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Day 523: A Century Ago...

Monday, July 01, 2013

An odd fact in my family history: I know precisely where my great-great-grandfather was one hundred years ago today.

On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July, 1913, the US government sponsored a "Civil War Veterans Reunion," on the grounds of Gettysburg National Battlefield. All veterans from both sides were invited.

These now-old men stayed in huge barracks tents and spent three days attending staged events, participating in (carefully planned!) re-enactments, and most of all, meeting up with their former comrades-in-arms.

As it happens, my GG-Grandfather never lost touch with the survivors from his unit: they all came from the same small area in upstate New York. Most of them were farmboys, with a few - the son of the general store owner, a schoolteacher, the son of the local doctor - other fields represented.

They came of age late in the war, and most of them came home again, though not all of them unscathed. Two of GG-Grampa's best friends had each lost a leg. He himself was shot somewhere in his abdomen, a wound which troubled him the rest of his life.

That they were more fortunate than so many of their fellow soldiers is without question - and they paid homage to those who'd made the greatest sacrifice while at the great reunion.

My family has a few photos taken over the course of those three days in 1913. The only copy I've come up with is this one:

Great-great-grampa is in the back left of these four men - he's the one in the straw boater. These four had grown up together and remained friends their entire lives; I suspect when the announcement was made of the grand reunion, they knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.

So a curious fact: yes, I happen to know where the old man was one hundred years ago today...

Have a good'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    That is wonderful Kasey! We are leaving tomorrow for our vacation to New England and there is an exhibit on the Civil War in Maine at the Historical Society in Portland. We are going there and so excited to go!
    1795 days ago
    What a great story!
    1811 days ago
    Tht is truly wonderful, and I love the picture!

    have a nice 4 of july in britain!
    1812 days ago
    What a cool thing to know! Thanks for sharing with us!
    IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team
    1814 days ago
  • YMWONG22
    Very interesting family event. Thank you for sharing.
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    1814 days ago
    Really Interesting..thankyou
    1815 days ago
    Interesting! Hard to believe it has 150 years since that battle--have we really learned anything from it?
    1815 days ago
    That's neat! And certainly not many people have that kind of knowledge about their ancestors!
    1815 days ago
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    1815 days ago
    emoticon Thank You for sharing your GG Grandpa. The Reunion must have been an INCREDIBLE Event to witness. Having Family Stories and Photos like this one really does make History come alive.
    1815 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    How wonderful that those four men were life-long friends, literally, experiencing many events together over the years. That is all too rare these days. War, as horrid as it is, seems to solidify the connection. Thanks for sharing this.
    1815 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your family's history, very interesting. I went to Gettysburg back in the 70's and I think since then they have made some improvements to the park. lol I would like to go back maybe this fall. We had a great-great (South)who deserted towards the end of the war, a lot did because of the lack of food. The brave men in the photo have their medals pinned on their suits. People dressed up more back then and always wore hats.
    1815 days ago
    WOW, love the pic so nice that you have it to treasure and pass on.

    Happy July to you my friend across the pond !!!!

    HUGS !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1815 days ago
    And I'll bet this is part of what made history of the Civil War come alive for you. It's funny how having some kind of "family" in the scenario makes it more real as one reads. My mom used to say she would imagine the "Clark" family members on the Lewis and Clark expedition as being part of her ancestry, whether they were or not. But when I read my grandfather's letter home that referenced a riot in Omaha I'd seen in the history books as a current event? Riveting!

    Spark on... into the next hundred years! emoticon
    1815 days ago
  • POPSY190
    A great memory for the family, and a reminder of the hardships and sacrifices made in the past.
    1815 days ago
    Amazing how they'd dress up in suits to come and celebrate a dirty, bloody war. Glenn
    1815 days ago
    How strange it is to think that, unknowingly, I - a Brit - have wandered over those very rocks in Devils Den, Gettysburg, where Kasey's ancestors were all that time ago.
    As she says, they were the lucky ones and lived to tell the tale.
    A few inches one way or the other and his stomach trouble may have so easily been a fatal injury and that would have radically affected both our lives.
    1815 days ago
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