Great Reunion of 1913
July 3, 1913: The Great Reunion of 1913 reenacts Pickett’s Charge near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought between July 1-3 in 1863 as part of the American Civil War. The battle held the largest number of casualties of the entire war. Union forces were led by George G. Meade while Robert E. Lee led the Confederates. The Union suffered 23,055 casualties with 3,155 killed. The Confederacy suffered 23, 321 casualties with 4,708 killed. The battle, which the Union won, is often considered a turning point in the war.
Fifty years later, more than 50,000 veterans of the Civil War, gathered together on the Gettysburg Battlefield. They began assembling on June 25 and stayed until July 4, celebrating once again, America’s fight for liberty and justice. All honorably discharged veterans from the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans were invited. The participants ranged in age from 61 to (allegedly) 112. The veterans came from 47 of the 48 states with only Nevada unrepresented.
Pickett’s Charge was an infantry assault ordered by Lee against Meade’s positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863. Lt. Gen. James Longstreet predicted the Confederate loss and the attack may have so weakened the South, they were never able to recover. It was also the “high-water mark of the Confederacy” or the point where the South penetrated the farthest into Northern territory. The reenactment on this day had the Confederate veterans charging the ridge where they were met by the Union forces. The two sides made speeches, exchanged ceremonial flags, and shook hands across the stone wall marking the line. President Woodrow Wilson was persuaded to make a speech although he first turned down the engagement, fearful of being compared to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Twenty-five years later, a 75th anniversary meeting was again held. In 1938 there were only about 8,000 known living veterans of the war. Of these, 1,845 veterans were able to attend with 1,359 from the North and 486 from the South. Their average age was 94 and special arrangements had to be made to care for the men. The highlight of this second gathering was the lighting and dedication of an eternal flame at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on Oak Hill. The dedication was presided over by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
That old man…had my division massacred at Gettysburg! - George Pickett to John S. Mosby shortly after paying Lee a visit in Richmond
Well, it made you famous. – Mosby’s reply to Pickett.
All this has been my fault. – Robert E. Lee repeatedly to the survivors of Pickett’s Charge as they stumbled back to Confederate lines
Hello, Massa; bottom rail on top dis time. – A black Union soldier to a Confederate prisoner he recognized, his former master
Also on this day:
Lady of the Harbor – In 1986, the Statue of Liberty’s newly designed torch was lit.
Great Auks – In 1844, the last two Great Auks were killed.
Speed Record – In 1938, the Mallard steam locomotive reached 126 mph.