18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Friday, June 27, 1913: I forget what I did today.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma again didn’t write much a hundred years ago today—and I find the story of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg fascinating, I’ll share some more excerpts from 1913 newspapers:
Gray Praises the Blue for the Great Reunion
Los Angeles Times (July 2, 1913)
In the pitiless glare of a sun that sent the mercury bubbling over the hundred mark the armies of the North and the South began today the formal exercises to mark the semi-centennial of Gettysburg.
Every seat under the canvas was taken long before Secretary of War Garrison and Gov. Tener, the orators of the day, came chugging up in their automobiles. Although the men in gray were far outnumbered by those in blue, there were possibly 2000 southerners in the amphitheater and what they lacked in numbers they made up in lung power.
Before the morning exercises began, the reunions of regiments and companies and squadrons began. Confederates who were in Pickett’s charge took keen delight in marching with fife and drum to Spangler’s wood, where the columns of Pickett formed on July 3, ’63, to begin the charge that marked the high tide of the lost cause.
On the edge of the Union side of the camp, the veterans of Meredith’s Iron Brigade and of Pettigrew’s brigade of North Carolina got together to go over the story of the fight of the first of July.
Veteran Resents Slur on Lincoln: Seven Wounded
Chicago Daily Tribune (July 3, 1913)
Seven men were stabbed tonight in the dining room of the Gettysburg Hotel as a result of a fight which started when several men aroused the anger of a veteran in blue by abusing Lincoln. . . .
. . . the flight started suddenly and was over in a few minutes. It began when the dining room was full and caused a panic among the scores of guests.
The veteran heard the slighting remarks about Lincoln. He jumped to his feet and began to defend the martyred president and berated the detractors. . .
A romance developed in camp today when John Goodwin of New York, a veteran, and Margaret Murphy of Chicago were united in marriage by Squire Harnish. Forty-six years ago the two were engaged, but they subsequently married others. They became widower and widow, the old flame was rekindled, and they agreed to come to Gettysburg on the fiftieth anniversary of the battle and marry. The happy pair will go on a wedding tour from here and will reside in New York.
Gen. “Tom” Steward of Pennsylvania is telling an amusing story of a “runaway vet” he came across in the big camp. The veteran is 85 years old and his son at home announced decisively that under no circumstances should his aged parent go to Gettysburg. The desire to be here and meet his former comrades was so strong in the heart of the old gentleman that he climbed out of a window of this home and ran away, turning up here in good shape. He is now happy and well cared for.
Veterans as Good Story Tellers as They Formerly Were Solders
New York Times (July 3, 1913)
Last night the veterans were really able to enjoy themselves for the first time since their arrival. ..
A roaring storm swept down out of the Blue Ridge over the plateau of Gettysburg yesterday morning, bringing needed relief to the thousands of veterans in blue and gray, who had sweltered for four days in an atmosphere that was dangerous in the city of 50,000 old and weary men.
For more than a half hour the rain came pouring down upon the sun-cracked and wind-swept encampment grounds. It charged with violent thundering over the ground that Pickett covered in ’63. Its salvos of thunder were like the booming guns of Meade and Lee, but the thermometer dropped with wonderful ability and the lightning cleared the air of its humidity. . .
So many cases have been reported of veterans losing their return railroad tickets and the consequent distress because of the inability to purchase transportation that Governor Tener yesterday notified General Liggett, the United Sates army officer in charge of the camp, that the state of Pennsylvania would pay the return fare of all veterans who had lost their tickets.
Gettysburg Cold to Wilson’s Speech
New York Times (July 5, 1913)
Mr. Wilson came to Gettysburg at 11 o’clock by train from Baltimore. His appearance at the station of Gettysburg was the signal for a cheer and from down in the Gettysburg College grounds came a twenty-one gun salute. . .
The President spoke slowly and carefully, but the breeze played under the side of the tent and the restless feet of those who hastened in made it difficult for the old men to hear and understand. He was interrupted only once or twice with cheering and that seemed perfunctory. . .
At high tide the camp cared for 65,000 men, about 85 percent of whom were old warriors, not put under the discipline of fighting men, and susceptible to all the ill-effects that climate and camp hardships can have on men. The youngest was scarcely less than 65 years old, and most of them were 70 or more. In view of the average fatalities in the best conducted military camps of the world, allowance had been made for ten deaths a day in the camp. Yet there were only eight deaths for the four days of the encampment, and one of the victims was killed by an automobile.
If you missed yesterday’s post you might also enjoy: