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HOTEL LAFAYETTE, LAKE MINNETONKA, MINN., August 13, 1884. The members of the Society assembled in the grand parlor of the hotel, which had been arranged for our meeting by the Local Committee, and were called to order by our President, General Sherman, at 10:20 o'clock, and he made the following remarks:
COMRADES AND FRIENDS:
Nineteen years after the close of war, we have assembled at this majestic hotel, on the banks of the beautiful lake Minne. tonka, for our seventeenth reunion, pursuant to the resolution made at Cleveland, Ohio, last year.
We have reason to be thankful that so many survive in health and strength, thus to assemble in fulfillment of the original promise, made in 1865, at Raleigh, North Carolina, to keep alive the cordial ties of friendship which bound us together during the war, to fulfill the charities incident thereto, and to cherish the memories of our dead comrades.
Brilliant as is the history of the deeds done in war by the Army of the Tennessee, we believe that our fellow citizens will concede to us equal honor for pure and unalloyed patriotism and generous action during the intervening years of peace. So, my fellow soldiers and citizens, I shall ever claim for you an exalted place
in the history of our country during the eventful period through which we have passed.
I am assured that the local committee has made liberal provision for our entertainment during this reunion; but before entering upon the business, which is the immediate purpose of this meeting, I, as your President, deem it proper to explain the cause and reason for a change in our programme, as ordered at the last annual reunion at Cleveland.
At that meeting, our first and most beloved commander, General U. S. Grant, was unanimously chosen as the orator for this occasion. He accepted, and all arrangements had been made to correspond with the known importance of his presence in that capacity. We all knew that in December last he had sustained a fall at his door step in New York, which was followed by intense pain, and an inability to walk without crutches; but we hoped his strong and vigorous constitution would, long ere this, have repaired the damage. Again, we all know that he had been overtaken by one of those financial hurricanes—a blizzard, a very cyclone-so common in New York-the result of a false system of finance—but no soldier ever believed that General Grant personally was in the remotest degree responsible or censurable; rather, we hoped all the more, that he would enable us, by his presence on this occasion, to manifest for him the intense love and respect which he had won on the battle field, and which will survive long after Wall street shall cease to be held as synonymous with gambling in gold and credit. But, on the 22d of July, our Corresponding Secretary, General Hickenlooper, received at Cincinnati, the following letter, which he sent me here at Lake Minnetonka:
“LONG BRANCH, N. J., Fuly 19, 1884. DEAR GENERAL:
In response to your circular, announcing the time and place of the next meeting of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, I am very sorry to announce that I will not be able to attend. It is always with regret, when, for any reason, I can not attend the reunions of the Society of the first army I had the honor to command and the only one I ever had the immediate command of. The regret at this time is increased from the fact that on the approaching occasion, I had accepted the call to deliver the oration. But I am as yet a great sufferer from the injury received last December, being still on crutches, and unable to dress or undress myself.
I know you can get some one, even with the short notice he will have, who
will deliver a much better oration than I could with any length of time for preparation. Hoping for a full attendance and a pleasant time,
I am, General, very truly yours, (Signed.)
U. S. GRANT. GENERAL A. HICKENLOOPER,
Corresponding Secretary, Society of the Army of the Tennessee.”
Receiving this on Saturday, July 26, at my hotel, St. Louisacross the lake, I telegraphed to General John Sanborn and the local committee at St. Paul to meet me at the Metropolitan Hotel of that city, at 8 P. M., on Monday, the 28th, and we all met there.
After considering the case in all its bearings, it was deemed best that we should invite our fellow soldier and comrade, Hon. C. K. Davis, of Minnesota, to fill the vacancy thus created.
The time was short, the call sudden, and the office one calculated to test the nerve of any man; but, with the spirit and manliness which ever characterized the Army of the Tennessee, to accept battle at any and all times, under adverse, as well as favorable circumstances, Governor Davis undertook to do his best; and, even in advance of his oration, I ask this Society to recognize his most honorable and graceful act.
At the same conference, it was further agreed, that I should write General Grant, expressing our heartfelt sympathy, and asking him to mail me any manuscript he might have prepared for this meeting. He answered promptly in these terms:
LONG BRANCH, N. J., Fuly 31, 1884. GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN:
DEAR GENERAL:-Your letter of the 28th instant is just received. You may say to the veterans of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee that I regret as much as they possibly can my inability to be with them at their approaching reunion, and more, the cause of my constrained absence.
I have not prepared, nor did I intend to prepare anything to say on that occasion, except that I have collected a list of the battles in which the Army of the Tennessee participated. I was astonished at the number when the list was completed. It is true, many of these engagements were not very hard fought battles, but that was the fault of the enemy. They would, like many others, have been heavy engagements if the enemy had staid long enough.
I left the list referred to in the house in the city, and cannot get it without going there myself, otherwise I would send it. With this in my hand, I expected to extemporize whatever I might say. On this point I am now somewhat prepared. I have been engaged now more than five weeks on two
articles for the Century Magazine,- The Battle of Shiloh, and the campaign against Vicksburg—which is a history of the services of the Army of the Tennessee from early in November, 1861, until the 4th of July following. It is a record any army might be proud of even if it had no other. But the Army of the Tennessee had a record after that, unparalleled for its long marches through an enemy's country, without a base of supplies, or lines of communication with friends in rear, and brilliant victories over the enemy wherever met.
With the best wishes for the members of the Society collectively arıd individually, I am, General, very truly yours,
U. S. GRANT. Every word of this letter is in his own familiar handwriting, direct to the purpose, with an occasional gleam of humor peculiar to him, which satisfies me that he is with us in spirit and faith though absent in person; that many years of useful and happy life are yet in reserve for him, and that I am sure I repeat the feelings of every surviving member of the first army he ever commanded, when I assure him that we, his comrades, hope and pray that his bodily affliction will soon pass away, and that “the clouds which now lower o'er his house may in the deep bosom of the ocean be buried.”
General Sherman received the close attention and marked consideration of his listeners, frequently applauded, and when he closed with the touching allusion to General Grant, the members and all rose to their feet and the room rang with their cheers.
The President announced the Society would proceed with its order of business, and called upon the Secretary to read the record of the last meeting.
On motion of General Rusk,
ResolvedThat the record of our last meeting having been printed and distributed to the members, the reading of them by the Secretary be dispensed with.
The President --The first business in order, gentlemen, is the appointment of committees on business and for the nomination of officers. That is the business, chiefly, for which we are assembled this morning. I have before me prepared committees for the time and place of holding the next meeting of the Society, for the officers of the next year and for the orator. I will first read the committee for the officers of the Society for the ensuing year. Is the Society prepared to enter upon that subject?
On motion of General Walcott,
ResolvedThat the committee be as named-Captain Putnam, Colonel Ad. Ware, General Belknap, Captain Riebsame, Major McArthur—for nomination of officers for the ensuing year.
The President:—The committee is therefore selected for the nomination of officers for the Society, and will report at our meeting to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock. Major Putnam, being the first named, will construe himself as the chairman of that committee, and will assemble the committee at his earliest convenience to agree upon the officers for the ensuing year. Is Major Putnam present?
Major Putnam:-Mr. President, I suggest that we have our meeting immediately after the adjournment of this morning's session, in Colonel Dayton's headquarters.
The President:-It is so ordered.
The next is the selection of the committee for the nomination of an orator. The committee named is General Chetlain, Major E. T. Miller, General Cavender, General Strong and Major Plunkett. Gentlemen, you have heard these names; are you willing to confide to these gentlemen the selection of your next orator? All who favor this committee will say Aye; contrary Nay. General Chetlain will please call that committee as early as possible, and submit to us to-morrow morning the name of an orator for our next meeting, wherever it may
be. The third committee of importance is that for selecting the place at which our next meeting shall be held and the time at which it shall be. For this committee are nominated General W. T. Clark, Captain Barber, Captain McCaulley, Major A. A. Perkins and Captain Andreas. Gentlemen, you have heard the names of that committee. Any other nominations are in order. I understand these are simply to facilitate our business. All who favor the nomination and election of that committee, to take into consideration the time and place for our next annual meeting, will say Aye; contrary Nay. It is so ordered, and General Clark will call that committee together so as to be able to report Go-morrow morning at 10 o'clock sharp. General Clark can have all the papers bearing upon the subject by calling upon the Secretary.
The next in order, according to our by-laws, are the reports, the