May 4, 1892

Cincinnati, Ohio




COMMANDERS AND COMPANIONS: The leading facts relating to the Loyal Legion are well-known. It is an army society which, more than any other, has in charge the history, the biography, and the literature of the war for the Union, Its aims are social, educational patriotic, and fraternal.


The general history – the large topics – belonging to the great conflict need no attention by any army society. They will be taken care of by the eminent historians, and will be safely preserved in the universal memory of mankind. But the smaller incidents – the details which give life and color to the scenes of the war - the materials for the future artist, poet, and novelist – whatever warms the imagination and touches the heart, must be gathered and saved, if gathered and saved at all, in circles like this, where the individual experiences and personal narratives of the very actors in the thrilling drama are always in order, and lend the chief attention and charm to the passing hour. In this sense and to this extent those who made the history of the great transaction of our day must also write its history.


As to biography, under the rules of our Order, at least two biographical sketches of every member of the Loyal Legion will be printed and preserved. The first is his application of membership in the Order. This must be prepared by himself and will have the advantages which always belong to autobiography. An autobiography, if well done, is the best possible personal sketch. If poorly done, it is like the prisoner’s plea of guilty to the indictment against him, and fixes his place beyond recall. The second sketch is prepared by the hands of beloved Companions when a member passes from the seen to the unseen world. When the Scott, or Hawthorne, or Cooper, or Dickens of the future writes his most graphic pages of this interesting period, with what delight will he dig among the records which the Loyal Legion is now engaged in making.


Its social and fraternal aims – no one has more often or more truly realized what is gained on these lines than myself. A wide and constant traveler, in the pursuits to which I am devoted, the value and interest of the acquaintance, which, by reason of the little button of our Order which I always wear, made daily – made every-where-South as well as North – can not easily be described. Of course black sheep are in every flock. But it has so happened that always the acquaintance made by the introduction furnished by the button of our Order has always been of interest, and, for all that I know, worthy, altogether worthy.


Fraternal and educational – no other comradeship is equal to that of the association in war for a common cause – and that a divine cause - the cause of Union, of Liberty, of our Country, of mankind. What an age we have lived in! The age of the steamship, of the railroad, of the telegraph and telephone, of electricity, of the street railroad, of cheap books and magazines and newspapers, of general education; the age of invention , of hope, of a future far outrunning the present, of a new world, new creation!


Those of us whose memories enable us to recall the events of sixty or sixty-five years, can feel as if we were contemporaries of Christopher Columbus, with the first parents, with Adam and with Eve, for we have lived to see a new world, a new creation. A world where all are or may be free; where all are or may be educated; where all are or may be at peace. And the colossal event of this gigantic period was our divine war, which either gave to the world or secured to the world these blessings; the war for the Union and Liberty; a war great as a mere war, greater still for its ideals and principles, and greatest of all for its sublime, its divine results. It gives us union and peace instead of division and discord, and in the place of slavery and ignorance, it gives us intelligence and freedom. Of all this, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States is a token and a sign, a prophecy and a memorial.