August 1, 1885
FELLOW-CITIZENS: The occasion which has brought together this large assemblage has a two-fold interest. On the spot where Major George Croghan and his gallant little band seventy-two years ago successfully defended Fort Stephenson against a largely superior force of British Regulars under Proctor and of Indians under Tecumseh, the people of Sandusky County have built a monument in honor of their fellow-citizens, living and dead, who faithfully served in the army of the Union. The date and place of our meeting and the unveiling of this soldier’s monument remind us of two inspiring events—one of limited and perhaps local significance merely, and the other of a character which rivets the attention of all mankind.
The simple ceremonies we have witnessed in this place, on this anniversary recall the men, the events and the scenes of the old pioneer days of the Northwest Territory. They also vividly recall those never to be forgotten heroic days of 1861-1865, when the great questions of Liberty and National life were submitted to the God of Battles.
Intimately associated with Croghan’s victory are the favorite names of the pioneer history of the West. Gen. Harrison, Commodore Perry, Gen. Cass, Gen. McArthur, Col. Richard M. Johnson, Gov. Meigs, Gov. Tiffin and al long list of other able men whose names were household words in the homes of the first settlers of this region, were all closely identified with the military events which hinged upon the brilliant victory which was gained here, and which decided the struggle for the vast and noble territory which is tributary to the great lakes of the Northwest. That I do not overstate the importance of the brilliant event which gives a place in history to our little city of Fremont, I read you a few paragraphs from letters to one of our committee by Col. Charles Whittlesey of Cleveland, and by General Sherman. With an honorable record as a Union soldier Col. Whittlesey is still more widely known as the indefatigable and learned local historian of this part of our country.
[Letter from Col. Charles Whittlesey read by President
General Sherman writing to the Committee, points out in his terse way the strategic value of the triumphant defense of Fort Stephenson. He says:
[Letter from General Sherman read by President Hayes]
Happy as we are in the time and place of our celebration, its chief attraction is, however, the dedication of a monument to the soldiers of the Union.
The first on the list of the soldiers of the Union whom our countrymen delight to honor, and the first to reply to the invitation of the committee appointed for this occasion, was the truest representative and the best type of the loyal American soldier. His reply to the invitation is as follows:
[Letter concerning Ulysses S. Grant is read by President Hayes]
Since this letter was written the great soldier has been relieved from the suffering which he bore with such patient and noble fortitude. The Nation he did so much to save is tearfully but gratefully and proudly preparing to perform the last sad offices in honor of her matchless warrior and best loved citizen. The monument we dedicate here, every monument to the citizen soldier of the Union is a monument that reminds us of the deeds and virtues of General Grant. Although trained as a soldier, the war found him a citizen—it made him again a soldier, and in his last years he was once more a citizen. He was simple, sincere, just, magnanimous and pure, and to these high qualities were added, by nature with lavish prodigality an iron determination, an unyielding tenacity of purpose, and a serene and heroic mastery of all his faculties in the midst of responsibility, danger and death which fitted him above any other living man for the command of the Grand Army of the Republic, in whose keeping were the vast and vital interests of our country and of mankind. Our monument in Fort Stephenson Park in Fremont to the Union soldiers of this county—indeed, every monument to the Union soldier, is also a monument to General Grant. In like manner every monument to General Grant will be a monument to the men of the armies he led. His name and fame are forever linked together. Our country with a government free and popular, but strong enough to maintain its authority and to defend its life; with a people all of whom under the law “have an equal start and a fair chance in the race of life;” bound together—“an indestructible union of indestructible States;” with a present population, wealth, power and prestige, beyond any other civilized Nation; and with a future far transcending in its possibilities all that the world has known in the past—this country is at once the reward, and the monument of the Union soldiers and of their great and beloved commander, General Grant.