Saturday, 17 September 2016


On the 9th day of April, 18165, when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox court house, the civil war in the United States substantially ended, though General Tecumseh Sherman and General Joe Johnson, General Canby and General Taylor, kept firing away at each other for a fortnight afterward, not knowing when or how to quit. Those old warrior generals had been fighting so long that it became second nature to them. Strange to say that there never was any celebration of the greatest day in American history. General Grant told the Confederates to take their horses and all their equipments and go home and settle down peacefully. There was no general hurrah by the Federal army over the victory that had been obtained through four long years of bloody strife, and the men who carried the muskets were only too glad to hear the welcome order to get back to their homes in the north, to their families and their farms and their workshops. In the fifty years that have passed, the generations that have been born since their fathers and grandfathers fought to preserve the nation know little or nothing about the civil war save what they read in story or history. Little do they think that in that war more than in the war the northern army sacrificed 100,000 men and not less than $10,000,000,000 of treasure. According to official reports, 2,772, 304 men fought in the ranks of the Union army, and on the Confederate side, it is estimated that about 950,000 men were enrolled. The boys who answered their first roll call in 1861 laid down their arms in 1865 seasoned veterans. And, mind you, it was no picnic they had been enjoying during those four long years from the time they left home until their return. It was a fair and square, manly war between the north and the south, with no savage atrocities and no barbarous excesses like we now read of in the present war; no murdering of women and children and the sinking of unarmed vessels. The old soldiers are being mustered out at the rate of ninety-six every twenty-four hours, or at the rate of four every hour. The American government has dealt liberally with its soldiers in the matter of pensions; and when the men have answered the last roll call, their surviving wives are generously provided for, receiving $32 a month, and upward. In Canada, there are 2602 men and women on the pension rolls, drawing in the aggregate $520,820 a year. In Hamilton, there were fifty-nine pension vouchers certified to last March, one half being for women. The civil war began on the 12th of April, 1861, when the Confederates fired the first hostile shot on Fort Sumpter, and the actual close was May 26, 1865, by the surrender of the Confederate forces under General Kirby Smith – fifty years ago last Wednesday.


          Where General John A. Logan, of Illinois, the greatest volunteer soldier of the nineteenth century, was commander-in-chief of the grand army of the republic, he had a day set apart once a year for the decoration of the graves of departed comrades – the 29th day of May. That celebration will be observed in Hamilton. Of the sixty pensioners who are always prompt about having their vouchers signed on pension day, how many will be at the cemetery tomorrow to pay this mark of respect to the memory of comrades who have answered the last roll call. There are not less than three thousand American-born citizens living in Hamilton. The writer hopes that, although they may be living temporarily or permanently in Hamilton, they will spend an hour tomorrow afternoon in helping the small remnant of the grand army post decorate the graves of their departed comrades. The committee on decoration will be thankful for contributions of flowers, and they will be at the Royal Templars’ new hall, corner of Main and Walnut streets, on Sunday morning, to receive them. The members of the grand army and all who will take part with them in the decoration services are requested to meet at the same hall at half-past one o’clocj, to proceed from there to the cemetery.



These vernal days of spring almost take the life out one with their easy temperatures. But we are never satisfied, and if we had the ordering of seasons and the weather, we would make a sorry mess of it. The soldiers out in the Carpathian mountains, who are trying to kill each other, would gladly exchange their weather for a few days of Hamilton sunshine, budding trees and flowers, and for the velvet carpet of green grass in the Gore. God help the soldiers who are fighting the battles of the right. The Hamilton men in the trenches, in the lonely watches of the night, are thinking of home and the loved ones, and those with wives and children are looking forward to a time when the last shot will be fired and they will come marching home to take up the old life in the workshop. That picture brightens the soldier’s life in the trenches and on the firing line. Only those who have stood on the firing line or spent the long, weary night on the outpost as a picket guard can enter into the thoughts of a soldier. There never was such a war as this one, and let us hope that never again will there be another of its kind. It is barbaric murder. Those who are old enough to remember the Chinese stinkpots fired into the camps of opposing forces will realize the brutality of the Germans with their poisonous gases in the present war. There will come a day of reckoning. It is bad enough to kill men in a square, stand up fight, but to poison them with noxious gases is little short of deliberate murder. No one would have suspected that the German people could be guilty of such atrocities, for we know them only as good citizens, kind and affectionate parents, and the most generous neighbors. During the civil war in the United Staes we had a counterpart of the brutality of the Kaiser in the person of Captain Wertz, who was in command of Andersonville prison. He was a German with a commission in the Confederate army. There was no species of cruelty that he was not equal to. A creek ran through the stockade in which the union prisoners were confine, into which the filth of that prison camp was emptied, and this creek was the only water supply for the camp. Across this creek was a stream of cold water, but the filthy creek was made the deadline, beyond which the Union prisoners were not allowed to pass under penalty of being shot by the Confederate guard. Captain Wertz took so much enjoyment of this cruelty that he used to watch the prisoners trying to steal across the deadline, for the pleasure of seeing them shot down by the guard. Many a man crazed from thirst would make a dash for the clear water beyond, to be shot to death


The other day the son of one of these Andersonville prisoners called upon the writer in a business way, and he told of his father, who yet has nightmares of the horrors of Andersonville prison and Captain Wertz. He remembers the shooting down of the men whose only crime was getting a drink of clear water to quench their burning thirst. Driven to desperation, the prisoners united in a prayer meeting one day, looking only to their Heavenly Father for relief from the brutality of Captain Wertz. While they prayed, a stream of pure water burst forth far enough from the deadline for the men to get it without the danger of being shot down by the sentries, and the last we heard of it, that spring was still flowing through the farm that was formerly Andersonville prison, and it is called the Miracle spring. The Buffalo veteran referred to in this paragraph has a picture of the old prison camp hanging prominently in his business office, with the Miracle spring designated.


By the stroke of his pen, the czar of Russia wiped out over $90,000,000 revenues that his government was realizing annually from a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of vodka., the favorite intoxicating drink of the Russians. The world laughed at what it deemed the folly of the czar in giving up so much revenue, and said it would be of no avail as far as the suppression of the drink habit was concerned. Probably in no other country could such an illustration of one man power be given. Here in Canada and in the United States and in Great Britain spasmodic efforts are made to check drunkenness by law, but there is always a string to the legislation, that ends in failure. No so with the czar of Russia; when he determined to put a stop to the sale of vodka in his country, there was no string to his proclamation. The nobles as well as the humblest Russians were included, and for the first time in the history of prohibitory laws, the world has been taught a lesson that prohibition has a meaning, and that manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors can be prohibited. And the best of all is, the proof comes from representatives of other governments who are stationed in Russia.

John H. Snodgrass, consul-general of the United States, stationed in Russia, sends a detailed report of the operations of the new prohibitory law to his government, from which we gather a few very interesting facts. He says that the prohibiting of selling brandy in the government monopoly stores was introduced throughout the empire from the beginning of the war, and now has been in force for over six months. One of the Russian papers has made inquiries concerning the results of this measure, and has published some of the statistical data that was collected. The following list shows the consumption of vodka in the city of Moscow in 1914 compared with the preceding year; July, 412,056 gallons in 1913 and 150,121 gallons in 1914; September, 729,947 gallons in 1913 and 1,312 gallons in 1914. During the first three months, vodka could be obtained at the first-class restaurants for the consumption in the same, the selling of vodka in bottles being prohibited under a fine of $1,500.

It is observed in the manufactory districts that labor has become much more productive than when intoxicating liquors were sold. Formerly at the Moscow mills many of the workmen would not appear on Monday, and a number of those who did were unfit for duty in consequence of their Sunday excesses. This is no longer the case; both the quality and quantity of labor have improved. What a blessing it would be for Canada if this same condition existed.


Mr. Respectability, who believes in the rights of his manhood to take a drink when he wants it, and is opposed to any law that will deprive him of that privilege, take off your hat to the unfortunate drunkard you meet in the street, for he is a man after your own heart. He has been doing his share of paying taxes through the internal revenue and the saloon-keepers taxes, and has for years been asserting his manhood. Probably there was a time when he would drink a social glass or let it alone. He has got beyond that stage now, and his bleary eyes tell the story. Evidently the Good Lord cannot help him, but this great country of Canada can help him by doing what the czar of Russia has done.


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