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Civil War Blog

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Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County – Unveiling & Dedication

Posted By on September 14, 2011

This is a continuation of the history of the Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County as originally given in the newspapers of the time and later by Joseph H. Zerbey in the History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County Pennsylvania.

In order to give Gen. Horace Porter, a brilliant commander of the Civil War, opportunity to attend the ceremonial and deliver the oration, unveiling… was fixed for not later than October 1….

Immediately after the parade, the unveiling ceremonies were conducted at the site of the monument.  The program opened with a prayer, after a selection by the Third Brigade.  The Rev. Dr. Jacob Belville, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, made a fervent invocation.  Then the veil was pulled aside, disclosing the imposing pile of granite, the cords being placed in the hands of four wounded veterans of the Civil War, viz. William McElreath, William Burns, George Rose, and Caleb Kinzl.  Then Hon. James B. Reilly proposed three cheers, which were given with a will.

After the Ringgold Band, of Reading, played an appropriate selection, the orator of the day, Gen. Horace Porter, made a ringing speech of patriotic eloquence, in which he referred to the great service which Schuylkill County soldiery had given the Union cause during the War of the Rebellion; the signal part the citizenship played in that long internecine strife, not only associated with furnishing men, but in looking after their families and relatives who were left at home.  He especially praised the stupendous task entailed, involving finances, time and labor, in successfully procuring and placing the monument.

The Third Brigade Band rendered a medley of war melodies, and then Gov. Robert E. Pattison, Pennsylvania, formally presented medals to the First Defenders present, on behalf of the Commonwealth, in recognition of their timely service at Washington, D.C., their prompt arrival in saving the nation’s valuable archives from pillage by the Rebel hordes assembled on the other side of the Potomac, waiting to being northern invasion.

Gen. David McMurtie Gregg (1833-1916)

Gen. David McM. Gregg, soldier hero of the famous “Peninsular Campaign” of the Civil War, made an able and pertinent response on behalf of the Firsts Defenders.  The Ringgold Band played again, and the benediction was pronounced by the Rev. William A. Duffy, rector of St. Ratrick’s Catholic Church.  Accompanied by the Third Brigade Band, the program was brought to a close with community singing of the national anthem, “America.”  Later the Ringgold Band serenaded Father Duffy at the parochial residence.

From the Harrisburg Patriot, 6 October 1891:

WILLIAMSTOWN, Oct 5 – A large number of people from this town attended the unveiling of the soldiers’ monument at Pottsville on the 1st, some of them remaining there until Saturday.

 

On 18 June 1892, through Congressman James B. Reilly, two 12 pound howitzers with field carriages were loaned from the United States League Island Navy Yard, Philadelphia, to the Monument Park Association.  These pointed one to the east and the other to the west.  The cannon were placed in the park on 30 November 1893.

Drawings of the medals were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 October 1891, and were found in the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The portrait of Gen. Gregg is from Wikipedia.


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