In a prior entry I discussed the magnificent official report from Pennsylvania’s Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg Commission that was published at the very end of 1913, months after the reunion had concluded. That book – still available in both print and online – serves as the official record of the Great Reunion, as reported by the commission responsible for planning and executing that event.
You can, however, find another official that gives a different perspective of the events of early July, 1913, as well as the months leading up to that event. New York State – specifically the New York Monuments Commission (or, to be more precise, the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg, Chattanooga, and Antietam – that’s a long name!) – delivered their own report about New York’s participation in the Great Reunion.
Specifically, they reported in exquisite detail about the event held on the afternoon of July 3, 1913 that was entitled New York Day at Gettysburg. Several presentations were delivered, including introductory remarks by General Horatio C. King, one of New York’s leaders at the Reunion, and New York Governor William Sulzer. Another speaker was Colonel Andrew Cowan, the President of the Society of the Army of the Potomac. Colonel Cowan’s address, reproduced in its entirety in the Report as were all the others, began:
“Comrades: It is hard to control my when I recall the battlefield fifty years ago, almost at this moment. Pickett’s brave men were in full retreat and we were holding the ground in the Angle and beyond to the Emmitsburg road, thickly strewn with their dead and wounded and our own…”
(The New York commemoration was, as Colonel Cowan noted, being held 50 years almost to the moment from when Pickett’s Charge was coming undone for the Confederates.)
As with Pennsylvania’s official report, New York’s report is a moving, awe-inspiring read. In future entries I’ll quote excerpts from some of the speeches given both as part of the overall commemoration as well as New York State’s “sub-commemoration.” In the meantime, please take my word that time spent with New York’s report is well worth it for anyone interested in the Civil War, Gettysburg, and/or the Great Reunion.