MEMORIAL DAY ADDRESS
May 30, 1870
Ladies and Friends: A few moments ago a lady seated behind me remarked, (pointing to the tattered and torn battle flags of Regiments in which men of Jefferson county, had served, and which were on the stand) “there is the oration.” Such an expression my friends, contains a theme that speaks volumes. I have often been present at the laying of monumental corner stones, at the strewing of flowers over the graves of departed heroes. I have heard addresses and have delivered addresses, but to-day I come with no prepared address, but to have a friendly talk.
The reason the soldiers of 1812, the ladies and gentlemen and all are here to-day, is because in dedicating this monument, they desire to do honor to the brave men from Jefferson county, who went forth to battle in the great cause of Union and Liberty, and who died in defense of their common country – who in the service died as patriots in discharge of their duty; and as citizens of Jefferson county, you have cause to be proud of the noble dead. Jefferson county, has a peculiarly interesting and glorious history. What a recorder has she to give her dead children! The names of her great dead have occupied a prominent position, in this and every other war in which we had been engaged. Her bar, her teachers and her braves, had excelled. Your noted settlers of early times, and your noble dead are fit to be offsprings of such illustrious sires. It is fit that we should come here to-day to pay tribute to the dead. I am glad that we have a day and that Decoration day, in which we all meet and lay aside our disputes about religion and politics and things about which men will differ, and talk of events about which we all can agree – with one common object in view, to honor the brave dead. Jefferson county, has a noble record! From the beginning of the rebellion to its close, she promptly responded to every call of her country. Your noble county, I learn from the statistics furnished about 3,000 men for the field, distributed in forty different Ohio Regiments, besides being represented in nearly every other State.—They had been in every branch of the service – always doing their duty and had borne their part nobly in every fight. Men from Jefferson county have been in the first battle of the war, at Vienna, at Bull Run, in the seven days before Richmond, down through the South-West, at Shiloh, Perrysville, Stone River, Vicksburgh; Kennseaw, Atlanta and with Sherman to the sea, and at the last fight of war at Bentonville, they were at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox and in the Grand review in Washington city, where Sherman with his glorious heroes of a hundred battles, marched with stately tread. Our late war has a singular history to many. A record that astonished Europe. It was not their wonder that America could raise 1,000,000 men, but that they should all return home again to the pursuits of peace. – Did I say home? Alas! How many failed to return to the loved ones at home. Of the 3,000 men that left Jefferson county, about 700 had surrendered their lives that the nation might live. I almost see in the statue of the sailor before me the serene smile of the indomitable Faragut. Jefferson county in 1797 embraced an immense district, extending from Cleveland to the river on the South. Her record is such as to command the notice of the historian. Wait not for the gifted pen of an Irwin, but let her history be written in simple story and published in pamphlet and in your county papers, and let each retain a copy as a memento of the glory and fame of the homestead. Let it bear the names of all those who fell. Gather them from every township and hamlet in your county. It is impossible for me to read the vast list of names which have been handed to me, as they embrace all grades from the great War Minister, E. M. Stanton, to the drummer boy. From the gallant Webster, the McCooks, Carter and the names of the other 700 gallant dead whom I cannot repeat be kept as a volume in the history of your county.