May 30th 1871

 At 8 o’clock a.m. the Lawrence Cornet Band arrived and proceeded at once to the West Parish Church where a procession was formed and marched to the cemetery.  Prayer was offered by Rev. James H. Merrill.  The band played a dirge and wreaths and flowers were placed on the graves of deceased soldiers.  The band was then taken to the Town Hall, where after a prayer by Rev. James Thompson a procession was formed under the direction of Chief Marshal, Major Marland, consisting of Andover Steam Fire Engine Co., soldiers, children of the public schools, and the Selectmen of the Town and orator in a carriage.  The procession marched up Main Street and were joined by the students of Phillips Academy, it then proceeded to Chapel Cemetery, then down School Street.  The Abbot Female Academy displayed the National Flag and other decorations, the young ladies furnishing a liberal supply of wreaths and flowers.  On arriving at South Cemetery detachments were detailed to the other cemeteries.  In consequence of the extreme heat, the program was so far changed as to have the address at the Town Hall instead of near the South Church as was previously arranged.  Mr. George H. Scott[1] of the Theological Seminary who was a soldier gave an eloquent address upon the war and its results, with a graphic description of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Mr. Scott said:

Fellow Citizens of Andover, Our fathers fought to create a nation, we of this generation to preserve it.  Our soldiers were the saviors under god of the Nation.  Their sacrifices secured and perfected our liberties.  Human life is the work and personal sacrifice is the [  ] of history.  To give to human rights an adequate value in our eyes, God has wisely ordained that we purchase them by sacrifice.  While every great wrong has its victims, the right which assails it has its martyrs.  Those great wrongs which have darkened the world have been overcome only by fearful conflict.  Human liberty has been fittingly represented, not by a beautiful goddess, but by a stern warrior clad in panoply and bearing the scars of a hundred battles.  Sacrifice to overthrow error and establish truth is the law of human progress, somehow and in some way every crime must have its atonement, innocence must bear the sins of guilt.  Blood!  It has an awful significance; with it we associate the mystery of life. A murder thrills the community with horror.  From him whose hands are stained with blood, we shrink away as from a monster.  Before his victim, children meek, tender women turn frail, and strong men shudder, but it is the price humanity has paid for all we enjoy today.  In more senses than one, without the shedding of blood there is no remission.  There is something more precious than blood or the life it symbolizes.  Honor and truth and liberty have greater value.  Said Madam Roland “If men are not willing to die for liberty, they soon will have nothing to do but to work for her.”  Thank heaven in our age were found those who were thus willing.  Nations often progress not by slow graduations, but by leaps, this progress is often marked by bloody conflicts and great revolutions, into these the issues of a century are often crowded to such a conflict.  We of this generation are summoned.  We have lived and written in letters of blood and read in the light of our own deeds half the history of the republic.  Let us rejoice rather than weep, that the sacred duty was required of us to grapple in the death struggle the monster barbarism of the age and destroy it, that we were deemed worthy to wear the crown of thorns, that we were permitted “to wait beneath the furnace blast, the pangs of transformation.  For not painlessly did God recast and would anew the Nation.”

How true Andover was in this great struggle to right the wrong let the five hundred and sixteen whom she [set} forth tell us, let almost every battle field from the Gulf to the Potomac on which they fought bear witness, let the seventy or more who gave up their lives to the cause testify, let the forty and more graves in your cemeteries where rest your heroic dead speak forth; let the tender tribute this day paid to the fallen make answer; let these strong men whom God spared to return – many of them bearing the scar badge of honored wounds, who can lament as well as fight reply, let the memorial which you are about to erect proclaim to all coming time not only your fidelity to the cause of liberty when in peril, but your love for those who fell in its defense.

The Germans have a proverb “It is honorable for women to lament, for men to remember” and I may add “for a nation to honor the dead.”  We meet today to remember, to honor and lament the fallen.  Mingled feelings of sorrow, gratitude and patriotism stir our hearts.  This floral tribute has a complex significance, it has a national expression, the nation mourns today.  Not till a nation becomes too ignorant to appreciate, or too corrupt to value her liberty, will she forget to honor her martyrs.  Amid the dim and clang of busy life she stops to honor her dead.  In her onward sweep to great achievement she turns aside for a day to acknowledge her obligation to her sons who died to preserve and deliver her.  In this the people are quickened to a deeper loyalty, and pledged to a more earnest devotion to right and freedom.  Again it has special significance to the family.  Our wounds bleed afresh, this day recalls the vacant chair, “the touch of a vanished hand” the sound of a voice that is still, the parting, the sinking of heart, the sleepless nights, the weary wailing, news of sickness, the telegram he is dead, the body’s return – the open grave – hearts bleeding and homes desolate.  Let mothers, wives, sisters – daughters bring their offerings of love and grief, and as they twine and garland the flowers of spring-time, how many will moisten them with their tears.  But my fellow soldiers to you this day is especially sacred.  The dead whom we lament today were your comrades in arms.  They were with you upon the tented field, beside the camp fire, on the weary march, on the distant picket line, in the slippery basse, on the deadly charge.  Community of suffering makes men akin.  You come to love the sharer of your hardships and dangers.  Next to those of family, the associations of the army are the most sacred of our lives.  Is it strange then that the Grand Army of the Republic set apart this day in memory of their fallen comrades?  We meet not alone to honor them, though they are deserving of all honor, not alone to pay them the tribute of gratitude, though they deserve our gratitude, but to give expression to our love.  Oh! These army friendships!  How precious they were, each had your boon companion, him it may be who at the home fireside talked over the stern question of duty, with you, and shook hands over the firm resolve to enlist, and go forth to battle for the right, him who slept under the same white canvas with you, who drilled and marched and fought by your side, who was to you for sister, mother, wife, attending you in sickness, and cheered you in health, with whom you sympathized, in whom you confided, and to whom you read all your letters from home.  “His adoption tried, you grappled him to your heart with hooks of steel.”  The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”  Can you forget him? Not while the sentiment lives in your soul, and love is an affection of your heart.  “If I forget thee, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.  You visit his grave today.  War, pitiless war, drunk with slaughter, with bloody fingers, ruthlessly, rent the ties which bind you, and stamped under his iron heel that companionship of love.  How often these army friendships were broken – these army companions snatched from us, let the graves you decorate today bear witness.  How many memories sad and pleasant come trooping up from the remembered past, memories of camp and fort and field, the saddest of these, those written with an iron pen upon our souls, were the sundering of hearts, the eternal partings.

Let me picture some real scenes, the experience of each of you furnishes a dozen parallels.  You remember that night in January, in the army of the Potomac.  The long roll echoed through the camp, and startled us from slumber.  Orders had come to hasten to a point twenty miles away.  We were given fifteen minutes to provide three days rations and fall into line.  We were soon on our way, but the clouds are gathering blackness, the darkness can be felt, the rain soon fell in torrents.  We tramp, tramp, tramp over corduroy roads which endanger a fall at every step, or through mud – that sacred soil of Virginia – which adds two pounds avoirdupois to each foot, through the weary hours.  Our guide misleads us but we know it not.  It is near day, we are given an hour for rest and breakfast, some too weary to eat sink down exhausted, sit upon the butt of their guns to keep them from the mud beneath them – recline against a tree and sleep, this tho’ tho’ the still falling rain is trickling down their backs, and their clothes are saturated.  The bugle sounds attention, and stiff and sore we join in the weary march again.  All day long we continue our tiresome march.  We camp for the night in a wood.  The weather has changed from rain to snow, and from snow to bitter cold.  We have not tents.  What a night we spent too cold to sleep, we stand shivering about our camp fires, thawing one side while the other is freezing, too exhausted to keep awake.  We catch snatches of sleep till we are chilled into wakefulness and find it necessary to thaw out again.  Well, we are in camp again!  True we met no enemies, but many of our brave boys met death.  Our camp is vocal with the coughing of a hundred men, rheumatic pains, congestive lungs, burning fevers, twenty deaths are the fruit of our march.  That beloved comrade who marched by our side sickens and dies.  We place him in his casket and send him to his stricken friends at home, and we return to our duties heart sick and weary.  We shall decorate his grave today.  He was taken and we left.

Again our regiment is sent on picket duty, five miles from a camp.   A December snow storm comes.  We can have no fires upon the picket post lest they attract the enemy.  Your tent mate is with you, his teeth chatter with cold, the snow dampens and the wind chills him, he returns to camp with a hectic flush and a hacking cough, deadly typhoid sets in.  You have a confused memory of the hospital, the wild delirium, the death struggle, the soldier’s bier, the muffled drum, the slow procession, the open grave and the musketry volley, over it, the grave filled and the heart empty, a stranger takes his place in your tent but not in your heart.  He has been taken and you left.

Again.  We are on a seven days march in summer, a July sun beats pitilessly down upon us, your brother whom you love as the apple of your eye, shows signs of exhaustion, he looks pale, you help him all you can.  You put his knapsack upon the baggage wagon, and carry his gun and would get him into the ambulance, but it is already filled.  He grows paler, his steps tatter, the terrible sunstroke prostrates him, with a twitching at your heart and tears in your eyes, you leave him by the road side.  To what fate you know not.  After weeks of anxious waiting, you see in a city paper a list of the dead at a certain hospital, and his name is among them.  He has been taken and you left.

“Discharged on account of disability,” do you know what that means?  Unfit for duty, broken in health, diseased in body, bearing ugly, wounds you bid your companion in arms good bye and send him home to his friends, not to cheer and comfort them, but to receive cheer and comfort from them and to die.  You have been prisoners in the prison pens of the South, you survived but your comrades – less strong – victims of sardonic hate, huddled in crowds together, the muddy ground their bed by night, the boiling sun their canopy by day – noxious water their drink and poisonous meat their food – what there was of it.  Hunger, thirst, exposure, making life a protracted death.  One side of the dead line almost as fatal as the other – an accumulation of misery so great, that to cross that dead line and be shot was considered by many a privilege and a deliverance.

But I forbear – to victims of this barbarity you pay tribute today – It may be that God permitted this grand master stroke of brutality, this climax of inhumanity, this final seal of infamy, as proof of the essential barbarism of slavery, and a warning to all time against its re-establishment.  These were the death throes of the demon which had grown strong and mighty in the nation.  Thus my friends, a majority of our honored dead fell prey to exposure, hardship and disease.  True their deeds were unheralded and unsung. Let us honor them not less but more, for this welcoming the cold embrace of duty as smilingly as the warm clasp of love.  It is not so terrible a thing to die in battle, honor, glory, applause are mighty incentives, the flourish of trumpet, the shouts of onset, the rattling of musketry and booming of common impel to valorous deeds.  To meet death thus were much and deserves all honor.  But it were more often all and involves more moral  heroism to witness the intervals of battles the slow approach of death, to feel that by voluntary hardships and sacrifices the grim monster is winning and will soon take the citadel of life.  True our victories were golden links in the war, but they had been only links and useless had they not been united into a chain of success by the stronger than iron links of stern endurance and unhonored sacrifice.  As we gather into sheaves the glorious achievements of our army, let us not forget to glean amid the quiet roles and obscure nook of the war.

From these sad memories, let us turn now to the brighter memories – the incidents of daring and of battle – in which many of our comrades fought so well, and fell so nobly.  Their intrepidity and heroism cannot be better illustrated than in the conduct of a Union spy.  A young man of only twenty one had taken his life in his hands, and entered the rebel lines as a spy.  He was arrested, tried and condemned to be hung.  He was taken to the place of execution, and there in the presence of those who had betrayed their country and insulted her flag, he was asked if he had anything to say before the trap fell, he calmly surveyed his recreant countrymen – his loyalty still strong in death, raised his hand and in a firm clear voice exclaimed “Three cheers for the stars and stripes”.

Let me sketch briefly one or two representative incidents of the great representative Battle of Gettysburg.  Art has been writing the history of that battle.  Many of you have seen the great paintings of Bachellor and Rothermel, the latter has seized upon the great crisis of the battle – the charge of Pickett upon the left center, and with startling effect and with a master hand placed it upon canvas.  Since many soldiers before me were in that conflict; and some of their comrades fell, since Massachusetts fought so nobly and well there, it will not be inappropriate to describe in words what Rothermel has delineated in art, and bring before you this great turning point of the rebellion.

The first day’s battle had ended in disaster to our arms, two corps had been almost annihilated and our troops were driven from all their positions.

The second day had ended – a day of the most reckless assaults on the one hand, and the most determined resistance on the other.  For three hours the tide of battle ebbed and flowed – now the rebel wave seemed sweeping on with irresistible impulse.  Overwhelming brigades, divisions, corps till the heart grew sick with apprehension, anon our troops would rally and stand like a rock against which the rebel wave would dash and be broken in fragments.  Neither army had wholly succeeded or wholly failed.  It was little more than a drawn battle.  On the evening of this day, a council of war was held at headquarters and the question submitted, “Shall we fight it out on this field, or retire to some better position”. Slocum first replied “Stay and fight it out.”  The majority agreed with him.

The third day, the most memorable in our history, opened with a severe engagement on our right.  After which for several hours the firing ceased and Lee accompanied by Longstreet carefully reconnoitered our position, and decided to make one grand assault upon our left center.  Our line of battle has been compared to a horse shoe, it might better be compared to a right angled triangle, the right triangle resting upon Cemetery Hill, the base, our right extending from Cemetery Hill to Culps Hill, and our left extended from Cemetery Hill to Round – Top.  Round Top rough and precipitous and shaped like a sugar bowl, was the extreme left and the bulwark of our position.  This side of it is Weed’s Hill, or Little Round Top.  Between this and Cemetery Hill is a ridge spreading out into beautiful meadows.  To the right it rises into Cemetery Hill -quite an elevation.  These hills were bristling with our batteries.  This ridge was the left center and the weaker front of our lines, it was held by the Second Corps under Hancock, and a front of the First Corps under Doubleday, including a Vermont brigade.  We had but three, and in some places only two lines of battle, with no reserves.  In front of this ridge for three quarters of a mile are open fields, the ground gradually descending from the ridge into a ravine midway between our lines and the enemy’s and gradually, rises to the rebel position, which is on high and rolling ground near a mile from us.  Along this ridge is a stone wall, back of which many of our men were placed.  Lee thought if he could only silence our heaviest batteries with his artillery before his infantry advanced, his troops could advance with comparative safety, over this open space of near one mile.  Our lines once broken, he could roll up our wings and possibly compel a retreat, while with the broken ground in our rear and baggage wagons filling every avenue of exit, our retreat could easily be converted into a rout and the Army of the Potomac wiped out of existence.  He spent the forenoon massing his men and making his combinations.  One o’clock came – a signal gun was fired – an ominous sound – what could be its meaning?  I have been telling rebel secrets – our army did not know them then.  In a moment suspense was ended.  On every crest held by the enemy, light-flashed, smoke puffed, and the very earth shook with the cannonade.  The bugles sounded, the call to arms and in three minutes ninety thousand men stood in line of battle awaiting their summons to duty, whether to sweep forward on the deadly charge, resist an assault, or retrieve a disaster.  The whole rebel artillery of one hundred and twenty guns simultaneously thundered forth.  While seventy on our side hurled back their stern defiance.  Veterans pronounced it the grandest artillery fusilade of the war.  A battle of titans truly, all the hellish engineering of destruction which modern ingenuity could invent was now at work, a pandemonium of discords, solid shot, grape, canister, spherical case, elongated shell, whirring, whirling, shrieking, moaning, booming, howling over our heads – the air is alive with messengers of death.  To walk along the ridge is madness.  Our men lie low, they get behind stone walls, knolls, rifle pits, rail fences, trees – anything to give them a partial protection.  The cannonade was compared by an English writer who was in the rebel lines, to the thundering roar of all the battles ever fought upon the earth rolled into one.  The sound was distinctly heard at Greensborough one hundred and forty three miles away.  Lee’s motive is soon discovered, Cemetery Hill is bristling with Howard’s batteries which command this open space in front of our left center.  If Lee can make these as silent as the graves beneath them, his infantry can advance in safety.  And so from the north-west and north-east, a hundred rebel guns cross their fires on Cemetery Hill.  Shot and shell, two, three, five in a second furrow and scar the Cemetery, plow into the graves as if to awake their sleepers, dismount guns, burst caissons, knock to pieces horses, shatter monumental stones, unlimb trees.  Still our men stand to their pieces.  One shell falls among them, and twenty seven are killed or wounded.  Howard is ubiquitous, now here, now there, cheering, inspiring and encouraging his men.  He knows the value of this position and means to improve it.  His guns are hot, his men are falling.  He orders his men to cease firing, lie down by their guns and make the enemy believe that our batteries are silenced.  The rebel batteries opposite our left to the west and southwest endeavor to cut up our infantry, between Cemetery and Weed’s Hills along the ridge.  The 13th Vermont and I believe the 20th Massachusetts lay just back of a small ridge hardly two feet higher than the ravine we occupy, but it is small protection while lying on our faces.  We hardly dared to rest on our elbow even, for just above our head rages a “tempest of orchestral death.”  Shot and shall strike, rend and tear the bank just back of us.  A shell bursts near a horse, he rears, plunges and breaks loose, and canters over the field, but no one is brave enough to pursue him.  Shell are bursting over our heads and fragments are falling among us, one plows the ground within two feet of me, which I dig out with the point of a bayonet, a man is killed just behind me.  A shell strikes another, it bursts and sends him whirling through the air, a mangled mass of flesh, blood and bones.  On that hot, sultry day we were exposed to the full glare of the sun.  Many overcome with heat and exhaustion went to sleep, notwithstanding the tumult raging about them.  O! how long the time!  Moments were hours!  It is more terrible to lie there and endure without resistance of the horrors of the cannonade, than to resist an assault or sweep forward on the deadly charge.  Thus pass an hour and three quarters, and the rebel fire ceases.  To the roar of artillery, succeeds the stillness of death.  This silence is full of meaning.  It is the lull which precedes a milder, fiercer storm.  Two giants wearied with mutual pounding, rest for a moment to get breath for a mightier pounding than before.  A General rides along the lines, and tells us “The rebels are forming for a charge – be ready to meet them.”  Lee has selected the flower of the rebel army to make this great assault of the battle Pickett’s and [Heth’s] Anderson’s divisions.  Pickett’s were fresh troops, veterans in war and accustomed to victory (He had formed his lines back of a peach orchard and woods which concealed them from our view).  Soon a magnificent line of battle emerges from behind the peach orchard – a few rods behind them and another line appears – a moment later and yet another – three lines containing seventeen thousand men, with ten thousand in support on either flank.  Pickett commands the first line.  Officers superbly mounted are riding back and forth giving commands and encouraging their men.  They must march through that open field three quarters of a mile commanded by our batteries.  Have they the nerve to endure?  Howard’s artillery men spring to their feet, Cemetery Hill is ablaze, “Give them canister, pour it into them,” shouts Howard as he passes from battery to battery.  A hundred cannon sweep that field with their infernal missiles, wide gaps are made in the rebel lines.  They close them up and press onward.  (Again Howard smites and shatters, but cannot break the advancing line).  They sweep down into the valley and begin to climb the ascent, the artillery on Weed’s Hill join in a withering fire.  Probably to avoid this fire, Pickett’s first line which had been marching directly towards the position held by the Vermont brigade, marched by their left flank, until they uncovered the right of the Vermont brigade.  This was a costly movement, their path was marked with a wirrow of corpses.  They are now in front of the stone wall, the front forward and push on.  Hancock’s corps is behind the wall, the Vermonters are to the left of it, and some rods in advance of it.  Infantry are ordered to reserve their fire, till each one was sure of his man, to aim law and steady.  Still our artillery mowed through their ranks.  Now they are in reach of the muskets of the Vermonters and they pour in an enfilading fire.  Sharpshooters are directed to pick off the officers, and before they crossed that fated field, every horseman was unsaddled.  The havoc which artillery and musketry combined produced was terrible.  We could see them drop faster than we could count them along their lines.  Yet still as if courting death, that forlorn hope falters not, wavers not.  Valiant men had not a stronger sentiment possessed us, we their enemies could have thrown our hats in the air, and given them cheer for their heroism.

They are twenty rods from the stone wall, fifty common and then thousand muskets are sweeping them down.  They heed them not.  The lines of enemy are still unbroken.  So near is the first line, that our artillery can no more fire upon them.  Howard orders his gunners to break their third line, to smash their supports.  The advance line passes by the right of the Vermont boys.  They are within ten rods of the stone wall, the same wall over which the rebels passed and from which they were repulsed the day before.  Col. Randall of the 13th Vermont feared Hancock’s line behind the wall was not strong enough to resist the shock.  He sees his opportunity to help Hancock by attacking the right flank of the enemy, he orders his regiment to change front forward on the first company, this brings his regiment at right angles with our original lines, and upon the right flank of the rebel column.  In the meantime the 20th Massachusetts, who had been pouring in a shower of bullets, advanced at double quick and formed in a similar way upon the left flank of the enemy.  Thus our lines formed a half circle into which the enemy were pushed to their certain destruction.  Pennsylvania under Hancock in front, and Massachusetts and Vermont on either flank, pour in a murderous fire at short range.  This huddles the rebel lines together in some confusion, but unwilling to yield – like an infuriated mob, they  make a desperate rush for the stone wall, and so fierce was the onset, that the rebel advance actually reached, pushed back and broke through Webb’s brigade, got into our batteries and planted their colors upon the stone wall.  Officers exchanged pistol shots, men clubbed their muskets, the rebel General Armistead had his hand upon one of our guns, when he was shot down.  Meanwhile the Bay-State and Green Mountain boys were not idle.

The Vermonters fired ten or fifteen rounds at half pistol range into the mass of the enemy, and then with the bayonet swept down upon their flank and rear.  The 20th Massachusetts closed in on the other flank.  The trap was sprung and the enemy caught.  Our fire had already broken them up – can mortal men endure such a fire longer?  Already they have last two thirds their number.  Regiments have been annihilated.  Retreat is impossible, further resistance madness, they throw down their arms and surrender, most of them to the 13th Vermont and 20th Massachusetts.

Those not drawn into this semicircle, this vortex of destruction, seeing Pickett’s line swallowed up, either surrendered to other forces or retreated a rabble rout from the field.  This repulse had a demoralizing effect upon the enemy.  Said Henry Congden, a Vermonter who was a prisoner within the rebel lines “The rebel force opposite our left center started at once in full retreat and could not be rallied till they found they were pursued.”  Had we taken advantage of this I believe the rebel army might have been annihilated.

The horrors of war are best witnessed after the battle.  The farm houses and barns for miles around were converted into hospitals, yet they were insufficient to contain the wounded.  On the 4th of July, a rainy day, thousands lay in the open air, exposed to the peltings of the storm.  So numerous were they that many lay for days, waiting for the surgeons to dress their wounds.  But I forbear.  Wellington must have been viewing a battle field when he exclaimed, that next to a great defeat, the most awful thing in all the world is a great victory.  Thus ended the great charge at Gettysburg.  The supreme effort of the rebellion had proved a signal failure.

In that conflict was gathered up and epitomized the whole drama of the war.  Treason, brave, reckless, desperate, lusting for power and maddened with hate, determined to rule though it be in hell, dashing against the iron mail of her enemy, sweeping on to her own destruction.  Loyalty, firm as a rock, strong in the right, stern and determined, resisting and finally crushing the hosts of treason.

Thank God our brave boys did not die in vain.  Gettysburg avenges Waterloo.  American gained what Europe lost.  Imperial despotism triumphed at Waterloo.  Democratic liberty at Gettysburg.  Waterloo was a victory of kings.  Gettysburg of the people.  Castle and aristocracy triumphed at Waterloo.  Fraternity and equality at Gettysburg.  Waterloo riveted yet tighter the chains of the European peasantry.  Gettysburg broke the chains of four millions of slaves.

Not to us alone should be ascribed the victory, but to the God of battles who rules and overrules nations.

[1] George H. Scott served as a sergeant with Company G of the 13th Vermont.