By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
There is now a great hue and cry on the part of many to tear down all statuary commemorating the South in the Civil War. But in 1913 those Union and Confederate soldiers who bore the battle, thrust the bayonet and fired the cannon at each other, met in a loving 50th reunion, brothers once more. It was reported that during the Pickett Webb Flag ceremony the formerly opposing units advanced towards one another, Union from the North, Confederate from the South—to flags at The Angle stone wall where they “clasped hands and buried their faces on each other’s shoulders”.
Today, Antifa, Black Lives matter, and many in America’s educational establishment are trying to destroy American history. They think that America is a hopelessly wicked country that needs to be remade into something from Orwell’s 1984.
In fact Orwell wrote: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
In 1913, the 50th reunion of the warriors at Gettysburg was about reconciliation, not vengeance and hatred. With assistance from the War Department, the Commission helped prepare Gettysburg, a town of 4,500, for the 100,000 visitors (about half of them non-veterans) expected to attend the reunion. The official celebration would be held from July 1 (Veteran’s Day) to July 4.
The Great Camp
The camp for the veterans at Gettysburg officially opened on June 29, and the first meal of the reunion was served that evening. About 25,000 veterans, including Major Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, the only surviving corps commander on either side, arrived on the first day.
The camp comprised 280 acres and more than 5,000 tents, which were organized by state and equipped with two hand basins and a water bucket. Artesian wells were installed in the months leading up to the reunion to supply water to the veterans’ village. According to the Commission’s report, there were 53,407 veterans in camp. In addition, 124 officers and 1,342 enlisted men were assigned by the War Department to help make sure things ran smoothly, while 155 newspapermen and 2,170 cooks brought the total in camp to 57,198.
Only veterans with the proper credentials, such as honorable discharge or pension papers, were fed and sheltered in the camp. Most of the 50,000 non-veterans who traveled to Gettysburg to share in the celebration were housed at Gettysburg College.
When they weren’t taking in the scheduled public exercises at the reunion, veterans spent their time in Gettysburg reminiscing with friends and getting to know former foes. It was common for a veteran to seek out a man who may have shot him or exchange badges with a soldier from the other side. Two men reportedly purchased a hatchet at a local hardware store, walked it to the site where their regiments fought, and buried it. Here are two of the more interesting mini-reunions mentioned in the Pennsylvania Commission’s report and various newspaper accounts:
An op-ed in The New York Times during the reunion mentioned that many veterans reminisced about their experiences at Gettysburg in 1863 as they would a baseball contest. A separate article described the scene of a Union and a Confederate soldier posing for a photo by shaking hands next to a cannon. The Union soldier turned to the Confederate and said, “I’m mighty glad to do this, you know; but still, you know, we did lick you.”
“You Are the Man”
Yet another New York Times article detailed an encounter between a Confederate soldier who was shot at the Bloody Angle, and would have died, were it not for a Union soldier who came to his rescue. A Union soldier who heard this story told the Confederate that he had saved a Confederate at the Bloody Angle that day, describing exactly what he had done. The Confederate examined the Union soldier more closely and declared, “But my God, that’s just what the Yankee did for me. There couldn’t have been two cases like that at the same time. You are the man.”
On July 3, a ceremony was held for at the hour of the famed Gen. Pickett’s charge. Brigadier General Alexander Webb commanded the 2nd Brigade opposing Pickett. For the Webb/Pickett flag ceremony, two 1863 units advanced about 50 ft (15 m)—Union from the North, Confederate from the South—to flags at The Angle stone wall where they “clasped hands and buried their faces on each other’s shoulders”.
If those who fought the fight could reconcile in 1913, about the time many of the now despised statues were erected, why is it necessary to destroy them now? Why must the left affirm their hated of all things American through Orwellian destruction of history?
The words of Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 2nd Inaugural Address should guide us today:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”