52nd Encampment of the G.A.R, 1918

The Oregonian, 11 Aug 1918, page 56

For the year of grace 1918 Portland is the most favored city in America. The climax of this preferment, toward which the preceding months have looked with eagerness, will be attained in the midriff of August, a week of momentous memories and of momentous meetings—when the Grand Army of the Republic assembles for its 52d encampment—from August 19th to the 23d.

Men will meet again who were comrades in the bitter and glorious days of the Civil War, and who have not shaken hands since the day their old regiment furled its riddled and ragged colors—becoming merely a record in the files of the War Department and the memorandum of memory. There'll be a great deal of persiflage that has the brand of an earlier era—jests and gibes that were current in the camps of Sherman and Grant.

"By cracky! of course he was at Gettysburg. Wasn't he always where the bullets was thickest—under the ammunition wagon? Leastwise, when he wasn't in the guardhouse!"

Oregon, which had no regiment in the Civil War, but which has 64 Grand Army posts, holds many a veteran who never has attended a National encampment. These without doubt will find comrades of their old regiment among the many thousands who will pour into Portland from every state in the Union. For the rosters of Oregon posts read like a roll call of the Northern states, each of which gave liberally of its sons to the Union cause.

The aggregate membership of the Grand Army in Oregon is 1750. In Portland are nine posts, with a membership of approximately 600, representing every suburb of the city. Throughout the state fully as many veterans are non-members, commonly for the reason that they live too far from established posts. It is anticipated the attendance of these will be heavy when the opportunity is presented to meet and mingle with comrades of their campaigns.

T. H. Stevens, of Portland, commander of the Department of Oregon, was commander of Sumner Post several terms. Mr. Stevens fought with the 124th Indiana Infantry, of the Army of the Ohio, and served under both General Thomas and Sherman. he was 17 years of age when he enlisted, and left high school to join the colors. He participated in the fierce fighting that led to the destruction of the Confederate army under Hood at the close of the war, and was mustered out at Greensboro, N. C.

C. A. Williams, Adjutant-General and Quarter-Master-General for the Department of oregon, also of Portland, served with Company I, of the 9th Vermont Infantry, and the 18th and 24th Army Corps. He was in the campaign before Richmond and Petersburg, and marched into the former city on the morning of the rebel evacuation, April 3, 1865—which he laughingly alludes to as "the greatest moment of his life." Mr. Williams is now serving his 12th term as Adjutant.

During the Civil War two regiments were raised in oregon, the First Oregon Cavalry and the First Oregon Infantry, but these were held in the state to ward against possible Indian uprisings and seditious activities. So it chanced that the records of the Grand Army never bears the name of an Oregon regiment.

But the Oregon of that day knew well some of the leaders of the North, and at least one very gallant gentleman of the South—for many regular Army officers had been stationed at Vancouver Barracks and elsewhere in the Northwest prior to the war. There were Grant, Sherman and Sheridan, all of whom had served at Vancouver. The Confederate officer was none other than General Pickett, who led the famous forlorn hope at Gettysburg.

At the close of the war thousands of veterans turned toward the western country, seeking new homes. Many of these came to Oregon, and it was in April, 1869, in the city of Portland, that the first Grand Army post of Oregon was established.

This was Baker Post No. 1, with 58 comrades, which consolidated with Canby Post, then but a few months old, in 1873. The records show that the last meeting of these pioneer posts was held November 15, 1876.

Eldest of existing posts in Oregon is George Wright Post No. 1, which has a present membership of 130. It was organized in 1878, and named in honor of General George Wright, military commandant of the Pacific Coast during the Civil War. General Wright lost his life in the sinking of the Brother Jonathan off the California coast in the early days. So far as is known there is but one charter member of the post now living—Van B. De Lashmutt, a former Mayor of Portland now a resident of Spokane. C. A. Lamar is now commander of the post with A. C. Sloan as Adjutant. Mr. Sloan was a First Lieutenant with the 148th Pennsylvania Infantry at the close of the war.

Sumner Post is one of the most important of Portland posts, as well as second in age. It was organized 36 years ago and has a present membership of 130. It was named for General E. V. Sumner, of the Army of the Potomac. John W. Ogilbee, Adjutant, served with the 45th Iowa Infantry, while Dr. J. J. Leavitt, commander, was with the eighth Wisconsin.

Now, the Eighth Wisconsin, as all men know, was the fighting regiment that went into battle with a living, screaming eagle beside its standard, the celebrated "Old Abe" who dodged more rebel bullets than ever were sped at a general. And Leavitt was one of the lads who followed that strangest and most ominous of oriflammes.

"Ever see him?" exclaims Dr. Leavitt, with fine scorn. "I should say I have. I followed Old Abe into battle many and many the time. The fellow that carried his perch had a special belt with a socket. The big baldheaded eagle was chained to his perch, with plenty of tether to spare. When the bugle sounded he flew to the crosspiece and screamed his desire to go forward. And that's the way Old Abe went into battle, shrieking and flapping his wings—at Nashville, at Corinth, at Vicksburg, at a dozen other engagements. The rebels must have fired at him thousands of times. Call it chance, or luck, or what you will, he never was struck. It was the tough old confederate, General Price, who said he would rather capture that bird than a whole brigade.

Lincoln-Garfield Post No. 3 was organized in 1881 as Reynolds Post, and after consolidations emerged December 31, 1890, with its present title. It has a membership of 65. Captain J. P. Shaw is adjutant and F. D. McDevitt, past department commander is commander of the post.

Gordon-Granger Post, of Woodlawn has 50 members. It is commanded by E. C. Covey, whose regiment was the Ninth New York Artillery, with H. C. Dutton, of the 114th Ohio Infantry, as adjutant.

Other posts of Portland, all organized within comparatively recent years which are to be hosts at the Grand Army encampment, are as follows:

Benjamin F. Butler Post, Commander W. J. Perry, 10th Illinois Cavalry, Adjuant H. S. Lillagar, 59th Delaware Cavalry.

Reuben Wilson Post, Commander John Walrod, Seventh Wisconsin Infantry; Adjutant Emory Hamlin. Unlike many other posts, which bear the names of officers and generals, this post is christened for Reuben Wilson, a sergeant who fell in the Civil War.

General Compson Post, Commander S. M. Horton, First Bucktails, Pennsylvania Infantry.

A. J. Smith Post, Commander F. H. Beach, 28th New York Infantry; Adjutant W. R. Owens, 12th Kansas Infantry.

William McKinley Post, Commander J. I. Taylor, Fourth Tennessee Cavalry; Adjutant O. J. Connor, 13th United States Infantry.

Such is a brief review of the local Grand Army posts which are to greet the representatives from thousands of posts at the encampment, and upon whom the duties of host devolve. Had it been a year or two earlier the committee might have boasted superior numerical strength. But now—

"There are more of the boys under the sod than there are on top," advises Commandant Stevens. "In Portland cemeteries alone there are 900 sleepers of the Grand Army."


The Oregonian, 29 Aug 1918, page 8

(To the Editor)—I am one of those whom Portland has entertained so royally and I do not feel like leaving your beautiful city without thanking you for your hospitality to the men of '61 to '65. I have never attended an encampment where more has been done to accommodate those who attended. I never have seen accommodations anywhere that have equaled those given by Portland, and I feel it my duty to say a little something to let the people know how we appreciate your kindness.

I was taken prisoner at Winchester, Va., and was taken to Richmond and put in Libby prison. When I was exchanged and got back to my regiment I made a vow that I never would surrender again. I have lived so many years only to have to surrender. Two ladies, one Mrs. C. T. Kamm, the other Mrs. S. E. Purvine, came into the Multnomah Hotel and demanded an unconditional surrender. I held up my hands and surrendered without firing a shot. They marched me out of the hotel. There stood a big automobile. They ordered me to get in, which I did without protest. They took me out on the Columbia River Highway and I was not a prisoner very long till all my fears were banished, for it was the most delightful trip I ever made. The scenery is beyond description and all of the old veterans that I talked with were more than delighted with the trip.

I must not forget also to thank the people in general. I also have a very warm feeling for the police force. I saw one take an old G.A.R. veteran, lead him to an auto and send him out for a ride. Then came the Boy Scouts. All of them took deep interest in the welfare of the old boys; also our young soldier boys who are in training here waiting to go to the front. Last, but not least, are those sweet little girls who worked so hard. Doubtless there are others whom I might mention. Good old Portland! May she prosper forever.

B. F. McCUTCHEN

Company F, Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, 13th Army Corps.