Home History How Union Veterans Conquered Winchester . . . After the Civil War

How Union Veterans Conquered Winchester . . . After the Civil War

by Enochadmin

Within the spring of 1883, Erastus G. Bartlett, a veteran of the twelfth West Virginia Infantry and assistant inspector normal for the Grand Military of the Republic’s (GAR) Division of West Virginia, submitted his annual report back to John W. Burst, the GAR’s inspector normal. Bartlett, a resident of Martinsburg, W.V., noticed not solely regular progress all through the division, but additionally a big decline within the animus amongst former Confederates towards the institution of GAR posts all through the state and in neighboring Virginia. “New Posts are arising in numerous elements of the Division, and outdated Posts, lots of them, are growing in numbers… The comrades of this Division,” Bartlett defined, “like these of the Division of Virginia, have about outlived the odium positioned upon them by the FFV [First Families of Virginia] who have been in or sympathized with those that fought for the ‘misplaced trigger’ and think about the GAR a very good order,” Bartlett defined to Burst.

Whereas Bartlett considered some constructive developments in former Confederates’ attitudes towards the GAR by 1883, that was not so following the group’s institution in 1866. Those that as soon as supported the Confederacy regarded askance on the GAR and thought it organized solely “for political functions.”

Distrustful that the GAR’s rules of charity, fraternity, and loyalty served as a canopy for, as historian Stuart McConnell wrote, “a Radical entrance group,” the lifetime of most GAR posts within the South established within the late 1860s-early 1870s was short-lived. For instance, the GAR claimed 35 members in Tennessee in 1871. Six years later, it reported zero. Virginia, the previous Accomplice state with the biggest GAR membership, boasted 387 members in 1871. That quantity declined precipitously seven years later to 184. The GAR’s decline within the South, nevertheless, proved momentary. By the early Eighties membership within the GAR loved a resurgence as an growing variety of Union veterans moved South to take pleasure in “the financial alternatives of the New South” and “a milder local weather.” The rise made Union veterans residing within the South imagine, as historian Wallace Davies concluded, that they have been “robust sufficient numerically and sufficiently accepted socially to aim to infuse new life into the moribund Grand Military of the Republic.”

William H.H. Flick served within the forty first Ohio Infantry through the warfare and moved to Martinsburg, W.Va., after the battle. In 1880, he co-founded the primary GAR publish within the Shenandoah Valley.
(The Forty-first Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry within the Battle)

Efforts to “infuse new life” into the GAR within the Shenandoah Valley started in autumn of 1880 when Henry V. Daniels, a veteran of the 4th New Jersey Infantry and the U.S. Military’s Quartermaster Division who lived in Harpers Ferry, and William H.H. Flick, a veteran of the forty first Ohio Infantry wounded at Shiloh and a outstanding political determine in West Virginia who resided in Martinsburg, established the primary GAR publish within the Valley, Lincoln Publish No. 1 in Martinsburg. Daniels and Flick proved vital within the creation of the primary GAR publish within the Shenandoah Valley, and within the re-establishment of the GAR in West Virginia that reported zero members since 1871, the 12 months the division “was formally declared disbanded.” Flick served because the Division of West Virginia’s first commander and Daniels as assistant adjutant-general.

Quickly after the Lincoln Publish’s institution, Colonel Joseph Thoburn Publish No. 2 fashioned in Harpers Ferry beneath the 33-year-old George W. Graham, a veteran of the 144th New York Infantry. Graham, maybe best-known for his temporary stint as superintendent of Antietam Nationwide Battlefield Web site that started in the summertime of 1912 and ended along with his dismissal the next spring owing to an extended chain of abuses of authority, took nice satisfaction in not solely being the publish’s first commander, however the youngest GAR publish commander within the nation. As well as, Graham reveled that his publish “was positioned inside 500 ft of John Brown’s Fort at Harpers Ferry—the place the warfare of 1861-65 just about commenced—and eight miles from the battlefield of Antietam.”

By the spring of 1888 4 GAR posts existed within the Shenandoah Valley. Along with Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, posts have been established in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Winchester, Va. Whereas unclear as to the exact date of the formation of the George D. Summers Publish No. 13 in Berkeley Springs, it’s talked about as early as June 1883, Winchester’s Mulligan Publish No. 30, named in honor of Union Colonel James Mulligan, mortally wounded through the Second Battle of Kernstown, was established on Might 17, 1888.

The Mulligan Publish

Though small in quantity, with 20 members on the time of its founding, the Mulligan Publish grew out of a want to help Winchester’s Women Nationwide Memorial Affiliation, organized on June 17, 1887, look after the graves of the almost 4,500 Union lifeless buried within the Winchester Nationwide Cemetery. Devoted on April 8, 1866, however not formally deeded to the U.S. authorities till 4 years later, the Winchester Nationwide Cemetery had turn out to be by the Eighties, within the estimation of Edmund M. Houston, one of many Mulligan Publish’s constitution members, “sadly uncared for, from the shortage of loyal sympathy of the residents” of Winchester.

Colonel John Mulligan
Colonel John Mulligan was mortally wounded on the Second Battle of Kernstown in 1864. He additionally constructed a fort that bears his title and stays in Petersburg, W.Va.
(Chronicle/Alamy Inventory Photograph)

Houston, a veteran of the 143rd New York Infantry who labored as a harness maker in Winchester after the battle, believed that the GAR’s members from throughout the nation and the states whose lifeless rested within the cemetery ought to bear the monetary accountability in caring for the graves. Houston implored his comrades and the GAR’s management within the pages of the Nationwide Tribune for the “obligatory appropriations… both by the Nationwide Encampment… or by the a number of Departments of various States.” The native New Yorker challenged the Empire State to “furnish her quota of recognitions” for the greater than 700 New York troopers buried within the cemetery.

Decided to enhance the cemetery to “an identical situation to Antietam and Gettysburg cemeteries,” the Mulligan Publish invited representatives from numerous GAR posts from Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley to go to Winchester and think about firsthand the cemetery’s deplorable scenario. Delegations from posts in Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, Newville, Shippensburg, Chambersburg, and Fayetteville visited Winchester on March 18, 1890. The delegation agreed that the cemetery’s situation was dreadful. Significantly appalling was its lack of enough house. The Pennsylvanians believed that the cemetery needs to be expanded past its roughly 5 acres in order that it might “obtain the lifeless discovered alongside the traces the place they fought, in addition to those that want to be buried there after loss of life.” Whereas the Mulligan Publish and the delegation hoped “that the matter will obtain the speedy consideration that its significance deserves,” help got here slowly.

Joseph Bean
Joseph Bean was born in Virginia, however went to warfare with the 87th Ohio Infantry. He served because the Mulligan Publish’s adjutant for a few years, and was the final surviving member of the publish, dying in 1929. He’s buried within the Winchester Nationwide Cemetery, grave 1193-B.
(Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA)

Two years after the Pennsylvanians’ go to, Houston continued petitions for help. Barely a couple of month previous to Memorial Day in 1892 Houston once more appealed to his comrades in The Nationwide Tribune. “A murmur passes via the comrades of Mulligan Publish 30, within the historic Shenandoah Valley: How can we higher observe Memorial Day? With our few in quantity the burden of accountability upon us within the South is a tax greater than we really feel in a position to assume,” Houston wrote. Though happy that “among the departments contributed final 12 months flags for adornment,” Houston seethed that “in the principle most stay quiet or deaf to the appeals from the mounds the place beneath lie those that shared their hardships.”

However the restricted help the Mulligan Publish obtained in its efforts, its membership, which proof signifies by no means rose above 24 regardless of 82 Union veterans residing in Winchester and Frederick County, Va., on the time of the 1890 Veterans Census, by no means shirked its duties in honoring the Union lifeless so long as a minimum of one member of the Mulligan Publish was alive. By 1925 the Mulligan Publish reported solely two members, with just one bodily in a position to preside over the Memorial Day ceremony within the Nationwide Cemetery—Joseph H. Bean. Born in Frederick County, Va., in 1841, Bean served within the 87th Ohio Infantry through the Civil Battle. Hailed as “one of many comparatively few Virginians who served within the Union military,” Bean died 4 years later, the “final member of the Mulligan Publish.”

Past its dedication to the Union lifeless within the Winchester Nationwide Cemetery, the Mulligan Publish all the time aided numerous regimental associations within the a long time after the battle commemorate fallen comrades within the Shenandoah Valley and past. In September 1888, barely a couple of 12 months after its creation, the Mulligan Publish welcomed veterans from the third Massachusetts Cavalry for the dedication of a regimental monument in Winchester’s Nationwide Cemetery. The Mulligan Publish’s hospitality and help for the dedication, which included six-year outdated Carrie Houston, daughter of commander Edmond Houston, “crown[ing] the monument with flowers,” so impressed the Massachusetts veterans that they finally offered Houston with “a handsomely ornamented and mounted” belt and sword engraved…Commander E.M. Houston, Winchester, Va., from the Third Massachusetts Cavalry.”

Past the Shenandoah

Different teams of Union veterans took discover of the Mulligan Publish’s efforts. Following a go to with Union veterans in Chambersburg, Pa., a reporter for The Franklin Repository penned in reward: “Down in Virginia round Winchester there will not be a fantastic many Grand Military males however those that are there are probably the most enthusiastically individuals we run throughout.”

Along with honoring the Union lifeless, the Valley’s GAR posts, as they’d all through the nation, carried out a important position in celebrating nationwide holidays and selling American patriotism. Typically these posts assumed the commemorative burden with out assist from different native organizations. For instance, the duties of celebrating Independence Day in Martinsburg in 1883 fell squarely on the Lincoln Publish. The publish’s members organized a parade and fireworks. “Martinsburg is among the few locations within the state the place something like a patriotic celebration of Independence Day will happen to-day. There might be a public parade, public talking, fireworks, and so forth., beneath the auspices of Lincoln Publish No. 1… Flags and bunting might be liberally displayed,” a newspaper correspondent wrote in reward of the publish’s efforts.

The Valley’s GAR posts additionally ventured past the Shenandoah to lend help to numerous commemorative actions. For instance, on June 22, 1887, members of the Lincoln Publish journeyed to Greencastle, Pa., to help within the dedication of a monument to Corporal William H. Rihl, a veteran of the First New York Lincoln Cavalry, who turned, on June 22, 1863, the primary Union soldier killed in motion on Pennsylvania soil. 9 years later members of the Lincoln Publish joined “many troopers from far and close to” on the dedication of the monument to the Philadelphia Brigade at Antietam, the place the Lincoln Publish steadily participated in numerous memorial occasions. 

The Lincoln Publish’s help of ceremonies at Antietam additionally helps convey some perspective to how GAR members from the Valley interacted with veterans of United States Coloured Troop regiments (USCT). Whereas data don’t point out whether or not or not the GAR Posts within the Valley have been built-in, current sources illustrate that, at a minimal, members participated in ceremonies with USCT veterans. For instance, in 1889 and 1890 a contingent of Martinsburg’s and Harpers Ferry’s GAR posts participated in Memorial Day ceremonies at Antietam Nationwide Cemetery that included members of Lyon Publish No. 31—an all African American publish from Hagerstown, Md. Though a seemingly easy act, participation on this ceremony illustrated, significantly at a time when numerous GAR posts within the South made commemorative actions “a white-only affair,” that members of those Shenandoah Valley posts selected to not neglect the service and sacrifice of their African American comrades.

Prayers for Former Enemies

The Valley’s GAR Posts additionally interacted with Accomplice veterans in numerous methods—most notably in shared memorial ceremonies in cemeteries. On June 6, 1882, Accomplice Memorial Day in Martinsburg, members of the Lincoln Publish joined Accomplice veterans and positioned “flowers upon Accomplice graves.” Winchester’s Mulligan Publish engaged in related acts. Following the dedication of the third Massachusetts Cavalry monument within the Winchester Nationwide Cemetery in September 1888 the Union veterans marched to the Stonewall Accomplice Cemetery, separated from the nationwide cemetery by a slim lane, and gathered across the monument to the unknown Accomplice lifeless. The Mulligan Publish’s chaplain provided a prayer whereas the publish’s members and Massachusetts veterans knelt “across the mound to the unknown lifeless, then… deposited the flowers and wreaths.” The follow of Union veterans visiting Accomplice graves, providing prayers for the lifeless, and strewing flowers was one thing by which all Union veterans’ organizations that visited the Shenandoah Valley within the postwar period engaged. For instance, members of the Sheridan’s Veterans Affiliation visited the Stonewall Accomplice Cemetery once they first visited the Shenandoah Valley in September 1883 and carried out the act as soon as extra when the group returned two years later.

The Valley’s GAR members interacted with Accomplice veterans in different methods. For instance, in September 1898, members of Winchester’s Mulligan Publish and the Turner Ashby Camp of Accomplice Veterans joined collectively for the funeral of a Spanish American Battle veteran, Corporal John R. Steele, a 22-year-old native of Winchester who died from typhoid at Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Fla. Earlier that spring, on Memorial Day, undoubtedly fueled by the patriotism sweeping the nation on account of the Spanish-American Battle, members of Martinsburg’s Lincoln Publish and space Accomplice veterans marched to the “graves of the deceased troopers” and “liberally bestowed [them] with flowers.” 

GAR veterans at parade
GAR veterans pose throughout a 1910 parade with a small cannon that was designed to elicit smiles from a crowd quite than strike worry right into a Accomplice battle line. Because the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth century, nevertheless, tensions did rise between the GAR and Accomplice veteran organizations.
(Library of Congress)

Twenty-six years later John Burkholder, a local of Lancaster, Pa., who served within the one hundred and thirtieth Pennsylvania Infantry, and moved to Frederick County, Va., shortly after the warfare’s conclusion, and one of many Mulligan Publish’s final surviving members, sat on a float with Accomplice veteran George Washington Kurtz throughout Winchester’s annual Apple Blossom Parade. The scene of those two veterans driving on a float emblematic of reunion in 1924 was, in line with a newspaper correspondent overlaying the parade, “a lot admired by all.”

Whereas proof illustrates that members of the GAR within the Shenandoah Valley engaged in reunion actions with Accomplice veterans typical of different GAR posts within the South, it didn’t imply that the connection was all the time harmonious. A number of weeks previous to Memorial Day in 1892 the Mulligan Publish’s commander, Walter A. Davidson, who served as a captain within the 71st New York Infantry and suffered wounds at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, prolonged an invite to Charles W. McVicar, commander of Winchester’s Turner Ashby Camp of Accomplice Veterans, for “the members of the Ashby Camp to help [the] Mulligan Publish… within the efficiency of our duties within the observance of Ornament Day on the Nationwide Cemetery.” McVicar, who served in R. Preston Chew’s Battery through the Civil Battle, declined the invitation due to the GAR’s assertion six months earlier in regards to the public show of Accomplice flags. 

On November 4, 1891, the GAR’s commander-in-chief, John Palmer, issued Basic Order 4, which prohibited any member “sporting badge and uniform of the order” to “march beneath something that has the illusion of a Accomplice flag.” Palmer believed taking part in occasions with the Accomplice flag betrayed the reminiscence of Union troopers who died through the battle. 

Whereas Palmer by no means questioned the “proper” of the GAR’s members “to mingle with the lads towards whom you fought,” taking part in occasions with Accomplice flags went “towards the phrases of give up” and needs to be considered as “an act of hostility towards the federal government of the US.” Palmer additionally believed the general public show of the Accomplice flag would proceed to “arouse a sense of animosity or revenge.”

Bothered by the GAR’s views on “something that has the illusion of a Accomplice flag,” McVicar refused Davidson’s invitation. The Ashby Camp commander, whereas he knowledgeable Davidson he would “urge the members of the Camp, of their particular person capacities, to be current,” McVicar wouldn’t enable his members to formally take part within the observance. McVicar defined that Accomplice veterans didn’t convey out the Accomplice flag as “solely because the ever to be honoured emblem of the reminiscences we cherish.”

In 1900, tensions rose as soon as extra following the Accomplice veterans’ condemnation of the GAR’s stance that faculty textbooks used all through the South taught “false historical past” in regards to the Civil Battle and promoted “unpatriotic concepts within the youth of the land.” Offended by being labeled “courageous fools or rash traitors,” Winchester’s Accomplice veterans lambasted “the Grand Military of the Republic…[for] a vicious assault upon our Southern Faculty Histories.” 

The tensions that existed within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries between the GAR’s members within the Valley and Accomplice veterans, juxtaposed with the assorted constructive interactions the teams had with one another throughout the identical interval, illustrates that the GAR’s members within the Shenandoah Valley navigated a fancy world. At occasions it appeared an setting the place, as a member of the Mulligan Publish mirrored, “the burden” appeared “greater than… in a position to assume.” Whereas they fraternized with former foes and engaged in actions geared toward therapeutic the battle’s deep wounds, dedication to honoring comrades and, as one GAR member defined, saving “the Union and the celebs and stripes from dishonor,” all the time stood on the forefront of the Valley’s GAR posts’ mission.

Jonathan A. Noyalas is director of Shenandoah College’s McCormick Civil Battle Institute. Slavery and Freedom within the Shenandoah Valley through the Civil Battle Period (College Press of Florida, 2021), is his most up-to-date ebook.

this text first appeared in civil warfare occasions journal

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