If the gathering at Gettysburg in 1913 was the Great Reunion, then the event held 25 years later to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg might be termed the Last Reunion. Whereas more than 50,000 Civil War veterans made the journey to Gettysburg in 1913, slightly under 2,000 came a quarter century later. Well, no wonder: by that time the average age of those attendees was 92 years old, and there were only an estimated 8,000 Civil War veterans left alive by that point.
Still, the 1938 reunion was a magnificent occasion; also a sadder one in many ways than the Great Reunion because all knew there would be no further milestone gatherings due to their ages. And of course, by the time the next milestone came around – 1963, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg – every single Civil War veteran had passed away.
The dates of the 1938 reunion mirrored those of the 1913 Great Reunion. The encampment grounds were officially open from June 29th through July 6th, and the official ceremonies were held between July 1st and 4th.
One final note for our Part I post: just as President Woodrow Wilson attended and addressed the Great Reunion, so too did President Franklin Roosevelt attend and address the 1938 reunion. The only minor difference is that Wilson’s address was on July 4th, the final day (see our posts about President Wilson) whereas Roosevelt spoke on July 3rd with one more day to go.
More to follow; stay tuned.