November 19-20 in Gettysburg, PA.
First Corps Salute at Iron Brigade Monument
here are passing now those yet spared from earth and heaven of that
"Iron Brigade," of Meredith's, on whose list appear such names as Lucius Fairchild,
Henry Morrow, Rufus Dawes, and Samuel Williams, and such regiments as the
19th Indiana, 24th Michigan, and 2d, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin, which on the
first day's front line with Buford and Reynolds, in that one fierce onset at
Willoughby's run, withstood overwhelming odds, with the loss of
a thousand, a hundred and fifty-three of highest manliness.
Here draws near a moving spectacle indeed, the last of the dear old First Corps;
thrice decimated at Gettysburg in action and passion heroic, martyr-like, sublime
down again together, Army of the Potomac! all that are left of us,-on the banks
of the river whose name we bore, into which we have put new meaning of our own.
Take strength from one more touch, ere we pass afar from the closeness of old.
The old is young to-day; and the young is passed. Survivors of the fittest,-for the fittest,
it seems to us, abide in the glory where we saw them last,-take the grasp of hands,
and look into the eyes, without words!
Who shall tell what is past and what survives?
For there are things born but lately in the years,
which belong to the eternities.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Brevet Major-General U.S. Volunteers-
written at the passing of the Iron Brigade at the Grand Review 1865
words stood the test of time at this year's Remembrance Day as the combined
units of the
14th Brooklyn, 6th Wisconsin and 24th Michigan
stopped to exchange salutes and remembrance with the Second Wisconsin at McPherson's Woods.
During the wreath placement, the Bucktails passed behind the formation in silent salute
bringing together the past and present.
click above for larger photo
A few words about last
Well, another re-enacting season drawls to a close as we put our gear away for the Winter Months to come and think about the season past. Each of us having a special memory to carry over to the Spring and a new season for the hobby we have chosen.
Mine will definitely be The Annual Remembrance Day Weekend in Gettysburg as elements of the 2nd Wisconsin gathered to Remember and Honor the ragged boys who gave of themselves 136 years past. From placing Wisconsin State Flags and National Flags at the Graves of the Wisconsin fallen to reliving the march up McPherson's Ridge, I couldn't help but be overtaken with the revelation of why we do this hobby. This is what it is all about and for my last event leading the boys of Company C, nothing will ever surmount the honor and pride I felt this weekend.
Anything else from this point on will never come close to the experience.
The most amazing moment for me was at the 2nd Wisconsin monument when Major Wallick commanded "About face" and there standing at attention were the 6th Wisconsin and 14th Brooklyn NYSM. At the command, "present arms", the air was electric with emotion. I'm sure the boys looking down on us took a moment to nod in approval.
The parade was as ever, a grand event marching right through the heart of Gettysburg to the High Water mark where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. It should be noted that when the 2nd Wisconsin marched past the President and did it's, "eyes right", both the President and his staff could be seen commenting on our presence.
I hope the folks who traveled so far to share in the weekends festivities found the experience rewarding and above all fun.. Plans are already in the works for next years festivities which will be even more fun than this year if that is possible. Company C will be stronger than ever and under new leadership. I will be taking on Duties not only as Staff to Gary Klas but to 2nd Battalion here in the East so I'll be around.
A thanks to Scott Wallick, Doug Pettit and all the folks who came out to be part of this special weekend. Thanks should go as well to the staff of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for the donation of the flags placed at the National Cemetery.
Finally a special thanks to My friends in Company C for the wonderful send off at the dinner party and the gift which I will treasure always.
December 3, 1999
Remembrance Day 1999 is one of those special times to treasure as an American and a Civil War era re-enactor. This is the second time I've attended this event, and the feelings and emotions that it creates within me are sometimes difficult to express. This year's event was particularly touching in many ways beginning with the ceremony at Gettysburg National Cemetery on Friday afternoon. After some brief, heartfelt speeches and expressions of gratitude and patriotism, the men of the 2d placed State of Wisconsin and National flags on each of the 73 graves of those who fell here in 1863. It was a task approached with silent respect and seriousness in tribute to those brave men who gave their lives to save this nation. After this, the men moved from grave to grave and read each name of the fallen Wisconsin boys.
Upon reassembling, the sound of taps on the fife resounded through the cemetery and brought more than a few tears to the eyes. A National Park employee (the one who had processed the permit) observed the entire ceremony and remarked how impressed she was with the way the men conducted themselves -- that she could sense their sincerity. After marching from the Wisconsin section of the cemetery, the men of the 2d halted by General Reynolds' monument and paid their respects to this beloved fallen leader. Here, too were placed the State of Wisconsin and National flags. Saturday morning dawned sunny, but gave way to clouds as those in attendance marched up McPherson's Ridge from below the Seminary. One can only imagine the myriad of emotions running through the minds and souls of the men as they walked on the very ground that the 2d Wisconsin soldiers moved forward on over 136 years ago. As an observer, I had my own set of emotions -- watching those Black Hats coming closer and now ascending the ridge. I can only imagine the thoughts that must have run through their heads, but knowing that duty must come before thought of self. I imagined what it must have been like to see those men of the Iron Brigade coming up the ridge toward you and knowing that you were facing tenacious men with a reputation for not giving up or giving in. I could sense a terror on both sides -- on the one not fully knowing who or what is in front of you, and on the other knowing full-well that you are facing veterans with a fierce reputation. From here, the men of Companies A, C, E, and K marched in column of two to the 2d Wisconsin monument. Many poignant remarks were made during the ceremony at the monument. A vine wreath decorated with native Wisconsin flowers was placed at the foot of the monument. I noticed a tear here and there, not only on the faces of the civilians, but on those of the men of the 2d as well. One very touching scene happened when the 14th Brooklyn, 6th Wisconsin, and 24th Michigan re-enactors were passing behind the 2d while they (2d) were facing the monument. They were ordered to halt and come to present arms. The men of the 2d were ordered to about-face and present arms and found themselves face-to-face with other Black Hats. For my husband, Doug, this was his most memorable moment. He had noticed the 14th Brooklyn out of the corner of his eye, but was not aware the 6th and 24th were also in the group. When he turned around, he was staring into the eyes of another Iron Brigade soldier who looked back at him with bloodshot, teary eyes. This was a very emotional experience for Doug, too. Those of us observing felt the huge flood of emotion at this moment. It was truly one of the most memorable moments, and my thanks to the 14th Brooklyn, 6th Wisconsin, and 24th Michigan re-enactors for their expression of respect.
The parade on Saturday afternoon took place in a bit of a drizzle, but spirits were high, and comradeship and fellowship are the glue that holds this passion together. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address also took place in this dampness, but everyone took it in stride. While listening to those words that have come to us from across the years, I could only imagine how relieved the listeners were to have fresh, concise words after listening to a two hour speech; how they must have marveled that someone could say so much with so few words. Saturday evening at Buckley's Irish Pub was a great way to spend more time getting to know each other better. There were so many of us that it was quite cozy! If you ever need to know the difference between shepherd's pie and chicken pot pie, please don't ask Major Wallick -- he doesn't have a clue! I really appreciate all of the time, effort, and resources that went into making this a truly memorable Remembrance Day. Many thanks to the State of Wisconsin Veterans' Museum for the flags that were placed during the ceremonies. The men of the 2d who fought at Gettysburg and especially those who gave their lives deserve to be remembered and honored, and in that way they will live forever in our hearts and minds.
Laurie K. Rasmussen,
Civilian 2d Wisconsin, Co. E