the remembrance of him whose name and memory are dearest in our hearts, whose kind voice and honest face we had longed most to hear and see, by whom it was an honor to have been commanded, and to be a friend of whom we all feel proud to know we were, whose career as a soldier, citizen, and friend, it is virtue to emulate. Unswery. ing honesty, unyielding patriotism, devoted husband, faithful friend, are but synonyms of the name of our beloved President, GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.

Comrades—In behalf of the citizens of Cleveland, I bid you here to-day a hearty welcome. They know your record and the history of your merited renown by heart. They were not unmindful of your wants and sacrifices from the beginning to the

1

close of the war; and those kind hearts who here organized the first Soldiers' Aid Society, forming a nucleus for the most beneficial and successful of sanitary arrangements, are still here, and beat in unison with yours to-day. As they remembered you in those dark hours, sympathized in your struggles, and provided for your health and comfort, so to-day they grasp you by the hand, and with the warmest pulsations of love and friendship, welcome you to their city, and the comforts and luxuries of their homes ; and assure you of their most sincere desire for your enjoyment and pleasure. I congratulate you upon the prosperous condition of our Society, on the manifest interest that is felt by all of the members in its continuation and preservation, and the entire harmony and good feeling that has heretofore prevailed, and that still exist among us. That wise provision in the by-laws, forbidding the introduction or discussion of political subjects in our meetings, removed the elements dangerous to our unity and success; and we find ourselves here to-day a band of brothers, united by those enduring ties of friendship and respect which were formed while struggling for a common and glorious cause ; and unanimously resolved that in our meetings and re-unions the word "politics" shall be forever blotted from our vocabularies.

Comrades—The presidential chair of this Society baving become vacant by the death of our noble old chief, another must preside over the deliberations of this meeting, but we may imagine, and I trust will feel, that the spirit of “Old Pap” Thomas is with us, and will watch over us. No enemy of his—if he had an enemy—will be called upon now, or ever hereafter, to fulfill bis duties. The executive duties of this meeting devolve upon no stranger among us, but on one whom we recognize with pride. You remember him who took command at Bowling Green, and you know the hero of Stone River, whose unyielding spirit, indomitable will, dashing presence, courageous conduct, and brilliant maneuvers, turned defeat into victory, and made the Army of the Cumberland renowned for its pugnacity and esprit du corps,

and opened up for it a career of military achievements that will ever blaze with splendor in the brightest pages of our national history. I need hardly tell you that we call him “Rosy." And now, Comrades, after having said to you again, “ Welcome, and God bless the Society of the Army of the Cumberland," I turn over the executive duties of this meeting to the ranking VicePresident, the friend of THOMAS, and our old Commander, GENERAL W. S. ROSECRANS.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, senior Vice-President, was then conducted to the chair, and was received by the Society with enthusiastic applause. He expressed the pleasure he experienced in being present, modified by the sadness which all felt from the circumstances under which the duties of presiding officer devolved upon him.

The Society called upon their distinguished comrades who occupied the platform for speeches. In response they spoke nearly as follows:

GENERAL SHERMAN said:

are

I can scarcely find words to express my thanks to you for this cordial reception, and the happiness I feel that I can meet so many of those who stood by my side during our country's dark hours. We were soldiers in war, and we brothers in peace, bound together by, ties that can not be sundered. I am glad to see you all looking so healthy and happy, and I trust you may live long, be good citizens, and help to make our Nation the admiration of the civilized world. We fought not in anger! It was from a sense of honor, of pride, of duty to our Government. Europe was looking upon us with contempt and disdain; France and Germany were laughing at our disintegrated government, whose democracy was too weak to hold together.

But now we read of a war between these countries, of vast armies tramping the battle plain, and of two hundred and fifty thousand men shut up in Paris. I don't believe the Army of the Cumberland would consent to be shut in as long as they have! We have always regarded France as the impersonation of military skill and courage, and physique, and we can scarcely believe that two hundred and fifty thousand men are actually shut up in that city. I am not making a speech, I am only whiling away the time until some business can be prepared for the meeting. Once, I confess, I was a man of action ; but now I am content to keep silent and read of the actions of other men.

I hope you may become great men, in military or civil life, and then I will gladly take a back seat. This is not the proper time for me to speak, as I am expected to occupy a portion of your time at the banquet to-morrow night, and as there are others here, who are far better speakers than I, I give way to them, again thanking you for this kind reception.

GENERAL HOOKER responded :

I came somewhat reluctantly to this meeting, on account of my enfeebled condition, and should have been still more reluctant if I had known what use you were going to put me to.. When GENERAL SHERMAN transferred the talking to other gentlemen I know he didn't mean me. I am not a talker ; I don't want you to think I'm one. I am always willing to do my duty in my own line, but out of it I want some one to do it for me. There are plenty of young lawyers and others here who can talk. Why don't you call on them? I am glad, delighted, to see so many of my old friends and comrades of the Army of the Cumberland. I'm ready for the next war! It will be with Canada, and it is bound to come. We want no British possessions nearer than across the Atlantic ocean. We don't want to buy

Canada, we want to whip her. Once more, my friends and comrades, I am rejoiced to meet with you, to enjoy this reunion.

GENERAL PALMER said:

COMRADES :

I am very

These gentlemen, GENERAL SHERMAN and GENERAL HOOKER, say they are not talkers, and I will say it is not my time to talk; I am posted for something more formal to-morrow. I did a little fighting, though not as much as SHERMAN and Hooker, but I've done more talking than both of them put together. happy to greet my old comrades, and I can say now some things that I could not in a formal address. Our honored presiding officer belongs to this Society, while GENERAL SHERMAN and GENERAL HOOKER are entitled to membership in any army Society. I need not say that I mean “Rosy." He belongs to us, and we belong to SHERMAN and HOOKER. I do not know whether I am paying the highest compliment to them or to "Rosy"--one is that of respect, and the other is what we call in Illinois, "Sucker good will.” It is idle for me to speak of SHERMAN and HOOKER. “Rosy” joined the Army of the Cumberland just at the beginning of great movements, and from the first he commanded our confidence and our love. I would not like to repeat all the hard things I said about him while I was under him. The right to abuse a superior officer was one that none of us would surrender under any circumstances. I used to say all I felt, but how much that was I can not remember. I have forgotten it all now. I am glad to see present to-day gallant representatives of other armies. We have all come together to have a good time. There are certain formalities and usages that must be observed, but our object is to have a good time. When we were in war some of us were bigh privates, some had those things upon the shoulders with one bar, two bars, leaves or stars, as indications of rank, and we all know how we valued them then, but to-day we all meet as soldiers on an equality. SHERMAN and ROSECRANS used to

« ZurückWeiter »