WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME
There was a hot time in the old town last Monday. It began at daylight in the morning, and the boys and girls kept it up till well on toward daylight the next morning. In fact, the rumpus began on Thursday of last week, when the news came that the war was over. Not only in Hamilton, but throughout this broad American continent was the joyful news told that the armistice was signed, and New York and Dundas went wild over the glad tidings. It was a little premature, the news on Thursday, to be sure, but as all’s well that ends well, it was only a foretaste of the happiness to come four days later. It was a ‘seben come eleben’ as the darkey joyously shouts when ‘rolling the bones.’ Now this expressive sentence is all Greek to this old muser, but just ask your preacher what it means and he will tell you that he remembers hearing it when he was a boy at college and ‘gamboled on the green’ with the little square ivory cubes. It has reference to a purely Ethiopian pastime, occasionally indulged in by white boys, especially those in the army after the paymaster has visited the battalion. Let us explain. The first news of the close of the war came on the seventh of the month, and was repeated as a sure thing on the eleventh – ‘Seven come eleven.’ Do you see the point?
“Figure it out as you will, but the motive was glorious, and this old town just let loose for four days. It was a blessing that Premier Heart’s prohibitory law was in force, for if it had been otherwise, Chief Whatley and his hundred braves could never have been equal to the splendid order in the streets and to the preservation of life and limb where so many motorcars were flying hither and thither. It was glorious news for the wives whose husbands have been in the trenches for two or three years, and who, thank God, have been spared to hear the command, ‘Cease firing!’ and to the mothers who will look forward to the time ‘When Johnny comes marching home.’ It will be a great day in Hamilton when the boys come marching up the street with the bands playing Home, Sweet Home. Only those who have smelt powder on the field of battle can realize the joy of the home-coming, and the loving embrace of mother, wife and children.
Make ready for the jubilee,
Hurrah ! hurrah!
We’ll give the heroes three times three
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.
SIXTY-FOUR YEARS AGO
“Let us take a look backward to the time when Hamilton celebrated the close of the first war in its history. It was in the month of October, 1856, when the glorious news that Sebastopol had fallen was flashed across the sea, and that night Hamilton celebrated. This town then had only a small population, but it was full of pep and loyal to the core. It was a fight between the allied British, French and Turks against the Russians, and neither of the countries had large armies. Canada had recruited a regiment to go over and help the mother country, of which Hamilton furnished a part of a company, but the boys never got into the fight, as peace was declared while the regiment was awaiting transportation from an English port. One or two of the Hamilton boys, old men now, are still living in the city. Well, the night that Sebastopol had surrendered, Hamilton just let itself loose, and there was a hot time in the old town. The town band, under command of dear old Peter Grossman, assembled in what is now Gore park, near the old town pump, and they made the air ring out with all the patriotism that could be blown through those brass horns. Let us digress for a moment in order that may give the roll of the old band when it was mustered on the 16th of October, 1856. Peter Grossman, bandmaster; Gilbert Omand, William Riddler, August Grossman, L. Schwartz, John Pryke, David Jennings, M. Reichart, Robert Weston, D. Naismith, George Waite, R. Hooper, A. Bienerhassett, Wm. Omand, Julius Grossman, J. O’Brien, Charles Bamfride. Only one member of that band now survives, William Omand. Peter Grossman died in 1901, and his younger son passed away a couple of years ago.
“Now let us briefly tell how Hamilton celebrated the fall of Sebastopol on that October night sixty-four years ago. Tom Gray was then chief of the volunteer fire department, and early in the evening he had the fire alarm rung, and within a few minutes over 500 members of the different companies were at their engine houses waiting for the word of command. The boys were marched to the Gore, and there Chief Gray had in preparation hundreds of cotton balls and gallons of turpentine, and when the band struck up God Save the Queen, the chief sent hurling through the air the first fire ball, which was quickly followed by hundreds more; and this was kept up till a late hour. All Hamilton was out that night, and never was a happier throng assembled on the Gore.
“That was Hamilton’s first war celebration : the second being when the volunteers returned from the battle of Ridgway, having cleaned out the Fenians.
THE FALL OF LADYSMITH
“Hamilton was a larger town when the Boers in South Africa rebelled against the British protectorate. South Africa is a country rich in diamond and gold fields, and attracted the German greed. Hamilton sent to the assistance of the motherland a part of a company; therefore, it had more than passing interest in the South African war. When the news came that Ladysmith had fallen and that the Boer war was at an end, there was great rejoicing.
THE LAST WORLD WAR JUST CLOSED
“But the greatest of all the world wars was the climax, It lasted 1,567 days, with a total casualty list estimated at 26,000, 500 men. As Hamilton and the world has been surfeited with stories and figures of the most destructive war that the world has ever passed through, why should we harrow up the feelings of our humble musings by a recital of what they have already read? The story of Hamilton’s celebrations of the victorious event has already been told by our local papers in the fullest detail, and we could add but little to it.
“Hamilton’s part in the great world war is creditable to the loyalty of the old town. We can only give estimates of the number of men who enlisted. Not less than 12,000 men left home and wives and children and mothers as volunteers to fight in the great world war. Of this number, it is estimated that at least one thousand will never return. Colonel John McCrae’s, In Flanders’ Fields, tells the sad story:
In Flanders’ fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, flet dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from falling hands e throw
The torch – be yours to hold high!
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, through poppies grow
In Flanders’ fields.
“It is estimated that not less than 26,000,000 brave men sacrificed life and health and limb to satisfy the ambition and greed of one man. And, after all, he is now an exile from his country, and, with his six sons, passed through the more than four years of war without getting a scratch. Here is the list of casualties, as estimated : Germany, 6,690,000; Austria, 4,500,000; France, 4,000,000; Great Britain, 2,900,000; Turkey, 750,000; Belgium, 350,000; Rumania, 200,000; Bulgaria, 200,000. No estimate is given of the Russian casulaties. The United States casualty list numbered 69,420, of which 12, 460 were killed in action, and 150,000 maimed or ruined in health. It will be many months before a complete list can be obtained.
“Official reports give an army of 35,000 men in Canada ready for the field, but who have not been out of Canada. Recruiting has been stopped, and arranements are already being made to discharge from the service a part, if not all, of this 35,000 men. The men across the sea may be kept in service for many months, as the allied armies will remain on duty till after the final settlement of the war. The cost of the war is estimated at eleven hundred million dollars up to the end of October. When the bills are all paid, many more millions will be added. To this will be needed a large pension roll for the widows and for the maimed soldiers and for those who are unfitted to provide for themselves through loss of health.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
“Within the last century occurred the two greatest wars in history. The American civil war was only a skirmish compared with the world war just closed, yet for the number of men engaged it will take second place in war history. The civil war began on the 12th of April, 1861, with the bombardment of Fort Sumpter by the Confederates of South Carolina, and came to a close in the last days of the month of April, 1865, with the assassination of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, an English actor, who became a rabid secessionist during his temporary residence in the United States. A former Hamilton lady, whose home for many years has been in the United States, is in the city at present, the guest of Mrs. S. Glassco, 43 Robinson street, and she has in her possession a copy of an extra of the New York Herald, dated April 15, 1865, giving an account of the assassination, which occurred in Ford’s theater, in Washington on the evening before. The assassin entered the box occupied by the president and Mrs. Lincoln, and shot Mr. Lincoln in the back of the head. The assassin then jumped from the box to the stage, exclaiming as he made his escape, ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis!’ The president lived till the following morning when he passed away.
“In its scope, the civil war was one of the greatest struggles known to history down to that time. It made a record of 2,400 battles and combats. Eleven southern states seceded from the union. Jefferson Davis, a colonel in the regular army, deserted the flag under which he was educated and made a record as an officer, and was elected president of the Confederacy. The United States had but a small standing army, which was principally officered by southern men, graduates from West Point. President Lincoln issued his proclamation calling out 75,000 men, which was promptly filled many times over the number called for. But few realized that there was going to be a war. On the 21st of July, 1861, the first battle of the war was fought at Bull Ru. Raw troops were on both sides, but they fought with an obstinacy that foreboded the future battles of the war. The south had the advantage in having regular army officers to command its men. The battle of Shiloh was fought on the 6th of April, 18162. Gen. Grant had an army of 45,000 in his command. Gen. Grant was taken by surprise by the combined Confederate armies of Generals Johnston and Beauregard. It was a savage fight, in which the Union army was defeated. General Johnston, one of the ablest on either side, was killed at Shiloh. During the war, the Union Army numbered 2,778,304 men, whose ages ranged from ten years to forty-one years and over. The total loss of life was 359,528. Adding the many thousand discharged as disabled or otherwise unfit for duty, or who died from wounds or disease incurred in the army, the total casualties numbered about 500,000. No complete report of the number of men enlisted in the Confederate army or its casualty list is at hand. At the close of the war, the union army had over a million men under arms, and the Confederacy about half a million. The war expenses of the Union government were $3,400, 000,000. In 1864 a barrel of flour in Richmond cost $300, and a pair of boots commanded $150. But then Confederate money had no great value.