Fewer Than Thirty Union Vets Live in Quincy Now

A few, perhaps fewer than half a dozen union veterans of the American Civil war, will march in the Memorial parade Thursday.  Aged white haired men, shaken with their infirmities, may ride in automobiles through the streets of Quincy where years ago a thousand marched.  Their hearts will beat tumultuously as the crowds cheer as they pass, for their courage is high even though the years have taken toll of their bodies.

It has been seventy years since Appomattox, when Robert E. Lee, idol of the Confederacy, surrendered the pitiful remnants of the army of Northern Virginia to General U.S. Grant, the closing act in that greatest, deadliest, bloodiest drama in American history.

So far as can be learned there are fewer than thirty union veterans of the Civil war in Quincy.  There is no record, no way of finding out how many men lived here who once battled for the South.  It may be as the Union veterans in their coats of blue pass by, honored by the crowds, men who once wore the grey may be standing on the  sidewalks honoring too the aged warriors that they once opposed.

Records of the Soldiers’ Home show that there are twenty-three union veterans living there.  In Quincy outside the home there are  five or six.  The ages of these veterans range from 86 years, that of  Capt. John E. Andrew, to the ages of Isaac Brittendall and Joseph Franks of the Soldiers’ Home, who are each 98 years old.  Nearly all the veterans in Quincy are more than 90 years of age.

A check up with Capt. John E. Andrew gives this list of members of John Wood Post, living in  the city, outside the home.  Their names and ages are L. D. Vance, 88; Michael Cashman, 89; John H. Heitland, 89; Thomas Meil, 91; Capt. H. C. Turner, 92.

James McChelaney, aged 96, is a veteran who lives in his own bachelor home at 1613 North Second street, and is taking life easy.  He is not a member of John Wood Post.

Other members of John Wood Post living are “Dad” Mullens, 90, of St. Louis; Capt. John V. Henry of Kansas, 91; and A. J. Nichols of New York, aged 95.  Benjamin W. Moulton, now in the Soldiers’ Home, is 93 years old.

The veterans in the home and their ages as recorded in the books of A. W. Michel, home adjutant are Jacob Short, 86; John Carson, 94; William H. Dowell, 89; John Boruff, 92; George Miller, 89; Jacob Mize, 92; Benjamin Brown, 89; Benjamin Garland, 89; F. M. Meadows, 92; William Hawkins, a Negro, 94; Benjamin W. Moulton, 93; Pitt Boulware, 90; Glen Bower, 89; Isaac Brittendall, 98;  Joseph Franks, 98; Samuel Hazel, 88; Caradon Johnson, 89; Samuel Kelly, 89; Henry Kimmel, 93; James McCullough, 97; Franklin Ransom, 93, Wiley Rose, 89;  and Michael Buck, 91.  Richard Lewis died in the home on April 15 aged 91 years.

It may be that there are some aged veterans in Quincy whose name is not in the list given, but a sincere effort to name all the men  in the city and in the home reveals the fact that there are only a few veterans living here and that the great majority are too feeble to participate in the Memorial day parade, although automobiles will be provided and they will have the aid, love, and sympathy of the various patriotic organizations who will be giving them tender care.

How different the appearance of the veterans will be this year than in the great Memorial day parades of forty years ago.  There was a time when John Wood Post had 600 names on its roster.  In those days the veterans disdained to ride.  Carriages were not for them.  Proudly they marched in serried ranks, their muskets tilted, their bayonets shining, their feet resounding on the cobblestones.  How joyfully they stepped as the drums beat, the fifes shrilled and the bugles blew….”Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching.” What was the mile journey to Woodland cemetery for  the Memorial day services to men who had marched with Sherman from the Mississippi to the sea?

It was a slight task then to carry a musket a half an hour to men who had carried their rifles and forty rounds, their blanket rolls and knapsacks from Atlanta to the sea.  Pounding the cobblestones with willing feet was a joy to men  who had trudged hundreds of miles through Georgia mud or South Carolina sand, sleeping on the wet ground, building endless miles of corduroy roads, leaving their work to repel on onrush of their foes.  But that was forty years ago.  It has been seventy years since the bugles blew peace.  The boys of that far off heroic age are the aged veterans of today.

Recent statistics from the pension bureau of the United States government and from the pension  rolls of southern states show that of the great blue army which once numbered more than two million, a scant 14,474 were registered April 1 (1935). Confederate veterans living  numbered 5,612, according to the pension rolls.  In the war unofficial estimates place the number lost at 800,000.  The number killed on either side will never be known for in lonely swamps and in singing rivers of the Southland unknown soldiers by the hundreds perished, forgotten by all save their Creator.

Source: Quincy Herald Whig, May 1935.

Provided by Jan Walker