Tuesday, 25 September 2012


On January 6, 1861, the first gun of the civil war was fired from the batteries at Charleston, South Caroline on the steamer Star of the West that was carrying provisions to the beleaguered garrison of Fort Sumter, and on April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued the first call for 75,000 volunteers. These dates will be at least of interest to the large army of American readers of the Spectator, and this being Memorial day when the surviving soldiers of that war meet to strew flowers on the graves of departed comrades, it may not be out of place the part taken in that civil war by the old boys of Hamilton. The records of that civil war show that more than 50,000 Canadians were engaged in it; also that a large number were either killed in battle or died of wounds and disease. Actual war began with President Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 men, and ended on April 26, 1865. During the four years of bitter conflict, 2,777, 304 enlisted in the Union Army, and of these 67,058 were killed in battle, 43,012 died of wounds, 199, 720 died of disease, from other causes 43,012 died making a total of 249, 344 deaths in the union army as a result of the war. Only a partial statement of the casualties in the Confederate army has eves been compiled and this shows that 353, 864 died from wounds and disease. The greatest battle of the war was at Gettysburg, when in three days’ fighting, the union army had 3,070 killed and 14, 497 wounded.


          May 30 was set apart by Congress and the Grand Army of the Republic as Memorial day, and the Sunday preceding is recognized by all G.A.R. posts as Memorial Sunday, when every old soldier goes to church, if he never entered a sacred edifice on any other day in the year. Today being the American soldiers’ sacred holiday, a reference to the past may not be out of place. Canada furnished at least five full regiments to the army of the Union during the war, and it is estimated that Hamilton sent more than two companies. So many Hamilton boys enlisted in the Forty-Ninth New York that it was known as the Hamilton regiment. E. D. Holt, who was head of the firm of Holt, Angell and Campbell, booksellers in Hamilton in the fifties, was lieutenant-colonel of the Forty-Ninth, and received a wound in the battle of Petersburg that troubled him till his death a few years ago. In the same battle, Maurice Sullivan, a shoemaker who was in Holt’s regiment, received a wound from the Confederates. A. J. Campbell who was captain of No. 2 fire company in this city half a century ago and a member of the same book firm with E. D. Holt, was in St. Louis in the grocery business. When the first shot was fired on Fort Sumter, he immediately began recruiting, and raised a company for the Thirty-Third Missouri, of which he was selected captain. He sold his grocery business and served from the beginning to the end of the war, participating in thirty battles, through all of which he passed safely. Captain Campbell is now living in Boston, broken in health. A. T. Freed, inspector of weights and measures in this city, learned the trade of printer more than half a century ago, and at the beginning of the war was working on the New York Tribune. On the first call for troops, he laid down his stick and went over into Connecticut and enlisted. Having served his term of enlistment, he returned to New York and joined a regiment which was being organized for three years’ service. Gus took part in several battles, but fortunately the bullets whistled past him without leaving a mark. Richard Butler, now U.S. Vice-Consul in this city, began his apprenticeship in the printing trade in the office of the London Free Press in the year 1848, and in 1850 came to Hamilton and worked on the Journal and Express, the Christian Advocate and the Daily Banner, when it was first started. When the war broke out, he was working on the Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, and enlisted in the first call for three months. Subsequently, he –re-enlisted and served till the end of the war. Tom Fleming was another Hamilton printer who enlisted. In the fifties, he was one of the editors of The Growler, in which Branigan’s Chronicles was first published. Tom joined the Tenth New York cavalry, and served as an orderly sergeant of his company till the end of the war. He died in Boston a few years ago. William Nixon, who died in this city a few years ago and William Lyons were two printers who abandoned the office shooting-stick for the Springfield rifle. William Cliff, now of the Spectator office, was in New Orleans and every abled-bodied man in the south was expected to do military duty. So he shouldered a musket rather unwillingly to fight the Yankees till such time as he was relieved. William Gatchell was an apprentice in the Advocate office fifty years ago joined the Confederate army in New Orleans much against his will, but as he was in Rome, he had to be a Roman. He died in Buffalo a few years ago. Other boys who worked at the printing business in Hamilton before the war, and who had drifted over the Niagara or Detroit rivers, joined their fortunes with the Union army.


          On this Memorial Day, it would have given the writer pleasure to published the names of the Hamilton boys who served in the war between the North and the South. On a few can be remembered. John Robertson and Charles Jolly enlisted in the Thirty-Second New York, Bob Waugh served in a Massachusetts regiment; John White was a lieutenant in the Forty-Ninth New York, but was never heard of after the battle of Antietam; McVicker was killed in action (his mother now draws a pension); Bryan Cauley, David Lyons, William Macdonald, Lou Heneker, James Mahoney, Jack Munro, Philip and Don Stevens, John R. Chapell, - Blarney, J. M. Campbell, - Diamond, George Hooper, John Wiellis, Thos. Jones, John Kelloher, David Love, M. O’Regan, Thomas Anderson, - Tomes, Joseph Mottashed, James Melody, Charles McMichaels, John H. Slater are a few of the names that can be recalled. Major Ellis, who enlisted in the One Hundredth Canadian regiment away back in the fifties, did not get enough of war under the Union Jack, so when the civil war began, he went over to Buffalo and joined the Forty-Ninth New York. James Ryerson lost a foot at the Battle of Petersburg.


This afternoon the members of W. W. Cooke post, G.A.R., will remember Memorial day by strewing flowers on the graves of comrades who have been mustered out. On each grave in the Hamilton and Catholic cemeteries will be placed the flag of the United States under which so many Hamiltonians did gallant service. Many who went out never returned, and others died since the war was ended. The widows of the dead have been well provided for by the United States government, and the men who have become incapacitated for labor are generously remembered with pensions generous enough to keep the wolf from the door.


          When the Spanish-American war broke out, and the United States wanted volunteers, Canada again responded, and some twelve or fifteen went from Hamilton. One of them won a commission in the regular army, and two boys born in Hamilton, Leslie and Gibson, gave their lives as a sacrifice. The Grand Army post in this city is named in memory of W. W. Cooke, a son-in-law of John Winer, who served during the civil war and afterwards with General Custer, the gallant Indian fighter.


          The soldier who does his duty faithfully deserves well of his country. The men who volunteered to defend the Union Jack in the Northwest and at Ridgeway, and later those who went to far distant South Africa, some never to return, are the heroes that always can be relied upon when danger threatens their native land. The song, Home Sweet Home, is their inspiration. After the battle of life comes peace to the weary soldier. The funeral march is his requiem. Today we hold in sacred memory Hamilton’s honored dead – those who fought under the Union Jack or The Stars and Stripes. Why is it, says one who speaks from personal experience, that the most solemn service ever devised  by man, that stately hush of a vast cathedral, the imposing robes, the stained glass windows, the pealing organ, all pale into insignificance beside that soul-stirring simple act – the trumpeting out of “taps” over the body of dead soldier? No man who has ever heard it, either on the field of battle, at the quiet army post, or in the haven for those weak and shattered units of the Grand Army of the Republic, ever forgets. For the bugle notes seem to take into their all-embracing cadence, the tears, the memories, the shattered hopes and the long farewell.


          Dr. David Inglis, of Detroit, Michigan, is an eminent specialist in nervous and mental diseases and has made himself a national reputation among scientist. He is the son of David Inglis, pastor of the Macnab Street Presbyterian church, The doctor is a native born Hamiltonian. It has been an education of much study to him what society should do with its helplessly defective and diseased members, and from his point of view, a man or a woman suffering from an incurable and painful disease, death is looked upon as merciful, and a thing greatly to be desired. Idiots, imbeciles and demented patients have not sufficient apprehension of their condition to make them wish for death, but the doctor humanely suggests that life is not desirable, and that death would be a happy end to a barren life. Looking at it from that point of view, to put an end to the unfortunates would be merciful. Yet it would lessen the esteem in which we hold life.


          The desire to live is the strongest part of our nature, even the animal will fight in defense of his life. There is much that is worth living for in this old world, while to many the daily grind is disheartening. “Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone.” How truly is this illustrated in everyday life. There be no greater afflictions than the helplessly unfortunates that society cannot protect itself against. Many governments wisely and humanely care for idiots, imbeciles and the demented ones so that they cannot do harm to themselves or others, but there is a large class in every community against which the home and society have no protection and from which even the great specialists in nervous and mental diseases cannot prescribe, be he ever so inclined. To begin with, the law sanctions the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors from which drunkards are made, and the home and society have very little protection against the man maddened with drink. You may be peacefully walking in the street when you are assailed by a drunken loafer who demands of you money with which to buy more drink, and if you refuse, the chances are that he will assault you with vileness of speech or if he thinks he can master you assault you with his fists. These are the ruffians who insult women and snitch purses from their hands. The fellow is fined, and if he has no money, is sent to jail for a few days. What satisfaction is there in it for the person assailed? Such degenerates were better confined than be allowed to run at large. Indeed, society would be safer if they were under the ground with four feet of solid earth to prevent their resurrection. Then there is the man who robs his family of every comfort that he may gratify his desire for strong drink. Of what use is such man in the world? There is no apparent reason why burglars, sneak thieves and the tramps who infest the country, making life a worry to the industrious a frugal class that has the honest ambition to be something in the world beyond hewers of wood and drawers, should have a being. Scientists such as Dr. Inglis might make good use of them as subjects for dissection, and it is a question if they are even fit for scientific investigations. Such people never have appendicitis or any of those diseases peculiar to decent citizens; therefore they are not even useful for surgeons to practice the cutting art on. While it might be a blessing if Dr. Inglis could devise some way of helping the helplessly defective and diseased members of society to an easy and painless exit from a world that holds out no hope for them, he could win immortal fame in discovering a plan that would purify society of the degenerate class. There is really no room in this world for such people, and their sudden exit would drive the gloom and sorrow from many a home, even in the city of Hamilton.

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