Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day II

Planting of colors May 22, 1863 Railroad Redoubt
Over the top, Railroad Redoubt, Vicksburg 1863

Battle lines, May 22, 1863, Vicksburg

Railroad Redoubt today.

In a continuing tribute to the men and women who have served this nation in time of war I bring you this post by Dave Dilegge of Small Wars Journal.

Dave introduces his tribute by printing the order that created Memorial Day. It is fitting that it be printed and shared, so as to understand the significance of this day.


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,Adjutant General

Official:WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

As I read this order, the significance for all Americans comes front and center. It was originated to honor those who died to preserve the Union and end the scourge of slavery. Had this terrible cauldron we call the Civil War ended with a victory for those rebellious states, the future of the United States and in turn the world we know today would not exist.
The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, 110,070 battle deaths and 250,152 by disease totalled 360,222. Most lie in graves far from home as do the war dead of all of our wars until air transport made it possible to return our war dead, to their families.
I am reminded of the pain that families must have felt when they could not find closure by visiting the grave of their departed loved ones. I think of my great-great grandparents, David and Kristina Campbell, whose son, John, fell at Vicksburg and lies buried as unknown in the Vicksburg National Cemetery alone side the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers, a number unmatched by any other national cemetery. My Grandfather once told me that his father, often spoke of his brother, even though he was only a boy of eight when he left for war. One of the treasures my grandfather passed on to me, was a daguerreotype photo of my Great-uncle, Sargent John Campbell taken a few months before his death during the Siege of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863 in the assault on the Railroad Redoubt by the 77th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. I recently gave it to my son to preserve for the next generation and carry forth the remembrance of all those gave their lives in the service to others.
So today and tomorrow I urge everyone stopping by this post, to pause and take the time to read the links and view the videos that Dave has posted at the bottom of his moving tribute. Memorial Day 2009.
UPDATE: Fallen on the Field of Honor

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